E.G. Fisher Public Library currently has over 1,000 books for the local history researcher, including county histories, transcribed county records, family histories, military histories, and church records. McMinn County, in particular, is the focus of the collection; however, the collection includes material on other East Tennessee counties, general Tennessee history, and genealogical material of other southern states, particularly Virginia and North Carolina.


Vital Records

Birth and death records were not kept officially by the State of Tennessee until 1914. Our holdings include the microfilm death records for McMinn County from 1914 to 1925; the index to the death records for TN covers 1914 to 1942. Early death records are also on microfilm from 1908-1912. Transcribed death certificate records of McMinn County from 1914-1945 are also available. (publications of McMinn County Historical Society)

County Information

Material on individual counties in Tennessee is arranged alphabetically in the collection under the call # HIST 976.82 (name of county), i.e. HIST 976.82 MCMINN.Included in each county’s section are transcribed county records, city directories, cemetery records, county histories, and funeral home records. County records can include marriage, court, will and estate, and deed records.
The microfilm holdings for McMinn County include extensive county records dating back to the formation of the county in 1819 up into the present time.

Census Records

Federal Census records taken every 10 years exist for McMinn County from 1830 to1930; there is no 1890 census record.The original census record can be examined on microfilm and/or on Heritage Quest and Ancestry databases.There are also indices to the census records for Tennessee counties from 1830 – 1870; we also have census records on microfilm for many contiguous counties to McMinn County. Census records help establish many clues to an ancestor’s life – an age, the county of residence, how they made a living, who else lived in the household in the particular census year.

Family Histories/Family Files

The library houses much information on families in published works on particular families and in family files. Look for collective family histories under call #HIST 929.3 and for individual family histories under call # HIST 929.33, alphabetical by surname. The family file contains folders of information on particular surnames.This is housed at the Circulation desk with a surname index. These files often contain letters written to the courthouse or to the library requesting information, unpublished family histories, newspaper clippings, and sometimes photographs.


The library has newspapers of McMinn County on microfilm, some dating back into the 1800s; we maintain a continuous run of the Daily Post Athenian from its beginning in 1929 to the present. To find death notices in the DPA, we maintain an Obituary Index to the Daily Post Athenian.At present, it spans the years 1963 to 2004.

Bible Records

The library has three unpublished volumes of compiled Bible records of families from McMinn County. Housed in HIST 976.82 MCMINN.

Military Records

Military records can primarily be found in published books in the Historical Collection.Valuable research resources include but are not limited to:
HIST 973.7War of the Rebellion –Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.
The Tennessee Civil War Veterans Questionnaires.
Tennesseans in the Civil War.
HIST 973.3 Roster of Soldiers from North Carolina in the American Revolution.
HIST 976.89 MCMINN World War Veterans and Ex-Service Men of McMinn County, TN

Athens Browning Circle Records

The Athens Browning Circle, a women’s federated club, existed in Athens from 1891-1994. E.G. Fisher Public Library came into being in large part because of the efforts of the Athens Browning Circle. The library was housed in their clubhouse from mid 1940s to 1969. When the Browning Circle ceased operation in 1994, the library became the recipient of their assets, including their yearly minute books and journals which recorded memberships and programs for each year.As part of the Historical Collection, the library maintains a permanent exhibit honoring the Athens Browning Circle.

Online Resources

Heritage Quest Online is available from home and in the library through the Tennessee Electronic Library

Genealogy Resources

The majority of the resources listed are free to the public.
Compiled Family Data
Historical Records
Census Records
Libraries and Archives
Tennessee History and Genealogy

Learning About Genealogy

  • Ancestors

    Under Helpful Resources, click “5-step process.”
    Useful on-line tutorial with built-in tests and answer keys. Free pedigree charts and group sheets.
    To print, locate “Online Tools” and click “Free Charts.”
    A link to Adobe Acrobat Reader is provided if needed.
  • Family Tree Maker Online

    Commercial site from front-running genealogy software maker.
    Offers 1900 census with every-name index.
    Use the link, “Helpful Web Sites” to find How-To articles.
    Use the “Site Features” link to find Classes.

