Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     Another recent addition to the popular “Genealogy at a Glance” series is Tennessee Genealogy Research, compiled by Michael A. Ports. Like the earlier titles, this guide provides an overview of basic information that researchers need to know in order to navigate successfully through the various genealogical resources of a particular area--in this case, the Volunteer State.

     Because the study of genealogy is closely connected to history, Ports supplies background data about the state’s early settlement. He explains that pioneers, mainly coming from Virginia via the Great Valley, began arriving in Tennessee in the late 1760s and early 1770s. Ignoring the Proclamation of 1763, which prohibited any settlement west of the mountains, people began “squatting” on Cherokee land, which the British Crown deemed illegal. North Carolina, of which Tennessee was still a part at the time, created Washington District in 1776. Three years later, Fort Nashborough (now Nashville) was established. After the Revolutionary War, the population increased with the migration of pioneers, primarily from Virginia and the Carolinas. Tennessee was admitted as the sixteenth state in 1796. Ports also furnishes data on the state’s role in the Civil war.

     More than half of the guide pertains to several traditional state and county genealogical materials. Ports points out that county formation started in 1777, so many of the resources are located at the county level. However, he suggests a “general rule of thumb” is to begin research at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, which houses original and microfilm copies of most of the county records.

     On the subject of vital records, he says that statewide registration of births and deaths began in 1908, although a few cities started recording them earlier. Memphis, for example, commenced recording deaths as early as 1848 and births as early as 1874. Marriage records were not required in bound books until 1838. A few counties, however, commenced keeping them as early as 1780.

     Ports devotes the largest space to military records. He touches on materials concerning the American Revolution, War of 1812, various Indian wars, and the Civil War.

     He briefly discusses probate records and tax records. Early tax lists are particularly important since they survive for most counties and can serve as substitutes for the state census schedules lost before 1820. In addition, he tells about supplementary sources, such as land and county court records. For the main record groups, Ports furnishes titles of publications and/or websites for further investigation. He also supplies useful various online resources and the names, mailing addresses, phone numbers, and websites of some of South Carolina’s major repositories.

     Following the standard format of the series, Ports condenses into four laminated pages an enormous amount of information into its elemental components. A handy, compact guide, Tennessee Genealogy Research will be useful to family researchers whose roots extend back to the Volunteer State. A copy may be the perfect Christmas “stocking stuffer” for individuals interested in tracing their roots in that region of the South.

     To the guide's price of $9.95, buyers should add the cost for postage and handling charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $5.50 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional copy; for FedEx or UPS Ground Service, the cost is $8.50 for one copy and $3.50 for each additional copy. The guide (item order 4672) may be purchased by check, money order, MasterCard, or Visa from Genealogical Publishing Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, MD 21211-1953. For phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website

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