Madison County Archives
The Madison County Public Records Commission recommended the overall plan for the Madison County Archives to organize and preserve its historically valuable records. The first location for the Archives in 1999 was in a downtown building with several environmental issues which prompted its relocation to a building at the former Union University property (now owned by Madison County) in East Jackson, and finally to its present facility on Hollywood Drive in 2009. The Archives department shares space within a former private school building (Old Hickory Academy) with the Madison County Finance Department, Madison County Office for Veterans’ Affairs, and non-profits Jackson Center for Independent Living and Operation Hope.
There are over 5,300 cubic feet of documents, bound volumes and records from 1822 to 2013, and through the efforts of the small but dedicated part-time staff and volunteers these are being organized, indexed, and made more available for access to researchers in local history, genealogy and other uses. As necessary, older, more fragile documents and bound volumes are placed in archival folders and boxes and labeled for inventory control. Records from the same county offices are maintained together and then by type of record or document within that series. A planetary scanner allows copying (of old bound volumes, etc.) to flash drives or by mail as well as directly to a printer.
Examples of the variety of records include loose documents and bound volumes from the Circuit and Chancery Courts, marriage licenses, and many associated files from the courts and County Clerk and other offices. Some hidden treasures include ownerships of the earliest automotive vehicles from 1905 to 1917 (automobiles, motorcycles and even farm trucks); notes about musicians including the Jackson Silver Cornet Band, and the International Sweethearts of Rhythm and its well-known local talent Mabel Louise Smith (“Big Maybelle”), who was a major blues vocalist for the twentieth century.
Civil War records of soldiers, Union and Confederate, are ensconced in bound volumes of Circuit Court Minutes and County Court Guardians’ Reports. A separate list of prisoners held at LaGrange, Tennessee specified that facility for detention of wrong-doers. Listings of travels within or through the county during the Federal occupation cover 100 pages and supply names, residences and destinations of local and other travelers. Several claims for reimbursements due to losses caused by the military units and for Confederate scrip received as payment have been recorded.
Many medical professionals had their credentials from 1902 to 1953 filed with the County Clerk in separate bound volumes: optometrists, physicians, nurses, dentists, chiropractics, naturopathics, chiropodists, and veterinarians.
Destitute citizens, white and of color from the 1860s to 1899, were supported by Madison County during their lives and for their funeral costs. Documents outline the names, amounts and reasons for such support. Due to the missing 1890 Federal census, these and records relating to voting precincts during the 1880-1900s are most important to locate relatives and ancestors.
The Archives staff regularly provides articles about specific holdings, records or events to the Family Findings, the quarterly newsletter of the Mid-West Tennessee Genealogical Society. Members of that group and others volunteer and provide invaluable assistance to the Archives staff in organizing records.
Updates and other information about holdings, including photos of the facility and scanned images of several special records, can be found on the Archives’ website:http://www.madisoncountyarchives.yolasite.com/.
Thomas L. Aud, Archivist
Lorri S. Skelton, Assistant Archivist
Paulette Fairchild, Archives Assistant
1981 Hollywood Drive, Suite 300
Jackson, Tennessee 38305
(731) 660-6221, extension 3810
Hours: 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Monday-Friday
On Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/groups/madisoncountytnarchives/