Spotlight On “Volunteer Voices”


Are you interested in learning about Tennessee history? The Volunteer Voices project is a collection of documents, artifacts, photos, and other facets of local culture. The library provides access to Volunteer Voices as a database in our Databases, E-Books, and Media tab. You can also access Volunteer Voices via the Tennessee Secretary of State website.

So, what can you read about in Volunteer Voices? The project has many broad topics to choose from, including the following [click the links to access Volunteer Voices]:

Broad Topics
Arts and Literature
Children and Childhood
Civil and Human Rights
Family Life and Gender Relations
Farming and Agriculture
Frontier Settlement and Migration
Government and Politics
Health and Medicine
Immigrants and Immigration
Law and Legal Documents
Music and Performing Arts
Native Americans
Nature and the Environment
Popular Culture and Folklife
Science and Technology
Social Reform
Sports and Recreation
Trade, Business and Industry
Transportation and Internal Improvements
Wars and Military

You can also choose to search the collection for specific terms, or you can simply browse the collection and see what the project has to offer. You’ll find documents like personal letters, campaign advertisements, pamphlets, photographs, and more. The collection allows you to narrow your search down by choosing subjects, genres, and the historical era of your topic.

The next time you’re searching for Tennessee history, head to Volunteer Voices and get started. You can also tour our library’s online archives, search our catalog here, visit the Tennesee Room at the Jackson Madison County Library, or visit the Madison County Archives.



How To Look At Union Yearbooks Online


When you want to look up a family member or certain year in Union’s history, the “Lest We Forget” Union yearbooks can be a helpful resource. An easy way to search through the yearbook collection is by using the library website online. Provided below are instructions for access.

To access the “Lest We Forget” Union yearbooks:

  1. Go to the library website.
  2. Click on Archives and Special Collections under Quick Links.
  3. Click University Archives.
  4. Lest We Forget will come up in the middle of the page. Click the books to access them. You can find them by year and click through them like an online book to find people’s names. (If you just click this link, it will take you straight to them).


For other archival material, take a look at the Online Archives.

A Brief History Of Union University

college hall

*This piece was originally written by Jenny Manasco and uses So Great A Cloud Of Witnesses as a resource.

Union University stems from several different colleges which originated in the early 19th century and eventually merged into the Union University found in Jackson, Tennessee today.  Jackson Male Academy was the first of these predecessors and was founded in 1825, but was transformed after just two decades into West Tennessee College.

A school with history similar to that of West Tennessee College was founded in Murfreesboro and named Union University.  West Tennessee College and Union University Murfreesboro both experienced repercussions from the Civil War and had to recover in the following years.  Union University Murfreesboro, which suffered greater war time losses, eventually closed for good following a typhoid epidemic in 1873.

Around the same time, Tennessee Baptists were looking for a location to establish a college that would serve as a unifying force across the state. Jackson was chosen as the location and the land and endowment of West Tennessee College was transferred to Southwestern Baptist University. Many of the early faculty had relocated from Murfreesboro, having served in the final years of Union University.  Hence, Southwestern was the “union” of West Tennessee College and Union University Murfreesboro, and the name was officially changed to Union University in 1907.

Union University has progressed over the last one hundred years, continuing in the Christian tradition under which it began, and has become a university recognized throughout the nation today.

Baggett, James Alex. So Great a Cloud of Witnesses. Union University Press, 2000, 1-5.

Spotlight On The Online Archives

online archives

Did you know that you can view artifacts from Union’s history online?

While the library does contain a physical Archives space, many of the documents have been digitized for online viewing.

What kind of documents can you see? The University Archives preserves the history of Union University and its predecessor institutions, Jackson Male Academy, West Tennessee College, Union University Murfreesboro and Southwestern Baptist University. This history is told through official records of the university, papers of former faculty and administrators, university publications, papers of alumni, and memorabilia.

To get started, visit the “Archives and Special Collections” link on the library’s website. Using this Archives guide, you can access university yearbooks (Lest We Forget), older editions of the Cardinal and Cream, Union bulletins, and more.

Many of these documents can be clicked on, with the pages flipping in the style of a physical book. This makes it easy to flip through entire yearbooks and magazines without having to leave your chair.


For Archives questions, contact Melissa Moore, Stephen Mount, or Paul Sorrell.

New In Our Archives: “The Private Papers of John Jeter Hurt”


The most recent addition to the Union University Archives is a bound volume of the Private Papers of John Jeter Hurt. Hurt was president of Union University from 1932-1945. A graduate of Richmond College and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Hurt pastored churches in Conway, AR; Durham, NC; and Wilmington, NC before coming to Jackson as pastor of First Baptist Church. In 1932 he became president of Union and led the university through the Great Depression and World War II.

As a pastor, Hurt was known as a powerful orator and was not afraid to delve into politics. He counted among his friends and acquaintances: Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy under Woodrow Wilson and Ambassador to Mexico under Franklin Roosevelt; Kenneth McKellar, United State Senator from Tennessee; and Franklin Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States.


Hurt was also respected among Southern Baptists and other denominational leaders often sought his counsel. This volume, includes letters from Roosevelt, Daniels, and McKellar as well as Warren G. Harding, Nelson Rockefeller, Kennesaw Landis, Federal judge and first Commissioner of Baseball, and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, President of Sears, Roebuck and Company. Letters from Southern Baptist leaders include those from W. O. Carver, M. E. Dodd, Herschel Hobbs, R. G. Lee, Duke McCall, E. Y. Mullins, John R. Sampey, George W. Truett and Theron Rankin.

Union University is grateful to the family of John Jeter Hurt for donating this volume to the archives. It will soon be processed and available to researchers.


*article written by Archivist Jenny Manasco



WWII Display

A WWII display, courtesy of the Union University Archives, is located on the third floor of the library.

The special photographs, documents, and artifacts will be on display until later this month. Take the time to learn more about our nation’s history and our veterans by visiting the library.