Conduct primary source research with our manuscripts, which include collections of personal papers, diaries, photographs, ephemera, and business records. Search and browse our finding aids, detailed inventories of our primary source materials, to discover manuscript collections. Some of our manuscript collections are available online. Consult our Digital Collections to learn more about our digital cultural heritage resources.

Listed below are several subject strengths of our manuscript collections. These are not an extensive listing of our collections, however, you may find an A-Z list of all of our manuscripts by browsing our finding aids by collection title.

Postcard of Walden's Ridge


Explore manuscript collections that document the social customs and religious culture of Appalachia. Our collections include content as diverse as field recordings from contemporary serpent-handling churches to the literary and artistic endeavors of Emma Bell Miles, author of The Spirit of the Mountains.

Brainerd Mission woodcut, undated

Cherokee Indians

Special Collections features materials related to the Cherokee Indians, including Brainerd Mission. Included are literary manuscripts and research related to Robert Sparks Walker's Torchlights to the Cherokees: The Brainerd Mission.

Leaders of the Civil War

Civil War

Dig in to our manuscript collections that document the bloody history of the Civil War in Chattanooga and Tennessee. Ranging from personal letters and diaries to military records and newspapers, these collections show the destructive power of the American Civil War.

Cover of The Spirit of the Mountains by Emma Bell Miles.


View collections that include literary manuscripts, journals, photographs, speeches, correspondence, and scrapbooks that documents the lives and accomplishments of local authors include Robert Sparks Walker, Emma Bell Miles, Barry Moser, and Caroline Gordon. To view their published works, Search Rare Books.

Market Street and Walnut Street bridges, across the Tennessee River, Chattanooga, Tennessee postcard, circa 1958-1979

Local History

Research manuscript collections that document everything from education and politics to business and culture in Chattanooga, Tennessee. See also our local history photography collections.

Marilyn Lloyd papers and correspondence

Politics and Government

Explore Tennessee politics, including the papers of local Congresswoman Marilyn Lloyd, the first woman elected to serve as a United States Representative from Tennessee. In addition to the papers of Marilyn Lloyd, Special Collections is home to the political papers of James B. Frazier, Jr. and the LaMar Baker Newsletter