Geography is destiny for East Tennessee, giving it a unique cultural and historical identity apart from the rest of the state. Visitors to the signature exhibition, Voices of the Land: The People of East Tennessee, will explore three centuries of life in the mountains and valleys of this 35-county region. Topics range from the Cherokee and pioneer settlement to the Watauga Association and the Lost State of Franklin, from the Civil War to the Scopes Trial, woman suffrage, the hillbilly image, TVA, Oak Ridge, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the birth of country music, the 1982 World’s Fair, and more.
Through audio, video, and panel quotes, the people through time tell their own stories in their own words.
Stellar artifacts include a string of original Cherokee beads given to missionary John Martin (1757), a cannon from the French and Indian War site of Fort Loudoun, Davy Crockett’s first rifle, the key to the Lost State of Franklin courthouse, and a hand-stitched War of 1812 flag. Among the Civil War items are an original Confederate flag, a blood-stained shirt with bullet holes in the shoulder, military equipment, and items from the Lick Creek Bridge burning, Greene County, 1861, that resulted in the hanging of five men.
Regularly changing exhibits explore a variety of other subjects. The museum is an educational program of the East Tennessee Historical Society and is located in the East Tennessee History Center at the corner of Clinch Avenue and Gay Street in downtown Knoxville.