The Special Collections Department specializes in Williamson County, Tennessee genealogy, African American genealogy, local authors, local history, and Civil War materials. The collection also includes genealogy materials for surrounding counties, the State of Tennessee, and surrounding states.
Items in this collection do not circulate and must be used only in the library; however, a small circulating collection is available to patrons with a current library account. Manuscript materials and microfilm are checked out for in library use only. Out of county/state guests may apply for a temporary library card.
The collection is divided into six broad categories: by country (England, United States), the State of Tennessee, Tennessee counties in alphabetical order, all other states alphabetically by their two-letter abbreviation, African American genealogy and family histories
Within these broad categories are divisions such as: Bible records, bibliography, cemetery record, emigration, history, immigration, military records, pension records, and wills. Many of these divisions and place names are searchable as subjects in the web catalog.
Local Authors | Magazines | Microfilm | Pioneer Families | Whitley Manuscript
Six computers are available for patrons and visitors to search the internet and use the library's digital resources. The microfilm reader/printers offer three printing options: print to paper, save the image as a PDF file and email the document.
Personal documents or photographs may be scanned on a flat bed scanner or a document scanner. We recommend patrons bring a large thumb drive to save items scanned. The library does not retain a copy of items scanned while using the Special Collections equipment.
Four genealogy databases, developed by library staff, are accessible in the library and from home.
Premium databases, HeritageQuest Online, Fold3 (military records) Tennessee Vital statistics, and the Tennessean, are available at the library and from home. Ancestry Library edition is available in the library. Learn more about our digital collections.
The Thelma Battle Collection consists of historical information compiled by Ms. Battle. She has conducted grass roots research on early African American families of Williamson County, Tennessee. Ms. Battle specializes in genealogical research as a means of promoting unity among a community, and as a healing process to those whose families were split during slavery. This material has generated public awareness and appreciation of African American history.
This collection consists of vertical files of print information and Ms. Battle's Genealogy Database, The database, available in the Special Collections Department, highlights Williamson County African-American families gleaned from the following records: bank - freedmen's savings and trust - bills of sale – cemetery – census – churches - communities and streets – cross references – death – deeds – divorces – employers and landlords – estate – freedmen – funeral programs – labor contracts – marriage – military pedigree charts – personal notes.- physicians, dentists, and nurses - politicians – schools – skilled craftsmen – social and civic organizations – wills – and photographs.
Since 1997 the library has sponsored an annual photograph exhibit of African Americans of Williamson County. Ms. Battle has combed the communities of Williamson County and surrounding counties to gather family photographs for these exhibits. Thousands of photographs have been exhibited over the years. and they are indexed in the digital resource Visions of Williamson County, Tennessee in the library and 24/7 remote access.
Richard Carlton Fulcher's African American Historical Collection excerpts gleaned from Williamson County Court Records. Documents most persons of African descent in Williamson County, Tennessee from its founding in 1799 until emancipation.
Topics include: census records, Eastern Cherokee census records, Mayflower families, military records, Colonial state court and land records, marriage records, Quaker records, passenger and immigration lists and much more. Review the list of titles.
Molly Bateman Reigard Collection of Childress Research and Related Families.
The collection, donated in 2004, is a gift of the Childers/Childress Family Association, Inc. Contents include family histories, both handwritten and typed as well as miscellaneous genealogical data. New content is added by the society. Begin Childress research with the family history Complete census of Tennessee for years 1810-1820-1830-1840-1850 of the Childers/Childress families (and various spellings) donated by the author.
The Special Collections Department affords the Civil War researcher ample and unique primary and secondary sources.
Print resources include a collection of more than 200 pre-1900 first edition Civil War books (housed in the Williamson Room), the The War of the Rebellion set, a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, plus books on specific topics such as military prisons, hospitals, ordnance, maps and biographies of officers.
The magazine titles include the Confederate Veteran magazine 1893-1932 and index, and back issues of the Civil War Times Illustrated, America's Civil War, Blue & Gray and more.
Microfilm resources include the Tennessee Confederate pension applications, Tennessee Confederate Widows' pension applications, and service records of soldiers in Williamson County Companies.
Digital resources include the Fold 3 database and web resources compiled by staff.
The Local Authors Collection consists of books published by Williamson County residents, past and present. An online bibliography is available on the internet. Access the bibliography now to learn more about the collection and how to submit items for the collection. Most titles are available in the circulating collection.
Genealogy magazines published by local, state and national historical and genealogy societies contain a wealth of often overlooked family data. The library subscribes to genealogy magazines published in Tennessee and surrounding states.
The library currently subscribes to: Ansearchin News, Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine, East Tennessee Roots, Kentucky Ancestors, Middle Tennessee Genealogy, North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal, Virginia Genealogist, and retains many other titles. Library staff maintain a subject index database for magazines in the collection.
Collection includes Williamson County newspapers from the 1821 to date, Williamson County court records, Tennessee death records, census records, and more. Print, create PDF files or email images accessed from three microfilm reader printers.
The library proudly offers a commemorative Pioneer Families of Williamson County, Tennessee Certificate to eligible persons. Anyone directly descended from a pre-1850 pioneer of the county is welcome to apply for this permanent remembrance of his/her family history.
Pioneer Families Heritage Program has received over 700 applications honoring approximately 200 Williamson County Pioneers since its inception. The collection consists of booklets with documents to support the certificate holder's lineage for each Pioneer Families ancestor. The library welcomes your participation in the Pioneer Families Heritage Program.
The Whitley Collection consists of over 2,300 notebooks of genealogical research compiled by Mrs. Edythe Rucker Whitley during her lifetime. She conducted extensive research on pioneer families of Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, and other states. She also compiled data on many prominent men of Tennessee and the United States. Mrs. Whitley specialized in genealogical research for certification in patriotic/historic organizations, and legal cases involving the inheritance of large sums of money. This manuscript collection is organized by surname and accessed through the online catalog by subject. Please note the use of this manuscript material is limited to three boxes at a time. In addition, a valid Williamson County Public Library card or a temporary card is required to access this collection.
Gifts of books, periodicals, family histories, and money for the Special Collections Department are appreciated. These donations will be used to improve the library's collection. Please let us know of any publications that would be of value to the collection.
Patrons may inter-library loan genealogical publications through the library. The fee is determined by the lending institution. All inter-library loaned items must be used only in the Special Collections Department. Contact the Special Collections Department for additional details.
Special Collections staff are available to assist visitors to the department. One on One appointments may be scheduled for in-depth research or assistance with digital resources.