If you research North Carolina or Virginia ancestors, you will not find it unusual to track your ancestors to Tennessee. Do you know the best resources and sites to research your Tennessee ancestors?
First Things First
Just as you would with any other new location you are researching, learn about the county and state where your ancestors lived. Research the county and state lines and any boundary changes that may have occurred during the pertinent time period. Refer to this interactive map of Tennessee’s evolving county borders.
Tennessee State Library and Archives
The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a natural place to start your Tennessee genealogy research. You will find a variety of resource guides and online digital collections. Examples include Searching for Your Ancestors at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, Early NC/Tennessee Land Grants, and African American Genealogical Resources. Be sure and check the Family Bible project and the historic Tennessee map collection, too. Take time to explore the Tennessee State Library and Archive’s website as you begin researching your Tennessee ancestors.
Another great resource for Tennessee residents is the genealogy tab at the Tennessee Electronic Library. You will need to provide Tennessee zip code and phone number to gain access.
Tennessee Records in the State Archives of North Carolina
Initially, part of today’s Tennessee’s eastern counties were part of North Carolina. In 1784, North Carolina ceded part of their western lands to the federal government, but set aside land for land grants to Revolutionary War veterans. Land grants for these counties can be found in the State Archives of North Carolina.
Once Tennessee became the 16th state, the county records for those previously North Carolina counties stayed with the county seats. A few early records for these counties were retained in North Carolina. Refer to the Records relating to Tennessee in the North Carolina State Archives document for a listing of these records.
For a more detailed explanation of the formation of modern day Tennessee including the State of Franklin, go to the Tennessee State Library and Archives.
Tennessee Genealogy Databases around the Web
Sometimes in genealogy research, the researcher needs to think “outside the box.” In other words, get creative in the search for records and resources to further your research and break down those brick walls. Examples of good resources for the Tennessee genealogist include:
- The Tennessee GenWeb Project
- The Tennessee Genealogical Society
- Middle Tennessee Genealogical Society
- East Tennessee Historical Society
- Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives
- Be sure to visit individual counties genealogical and historical societies.
This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but a starting point for the researcher with Tennessee ancestors.
You can also start your Tennessee research by watching these webinars by J. Mark Lowe in the Legacy Family Tree Webinars library:
- What happened to the state of Frankland - Using Tennessee's Pre-Statehood Records
- Researching your Tennessee Ancestors
What are YOUR favorite Tennessee genealogy resources? Tell us in the comments!
Lisa Lisson is a genealogist, blogger and Etsy-prenuer who writes about her never-ending pursuit of ancestors, the “how” of genealogy research and the importance of sharing genealogy research with our families. Specializing in North Carolina and southern Virginia research, she also provides genealogical research services to clients. In researching her own family history, Lisa discovered a passion for oral history and its role in genealogy research. You can find Lisa online at Lisa Lisson.com.