Shoebox Collections


We hope you enjoy this monthly sampler from Knoxville History Project’s "Knoxville Shoebox" collection. We are always on the lookout for old family and personal pictures. especially when there’s something distinctly Knoxvillian about them. Our goal is to help fill in the many gaps in the photographic record of our city’s past.

If you have interesting old photographs of your own, from any era, we’d love to hear from you. You show us the photograph, we copy it and give the original back to you. We preserve and archive the image and make it available for researchers of the future, always crediting your contribution. Sharing is easy—and we’ll do our best to make your images immortal!

Please contact Paul James at the Knoxville History Project at (865) 337-7723 or Learn more at

The People’s Tabernacle

The People’s Tabernacle, located on East Cumberland Avenue near S. Central Street, was founded and built in the 1890s by Rev. Robert Bateman, an Englishman and Progressive Era reformer who perished on the Titanic in 1912. The church remained here for almost a century more, ministering to the poorest of Knoxville. Displaced by Urban Renewal in the 1950s, the church building was replaced by a simpler concrete structure nearby on Central that remains today, recently serving as a live-drama venue. (Circa 1938 photograph was shared by Walter Parry)

North Knoxville Post Office

In the 19th century, mail delivery in Knoxville was limited; formal mail carriers only started making daily rounds of the city in the 1880s. Rural mail delivery began after the turn of the century. This ca. 1910 photograph of Emory Park’s “Station A” shows a healthy staff of suburban mail carriers, supervised by James A. Ashe (shown front and center, behind the little boy, his son, John), who a quarter-century earlier had been one of Knoxville’s very first mail carriers and rose to the rank of assistant postmaster. (Shared by Beth Wolf)

AME Church Cook Book

This ca. 1919 Cook Book by the Sewing Circle of the African-American Logan Temple AME Zion Church offers a rare taste of Knoxville cuisine from a century ago. Logan Temple was then downtown on Commerce Street, almost adjacent to the Central Street "Bowery." The Gleaner Printing Co., which published it, was a Black-owned business just around the corner on Vine Street. The Logan Temple congregation still thrives on Selma Avenue in East Knoxville. Early Knoxville-based cookbooks are rare finds, but part of our cultural history. (Shared by Sherry Wallace Barry)

National Conservation Exposition

This photograph offers a rare vantage, through the pines, of the old main exhibition hall at Chilhowee Park, a centerpiece at three national expositions, notably the National Conservation Exposition ("N.C.E.") of 1913, when it welcomed visitors like William Jennings Bryan, Helen Keller, and Booker T. Washington. Later it was central to the first Tennessee Valley Fairs, and by the 1930s, it was notable for major jazz concerts. The building burned down in a spectacular fire in 1938 and replaced by the current Jacob Building. (Shared by Carol Mayo Jenkins)

A Fair Shake 

Author and tour guide Laura Still delves into the history of the women’s suffrage movement in Knoxville, its leaders, including Lizzie Crozier French, and other fearless female progressives who achieved lasting change. Also included are profiles of Knoxville's legislators who assured the amendment's passage, a short history of the Knoxville Female Academy, and a tour of downtown suffrage statues and sites. A Fair Shake is published by the Knoxville History Project and available at 


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