Chattanooga’s history is moving into the UTC Library.
More than 7,600 objects, almost 14,000 photos and a huge number of text- and paper items are being packed for the trip to their new home. They are scheduled to be unloaded at UTC on Monday, June 19.
Among the items, originally intended for the Chattanooga History Center are more than 100 years of personal and family papers, business records, photographic materials, moving images, textiles, books, periodicals, and physical objects.
“This collection represents our city’s history and heritage,” says Theresa Liedtka, dean of UTC Library Administrative Services. “The collection has tremendous scholarly and local history value.
“It is the desire of both the UTC Library and the Chattanooga Public Library to work together to curate these important elements of Chattanooga’s history and culture and to make them available to citizens of Chattanooga and the world.”
Corinne Hill, director of the library, describes the collaboration as “a wonderful example and opportunity for two community anchor institutions to work together and share expertise.”
“We are looking forward to collaborating on ways to safeguard and celebrate these historic archives so they can be enjoyed for generations,” she says.
Pieces in the collection cover such historical eras as the Cherokee Nation, the Civil War and Reconstruction, local sit-ins and demonstrations during the Civil Rights Era and the renewal of Chattanooga from pollution-ridden to tourist destination.
There also are materials from such noted Chattanooga families as the Brocks, Luptons and Crutchfields and informational items from such city-based entities as Wheland Foundry, Coca-Cola, Fairyland and Engel Stadium.
The main goal is to keep the collection intact, in Chattanooga and in protected spaces, Liedtka says.
“We are going to try to keep it all in one place and in a preservation environment,” she says.
Only a few of pieces of the collection will be on display in the library, which is limited in the amount of space it can dedicate to the items, says Liedtka. But there will be materials available online, she adds.
“Long-term we plan to work with the Public Library on exhibitions and loans, displaying some and making items available on loan to others.”
No renovations to the library should be needed, although some storage space and extra shelving probably will be used, she says.
“We are in the process of rearranging our existing climate-controlled storage facility on the fourth floor of the new UTC library,” Liedtka adds.
Most of the collection currently is housed in the former location of the Chattanooga History Center above Puckett’s restaurant next to the Tennessee Aquarium. The rest is in a city-owned warehouse.
The History Center was planned as a full-scale, interactive museum, but never opened.