This year the Tennessee Genealogical Society began a series of “Field Trips.” These field trips were also designed to increase and enrich our knowledge in specific subjects, those being genealogy and history. So far, the trips have been successful in accomplishing that goal. The field trips planned included visits to the Cordova Museum, the History and Genealogy departments of the Memphis Public Library, the Shelby County Archives, and the historic Shelby County Courthouse.
Tina Sansone shared her review regarding the field trip to the Cordova Museum. This author had the opportunity to participate in the tours of the other three places. The information given at all three of those places was amazing. Even though I’ve spent many days of research on the fourth floor of the Memphis Public Library, where the History and Genealogy departments are located, I was surprised at how much I really didn’t know about the resources available there. Although I knew about the large collection of microfilm, I did not know the diversity of subjects available and the span of years that are covered. The enthusiasm and knowledge of our guide, Mr. Thomas Jones, motivated most of us to stay for a while after the tour to engage in more of our own research.
At the Shelby County Archives, we were able to actually visit the place that houses all of the wonderful county resources that are available to the public. The staff at the Archives have also done an outstanding job of putting as much of this information as possible online. That process continues on a daily basis, and if you cannot ever physically visit the Archives, be sure to visit the website. Our guide for that trip was Mr. Vincent Clark, and once again the knowledge of our guide was remarkable. A number of people stayed after the tour to research and to receive personal help from Mr. Clark.
Click photo for larger image
The last field trip attended was one to the Shelby County Courthouse. It was led by Memphis historian, Jimmy Ogle. This magnificent building is a beautiful representation of neo-classical architecture, built in 1909 and dedicated in January of 1910. It was made with blue Bedford limestone and was the main building for both the Memphis and Shelby County governments for a number of years. The office of E.H. “Boss” Crump was located on the first floor of the building, which includes wonderful mahogany, brass, and marble adornments. A true gem from the tour was finding out that the outstanding Law Library is open to the public during daytime hours. A bust of Andrew Jackson, one of the founders of the city of Memphis, is also located on the first floor of the building. It dates back to 1835 and is believed to be one of the oldest busts of any U.S. President to still exist.
The Tennessee Genealogical Society’s “Field Trips” have created wonderful memories as did those from our childhood, and they have also added considerably to our knowledge of the history of Memphis and of the availability of resources for genealogical research.
More field trips for the Tennessee Genealogical Society are currently being planned. If you have ideas or suggestions for a place to visit in or around Shelby County, TN please contact Tina Sansone, Vice President.
Carla Love Maitland
Tennessee Genealogical Society