Field Trip: Elizabethton Library and Archives

Brianne and I recently set out on an Archiventure. We went to visit Joe Penza at the Elizabethton and Carter County Public Library where he has been improving their local history room and developing an archives. Joe is a fellow graduate of the archives program at ETSU and was the intern who did all of the initial work on the Muriel C. Spoden Collection. Since I completed the work on that collection, that sort of makes us the Spoden Bookends!
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We started out our visit in Elizabethton by observing the beautiful exterior of the library. Just like Kingsport’s, it used to be a post office.
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However, the ECCPL still has elements of the old post office in side, as you can see.
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In addition to his duties at the circulation desk and with  records management, Joe has re-arranged the genealogy and local history room with the aim of making the materials more accessible to patrons and less accessible to potentially leaky windows or pipes. Very smart. it looks great in there, as you will see.
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Above you can see the bars that formed the old entrance lobby, now the adult patron reading room. Joe showed us some of the oldest and most unique items in the growing collection. There are 1,400 volumes in the history room, 580 rolls of microfilm, and 150 periodicals.
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There are also 70 scrapbooks in the collection and other neat resources for genealogists and local historians.
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One of the architectural features left over from the library’s post office past is a vault.
smVault05Joe has transformed it into an archive and has scrambled for funds to pay for supplies. He has also been successful at soliciting the donation of some very fascinating historical items.  Here are a few of his favorites:

Marie Shortt donated the dress her mother Mary Nell Reynolds wore for her graduation from Elizabethton High School in 1928.

Marie Shortt donated the dress her mother Mary Nell Reynolds wore for her graduation from Elizabethton High School in 1928.

 

One of the many yearbooks from the library's extensive collection (see feature image, above). This volume of the "Mountaineer" records Mary Reynolds' senior year.

One of the many yearbooks from the library’s extensive collection (see feature image, above). This volume of the “Mountaineer” records Mary Reynolds’ senior year.

 

One of the oldest items in the archives: an original copy of the Elizabethton Mountaineer Newspaper from August 27, 1880.

One of the oldest items in the archives: an original copy of the Elizabethton Mountaineer Newspaper from August 27, 1880.

 

This edition of the newspaper chronicled the election between James A. Garfield and Winfield S. Hancock.

This edition of the newspaper chronicled the election between James A. Garfield and Winfield S. Hancock.


I was fairly mesmerized by a donation that came through the regular library book donation box, an 1880 map of Tennessee.

Colton's Map of the State of Tennessee.

Colton’s Map of the State of Tennessee.

 

We examined the Eastern half of the fold-out map. Blountville was spelled "Blountsville." This copy was used by geologists to record ore deposits and water sources and still has their marks, today!

We examined the Eastern half of the fold-out map. Blountville was spelled “Blountsville.” This copy was used by geologists to record ore deposits and water sources and their marks can still be seen in it, today!


Lastly, Joe took us upstairs to the area where he hopes the archives will expand, someday. Behind this door, we headed up the stairs.
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Although this room is dusty and in need of some renovation, the architecture was fantastic.

Future archives space? Maybe, but check out the rooftop views.

 

The views were positively Dickensian and inspiring. I could definitely research up here!

The views were positively Dickensian and inspiring. I could definitely research up here!


Joe is a top-notch researcher so I hope you will visit the Elizabethton Public Library soon and put him to work! If you want to learn more about the progress he is making, you can listen to an interview, here.

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One Response to Field Trip: Elizabethton Library and Archives

  1. Karen Cassell says:

    I love that you two are the Spoden bookends 🙂

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