History

Chas Sisk / WPLN

In a library at Cumberland University, history professor Mark Cheathem flips the switch on an electronic scanner.

The image of a letter addressed to Martin Van Buren, the nation's eighth president, pops up on screen. 

At least, that's what it appears to be.

The handwriting is a loopy scrawl. The language is outdated. Words written on one side of the page have bled through to the other, making the document even harder to read.

courtesy Tennessee Department of Veterans

A former Murfreesboro soldier is coming home. Technical Sergeant William O’Kieff died in a plane crash during the Vietnam War. It would take nearly 50 years for his remains to be identified.

StoryCorps

Spencer Wiggins had been in college just a few months when he decided to volunteer for the Vietnam War. Now an education executive, he volunteers and works with veterans — some from the same conflict.

But the Brentwood resident admits that he still has some of his own emotions to sort out. He was interviewed by his daughter inside the StoryCorps’ Airstream trailer that was parked outside of Nashville Public Radio's studios.

Stephen Jerkins / WPLN

Historians are leading a movement to add more names to the bronze plaques at Nashville's War Memorial Auditorium, as part of the centennial commemoration of World War I.

Tennessee Gold Star Collection
Tennessee State Library and Archives

Here’s an example of remarkable foresight: Within two months of the end of World War I, the state of Tennessee began diligently collecting records from so-called “gold star families” — those that lost sons in the war.

TN Photo Services (file)

Tennessee lawmakers have taken the first step toward exhuming the remains of President James K. Polk and moving him to a family home in Columbia, Tennessee.

Blake Farmer / WPLN

An actor portraying an early Frederick Douglass (pre-white hair) performed at an East Nashville park that — after Wednesday — more clearly honors the abolitionist and former slave.

Jason Moon Wilkins / WPLN

This year saw an unusually warm winter for Middle Tennessee. That meant flowers blooming and plants beginning to bud in February.

The few March nights of freezing temperatures that followed sent farmers and gardeners scrambling and reminded some of a similar, but far more catastrophic, year.

Research farmer Adam Turtle of Summertown remembers the Easter weekend of 2007, when weeks of warm nights crashed into temperatures in the teens.

TN Photo Services

The Hermitage will have to close on what was expected to be a day of celebration for Andrew Jackson's 250th birthday. But the museum's CEO says they don't mind shutting down for the expected visit by President Trump on Wednesday, which will be the first by a sitting president in 35 years.

TN State Library & Archives

A national nonprofit and the state of Tennessee are teaming up to save the state's Civil War sites.

They plan to use money from a four-year old fund to protect 38 battlefields, as well as Underground Railroad sites. Only Virginia has more Civil War battlefields than Tennessee.

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