About the Friends of the Nashville Public Library

The Friends of the Metro Archives is a branch chapter of the Friends of the Nashville Public Library, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that supports the library through advocacy, fundraising, volunteer work, and grant administration. For more information, please visit the Friends of the Nashville Public Library website.

Projects in Recent Years:

The Mary Barnes Scholarship - awards grants to local archivists to attend Tennessee conferences, workshops, and seminars that provide advanced archival training. Awards are made annually.

In the Metro Archives collections are the original City Cemetery Interment Books, dating from 1846 to 1979. Partnering with the National Socierty of Colonial Dames of America in Tennessee (NSCDA-TN), a new transcription of the 20,000 interments was undertaken. Upon completion in 2009, Tricia Bengel of the Nashville Public Library Technical Services entered these records on the NPL website. The interments may be accessed on the Nashville City Cemetery website as well.

In 1999, the NSCDA-TN launched the Davidson County Cemetery Survey project and recruited volunteers to visit local cemeteries in order to record tombstone descriptions. The Metro Archives accepted into its collections the cemetery documents including copies of tombstone inscriptions, maps, photographs and locations of these historic family graveyards. David Kline of the Metro Planning Mapping Division has pinpointed the cemeteries on county survey maps and located them on aerial maps. In the past two years, Fred Zahn of the Metro Historical Commission has intervened on several occasions when cemeteries were threatened with demolition. In 2013, the Davidson County Cemetery Survey website was transferred to Metro Archives. With the technical assistance of Scott Smith of Atiba, the website was updated and expanded to provide access to surveys of 600 cemeteries, including 500 extant as well as those that have been lost, removed, or destroyed.

The Friends funded a digitization project in which Metro Archives scanned the Nashville City Cemetery Lot Cards to be entered into a database.The original City Cemetery Lot Cards are in the collections of the Metro Historical Commission, and were prepared by Douglas A. Pardue, Sexton of the City Cemetery from 1956 to 1974. In 2011, Tricia Bengel of Nashville Public Library Technical Services entered these records into a database that can be accessed via the Nashville City Cemetery's website or the NPL website.

In 2012, the Friends underwrote the publication of Stewart Cruickshank's book on General James S. Negley, namesake of the Civil War federal fort located here in Nashville. Today, Metro Parks manages Fort Negley and its adjacent museum. A few months after the book's publication, Mr. Cruickshank was able to reimburse the initial publishing investment to the Friends of the Metro Archives.

In order to assist African Americans in their study of family history, the Friends contracted with filmmaker Rob McDonald in 2013 to produce a training video. Funds from the Friends, as well as from donors, made possible the video featuring Gail Harlan Randolph, who has completed a study of her slave family from Tennessee back to Virginia. Special gifts were received from Paul Clements, Ruth Warner, Ophelia T. Paine, the EBS Foundation, Ridley Wills II, Danya Downey, and Fletch and Bill Coke.

Also in 2013, NPL Special Collections photographer Beth Odle undertook the scanning of the plats of the very important City Cemetery sections and lots, mapped by Engineer F.R.R. Smith in 1908.

The Friends of the Nashville Public Library are sponsors of the new Metro Archives website. The Metro Archives has a wealth of records that needed to be made available online for the public. We also provide a links page, which can provide researchers with access to the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA), Nashville Room/Special Collections at NPL, as well as many other research resources. Making these sources for genealogical research, local history publications, and student historic projects readily available on a website has been an important project for Friends working closely with Metro Archives.

Donations to support the Metro Archives may be made to the Friends of the Nashville Public Library, designated for Metro Archives support.


*Special thanks to the Friends of the Nashville Public Library, Fletch Coke, Alice Swanson, and Dave Price for making this website possible.