Friday, November 4, 2016
'East Tennessee History Museum
EAST TENNESSEE HISTORY MUSEUM
The Museum of East Tennessee History in Knoxville describes life in three centuries in a 35-county region that has had a marked influence in the development of our nation.
The main exhibit, "Voices of the Land: The People of East Tennessee," provides an overview of stories in the words of the people who have lived there throughout the area's history.
The following exhibits with stories and artifacts focus on specific historical periods starting with "The Land Beckons," the struggles between the Cherokees and the immigrants settling in their land.
In "A Land Divided" we learned that, like Missouri, both sides in the Civil War were represented with east Tennessee being mostly for the Union. Blacks in East Tennessee were more likely to be skilled artisans rather than field slaves, making the area easier to integrate.
The Tennessee Valley Authority introduced electricity to the area with electric lights, and modern home appliances making life easier. One display shows the changes that took place in how we run our homes by showing what was used pre TVA and what was used after. A modern electric iron is sure an improvement over a flat iron heated on the wood stove.
Some major historical events occurred here, probably the most important was turning the surrounding area into Oak Ridge, a "secret city," where atomic material was processed for the first atomic bombs.
Not only the community but the workers did not know exactly what they working on. "We train you to do what is needed, but we cannot tell you what you are doing. I can only tell you that if our enemies beat us to it, God have mercy upon us." This is a quote in the section that discusses how the Oak Ridge area became a secret.
The museum takes five main approaches to capturing our attention and informing us about what has happened here.
1. The visitor at some displays can pick up a listening device and hear a re-enactor reading a letter, a diary, or a written report, sometimes short, sometimes long. The longest was of the Clinton Twelve, a group of black students who integrated a high school in the area. Some of the letters and reports from the Civil War, on the other hand, were quite short.
2. On multiple choice screens the visitor can chose to view from six people's stories of a particular event along with accompanying pictures. For example, in the Civil War section visitors are offered: For or against secession: six views.
3. Movies and TV are used to take us back to the past. At the entrance we viewed a movie about the area with background voices reading comments from people who had lived here in the past. The most complete of this kind of presentation were the films of the development of the music of the area that led to the growth of the music industry in Tennessee leading to the development of Nashville as the center for country music.
4. At many of the exhibits there are materials on posters that was written by people of the different periods along with old pictures to give a feel of what life was like.
5. Finally well chosen objects are on display to bring the visitor an even better feel for what life was like during a particular period. Among the objects are Davy Crockett's rifle, a real log cabin, a pioneer road wagon, a well stocked corner drugstore and Dolly Parton's red dress.
The multiplicity of methods used to present the history of East Tennessee makes this an especially valuable asset for enhancing the classroom experiences of schools in the area.
Country Music got its start in East Tennessee
East Tennessee took part in the Revolutionary War