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Frequently Asked Questions

If your question is not answered here, send it to reference.tsla@tn.gov or call
us at 615-741-2764, 8:00am - 4:30pm, Tuesday - Saturday (Central Time).
TSLA cannot accept telephone requests for copies of records.

Please note as of July 1, 2011, our hours of operation for the
Library Reading Room, the Microfilm Reading Room and
Manuscripts will be Tuesday - Saturday 8:00am to 4:30pm (Central Time).
Legislative History will be open Tuesday - Friday 8:00am to 4:30pm (Central Time).


 

01. What is the meaning of the name "Tennessee"?

02. How can I order family genealogy records?

03. Where do I get a Tennessee birth certificate?

04. Where do I get a Tennessee death certificate?

05. Where do I get a Tennessee marriage record?

06. Is there a law in Tennessee that ... ?

07. Do you have this book in the State Library?

08. Where do I get a current map of the state or a county in Tennessee?

09. Where in Tennessee is (city, town, community, river, mountain)?

10. What is the Tennessee state flower? Or song? Or tree?

11. Where can I find information about places to visit in Tennessee?

12. How many people live in Tennessee?

13. Who is my representative?

14. How do I send the Governor of Tennessee a message?

15. How can I find unclaimed property in Tennessee?

16. How do I find someone living in Tennessee?

17. Where can I order military service records from World War II, the Korean War, or the Viet Nam War?

18. I was adopted. How do I start looking for my birth parents?

19. Where can I get a copy of a Tennessee census record?

20. How can I locate a county courthouse or the names of city / county officials in Tennessee?

21. I'm doing a report on Tennessee. Where can I get information or free materials about the state?

 


01. What is the meaning of the name "Tennessee" ?

 

The following is from Tennessee Historical Quarterly, Vol. 30, No. 4, Winter 1971, pg. 344:

The origin of the name "Tennessee" is associated with the Overhill Cherokee town of Tanase (in what is now Monroe County) and the Tanase River (the Little Tennessee), in southeastern Tennessee. The Cherokee word, of uncertain meaning, has been given the fanciful derivations "winding river" and "river of the great bend". The modern spelling of "Tennessee" was noted as early as 1754 and was applied by 1793 to that section of transmontane North Carolina then known as the Territory of the United States of America South of the River Ohio.

The third county to be established in what is now Middle Tennessee, created in 1788 by the State of North Carolina, was called "Tennessee County". Its life span was eight years. When a constitutional convention met in Knoxville on January 11, 1796, to organize a new state out of the Southwest Territory, it adopted "Tennessee" as the name of the state.

The suggestion for naming the state for the river has been "loosely and erroneously" attributed to Andrew Jackson, who was a member of the Tennessee Constitutional Convention of 1796, but there is no documentation that Jackson proposed the adoption of a name already applied to a North Carolina county and to the entire Southwest Territory.



02. How can I order family genealogy records?

For information on records available from TSLA, please see our page on Genealogical Services Available by Mail.


Additional information on records at TSLA:



03. Where do I get a Tennessee birth certificate?

 

For birth certificates issued between 1908 and 1912, contact TSLA.

For birth certificates issued after 1913, contact the Tennessee Department of Health, Office of Vital Records.


Additional information on birth records:



04. Where do I get a Tennessee death certificate?

 

For copies of death certificates issued between 1908 and 1961, contact TSLA.

For those issued after 1961, contact the Tennessee Department of Health, Office of Vital Records.


Additional information on death records:



05. Where do I get a Tennessee marriage record?

 

For copies of marriage records issued between 1780 and 1961, contact TSLA.

For marriage records issued January 1, 1962 to the present, contact the Tennessee Department of Health, Office of Vital Records.


Additional information on marriage records:



06. Is there a law in Tennessee that ... ?

 

The staff cannot respond to questions about rights under the law or provide any type of legal interpretation or advice. You can read the current Tennessee law in the online version of Tennessee Code.

The Rules and Regulations of Tennessee state agencies can also be found online. [Adobe Acrobat must be installed on your computer in order to view the Rules and Regulations online.]


07. Do you have this book in the State Library?

 

The TSLA Online Catalog is available through our web site.  You can also search the holdings of more than two dozen libraries by going to the Tennessee Public Library Catalog.


Additional information on TSLA books:



08. Where do I get a current map of the state or a county in Tennessee?

 

You can order a free copy of the Official Tennessee Transportation Map through the Tennessee Department of Transportation. The TDOT web site also has online highway maps of the state and a number of cities, as well as online county maps. You may also wish to contact TDOT's Mapping and Statistics Office.

