Publications to Note

By Linda T. Wynn, Assistant Director for State Programs & Publications Editor

Kem Hinton’s Tennessee’s Bicentennial Mall was published by Grandin Hood Publishers, 1101 W Main St, Franklin, TN 37064. In this comprehensive book, lead designer Kem Hinton, Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA) enlightens the reader with the story of the State Capitol, which was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and designated a National Historic Landmark a year later. Designed in 1845 by architect William Strickland, Tennessee’s State Capitol building is regarded as the most important single building in the state. Built in part by enslaved labor, all men loaned to the state government by A. G. Payne, a Nashville stone mason. Based on an ad in the Republican Banner on April 23, 1847, Strickland called for “twelve stout, able-bodied Negroes are required, for quarrying and hoisting stone for building. . . Apply at the office of the Architect on the hill. W. Strickland.” The author shares the story of the Capitol, regarded as “the most important building in Tennessee, and next moves to the efforts to establish a new park.

Hinton explains the early efforts to establish a new public park in North Nashville, in proximity to the Farmer’s Market, that would provide a clear view of Tennessee’s historic statehouse. Lastly, the author provides the reader with a description of the design process to create within this exterior public space an edifying open-air museum about the Volunteer State. The western outer path is the Pathway of History that chronicles major events in the state's history with short inscriptions. The pathway is divided into two main sections: a shorter section that provides a brief overview of the state's prehistory and precolonial history, beginning one billion years ago, and a shorter one that provides a more detailed history of the state from 1766 to 1996. Dedicated on Statehood Day, June 1, 1996, over the last twenty-seven years, the Tennessee Bicentennial Capitol Mall has hosted numerous celebrations, concerts, and educational events.

Located north of the state’s capitol, the nineteen-acre urban setting is part of Tennessee’s state park system. The recipient of national and international recognition, the Bicentennial Capitol Mall is one of the capital city’s most visited public spaces. In 2018 and 2021, the Tennessee State Museum and the Tennessee State Library and Archives were located in proximity to the Tennessee Bicentennial Capitol Mall. This book is a must have that captures how the Bicentennial Mall went from the drawing table to an outdoor landmark mall that captures Tennessee’s storied past. Hardback, $50.00.

Harper Horizon, an imprint of Harper Collins Focus LLC, 501 Nelson Place, Nashville, Tennessee 37214, published Night Train to Nashville: The Greatest Untold Story of Music City by Paula Blackman. In this work Blackman chronicles the history of WLAC, the radio station remembered for its R & B (Rhythm & Blues) broadcasts from the 1950s through the 1970s. The author’s grandfather, Edward “Gab” Blackman, an executive at WLAC decided during this era of racial separation to play music by African American artists and to advertise to an African American audience on the radio. In spite of the opposition to R & B, the musical genera appealed to both African Americans and the mainstream population nationwide. Blackman, the daughter of Edward and Anne Duff Blackman, attended a professional screenwriting school where Night Train to Nashville began as a class project. After completing the course of study, she continued to research the story for years, eventually turning it into a creative non-fiction book. Blackman includes the perspectives and experiences of Nashville’s African Americans by highlighting businessman William “Sou” Bridgeforth, a well-known individual within the community. As the owner of The New Era, a North Nashville nightclub, Bridgeforth gave musicians and entertainers like Etta James, Jimi Hendrix, and Little Richard among others, a Nashville stage upon which to perform. Etta James’ 1963 live album, Etta James Rocks the House, immortalized The New Era, once located on Charlotte Avenue. She was one of numerous African American celebrities who performed in the city’s well-known R & B clubs, making the city a top destination on the “Chitlin Circuit” in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. Many of these clubs lined Jefferson Street, then Nashville’s prime thoroughfare for African American culture and commerce. Notwithstanding, one cannot forget about the Bijou Theater on Fourth Avenue North, in the city’s African American business district, which first began hosting African American performers in the 1920s, just blocks away from the Grand Ole Opry. An important collaborator in writing the book was Harriett Bridgeforth Jordan, the daughter of Sou Bridgeforth. Most discerningly, Blackman’s book portrays how WLAC and Nashville’s R&B scene brought the African American musical expression to the forefront of pop culture in the segregated South. Taking place during one of the most turbulent periods in America’s history, Night Train to Nashville explores how “Music City,” a municipality divided into two completely different and unequal communities, demonstrated how the power of music transformed the world. Hardcover, $29.99.

