Creating The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture has been an enormous task, one shouldered by many people and institutions across the state. First and foremost, thanks go to the Tennessee Historical Society for having the vision and the courage to take on the project. This volume is the Society’s lasting contribution to the Tennessee Bicentennial. I especially thank the society’s Executive Director, Ann Toplovich, and its Board of Directors, headed by President John Hardcastle in the project’s first years and now led by President Dan E. Pomeroy, for their support and encouragement in bringing this book to completion. Producing the Encyclopedia’s entry list was the contribution of the Society’s Encyclopedia Editorial Committee, chaired by Don H. Doyle of Vanderbilt University, which also included historian Walter T. Durham, State Librarian and Archivist Edwin S. Gleaves, Patricia B. Howard of Webb School, Knoxville, James K. Huhta of Middle Tennessee State University, Yollette T. Jones of Vanderbilt University, Perre Magness of Memphis, Reavis L. Mitchell, Jr., of Fisk University, and Harris D. Riley, Jr., of Vanderbilt Medical Center.
Providing me with time, staff, and resources have been the primary contributions of the book’s other two major sponsors. The Tennessee General Assembly through its generous matching grant provided the project’s financial foundation; thanks also to the Tennessee Historical Commission for its administration of the grant. I owe thanks to Middle Tennessee State University for its many considerations during the project. Dr. Robert B. Jones, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, located space for the project, a difficult task given the growth of MTSU in the past decade. Our first quarters were Spartan but, thanks to Dr. Jones, in 1997 we acquired new office spacewhich created the proper working environment to allow this book to be completed on time and within budget. Dr. Donald Curry, Dean of the College of Graduate Studies, kindly provided funding for a graduate research assistant through the life of the project. Dr. James K. Huhta, Director of the Center for Historic Preservation, provided time as well as Center resources for the editorial work and contributed individual entries. I also thank the Center’s Caneta S. Hankins and Edward A. Johnson for their entry contributions and Nancy Smotherman for her administrative assistance. I also very much appreciate the patience of my graduate research assistants during 1995-1998—Brian Eades, Megan Dobbs Eades, Bythe Semmer, and Rebecca Smith—who often found me a most difficult man to locate, much less discuss matters for a few minutes. Through 1997 summer internships, Teresa Biddle-Douglass and Tara Mitchell Mielnik greatly helped the project by researching and writing about 38 topics.
Without the promptness and good work of the 560 authors of this volume, our work would have been impossible. When the Encyclopedia began, we estimated that if we could find 200 authors to donate their time and expertise, we would have done quite well. Yet 560 people contributed, a surprising number until you consider how many people, from all professions and avocations, share and interest in Tennessee history and culture. I am proud of how many of these historians volunteered to lend their time and talents to the book and especially thank those who contributed ten or more entries to the book. These authors are: Jonathan M. Atkins, Teresa Biddle-Douglass, Margaret Duncan Binnicker, Carole Stanford Bucy, James X. Corgan, Walter T. Durham, Ed Frank, Ned L. Irwin, Leland R. Johnson, James C. Kelly, Lewis L. Laska, Bobby L. Lovett, Perre Magness, Tara Mitchell Mielnik, Anne-Leslie Owens, Bythe Semmer, Ann Toplovich, and Linda T. Wynn. As appropriate for our roles, the most contributions came from Associate Editor Connie L. Lester (43 entries) and myself (138 entries).
I also want to thank those hundreds of Tennesseans who have attended public meetings about the Encyclopedia over the last 18 months. They shared their insights and perspectives about the significant people, places, and events of the state’s history, allowing us to draw together a balanced and comprehensive book. Their encouragement and excitement about the book were contagious and raised our spirits every time we took the project “on the road”.
Librarians and archivists at the state’s major research libraries and archives played a similar role in helping us locate authors, sharpen topics, check facts, and find illustrations. We especially appreciate the assistance of the staffs at the Tennessee State Library and Archives; Archives of Appalachia, East Tennessee State University; the Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University;; the Special Collections of the University of Memphis; the Special Collections and University Archives of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; and Special Collections of the Heard Library at Vanderbilt University.
My deepest appreciation, however, goes to the editors who have given so much over the last 30 months. Connie L. Lester, the Associate Editor, joined the project in January 1996 and immediately made an impact through her dedication, scholarship and knowledge of the state. She also prepared the book’s comprehensive index. Anne-Leslie Owens, Assistant Editor, became part of the editorial team in January 1997 and her excellent organizational, people, and copy-editing, and computer skills helped us to stay on track in the demanding last 18 months of the project. Margaret Duncan Binnicker, Assistant Editor, has been with the Encyclopedia from the beginning, first as a graduate research assistant and then in 1997 as an Assistant Editor. She helped to create the programs of the public meetings, managed the list of possible book entries with grace and persistence, and served as a manuscript proof-reader with the thoroughness and promptness. These three scholars, individually and collectively, profoundly influenced the scope and quality of this volume.
The production side of the Tennessee Encyclopedia team at the Tennessee Historical Society in Nashville worked hard to keep the book within budget and on schedule, making it a reality. Besides contributing 18 entries, Ann Toplovich, the THS Executive Director, took care of the necessary reports and meetings with the THS board, Rutledge Hill Press, the Tennessee Historical Commission, and the Tennessee General Assembly. Susan L. Gordon of the Tennessee Historical Society did an excellent job as the Encyclopedia’sIllustrations Editor and prepared four entries. Melinda Clary of the THS kept the books and made sure that our finances were in order. We all enjoyed working with Ed Curtis of Rutledge Hill Press in producing the final illustrated manuscript.
Finally my deepest appreciation goes to my family who have graciously borne my absences, long office hours, and frequent distractions. My wife Mary and my children Owen William and Sara Elizabeth gave me the support and the freedom to do this book; I cherish their love and encouragement always.
Carroll Van West, Editor-In-Chief