Sumner County, TN, Archives

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The Sumner County Archives, Gallatin, Tennessee
A User Friendly Facility

by Shirley Wilson, C.G., 1994 Used by permission.

Genealogical researchers with an interest in Middle Tennessee will be pleased to learn about the Sumner County Archives, a relatively new historical and genealogical research facility located in Gallatin, Sumner County, Tennessee.

Sumner County was formed in 1786, ten years before Tennessee became a state. The second county formed in Middle Tennessee, it is the parent county of many adjacent counties. The land it encompassed at its formation includes much of what is now Middle Tennessee.

The Sumner County Archives opened in April, 1987, with hours corresponding to those of the courthouse. At that time, it was housed in two small rooms in the basement of the courthouse annex. The Archives has been growing by leaps and bounds ever since. Today it occupies 2,000 square feet on the main level of the courthouse annex and has another 974 square feet of storage in the basement.

Everything about the Sumner County Archives is unique, including the manner in which it was formed. Initially organized and operated entirely by volunteers, two full-time paid clerks now staff the archives. Volunteers still provide many services to the Archives, including its administration, cataloging and the operation of a Records Preservation Laboratory.

Using the laboratory, volunteers have cleaned, de-acidified, repaired, and encapsulated many items in the county's large collection of original documents.

The county is also unique in that its records are largely intact and date from the county's formation in 1786. Most of the early official county records books are available for research at the Sumner County Archives. The microfilm collection includes over 150 reels of Sumner County records, as well as vital records, census, and newspapers on Sumner and surrounding counties. The Mormon Family/Search® is available on computer, and the IGI® (International Genealogical Index) and FHLC® (Family History Library Catalogue) are among microfiche records that are available. There are maps and photographs, vertical family files, manuscript material, and a modest, but swiftly expanding, library collection on Tennessee and surrounding states. The funeral home records gathered from all over Sumner County are heavily used by patrons.

Of particular interest to the genealogist is the loose records collection, which spans the entire existence of the county. It is fully-indexed and easily accessed. It includes original wills, estate packets, and transcripts of lawsuits for Circuit, Chancery, and County Court. The collection has been accurately described as a "goldmine" of genealogical information. A typical lawsuit links a deceased grandfather in a North Carolina county to his son in Sumner County and his grandson in an Arkansas or Texas county.

There is something for everyone as the Sumner County Archives! History buffs will be pleased to learn that the collection includes much of particular value to the historian. A set of the geological survey maps of the county has been enhanced by locating important historical sites, which have been pinpointed by local historians. Such primary material as church records, photographs and manuscripts benefit both the historian and genealogist.

The facility is open 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Central Time), Monday to Friday, with plenty of free parking nearby. Visitors are welcome to this "user friendly" facility. Staff members and volunteers work side by side to insure that visitors are successful in their searches. While you're in historic Sumner County, take time to visit some of the beautiful homes and historical sites in the area. Brochures are available upon request.

If you're unable to schedule a visit, you can e-mail the Archives at

Sumner County, TN, Archives
155 East Main Street
Gallatin, TN 37066

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