Lyons Press, an imprint of Globe Pequot a division of Roman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc. Essex, Connecticut, has published The Tigerbelles: Olympic Legends from Tennessee State by Aime Alley Card. The Tigerbelles is one of several books narrating the compelling accounts of Tennessee A & I University, known in 1970 as Tennessee State University’s (TSU) Tigerbelles. Among those include Tigerbelle: The Wyomia Tyus Story by Wyomia Tyus (2018) and Temple's Tigerbelles: An Illustrated History Of The Women Who Outran the World by Dwight Lewis (2019). Card, a nonfiction editor for Pangyrus literary magazine and a board member of the Women’s National Book Association, Boston Chapter, conducted and reviewed hundreds of hours of interviews and read numerous books and articles on the Tigerbelles. Her work reveals the story TSU’s all-African American women’s 1960 track team that found Olympic fame in Rome. Many are familiar with Clarksville native Wilma Rudolph (1940-1994), who while still a student at Burt High School and the youngest member of the Tigerbelles, competed on the collegiate level in 1956 and won a bronze medal in 4x100 relay at the Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. Four years later, at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy, Rudolph competed in three events: the 100 and 200-meter sprints, as well as the 4 X 100-meter relay. Rudolph, who won a gold medal in each of these events, became the first American woman to win three gold medals in a single Olympiad. Other members of the 1960 TSU Tigerbelles included Barbara Jones, Lucinda Williams, Martha Hudson, Willye B. White, and Shirley Crowder. After the Tigerbelles success at the 1960 Olympics, The New York Times referred to them as "the cathedral of women’s track in this country." Prior to the 1960 medal-winning Olympic Tigerbelles, Tennessee State produced others winners like, Audrey Patterson, who in 1948 won a bronze medal in the 200-meter race and Emma Reed White represented the United States in the London Olympics. Three years later, Jean Patton Latimore won the 100 meters in the Pan American games.

In 1950, when Ed Temple took the position of coach, although not his idea, Tennessee State’s women’s track team became known as the “Tigerbelles.” The name came from Earl Clanton, III, the institution’s sports information director. The women’s track team moniker combines the appellations of the college’s mascot and the nomenclature “southern belles,” hence Tigerbelles.

The Tigerbelles narrates the story of “desire, success, and failure—of beating the odds— against the backdrop of a changing America.” Temple pressed each Tigerbelle beyond the limit and saw the potential in them that they did not see in themselves. One of the coach’s and Tigerbelles objectives was to change America’s perception of what a group of young African American women could accomplish despite of the social restrictions that nation assigned to them. Card introduces the reader to the individual Tigerbelles struggle and triumphs and how their dreams emerged and solidified as the United States was grappling with a way to legally renounce the era of racial segregation. She conducted and reviewed hundreds of interviews and read numerous tomes and articles written about the Tigerbelles and Coach Temple.

The Tigerbelles is not only about a group young women athletes at Tennessee State, it is also apart of Tennessee’s sport history and its impact not only on America but indeed, the world. As Laura Munson of the New York Times, said, “The Tigerbelles is not only for sports lovers, but for anyone who values triumph over adversity, untold historical stories, women supporting women, and the collective power of team breaking the mold...” Hardback, $28.95.


Elizabeth R. Varon’s Longstreet: The Confederate General Who Defied the South published by Simon and Schuster, 100 Front Street, Riverside, New Jersey, 08075, is an engrossing chronicle and reevaluation of the Confederate General turned Republican political figure and businessperson. When considering the prominent personalities of the Confederacy, three individuals stand out in America’s Civil War. Individuals, such as Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America; Robert Edward Lee, a commander of the Confederate States Army; and Longstreet, one of the foremost Confederate generals come to mind. Longstreet served under Lee as a corps commander for most of the battles fought by the Army of Northern Virginia in the Eastern Theater, and briefly with Braxton Bragg in the Army of Tennessee in the Western Theater, where his troops launched a fierce offensive on the Union lines at Chickamauga that carried the day. Between September 18 through September 20, 1863, the Confederates broke through the Union lines and forced the Federals into a siege at Chattanooga. Notwithstanding, two years later on April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered the last major Confederate Army to General Ulysses S. Grant at the Appomattox Court House. Almost a year later on April 2, 1866, President Andrew Johnson signed a proclamation declaring that “the insurrection which heretofore existed in the States of Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Florida is at an end and is henceforth to be so regarded.” It has long been established that the South lost the Civil War but won the battle over historical memory. Almost from the moment of surrender, the tenet of the “Lost Cause” shaped both popular and scholarly understanding of the War between the States.

