History professor edits new Tennessee history bibliography

Recording some 6,000 publications that give insight into Tennessee's rich history took well over a year, but the end result is a volume that historians are likely to find invaluable when seeking information about African Americans during the Civil War, women's roles in the shaping of the state's government, or even Elvis Presley.

"Entertainment is a big part of Tennessee's history Ð it's made a lot of money for Tennessee," history professor Calvin Dickinson said, explaining his decision to include a great deal of such information in his book, A Bibliography of Tennessee History, 1973-1996.

A continuation of the bibliography compiled by Samuel Smith in 1972, Tennessee History, A Bibliography, this new book follows very closely the format Smith used in his original work except that Dickinson's book pays more attention to chronological sequence.

His book also contains only published works that are readily available, including theses and dissertations. Entries on literature include literary works published since 1972 that have Tennessee as a locale but exclude fiction and poetry by authors living in Tennessee unless their subject matter relates directly to the state.

"I got the idea for this book about 1990," said Dickinson, who has been teaching at TTU since 1971. "Working in Tennessee history and using Sam's book, I realized there was gobs of stuff not in it Ð that it needed to be updated."

With the help of his former student and former TTU librarian, Eloise Hitchcock, who is now at the University of the South in Sewanee, Dickinson started compiling titles and Hitchcock started putting the book together.

"I knew the material and she knew the techniques Ð we had an invaluable partnership," he said.

The book has 11 sections: reference, natural history, Native Americans, before statehood, state development, Civil War, late 19th century, early 20th century, late 20th century, literature, and county histories. And these sections are subdivided to cover several topics, for example, African Americans, women, show business personalities, that are scarcely mentioned in Samuel Smith's book.

"Old-time history tends to focus on politics, economics and military history. But history changes over time. Now, social history is broken down into topics Ð the rage now in history is the food industry," Dickinson explained.

Dickinson continues to work in Tennessee history, although his expertise actually lies in the history of England.

Currently, he and Cookeville writer Jennie Ivey are working on an anthology of Tennessee history for seventh graders. Dickinson is also working with TTU English professor Homer Kemp and history professor Michael Birdwell on a history of the Upper Cumberland based on the architecture of the region.

"There is so much in Tennessee history that hasn't been done. When I moved here, I saw a gold mine, especially about the Upper Cumberland," he said.

Dickinson's book was published by The University of Tennessee Press. Copies of the book are on sale at the TTU Bookstore in the Roaden University Center.