Family of leading Kingsport historian donates treasure trove to Archives

KINGSPORT – An expansive treasure of Kingsport’s history and heritage assembled by the late Muriel Miller Clark Spoden has been donated to the Kingsport Archives by her husband, Hal Spoden, and children, Clark and Diane.

Ms. Spoden’s broad research collection includes more than 80 boxes of material that has not yet been cataloged. The material must first be sorted, arranged, preserved and carefully stored, while an archival finding aide similar to a card catalog will be developed as well. Original materials will be preserved, with scanned copies to be made available for public access.

In addition to research, Muriel Spoden was a prolific author, penning a historical map of the Long Island of the Holston, as well as:

• An American Ancestry of the Clark-Morton and Tyman Millar-Adams Families
• Historic Sites of Sullivan County
• Early Years on Bays Mountain
• The Ancestors and Descendants of Richard Netherland, Esq. (1794-1832)
• The Netherland Inn Chronicles
• The Long Island of the Holston: Sacred Island of the Cherokee Nation
• Kingsport Heritage: The Early Years 1700 to 1900

Muriel Spoden was born in Birmingham, Alabama and moved to Kingsport in 1951. She became enraptured by the rich Kingsport history and dedicated her life to researching that history, as well as working to preserve the integrity of Kingsport’s historic buildings. In addition to co-founding the Netherland Inn Association, Ms. Spoden served on the first-ever Kingsport Historic Zoning Commission.

Husband Hal Spoden was an important collaborator on many projects, taking photos for illustrations, drawing maps and helping restore Netherland Inn. The Spoden family’s donation fills a critical gap in the Archive’s materials, which principally date to the City’s incorporation in 1917 and later.

“The Muriel Spoden collection adds a massive amount of research on the history of the area, especially early Kingsport, which is an area that has been sorely lacking in the archives,” Kingsport Archivist Brianne Wright said. “This is an invaluable addition, particularly regarding old Kingsport and the Boatyard area, which will be cherished and preserved for future generations. This is truly a most generous gift, and on behalf of the City of Kingsport, we deeply thank the Spoden family for entrusting the fruits of their labors to the Archives.”

Meanwhile, the work of processing the materials has just begun, with The Friends of the Archives supporting the effort by providing funding to hire an intern to work with Wright to process the materials.

“This is a large amount of material and we know the public will be anxious to see it, so we are trying to process it as quickly as we possible to make it available to other researchers,” said Kingsport Public Library Manager Helen Whittaker. “We hope to have at least some of the collection available by early fall. Check back with the library’s website,, or the archives website,, to see when items are going to become available for review.”


Courtesy of the City of Kingsport


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