 

The USGS Geographic Names Information System* can find locations in Tennessee and provide detailed online maps.

 

 

Additional links to Tennessee maps:

 


09. Where in Tennessee is (city, town, community, river, mountain)?

 

The TSLA web site has a section for Tennessee place names.

The USGS Geographic Names Information System* can find locations in Tennessee and provide maps of the area.

If you are still unable to find the location, e-mail TSLA with your question.


Additional information on Tennessee locations:



10. What is the Tennessee state flower? Or song? Or tree?

 

State symbols can be found in the Tennessee Blue Book.

[Adobe Acrobat must be installed on your computer in order to view the Tennessee Blue Book online.]



11. Where can I find information about places to visit in Tennessee?

 

The State of Tennessee Vacations web site has a listing of Tennessee attractions, heritage trails, state parks and forests, public lakes, hiking & bicycle trails, water recreation, and special events.

More information on Tennessee state parks is available from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

 


12. How many people live in Tennessee?

 

The web site for the United States Census Bureau has a section with population estimates for the states.


13. Who is my representative?

 

Please visit the web site of the Tennessee General Assembly. The web site includes a directory of members of the Senate and House, and the text of current and pending legislation.


Additional information on Tennessee State Government:

 


14. How do I send the Governor of Tennessee a message?

 

The Governor's web site has information on contacting the Governor's office by telephone or e-mail.


15. How can I find unclaimed property in Tennessee?

 

Information on unclaimed wages, checks, stock certificates, and bank accounts is available from the Unclaimed Property Division of the State of Tennessee Treasury Department.


16. How do I find someone living in Tennessee?

 

The Tennessee State Library and Archives has telephone books and city directories for many Tennessee cities. We can check for a listing if you know the city or community in which the individual currently resides.

You may wish to try the following "people finders" on the Internet: Anywho*; Switchboard*; or Yahoo! People Search*.



17. Where can I order military service records from World War II, the Korean War, or the Viet Nam War?

 

You will need to contact:

National Personnel Records Center
Military Records Facility
9700 Page Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri 63132-5100


Additional information on WWII records:



18. I was adopted. How do I start looking for my birth parents?

 

You will need to contact the Tennessee Department of Children's Services, Post-Adoption Unit .


19.Where can I get a copy of a Tennessee census record?

 

Tennessee became a state in 1796. The territorial census schedules and the 1800 census were lost or destroyed. The 1810 census of Tennessee was also lost, except for Grainger and Rutherford counties, which have been indexed. The 1820 census is incomplete and most East Tennessee counties are missing. The years 1830-1880 have complete census records. The 1890 census of Tennessee was destroyed in a warehouse fire. The years 1900-1930 have complete census records.

The Tennessee State Library & Archives can provide copies from census index books 1820-1880 and from any original (handwritten) census schedule. Census records for 1900-1930 have not been indexed in book form.

To obtain copies of census records, please see our web page on ordering census records by mail.

Copies of the Tennessee census are available at other locations. The National Archives and Records Administration has provided us with a list of US libraries with copies of the Tennessee census. You may be able to request that your local library borrow a microfilmed copy of the Tennessee census through the Census Microfilm Rental Program*.

Individual records for the 1940 census and later census years are legally restricted to the persons in the record or their legal heirs. You can contact the Personal Census Service, 1201 E 10th Street, Jeffersonville, IN 47132 (812-218-3192).

For more information about recent census records, please see the publication “Availability of Census Records About Individuals” on the US Census Bureau* web site [Adobe Acrobat must be installed on your computer in order to view this publication.]


Additional information on census records:



20. How can I locate a county courthouse or the names of city / county officials in Tennessee?

 

The web site for the National Association of Counties* gives the address, phone number and fax number for every county courthouse in Tennessee.


21. I'm doing a report on Tennessee. Where can I get information or free materials about the state?

 

The following web sites are excellent sources of information on the state of Tennessee:

State of Tennessee Homepage

Tennessee Blue Book [Adobe Acrobat must be installed on your
computer in order to view the Tennessee Blue Book online.]

Tennessee Department of Tourist Development

Tennessee Maps

Tennessee Code (State Laws)

Location of Public Libraries in Tennessee

 



* = This web site is not associated with the state of Tennessee.

 

Updated April 13, 2012