History | Nashville Public Radio


Tony Gonzalez / WPLN

When it comes to understanding another culture or even another time in history, Jennifer Justus believes in the power of food.

Tony Gonzalez / WPLN

There aren't many people who own as much of Nashville's history as David Ewing.

Tony Gonzalez / WPLN

History is often passed down through stories: People document their memories, and those become our guide to the past.

But Bradley Hanson, director of folk life at the Tennessee Arts Commission, has discovered that sometimes this kind of documentation is flawed — because people don't always tell the truth. He talked to WPLN's Emily Siner in our live series, Movers & Thinkers, about his work collecting oral histories from musicians in rural Tennessee, and how his perspective has changed over time.

Tony Gonzalez / WPLN

These people are guardians of the past: They explore kitchens, living rooms and attics, tracking down the recipes, stories and artifacts that tell us who we are and where we came from. Featuring collector David Ewing, folklorist Bradley Hanson and cookbook author Jennifer Justus. 

Lily Williams / WPLN

Some credit Nashville’s Ben West library, built in 1966, for changing the experience of going to a library for an entire generation. And the man who designed it, local architect Bruce Crabtree, considered it his favorite work.


The controversial issue of renaming MTSU’s Forrest Hall is now heading to the university’s governing body, the Tennessee Board of Regents.

This week, MTSU President Sidney McPhee accepted the recommendation of a university task force to change the name of the school’s Army ROTC building. It currently bears the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Civil War general with ties to the KKK.

TN Photo Services

The keepers of President Andrew Jackson's home were — understandably — disappointed to hear that he will be replaced on the front of the $20 bill. Executives at the Hermitage had been lobbying the U.S. Treasury Department.

Kim Green

Ann Walling has a haunting old family photograph.

It was taken of her as a baby in Mississippi in the 1940s, and she's held in the lap of an African-American woman. That woman, whose full name was Mary Jane Fairfield Hodges Perlina Green Scott, worked for Walling’s great-grandmother for decades — originally, as a slave.

1896 map; routes highlighted by Nina Cardona / Tennessee State Library and Archives

Say the words “Jim Crow” and “protest” and you probably think of the 1950s and 60s, when lawsuits, boycotts and sit-ins began to chip away at discriminatory rules. But across the nation, the fight against segregation laws actually began as soon as they went into effect. 110 years ago this month, Nashville’s black community took a bold step that made its streetcar boycott one of the most successful of its generation.

Ron Cogswell / Flickr

If there is a Confederate symbol even more controversial in Tennessee than the battle flag, it's Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Many idealize the Confederate general as a brilliant tactician and clever underdog who tricked Union troops — more than once — into defeat. 

Others see nothing to redeem the slave trader-turned-rebel commander. Forrest led the Confederate forces at Fort Pillow, where some 300 surrendering Union soldiers were killed, most of whom were black. He was also an early member of the Ku Klux Klan, and may have been the first Grand Wizard.