History | Nashville Public Radio


Blake Farmer / WPLN

Nashville — like most locales — is losing its accents. Distinctive voices are diffusing in a modern world with mass media and transient lifestyles. But one 93-year-old is keeping the sound of old Nashville alive.

Naval Reserve Training Center East Nashville Shelby Park
Tony Gonzalez / WPLN

The ship-shaped former Naval Reserve Training Center received historic landmark status in 2015, but its story doesn’t end there.

Archive / Library of Congress

Sixty years ago, Bobby Cain became the first African-American man to graduate from an integrated high school in the South. Just one year prior, he and 11 other black students had enrolled at Clinton High School in East Tennessee. They became known as the Clinton 12.  

Tennessee Centennial Exposition
Metro Nashville Archives

The Metro Nashville Archives recently turned up long-lost images from the massive Tennessee Centennial Exposition of 1897. And the images are creating a buzz on the Facebook page where the archives staff has become known for sharing fascinating material from local 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 The language is outdated.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.

Tennessee capitol legislature
Tony Gonzalez / WPLN

Tennessee has been getting name-dropped during the recent attention on whether the island of Puerto Rico will become the 51st state — and it’s because of a move that Tennessee forefathers took more than two centuries ago.

Chas Sisk / WPLN

The crowds often numbered in the hundreds — or, on a good night, perhaps a few thousand — sitting right up next to the ice in Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium.

The opponents had names like the Worcester Warriors and the Roanoke Valley Rebels.

And instead of international TV audiences for the Nashville Dixie Flyers, there were only local broadcasts. Fragments survive on the internet.

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.

Kellytown Aaittafama
Courtesy of Hodgson Douglas

A new name has been chosen for an archaeological site near the border between Nashville and Brentwood. The prehistoric village that has been referred to as “Kellytown” will now be known by a Native American word.

Col. Tom Parker home
Historic Nashville Inc.

No savior has emerged to buy and preserve the home office where “The Colonel” — Tom Parker — made Elvis Presley a star as his manager and promoter. Now the old stone building in Madison is slated for demolition to make way for a car wash.