Genealogy & Local History

What is Special Collections?

The primary function of Special Collections is to foster research by providing researchers access to materials while ensuring their longevity. Preservation is a key component in our oversight of these specialized materials. Special Collections items at Williamson County Public Library focus on Local History, Genealogy, Family History, and Civil War research. Materials housed here include many formats: e.g., books, microfilm, manuscripts, photographs, maps, digital media and more. Generally, items held in Special Collections require more security and different user services than the library itself. Many of our materials cannot be replaced and require careful handling. None of our items can be checked out to use at home.

Welcome to Special Collections!

Items in Special Collections are available for patrons to use in the department during department hours. Special Collections is open Monday through Saturday 9 - 5:30, except on Thursday when we stay open until 8 p.m. Please be aware that Special Collections hours differ from regular library hours at WCPL. 

If you are arriving from out of town or county, please stop by the Circulation Desk on your way in to request a guest pass for computer use. If you have your own laptop, wi-fi is free and you will be able to access genealogy databases, such as Ancestry, in our building. Please refer to our Digital Resources tab to see what databases we offer. 

Due to the nature of our fragile collection, we do not allow food and beverages, other than bottled water, in the Special Collections area. Those items are allowed in other parts of the library.  If you have questions concerning your visit, please call us at 615-595-1246 (press 1 to bypass the message). We look forward to serving you! 

Books, Microfilm & More

The Special Collections Department has a large collection of books, microfilm, maps, and electronic resources available for research.

Civil War Research

Special Collections has the complete War of the Rebellion series, as well as a large amount of material related to the Battle of Franklin. In addition, the Williamson Room houses a large collection of historic books related to the Civil War, all published before 1900, or shortly thereafter.

Thelma Battle Williamson County African American Collection

Local grass-roots historian and genealogist Thelma Battle has spent years compiling information on local African-American families. This information is available for research in the Special Collections Department, as well as through our database. 

In addition, Ms. Battle has combed the communities of Williamson County and surrounding counties to gather thousands of photographs for her annual Black History Month exhibits, documenting local African American history. A partial index is available through our online database, while the photographs are available to view in the department. 

Ms. Battle has also gathered over 2,000 individual funeral programs of local African-Americans. These are available for viewing in the department and online. You can access this collection in our genealogy and local history database.

Richard Carlton Fulcher's African American Historical Collection

This collection contains excerpts gleaned from County Court Records and documents persons of African descent in Williamson County from its founding in 1799 until emancipation. View this collection online in our genealogy and local history database.

Edythe Rucker Whitley Manuscript Collection

This collection consists of over 2,300 notebooks of genealogical research compiled by Mrs. Whitley during her lifetime. Over half or the collection is organized by surname. Take a look at the index for this collection index on our genealogy and local history database. We are in the process of digitizing the Edythe Rucker Whitley surname volumes, and we hope to start adding them to our online databases starting in April 2023. 

Molly Bateman Reigard of Childress Research & Related Families

The Molly Bateman Reigard Collection of Childress Research and Related Families was donated in 2004, as a gift of the Childers/Childress Family Association, and includes family histories and miscellaneous data. Molly Bateman Reigard Collection description

Bracken Genealogy Collection

Bracken Genealogy Collection is comprised of 3 boxes of genealogy materials related to the Bracken family of Nashville and related families. Bracken/Brackin Collection description

The Blandford Series of Yarbrough Genealogical Records

The Blandford Series of Yarbrough Genealogical Records was published by the  Yarbrough National Genealogical and Historical Association, Inc., and contains 135 volumes of family history of the Yarbrough and associated families covering a multi-state area. For more information on the Yarbrough family, view the Yarbrough Family website,  Yarbrough & Assoc. Families Index, pt. 1, Yarbrough & Assoc. Families Index, pt. 2

Pioneer Families

The library proudly offers a commemorative certificate for Pioneer Families of Williamson County, Tennessee, to eligible persons. Anyone directly descended from a pre-1850 pioneer of the county is welcome to apply for this permanent remembrance of his/her family history. The collection consists of booklets with documents to support the certificate holder's lineage for each Pioneer Family ancestor. To learn more call 615-595-1246, ext. 1.

Local Author Collection

In an effort to highlight emerging creative work in the local community and as a way to connect authors with the reading public, Williamson County Public Library maintains a circulating Local Author Collection and an archived Heritage Collection, for those significantly identified with this area, either by residence or by birth. This collection is managed by the Special Collections Department. 

The Williamson Room

The Williamson Room houses our Rare Books, Civil War Collection, Heritage Collection, and Map Collection. Our patrons are welcome to use The Williamson Room for study and research after checking in with the Special Collections librarian.  When availability permits, we also take reservations for small group use (8 or fewer people). Please call the Special Collections Department at 615-595-1246, ext. 1, for more information. Rules and conditions apply.

The African American Heritage Society Presents the 2021 Genealogy and History Exhibit 

Wiley and Jane Brown Scruggs

The story of the Wiley and Jane Brown Scruggs family has been carefully researched and told by Tina Jones in this stunning display of genealogical research and local history. The story begins in the days of slavery, Wiley having been born about 1852, and Jane, about 1858. The farm where they lived was located where the Westhaven development is now. The exhibit panels describe their lives as they move through slavery to freedom to migration, with documentary evidence included. 

The first link is for the Wiley and Jane Scruggs family only, while the second link provides a broader look at the Scruggs family and includes the white slave-holding family.

 2021 Wiley and Jane Scruggs African American Pioneer Family

2021 Scruggs Family of Williamson County, TN

Wiley and Jane Brown Scruggs Family

Wiley and Jane Brown Scruggs Family 2010_023