Get gruesome with Jack Neely

KNOXVILLE – In a Brown Bag Lecture on Wednesday, November 8, 2017, at noon, local historian Jack Neely will explore the topic of epidemics and major outbreaks in East Tennessee, including the Plague of 1838 and the Spanish Flu of 1918-1919. The program is presented by the East Tennessee Historical Society in partnership with the Knox County Public Library and is part of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Big Read.

Jack Neely is a well-known local author, historian, and the executive director of the Knoxville History Project.

The program is presented in partnership with the Knox County Public Library and is free and open to the public. The lecture will be held at the East Tennessee History Center, 601 S. Gay Street, Knoxville. Guests are invited to bring a “Brown Bag” lunch and enjoy the lecture. Soft drinks will be available.

For more information on the lecture, exhibitions, or museum hours, call 865-215-8824 or visit the website at

Author highlights new novel

KNOXVILLE, TN – Popular Appalachian author and New York Times best-seller Sharyn McCrumb will be at the East Tennessee History Center on October 10, 2017 as part of a launch tour for her new book, The Unquiet Grave. Set in 19th century West Virginia, McCrumb’s novel is based on the true story of one of the strangest murder trials in American history — the case of the Greenbrier Ghost.

McCrumb uses genealogical research and historical documents to uncover the complex characters and details behind the 1897 death of Zona Heaster in Greenbrier, West Virginia, a story well known to American folklorists. Heaster, a beautiful and willful 24 year-old, marries the town blacksmith and moves to a farm twenty miles from her family, only to die several weeks later of complications from a fall. Zona’s mother claims she was visited by the ghost of her daughter, who came to tell her that she had been murdered. The mother is determined to seek justice for her daughter. An autopsy is conducted that supports her claims and a trial follows. Through The Unquiet Grave Sharyn McCrumb brings to life the interesting characters, the defense attorney, a pro-Union bridgeburner and former slave owner; and the mother of the murdered woman, who relentlessly sticks to her ghost story—all seen through the eyes of a young black lawyer on the cusp of a new century.

The October 10 event at the East Tennessee History Center begins with a light reception at 6:30 p.m., followed by a lecture and book signing 7:00 p.m. The program is free and open to the public.

McCrumb, who was named a “Virginia Woman of History” in 2008 for Achievement in Literature, received the 2011 Perry F. Kendig Award for Achievement in Literary Arts from the Blue Ridge Arts Council of southwest Virginia. McCrumb’s many honors include: Appalachian Writers Association Book of the Year Award; the Wilma Dykeman Award for Literature given by the East Tennessee Historical Society; the Audie Award for Best Recorded Book; AWA Outstanding Contribution to Appalachian Literature Award; the Chaffin Award for Southern Literature; the Plattner Award for Short Story; and AWA’s Best Appalachian Novel. She was the first writer-in-residence at King College in Tennessee. In 2005 she was honored as the Writer of the Year at Emory & Henry College.

About the ETHS
Established in 1834, the East Tennessee Historical Society is widely acknowledged as one of the most active history organizations in the state and enjoys a national reputation for excellence in programming and education. For 183 years the East Tennessee Historical Society has been helping East Tennesseans hold on to our unique heritage—recording the events, collecting the artifacts, and saving the stories that comprise the history we all share.

About Friends of the Knox County Public Library
Friends of the Knox County Public Library is a non-profit organization whose mission is to foster a love of libraries, books and reading in the Knox County area. The organization raises funds to sponsor community outreach programs, represent the interests of Knox County library patrons, and support a variety of services offered by the local library system that would otherwise not be available due to budget or staff restrictions.

The free event is presented by the East Tennessee Historical Society and the Friends of the Knox County Public Library. The reception begins at 6:30 p.m., with the presentation at 7:00 p.m., followed by a book signing. The East Tennessee History Center is located at 601 S. Gay Street, Knoxville. Ms. McCrumb will be signing books following her lecture. For more information on the lecture, exhibitions, or museum hours, call 865-215-8824 or visit the website at

Museum wins TAM President’s Award

The Museum of East Tennessee History was recently selected to receive the 2017 President’s Award, the highest project-based recognition presented by the Tennessee Association of Museums (TAM), for the Come to Make Records: Knoxville’s Contribution to American Popular Music exhibition.

