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Friends of the Archives vital to preserving history

Katherine Scoggins • Nov 8, 2017 at 4:30 PM

The Friends of the Archives (F.O.A.) is a non-profit group dedicated to supporting the Archives Division of the Kingsport Public Library. Members work to sponsor exhibits, programs and special events. In the simplest of terms, Friends of the Archives take an active role in preserving our community's history.

The Archives are located in the basement of the Kingsport Public Library. You may visit the archives in person from 2 to 5 p.m., Mondays; from 9 to noon and 2 to 5 p.m., Tuesdays through Thursdays; or at other times by appointment. You can also find more information online at www.kingsportlibrary.org/archives.

The Kingsport Archive of History was established in 1982, the realized dream of Thomas McNeer, Jr. who worked tirelessly to create a repository for photographs and documents relating to Kingsport’s history. In 1994, the Kingsport Archive of History became The Archives of the City of Kingsport, a division of the city government within the Kingsport Public Library and Archives. This designation made it the first municipal archives in the state of Tennessee. It was then that the name of the support organization was changed to The Friends of the Archives of the City of Kingsport.

Each year in October, American Archives Month is celebrated to raise awareness about the value of Archives and archivists.

This particular year, 2017 - Kingsport’s 100th birthday - has provided a shining example of just how valuable the Archives can be to a city. There have been numerous opportunities to research and discover people, businesses, buildings, their purposes and history in the formation of Kingsport.

“Many people have found information they had no knowledge of about Kingsport, even if they grew up here or have lived here most of their lives,” says Kingsport archivist and author Brianne Wright. “History is more ‘alive’ when you see old photographs and read old letters that describe changes and reasons for decisions. For many people, this was their introduction to archival research and they found it fascinating.”

Wright's book, “On This Day in Kingsport History,” highlights the significant people, places and events of the Model City. From its early days as Boatyard to the modern-day Kingsport, colorful characters and quirky events shaped the city’s unique history one day at a time. Visit friendsofthearchives.org or the Kingsport Public Library to purchase a copy of the book. All proceeds from the book go directly to the Friends of the Archives.

The mission of the F.O.A. is to support efforts to seek, collect, restore, preserve, exhibit, publish and record any elements which contribute to the history of the City of Kingsport, and the surrounding region, for the educational benefit of the public.

The F.O.A. is governed by a board of directors, president, secretary, treasurer, members-at-large and the city archivist. The members and officers for 2017 are: Sharon Brown, president; Jessica Robinson, secretary; Wright, the city archivist; Jim Wright, Jane Scott, Toni Cave, Kenny Stallard, Tim Mullen, Mary Fanslow, Becca Wright, Gail Campbell and Shane Simmons, members-at-large.

By joining the Friends of the Archives, you have the unique opportunity to take an active role in joining their efforts to preserve the community’s history. Your membership and donations help support exhibits, programs, special events and efforts to preserve Kingsport’s history. Friends provide important supplies and equipment, and funds for hiring interns.

To become a member of the Friends of the Archives, call or visit the Kingsport Public Library for an application. Complete and return the application and become part a fun, enthusiastic member who works to further the mission of the Archives and provides support and funds to grow and sustain them.

To learn more, call the archives at (423) 224-2559.

Our monthly Join the Club series is designed to introduce local readers to various clubs and organizations in the region. To suggest a club for our series, email Sunday Stories editor Carmen Musick at [email protected]

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