We have been working on developing and mapping out this plan in earnest for the last couple of years. Data was collected and stored, but it was slow-going because it was often necessary to actually travel to some of the counties in order to gain insight as to what was available there.
However, when the COVID Pandemic struck in March of 2020, the opportunity actually arose for us to approach things in a different manner. Along with the necessity of having to use technology to continue educational programming for our members, we found the ideal means of reaching out across the state to others. Basically, we learned to make lemonade out of lemons!
The Board decided to appoint three Area Advisors to the Board of Advisors. These Advisors would each live in the three grand divisions of Tennessee. They would need to be members of TNGS and would need to be willing to contact the various organizations in the counties located in their area and to serve as the main contact person for TNGS for that specified area.
We managed to find three wonderful people for those positions. The first one named was Cynthia Guffey, who lives in Signal Mountain, Tennessee. She very happily agreed to serve as our East Tennessee Advisor and would soon become Chair of our Partnership Committee. Next came our Middle Tennessee Advisor. We realized that we already had the perfect person. Former TNGS Board Member, Donna Garrett, had moved to Nashville a couple of years ago and was delighted to be able to serve us again in an advisory position. Finally, we looked for a West Tennessee representative. We wanted someone who didn’t live in Shelby County (where TNGS is located), and we were extremely lucky to find Connie Lewis from Hardin County, Tennessee. Connie was eager to become our West Tennessee Advisor.
After the initial planning period, contacts started being made and the responses started coming in! Within just a couple of months of hard work, we have (as of this date) 35 new partner organizations from across the state of Tennessee!
In the initial letter sent to the various groups, we spelled out the following benefits of being a Partner with TNGS:
- Complimentary registration at the TNGS Spring and Fall Seminar for one of the partner's officers.
- Publication of any news items from your organization in the TNGS Newsletter, our Blog, and numerous other of our online platforms whenever possible.
- Links provided to your organization on the TNGS website (if available).
- Assistance with identification and evaluation of speakers if needed.
- Assistance and advice on planning your own events.
- Distribution of flyers and brochures (when available) at all TNGS in-person events and online when appropriate.
- Help with publishing and selling your local genealogical information/books.
Within the next couple of weeks, we plan to have specific places on our website that will feature these Partners. One place will be under the “About Us” tab. A list of each Partner with a link to their website (if they have one) will be found there. Partners will be added as their applications are sent to us.
Another spotlight will be in a separate space on the main page of the website itself. In this area, any events that are sent to us by a Partner will be featured, with the next three upcoming Partner events appearing there. These events will rotate on and off according to the closest dates and as they are sent in to us.
In addition, more information about the actual locations and contacts for these organizations, along with links to their websites, etc. will become part of the “Tennessee Research” tab under the wonderful new “Tennessee County Database” section. This is an exciting new resource for researching Tennessee that will serve as a “where to find who and what” area for every county in Tennessee.
I would personally like to thank everyone on the Partnership Committee for their hard work in seeing this effort successfully begin. Along with the Area Advisors, the committee includes John Ware and PZ Horton. Nationally-known genealogist, Taneya Koonce (who is an expert on Tennessee genealogy research) is a new member of the committee and has given us some outstanding advice. As our Webmaster, Nancy Walczyk, has become an “ad hoc” member and has played a vital role.
And now I would like to name those first 35 Partners! If you don’t see your county or area represented, contact us so that we can reach out to those organizations. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or the society at email@example.com. You can also find the direct email for your area’s advisor by opening the “About Us” tab and then clicking on “Organization.” Let’s give a big welcome to the following:
- Archives of Appalachia, East Tennessee State University
- Bledsoe County Historical and Genealogical Society
- Bledsoe County Public Library
- Blount County Genealogical and Historical Society
- Blount County Public Library
- Campbell County Historical Society
- Chattanooga Public Library (Local History and Genealogy Department)
- Claiborne County Public Library
- East Tennessee Historical Society
- E.G. Fisher Public Library (Athens, McMinn County)
- Granger County Archives
- Hamblen County Genealogical Society
- Hardin County Public Library
- Johnson County Historical Society
- Jonesborough Genealogical Society
- Kingsport Public Library and Archives
- Loudon Public Library
- Luttrell Public Library
- Madisonville Public Library
- McMinn County Historical Society
- Meigs County Historical Society
- Morgan County Genealogical and Historical Society
- Oak Ridge Public Library
- Obion County Public Library
- Orena Humphreys Public Library (Whitwell, TN)
- Polk County – West Polk County Public Library (Benton, TN)
- Polk County – East Polk County Public Library (Ducktown, TN)
- Sevier County Public Library System: King Family Library
- Scott County Historical Society
- Signal Mountain Genealogical Society
- T. Elmer Cox Genealogical and Historical Library (Greeneville, TN)
- Tellico Plains Public Library
- Tennessee Technological University Archives and Special Collections
- Washington County Archives
- West Tennessee Historical Society
Welcome to each of these great organizations. We look forward to a productive working relationship and hope that many more societies, libraries and archives will join us soon!
Carla Love Maitland, President