Compiled Family Data

  • Family Search
    Search the databases of the LDS church – free of charge.
    Use “Search for Ancestors” to search four different data sources: Ancestral File – compiled genealogical data from contributors.
    IGI – individual bits of data (birth, marriage, death) from many sources.
    Pedigree File – similar to ancestral file; only the index is on the web.
    Web sites – searches sites selected by LDS, very limited.
    Some entries allow user to contact original contributor.
    Use the “Share Information” option to upload your data.
  • Ancestry Public Member Trees
    Part of Ancestry’s commercial site, but this database is free.
    Family data contributed by subscribers and users.
    Note various options of ways to view data: register style is most readable.

Mailing Lists & Bulletin Boards

  • Genforum Message Boards
    Accumulated messages and responses by surname, locale or subject.

    Able to show an outline of all the “threads” of responses to a single message, and to trace up and down through them.
    Check total number of postings to determine popularity of list.
    Use “Forum Finder” to search for surname lists, lists by location or subject.

Historical Records

  • U.S. GenWeb
    Nationwide volunteer project, with a web site for every county in the US (there is also a world-wide site).

    County pages vary in usefulness, many contain some local record abstracts.
    Pages usually also contain references to local libraries and historical/genealogical societies.
    Each page also includes query service – links to post queries or view archived queries.
  • Ancestry’s Free Databases
    Commercial site with free access to selected databases.

    Select “List all Databases” to see what is available; most will be inaccessible without subscription.
    Caution: database titles often promise more than they deliver.
  • Freedmen’s Bureau
    Full text of many records, including marriages of former slaves.
    Reports of Klan activities and other harassment of freedmen.
    Labor contracts negotiated between former slaves and landowners.
  • Federal Land
    Search purchasers of Federal Lands beginning in 1820.
    Most lands in Alabama, Mississippi and the upper Midwest.
    View and print original land patent at no cost.
  • Social Security Death Index
    Records for deceased members of the SS system from about 1962.
    Useful for identifying strayed family members, finding death dates.
  • Vital Records

    Information for obtaining births, records, marriages in each state.
    Describes which records are available by year, where to request.
    Some states allow downloading of forms and online index searches.
  • Making of America

    Making of America is a digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum to reconstruction including the civil war correspondences found in War of the Rebellion Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.

Census Records

Quick reminder page for important changes in data collected by each census.
Useful link to NARA’s naturalization page.

Libraries & Archives

  • LDS Library
    From the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) in Salt Lake.
    Under Family History Library, link to extensive catalog of books and microfilm.
    Note that these records include both original documents(microfilmed county records, for example) and published works.
    Microfilm (but not print materials) may be borrowed through their Family History Library System. Addresses and hours provided.
  • Library of Congress
    • The massive catalog can be searched online, beginning at their genealogy page.
      Limitation: a large database, so a high number of irrelevant hits is common.

Tennessee History & Genealogy

  • Tennessee State Library and Archives

    Click on History & Genealogy.
    This site won an award for it’s content. Search vital records, Tennessee newspapers, county or census records. Special features include searchable military records, a manuscript guide, TN place names and maps, historical photos and images, and many services are available through the mail.
  • McMinn County Historical Society and Archives
    Major content includes Publications for Sale, Family Files, and Research Books.
    Additional links are provided.
  • National Archives
    Go to The Research Room, then History and Genealogy for great overviews and research tips on a variety of subjects.
    In the Research Room follow link to search the ARC catalog. ARC can be searched for surnames, but main use is for subjects.
    When searching ARC, always view the Series record for details.

People Searching & Maps

  • Switchboard
    Search for individuals, or to find everyone of a surname in a place.

    Must know the state, or search each one individually.
    Sites are very similar but different data is retrieved from each.
  • MapQuest
    Both sites will provide maps of cities, streets, addresses.
    Use with old city directories to identify ancestor’s home or business location.
    Zoom in-and-out feature can be difficult to get used to.
    Can provide driving directions, but remember it is a computer and has never actually driven anywhere!
  • United States Geological Survey – Geographic Names Information System
    Detailed maps of the entire United States.
    Includes geographical features such as creeks, mountains, etc.
    Includes all incorporated and unincorporated towns.
    Includes many named man-made features such as schools, cemeteries.
    Powerful search engine can search by all of these features; links to map.

The resources listed above were reviewed and selected by Chuck Sherrill, Director of Brentwood Library, Brentwood, Tenn., for his workshop entitled, “Genealogy for 2003 and Beyond: A Solinet Workshop”.


Miscellaneous Sources