History | Nashville Public Radio

History

Strong Inside Wallace Maraniss
Courtesy of Andrew Maraniss

A documentary about the Vanderbilt basketball star Perry Wallace, who integrated the Southeastern Conference, debuts Monday evening on campus. But the event has taken on a somber tone because Wallace died on Friday — just as his alma mater was marking the 50th anniversary of the breaking of a stubborn color barrier.

Aja Bain / courtesy Historic Nashville

Usually, the nonprofit called Historic Nashville selects nine sites around the city that it thinks are endangered and should be preserved.

This year, it selected one: Fort Negley.

Oak Ridge Public Library

Seventy-five years ago this week, the federal government quietly took over 60,000 acres nestled in the ridges of East Tennessee. It was the beginning of Oak Ridge: a city cloaked in secrecy that tens of thousands of people flocked to during World War II, most unknowingly helping to build the world's first atomic bomb.

Emily Siner / WPLN

One of the largest collections of books and manuscripts about the history of playing cards is now in the possession of the Vanderbilt library.

The university has purchased more than a thousand pieces of memorabilia that previously belonged to Bicycle Cards, which the library hopes will make Vanderbilt a destination for scholars around the world.

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 The language is outdated.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.

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