This exhibit also won TAM Awards of Excellence in the categories of best temporary exhibition and audiovisual component for the introductory film produced by East Tennessee PBS. The President’s Award recipient is chosen from the top five scoring awards and the winner determined by the votes of the past presidents. The awards were presented at the recent Tennessee Association of Museums Conference held in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Come to Make Records was organized by the East Tennessee Historical Society in partnership with the Knox County Public Library and the Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound, a division of the Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection, as a temporary exhibition at the Museum of East Tennessee History and was on display April through October, 2016.


Knox Library celebrates O’Connor

In January 2017, Knox County Public Library System is exploring the life and work of Flannery O’Connor, the woman who arguably created “Southern Gothic” literature with her haunting stories and eccentric characters. Join us for a six-part series led by Ed Francisco, Professor of English and writer-in-residence at Pellissippi State Community College.

The series kicks off on Sunday, January 8, 2017 with a screening of the award-winning documentary Flannery O’Connor: Uncommon Grace followed by a discussion with its filmmakers, Bridget Kurt and Michael Jordan.

The series continues each Tuesday evening in January at Lawson McGhee Library with a discussion of one of O’Connor’s seminal short stories.

January 10: “Good Country People”
January 17: “A Displaced Person”​
Sunday, January 22, the series will screen John Huston’s Wise Blood.
January 24: “A Good Man is Hard to Find”
January 31: Conclusion

Despite her premature death at age 39, Flannery O’Connor left behind one of the most haunting and strikingly original bodies of work in 20th century literature. With the rural South as her backdrop, she brought to life a string of eccentric characters torn between their worldy ambitions and the need for a more enduring truth. While critics called her stories “brutal” and “grotesque,” O’Connor said, “All my stories are about the action of grace on a character who is not very willing to support it.”

The Lawson McGhee Library is the main library of Knox County Public Library in Knoxville, Tennessee. It is located at 500 West Church Avenue in downtown Knoxville.

Knox library hosts Indian film

Knox County Public Library is hosting a series of Indian films and will screen Monsoon Wedding on Sunday, December 4, 2016 at 2 p.m.

The film will be shown at Lawson McGhee Library, 500 W. Church Ave. An opportunity to join in discussion about the film will follow afterwards.

Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding (2001 – R) is a comedy-drama set in New Delhi and focuses on a father’s expensive preparation for his daughter’s wedding and the chaos that ensues when families arrive and gather together.

Writer Sabrina Dhawan wrote the first draft of the screenplay in a week while she was at Columbia University’s MFA film program. Monsoon Wedding earned just above $30 million at the box office. Although it is set entirely in New Delhi, the film was an international co-production between companies in India, the United States, Italy, France, and Germany.

The film won the Golden Lion award and received a Golden Globe Award nomination. A musical based on the film premiered on Broadway in April 2014. The film was premiered in the Marché du Film section of the 2001 Cannes Film Festival.

This film will be introduced by Viren Lalka of the local cultural group Namaste, Welcome to India.

Parental discretion is advised for this screening and minors must be accompanied by an adult because of the film’s R rating and plot elements that address sexual abuse. The screening is open to the public.


Books donated to Knox Library

Copies of “The Final Season: The Perseverance of Pat Summitt” have been donated to Knox County Public Library. Summitt was the winningest coach in the history of NCAA Division I basketball. With 1,098 victories and eight national championships, she established the Lady Vols as the top women’s athletics program in the country.

Knox County Public Library offers more than 1.5 million books, periodicals, compact discs, films, audiobooks and downloadables through 19 locations across Knox County including one of the premier historical and genealogical collections in the Southeast.

