Researching at the Tennessee State Library and Archives

Twice this week I visited the Tennessee State Library and Archives in downtown Nashville.  (There’s nothing like spending two vacation days in an archive).  But it was a worthwhile trip…both times.

Tuesday was my first experience there as a researcher.  After the preliminary check-in procedures I found the right reading room and got down to business.  I spent most of the day in the manuscript reading room looking over the C. E. W. Dorris letters.  Some 150 pages in all, these are a series of letters by Dorris to Cled Wallace and O. C. Lambert about the propriety of Christians participating in war (they were written from 1942-1945 during the thick of WW2).  The gist of them is that Dorris took Wallace and Lambert to task in no uncertain terms concerning his (Wallace’s…later Lambert’s) stance on the issue.  A substantial amount of the correspondence touches on Uncle Dave’s little book from 1889: Civil Government, Its Origin, Mission and Destiny, and the Christian’s Relation to It.  I am unable to provide quotes since I was not allowed to photograph them and my copy order is still pending.    From just one reading of these letters, my need to review again DL’s book takes on a new sense of urgency. 

I also looked over a small booklet CEWD published in 1908 entitled A Discussion Between Two BrothersDiscussion By Two Brothers.  The Oakley’s are brothers in the flesh and they go round and round about which church is the true church.  

All in all a fine day.  The facility was a bit unfamiliar at first, but I quickly got used to how things were arranged.   The staff was very helpful, the resources plentiful, and given the holidays parking was a breeze.

Yesterday I spent a good deal of time playing find the domicile.  And a rousing game it was.  I have uploaded to the Written Word page a template I concocted to make my research go more smoothly and quickly.  Since I have limited time to be away from the castle, I must make the most of it.  I took several blank copies of my template and dug into every Nashville city directory from the 1880’s to 1965.  By days’ end I had a nice skeleton upon which to hang new information.  When I have it typed up I will post it to the Written Word page.  For now, look at the short version here.

Another advantage to the template is that it saved me copy expenses.  Given that I was only interested in tracking down where he lived, I didn’t want the expense or the hassle of keeping/handling/filing (and finally recycling) the copies.  I could have photographed the pages as well and transferred the data once I was home, but the template seemed just as efficient.  I’d rather spend time (for photos) and money (for copies) elsewhere.

Mac is Special Collections Librarian and Archivist at Abilene Christian University.

4 thoughts on “Researching at the Tennessee State Library and Archives

  1. Wish you all the best as you continue your research. This does sound fascinating.

    Any success finding any members of his family?

  2. Hey Mac, are you allowed to make notes from the letters? Lambert was also taken to task by John T. Lewis in the pages of Sound Doctrine and later republished in his book The Christian and Civil Government or a Review of the Bible Banner’s position on war. Lewis reproduces a letter from H. Leo Boles disputing Lambert’s claim to have “sat at the feet of Lipscomb.” Do you know if R. L. Whiteside is mentioned at all in that correspondence?

    This might be worth a trip to Nashville…

  3. Bobby,

    I apologize for my delay in responding , but I only just now noticed you commented. For some reason the comments didn’t come to my inbox…

    I read through the letters quickly, and noted the names mentioned. My notes are at home, so I will have to get back to you to confirm RLW’s appearance. I beleive CEWD and RLW were classmates under Uncle Dave and JAH. Dorris takes Lambert to task for some things he (Lambert) said about Civil Government. Dorris also goes after Lambert concerning his claim to have sat at DL’s feet. Dorris also issued a signed debate proposal to Lambert.

    That much I remember; about RLW I’ll have to check. I have a copy order pending. When the copies arrive we shall know in full…not in part 🙂

    It’s always worth it to visit Nashville!

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