PRIMARY SOURCES


Part of a letter written by Jacob Vowell while he suffocated in a collapsed coal mine in Anderson County in 1902
IMAGE: Coal Creek Watershed Foundation
Here that you will find links to primary sources related to things in the curriculum related to Tennessee history.

What kind of primary documents? 

Interviews or written accounts of people who were there. Original documents such as deeds and wills. Newspaper articles written by reporters who were there.


Here they are, moving chronologically through Tennessee history:

Click here to read John Donelson's journal on the day in which his boats were attacked by Chickamaugans.

Mary Neely was kidnapped by the Shawnee in 1780 from near her home in Middle Tennessee, but lived to talk about the ordeal to Abraham Lincoln, of all people. Click here to read her story. (Warning: this account may not be appropriate for younger students.)

James Collier was one of the soldiers who attacked the Chickamaugan village of Nickajack in September 1794. Click here to read what he saw.
(Warning: this account may not be appropriate for younger students.)

Click
here to read part of Eliza Bryan's eyewitness account of the New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-12 (from the booklet Just as Free as I am).

Click here to read Congressman David Crockett's account of his opposition to President Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act.



Sam Watkins' grave
Click here to read two Civil War newspaper editorials. One was written in Nashville, the other in New York, and they represent completely different points of view on the cause of war and which side will win.

Click
here
to read Sam Watkins horrifying account of the Battle of Franklin.

Click here to read Ida B. Wells' account of what happened when she tried to sit in the whites only train coach in 1884.

Bobby Cain walks to Clinton High School on the first day of school
PHOTO: Library of Congress
Click here to read some of the letters written by suffocating coal miners near Coal Creek, in Anderson County, after a mining explosion in 1902.

Click
here to read a detailed description of a cotton mill in Nashville in 1898.

Viola McFerrin was at the heart of the Tent City movement in West Tennessee. Click here to read her incredible story of how she and her husband obtained gasoline to sell at their store.

Click
here to read what Bobby Cain experienced when he was the first African-American student at an integrated high school -- that being Clinton High School.

Samuel Billy Kyles was there when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Click
here
to read what he saw.

Click
here to read a first-person account of life at The Farm, the hippie commune started in Middle Tennessee in 1970.