“We are very grateful for this generous donation,” said Janet Drumheller, head of collection development for Knox County Public Library. “Pat Summitt will always be such an inspiration to our community, and we are so happy to share her story with our patrons through Maria’s book.”

Summitt was diagnosed with early onset dementia in 2011 and coached her final season in 2011-12. Summitt died June 28, 2016, at the age of 64.

The book was authored by Moxley Carmichael writer/editor Maria M. Cornelius. The public relations firm made the donation of the books to the library.


Janet Drumheller and Mary Pom Claiborne, both of Knox County Public Library, accept 20 copies of “The Final Season: The Perseverance of Pat Summitt” from Alan Carmichael, far right, and Maria Cornelius, both of Moxley Carmichael. The books will be in circulation at every library branch and the main downtown facility. A book also will be placed in the permanent and non-circulated collection at McClung Museum. Photo submitted.

Knox Library Book Sale is June 25-28

Knox County Public Library’s 2016 Annual Used Book Sale will be held June 25–28, 2016 at the Jacob Building at Chilhowee Park in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee.

Thousands of beautiful used books will be on sale to benefit the Knox County Public Library. From Members Only Day on June 25 through Bag Sale Day on June 28, this year’s sale offers great book bargains for everyone.

Knoxville residents can support Friends of the Knox County Public Library in 2016 by registering a Kroger Plus Card and choosing Friends as the recipient.

Participants earn points for the library with every purchase that will be converted into dollars of support for Friends. Participants still receive Kroger Plus Card discounts just like before, and benefit the library at the same time.

Follow these easy steps to link your card to Friends: Register your card online—create an account, then enter your email, favorite store, and Kroger Plus Card number. At the bottom of your Account Summary, click Enroll under Community Rewards, and either enter our Kroger Non Profit number (65466) or just search for Friends of the Knox County Public Library.



Tribute scheduled for Dolly Parton

KNOXVILLE, TN – Dolly Parton is turning 70 years young, and Knox County’s Chapter of the Imagination Library is throwing a birthday party in her honor on January 19, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. at the Bijou Theatre in downtown Knoxville.

The public is invited to celebrate East Tennessee’s favorite daughter with a Tribute Show featuring the award-winning story “A Boy and His Dolly” by Mark Lamb and local musicians singing her most popular songs on the U.S. Cellular Stage at the Bijou Theatre, where she got her start more than 50 years ago.

Featured musicians are Robin Ella Bailey, Nathan Barrett, Michael Crawley, Mischa Goldman, Christina Horn, Kelle Jolly, Laith Keilany, Ben Maney, Jodie Manross, Sean McCollough, and Sarah Firkle.

Tickets are $25.00 (plus applicable service fees) and proceeds benefit the Knox County chapter of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.




Film fest features local history

The Smoky Mountain Film Festival, a presentation of East Tennessee home movies, television footage and classic advertising, takes place this year on August 15, 2015, from noon to 5 p.m. at the Tennessee Theatre.


The event takes place in partnership with the East Tennessee Historical Society’s annual History Fair and Historic Tennessee Theatre and is sponsored by the Knox County Public Library System.

Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound (TAMIS) will show rare home movies from the Thompson Brothers and Jack Huff collections along with outtakes from WBIR’s Heartland Series and other short films from the early days of Great Smoky Mountains National Park movement.

All films will be accompanied by live music, are free and open to the public.

For more information, please email TAMIS at

Book sale benefits library programs

Knox County Public Library will once again host their summer book sale to benefit library programs this weekend.

The sale is from Friday, May 29, 2015 through Monday, June 1, at Bearden High School, 8352 Kingston Pike.

Thousands of beautiful used books will be available for sale, and proceeds from the sale benefit Summer Library Clubs and other programs at Knox County Public Library.

Revenues from volunteer-operated book sales combine with membership dues and donations to fund library enhancements that would not be available otherwise.

In 2015 Friends will contribute over $50,000 to the Knox County Public Library System, providing support for projects including Summer Library Club incentives, Zoomobile visits to branches, and sponsorship and volunteers for the Children’s Festival of Reading.