Known As The State’s Attic, The Tennessee State Library And Archives Holds Hidden Treasure Waiting To Be Discovered

Unlike many states, the official state library and permanent repository for Tennessee’s archived original documents and materials, are all housed in one building. Often referred to as the “The State’s Attic” the Tennessee State Library and Archives serves the State’s Legislature and state agencies as well as scholars, lawyers, researchers and genealogists and all members of the general public.

A non-lending library located in the facility’s Tennessee Room, the bound books and periodicals that make up the State Library’s catalog cover a broad spectrum of subjects and interest. First housed inside the State Capitol building, the State Library was established in 1854, with Return Johnathon Mieggs serving as Tennessee’s first State Librarian. Today the library holds a rich and varied collection of books by Tennessee authors as well as volumes of historic city directories, published Supreme Court cases,and the Journals of Tennessee’s Constitutional Conventions. Also on the library shelves are more than ten thousand books relating to Tennessee’s culture, natural resources, geography, music, art, industry and history.

In addition to permenant state records , papers from all of Tennessee’s governors as well as the Tennessee Historical Society’s collections are held in the archives and manuscripts holding stacks. Dating back as far as the 1790’s, historic materials such as maps, land grants, letters, post cards, journals, broadsides, and photos are accessible to State Archives visitors.

It is believed that around 1955, Tennessee became the first state to record meetings of the State’s General Assembly and those audio recordings are available to the public in the Legislative History Area. Micro-filmed copies of all Tennessee’s historic and current newspapers in addition to filmed copies of many archived original documents, vital records, and personal and official papers, are accessible to State Library and Archives visitors.

The Tennessee State Library and Archives is located in Nashville at 403 7th Avenue North. The Tennessee State Library is open Monday through Saturday from 8:00-6:00. The Manuscripts Services area is open Monday through Friday 8:00-4:30 and on Saturday’s by appointment. For more information on the Tennessee State Library and Archives please visit


2 thoughts on “Known As The State’s Attic, The Tennessee State Library And Archives Holds Hidden Treasure Waiting To Be Discovered

  1. Gordon

    Thanks for bringing TSLA to the attention of your readers. Having worked closely with the staff there on a number of occasions, I know first hand that TSLA is a valuable resource and asset to our state's heritage.

  2. Betsy Thorpe

    Good to hear from you Gordon! I also have worked with the TSLA staff and I must say that not only are they patient, and extremely knowledgeable, but they are always very helpful. Offering services from untangling microfilm to assitance with locating obscure documents, the TSLA staff works together to make their patrons quest for information a pleasant and painless endeavor.


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