Established in 1834, the East Tennessee Historical Society (ETHS) is one of the state’s oldest cultural institutions. ETHS has as its mission to preserve and promote the shared history of a 35-county region. This is accomplished through a variety of programs and activities that include lectures, tours, conferences, seminars, genealogy classes, heritage programs, exhibitions, an annual history fair, and the family heritage programs of First Families of Tennessee and Civil War Families of Tennessee. Realizing that young people are the key to the long-term appreciation and understanding of our past, ETHS sponsors a number of teacher and student education initiatives, from teacher training to student activities, all designed to meet state curriculum requirements. The East Tennessee Historical Society has about 2,200 members, subscribers, and exchanges and 45 Affiliate Societies.
The East Tennessee Historical Society is headquartered in the East Tennessee History Center,601 S. Gay Street,Knoxville, where, along with the Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection and the Knox County Archives, we provide comprehensive research and educational resources for the region, state, and beyond.
Museum of East Tennessee History-
Permanent Exhibition--Voices of the Land: The People of East Tennessee is an an award-winning, $4.5 million permanent exhibition that covers the shared history of our 35-county region. While East Tennessee is blessed with many wonderful museums and historic homes and sites, the Voices of the Land is the only exhibition dedicated to telling the story of the region as a whole. Stellar artifacts include Davy Crockett's first rifle, a rare string of Cherokee beads, country music instruments and memorabilia, a variety of Civil War-related items, such as paintings, flags, and uniforms.
Feature Exhibitions--Changing exhibitions explore a variety of topics, from pottery to Appalachian traditions to Knoxville's 1982 World's Fair.
Teacher Education Opportunities--Through funding from a Teaching American History Grant from the U.S. Department of Education, ETHS provides training in new methods of teaching for local, state, and American history. ETHS also conducts an annual Teachers Institute in which teachers do an indepth study of a topic, visiting historic sites, listening to scholars on the subject, and preparing lesson plans that are then posted on the web for use by other teachers.
Student Education--With Tennessee history no longer a stand-alone subject in schools, ETHS has designed educational programs conducted for students visiting the museum. For those schools and classes unable to travel to the museum, ETHS takes the history to the student in the classroom.
National History Day Competition--In 2001, ETHS became involved in National History Day competition by establishing a district competition that included most of East Tennessee. The program that began with about 75 students at school level has now grown to an estimated 3,500 students. ETHS students have advanced to do very well in state and national competition. In 2011, an East Tennessee student from Jefferson County took first place in the nation in the documentary category. ETHS education staff actively recruits schools and teachers to participate in National History Day and provides training to help them institute NHD in their schools.
How to Support
Become a Member. Through their interest and financial contributions, members of the East Tennessee Historical Society help support our work in preserving the region's history, sharing it with others, and passing it to future generations. Membership benefits include free museum admission, a tri-annual genealogy publication, a scholarly journal, newsletter and notices of special events, museum shop and other discounts.
Volunteer. Volunteers are the lifeblood of most nonprofits, and especially so at ETHS. Opportunities include docents for school tours, clerical, museum, and receptionist assistance, judges for National History Day, transcription of old documents, historical and genealogical research, collections processing, and special event work, such as with conferences and the history fair.
Those with an interest in volunteering, please contact Lisa Oakley at oakley@eastTNhistory.org.