Project Overview

Places, Perspectives: African American Community-building in Tennessee, 1860-1920 connects early Black communities, both in cities and in rural areas, to current Tennessee geography. The purpose of this project is to bring these once-vibrant communities to life by filling out the historical record with the names of those who built them and allowing us to visualize the historic Tennessee landscape. Photographs and documentation of extant buildings as well as those we have lost can be geo-located using primary source evidence. While a small percentage of Black churches, schools, and business districts in Tennessee are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and some are included in the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s documentation of Rosenwald Schools in the southern United States, there are many, especially isolated rural churches, former school and lodge buildings, and small businesses in towns and neighborhoods, for which no other public digital record exists.

Project Team

The project team wishes to thank our community partners (historians, archivists, librarians, and museum professionals) who enthusiastically shared their knowledge of the history of their communities.

Zada Law, Director, Fullerton Laboratory for Spatial Technology, Department of Geosciences, Middle Tennessee State University

Susan Knowles, Center for Historic Preservation, Middle Tennessee State University

Ken Middleton ( James E. Walker Library, Middle Tennessee State University


WordPress Work

Isaac Ingram, Web Developer, Walker Library

Denise Quintel, Discovery Services Librarian, Walker Library

Robert Spurlin, Freelance Web Developer

Amy York, Web Design Librarian, Walker Library

Contact Us

Please contact Ken Middleton ( if you have questions about this project.