The Sequoyah Scribe

Kingsport Archive plans move, opening new exhibits

Olyvia Fleming, Staff Writer

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Kingsport, Tennessee has a rich and somewhat forgotten history. Underneath the Kingsport Public Library, the town’s history is represented. Most people do not know that the City of Kingsport has an official archive. Brianne Wright runs the archives. She has been running the archives since 2007.

“The Kingsport Archives, located in the basement of the Kingsport Public Library, houses papers and photographs of individuals, organizations, industry, business, and non-current city records pertaining to the history of the City of Kingsport for preservation and research purposes,” Wright said.

The archives are financed by the city of Kingsport.

“The community is the biggest contributor, as far as adding to the collections in the archives,” Wright said. “Everything is donated.”

Without the community’s support, the archives could not function. The archives contain many old artifacts. The oldest objects, a few screws, date back to the late 1700’s. Although most members of the community do not know much about the town’s rich history, the archives are slowly becoming more well-know.

“I think there are a lot of people that know the archives exist,” Wright said. “I have tried really hard over the years to increase awareness.”

Since the archives are growing, space is limited. That is why the archives will be moving
to a new location. Once Kingsport’s city hall moves into the old Regions bank building, the archives will move to the fourth floor. The plan right now is to have exhibits from the archives on the second and third floors.

“I am hoping there will be more room for displays and interactive exhibits,” Weight said. “I think the new location will be more accessible and allow for more visibility.”

Wright believes that lots of people can learn from the archives.

“Exhibits are fun to look at and they help make archives more accessible to a greater number of people,” she said. “Many people are surprised when they learn that they can come visit.”

Wright’s favorite thing in the archives is a souvenir industry box that was produced by the Rotary Club of Kingsport.

“It is filled with products that were made right here in Kingsport at one time,” she said. “There are miniature books made by the Kingsport Press, glass samples from Blue Ridge Glass, fabric from Borden Mills, brick from General Shale, cement from Penn-Dixie Cement Corporation and a few other things.”

Wright has some advice to help someone who has never seen the archives.

“I like to find a way to relate the archives to a person’s interests,” she said. “For instance, if they are into sports, they may be interested in historic photos and memorabilia from early sports teams in Kingsport. If their grandparents worked at one of the many industries that were here they may be interested in those type of records to see how their grandparents lived and worked.”

In the end, the archives have something interesting for everyone.

“I think to get people interested, it is good to find some sort of a connection that they can relate to,” Wright said.

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Kingsport Archive plans move, opening new exhibits