Vince Staten’s Column on Archives Month

Big Thanks to Vince Staten american archives-1 for his column in today’s paper. I have copied the text of his column below.

Archives (and I) looking for new old material for city’s collection

October is American Archives Month and the City of Kingsport Archives is celebrating by releasing a new series of postcards from vintage photographs in the Archives’ collection.

We are lucky to have a city archives. Not many cities have their own living history repository.

Kingsport was the first city in Tennessee to create its own archive, according to current City Archivist Brianne Wright. Most Tennessee counties have an archive but there are still only a handful of municipalities with their own archives. Neither Bristol nor Johnson City, our closest neighbors, has an archive. Not even Knoxville has its own city archive.

Our archive is a treasure trove, with everything from the Sobel’s-sponsored entry in the 1965 Soap Box Derby to early paper currency from the Bank of Kingsport signed by J. Fred Johnson.

Brianne says, “The mission of the archives is to collect and preserve materials on the history and people of Kingsport, so there are a variety of materials that people donate.”

And she is looking for more material.

“One thing that I try to get across to people is that if they are unsure if the archives will accept their donation, then they shouldn’t hesitate to ask. They may not think that the materials are valuable to the archives or think that no one would be interested in their family photos, but that is not always the case. I would prefer people to take the time to call or come by and ask before they throw things out. I shudder to think about how much stuff has been thrown away over the years that would be historically significant to Kingsport’s history.”

Brianne says she doesn’t have a “want list” — but I do.

Here is My Most Wanted List of Kingsport Historical Items.

1. Kingsport Times, Volume 1, Number 1. The very first Kingsport Times from 1916 is missing. In fact the first four issues of the Kingsport Times are missing. The oldest existing one, and it’s only on microfilm, is Number 5. Brianne says she does have a copy of the Kingsport Sentinel, Oct. 14, 1910, and The (Kingsport) Progress, Sept. 6, 1917.

2. The Kingsport Times coverage of Murderous Mary, the Circus Elephant who killed her trainer and was later hanged in Erwin. Those 1916 editions are also missing. The only existing newspaper coverage is from the Johnson City and Bristol papers.

3. “Kingsport,” also known as the Bobby Dodd movie. This newspaper wrote several stories in 1926 about a locally filmed movie that featured football star Bobby “Rabbit” Dodd. It was even shown at the Strand. No copy of the movie is known to exist.

4. “The Way of Men,” also known as the 1930 Kingsport movie. Four years later, a group of local folk produced this comedy, starring a local cast, directed by Margaret Jean McClaran, the head of the department of public speaking at D-B, and scored by the D-B band director, Fess Witt. It too was shown at the Strand and it too is missing.

5. Photos of Elvis at the Civic Auditorium in 1955. There were only a couple of hundred people in attendance at that show but surely somebody took along a Brownie Hawkeye.

If you come across any of these items in your attic or basement, run don’t walk to donate them to the Archives.


Each set of the new Archives postcards contains five postcards and sells for $5. Series 3 includes vintage photos of J. Fred Johnson Department Store when it was next to Palace News (1946) and the dime store block of Broad with Woolworth’s, Kress’s and Grant’s. Series 4 includes a Piggly Wiggly photo from 1946 and a 1953 photo of the Russell’s Newsstand building at Sullivan and Charlemont.

You can view the postcards online at the Archives blog,

The postcard sets can be purchased at Berry’s Pharmacy, Carriage House, Downtown Kingsport Association, Haggle Shop, Marcum’s Pharmacy, Mary’s Kitchen Shop, Nooks & Crannies, P&J Antiques, Rowe’s Pharmacy, Up Against the Wall Gallery, Shakar Antiques and the Kingsport Public Library and Archives.


Kingsport native Tom Smith is a little behind in his column reading. He has to wait until he gets clippings of my column from his Kingsport brother-in-law Jim Henderson. “Your article about headlines reminded me of a headline my mother Lucile Smith cut out of the Kingsport Times-News years ago and always had on the front of her refrigerator.”

Tom sent me a copy of the headline: “Wise woman “detained “for outburst”

(The woman may or may not have been wise but she was certainly from Wise, Virginia.)


Dick Cartwright was surfing the Internet when he came across a photo of a famous gospel group. “I sure must have missed some vital math lessons. The Blackwood Quartet has six members.”

Vince also does a blog, check it out at


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