Dr. Elizabeth R. Varon earned the Ph.D. from Yale University and is the Langbourne M. Williams professor of American history at the University of Virginia and a member of the executive council of the University of Virginia’s John L. Nau III, Center for the Civil War History. The author of several books, her Armies of Deliverance: A New History of the Civil War, won the 2020 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize and was named one of The Wall Street Journal’s best books of the year. In her latest tome, Varon has written a compelling narrative that causes today’s reader to see Longstreet through a different lens by focusing on his postwar years. While best known as a very capable Confederate military general and a “Lost Cause” outsider, he became a postwar Republican, diplomat, and a supporter of African Americans gaining the right of the franchise. “To me, the surrender of my sword was my reconstruction. I look upon the ‘Lost Cause’ as a cause totally, irrevocably lost” (p.363).  According to the author, Longstreet’s “embrace of Republicanism and Reconstruction rendered him unfit as a symbol of the Lost Cause. Longstreet: The Confederate General Who Defied the South should be of interest to those who want to comprehend this Confederate general who loss his standing in the South’s Civil War history. Hardback, $35.00.

The University of Tennessee Press published T.R.C. Hutton’s Bearing the Torch: The University of Tennessee, 1794–2010. Hutton’s book is an across-the-board narrative of the University of Tennessee, complete with anecdotes and vignettes of interest to those captivated with UT, from the administrators and chancellors to students and alums, and even those whose awareness of the academy emanates primarily from the sports page. At the same time, Bearing the Torch is an account of an educational institution whose history reflects that of Tennessee and the United States. Founded in 1794 as Blount College (named for Territorial Governor William Blount) in Knoxville in a building provided by James White, the town’s founder, illustrates the connection between education and American history. The East Tennessee school was also known as East Tennessee College (1807), East Tennessee University (1840), and finally as the University of Tennessee (1879). Hutton, an associate professor of history and Appalachian studies at West Virginia’s Glenville College. Prior to joining Glenville College’s faculty, he taught history and American studies at the University of Tennessee for twelve years after earning his doctorate degree from Vanderbilt University. Ten years prior to the publication of Bearing the Torch, his Bloody Breathitt: Politics and Violence in the Appalachian South was published by the University of Kentucky Press. Hutton’s latest tome is the first scholarly history of UT since James Riley Montgomery’s To Foster Knowledge: History University Of Tennessee 1794-1970 published in 1984. Hutton not only provides an updated history of the university, he also presents a social history of the university and effectively incorporates historical context, exemplifying how the book’s central “character”—the university— shows historical themes and concerns. Hardback, $24.95.


Vanderbilt University Press, 2301 Vanderbilt Place, Nashville, Tennessee 37240-1813. Carrie Tipton’s From Dixie to Rocky Top: Music and Meaning in Southeaster Conference Football is the first work to delve into the history of college fight songs as a culturally significant phenomenon. This tome focuses on the country’s southern region, where the collegiate sport of football fashioned a forceful, quasi-religious perspective of importance and distinctiveness throughout the South. Musicologist Tipton, a musicologist and lecturer on US vernacular music, uses primary and archival sources from the Southeastern Conferences (SEC) universities and integrates literature from sports history, Southern and American history, as well as Southern and American studies, and musicology. The author situates the broadly-accepted repertoire within the wide-ranging profitmaking music enterprise and uses fight songs that allow the fans to collectively cheer for their team. She explores themes of authorship and copyright; the commodification of school spirit; and the construction of race, gender, and identity in Southern football culture. Tipton’s book should appeal to those interested in the SEC and how music intersects and became an integral part of post-secondary sport’s culture. Paper, $28.51.