State representatives present two archives grants in Elizabethton

Published 10:30 am Monday, April 13, 2015

NW0412 Tre Hargett Visit B

Two archives in the City of Elizabethton will be getting upgrades after receiving a grant from the Archives Development Program of the Tennessee State Library and Archives.

The City of Elizabethton received $3,500 for new shelves and supplies for the city archives at City Hall and the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library. The Friends of Sycamore Shoals applied for the grant and received $1,800 for the archives at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park.

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Secretary of State Tre Hargett, along with state representatives Timothy Hill and John Holsclaw, visited Sycamore Shoals and City Hall to make the official check presentations for the grants.

The grant will be used at Sycamore Shoals to purchase a fire-proof lateral filing cabinet for the historic documents collected by volunteer archivist Mary Jane Kennedy. She said archival-quality storage boxes and tissue paper could also be purchased along with funding efforts to start an archival research library. The Sycamore Shoals archives includes 2,400 documents from founding families.

“For the last five and a half years, I have been privileged to work with these documents,” Kennedy said. “It has been my goal to have them archived properly in acid free papers, folders and boxes to keep them from deteriorating any further.”

Hargett said he was pleased to be presented with the opportunity to present the grant to the state park to further their archival work.

“I wish we could have put an extra zero behind it and given them more,” Hargett said. “These documents provide the deepest access to our local history, which is also the history of this country. Our history is right here and we can access it. This will help preserve it for future generations.”

Hill praised Kennedy for her work on the state park’s archives, as well as Hargett for presenting the money to the park.

“Sycamore Shoals is the center of history for the region, the state and the country,” Hill said. “To have the funds made available to preserve the documents and to make sure our history is here to stay in our hometown is huge.”

The grant will help preserve the important stature of the documents.

“These documents are truly a treasure,” Holsclaw said. “They are more personal to our region.”

The $3,500 grant to the city will allow for the purchase of metal shelving that will placed in City Hall’s archive room.

The shelves are better quality than the wooden shelves currently in place, archivist Joe Penza said. The shelves can also be cleaned and sterilized easier and will not be as susceptible to moisture as the wooden shelves are.

Another large shelf will be purchased for the library to store maps and other large photos or documents. The grant will also be used to purchase archival quality boxes and materials for the documents and two hygrometers, one for City Hall and one for the library. The hygrometers are used to measure the humidity in the document storage rooms. The shelves will house old tax and land records from decades ago that have been stored at City Hall.

“These will eventually be stored at the library,” Penza said. “But while they are stored here at City Hall, we need to know that they are stable.”

Every time Hargett visits the city, Penza said more donations of materials and information are given to the archives. Since his last visit, the archives has been donated footage of Hoover Day and one of the oldest Elizabethton High School yearbooks.

“That is why I come, to let people know what you are doing here,” Hargett said. “People may not know what they have and this helps build the trust so they will bring those items to the local archives.”