Where Are The Law Students And The History Majors?

Photo below shows page one of the original hand written Charter of incorporation for Tennessee’s first operating railroad, The Nashville Chattanooga Railroad ( later known as the Nashville Chattanooga & St Louis Railway). The charter was signed by Speaker of the House of Representatives, Campbell,and Speaker of the Senate, Watterson on December 11 1845, and is one of thousands of historic and original documents housed inside the Tennessee State Library and Archives.

Visiting the Tennessee State Library and Archives is my favorite past time. I am in awe of the number of original documents, photographs, maps, and manuscripts that are available for me to review and study. I also appreciate how familiar the librarians and archivists are with Tennessee’s stored historic materials and how willing they are to help patrons like me locate and access rare and scholarly resources.

Nashville is home to two law schools and at least seven colleges and universities so I often wonder why I seldom encounter a law or college student during my frequent visits to the State Library and Archives. Shouldn’t law students have a desire to understand the circumstances surrounding the establishment ( and in some cases the dis-establishment) of our state’s laws? Don’t college students have research papers to write? Are they unaware of the tremendous number of resources available to them at the State Library and Archives? Are they solely relying on secondary information quickly gleaned from the Internet? Do they know how intellectually satisfying it is to discover an un-cited historical fact? Why aren’t their instructors and professors “encouraging” them to dig deeper into their subjects?

With so many documents and manuscripts available at the Tennessee State Library and Archives I encourage any Nashville student who has a research paper or project due this semester to utilize TSLA resources. I am confident that with a little digging most students will discover original documents relating to their assigned topic and that by reviewing those documents they will develop a fresh and unique view of their subject.

The Tennsee State Library and Archives is located in Nashville at 403 7th Avenue North.


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