Window into the past

The Archives of the City of Kingsport houses thousands of photographs and documents that are historically significant to the City of Kingsport. It is my job as the city archivist to continue to collect and preserve these materials in order

Perely Wilcox, J. Fred Johnson and John B. Dennis: Early Kingsport Leaders
Perley Wilcox, J. Fred Johnson and John B. Dennis: Early Kingsport Leaders

to protect the documentary heritage of the city. Another part of my job is to promote the existence of and make accessible these materials. After all, what value do they have if they are never seen?

This blog has started out of an idea to “market” the archives. There are still too many people that are unaware that the archives exists and even people who know that the city has one, do not know where it is or the function it serves.

Other than the  blog there is also the archives website at The website started as a way to provide online access to the holdings of the archives as well as access to Kingsport’s pictorial history. The website features an online image gallery that currently features close to 1700 images of Kingsport. These images are valuable commodities to the archives and to the people of Kingsport as they are wonderful resources for documenting the history and progress of the city.

The majority of the images are from the Thomas McNeer, Jr. Collection. Thomas McNeer, Jr. was a local resident who had a distinguished and significant career as a photographer that spanned over five decades. The son of Dr. Thomas McNeer, Sr. and Delta Crouch McNeer, McNeer studied photography at the School of Photography in New York City under one of the foremost art photographers, Ben Magid Rabinovitch.

McNeer Studio Sign
McNeer Studio Sign

Following his studies in photography, McNeer opened his studio in Kingsport in 1939. McNeer offered a combination of portraiture and commercial photography. In addition, McNeer served as company photographer for the Kingsport Press, Mead Corporation, Mason and Dixon, and other businesses within Kingsport.

Thomas McNeer, Jr. died March 15, 1991.  His wife, Margaret McNeer, donated his collection of negatives and photographic prints to the Archives of the City of Kingsport in 1994 thus ensuring his photo legacy would live on.


Check out the online image gallery. You can browse through topics including downtown, sports and recreation, people, industry, houses and apartments and events. You never know, you may see someone you know or even yourself; it is great trip into Kingsport’s past!

Print and digital copies of the images viewed on the site may be obtained by visiting the Archives. Permission and license to use photographic reproductions may involve a fee for commercial use.


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