National Society of Colonial Dames of
America in Tennessee

Tennessee State Library and Archives
Photographs of Portraits

Go Directly to State Library Index

The National Society of Colonial Dames of America in Tennessee (NSCDA-TN) studied portraits in the 20th Century which resulted, in 1964, in a published catalogue entitled “Portraits in Tennessee Painted Before 1866.” This catalogue listed 532 portraits of Tennesseans. The publication did not have images attached to the descriptions; however, some of them were photographed in black and white. These photographs were housed at the Tennessee State Library and Archives and have been available when visiting the Library.

The same Colonial Dames involved in the current project invited the State Library to share their images and database of these photographs to be used as additions to this website. These nearly 500 images represent the existing photographs for the publication "Portraits in Tennessee Painted before 1866" (approximately 180 of the images, or about a third of the 532 entries in the publication) and also photographs from the Nell Savage Mahoney Papers.

Because of the size of the State Library's database, it appeared adding the entries to the current index system would make locating images in that manner very difficult. These images are listed under an index devoted exclusively to them and accessed through this page and the institution page. The website search feature located in the side panel will search the entire website, including both divisions. The index for the Tennessee State Library and Archives is designed to list the collection alphabetically by subject and can be accessed at tsla-index.htm.

Should you wish to contact the Library directly for any questions you might have or reproductions of photographs you might wish to purchase, you can do so at, and a link is also provided as the web contact on each image page.

The portraits on the web site represent only a portion of the portrait database, which is an ongoing collecting effort, as explained elsewhere on this website on the About the Project and How to Participate pages. We repeat: "To broaden the research and documentation project, we ask for your participation. If you have portraits in Tennessee, which meet our criteria (painted prior to 1941--not charcoal or tinted photographs), please fill out the form (portrait entry form) for submitting the documentation. The images can be sent in digital form to If the files are too large, so indicate in order that other transferring arrangements can be made."

"The quality of the photograph can vary widely and still be most welcome. Naturally, we hope for the highest quality possible, but we realize that flash reflections, awkward angles, and degree of natural light can all be problematic and will accept photographs that are less than perfect in order to get as complete a listing as is possible."

"If you want further information before filling out forms or taking your own photographs, please contact us at, and we will respond individually either by return e-mail or by telephone if you prefer that contact. Please indicate preferred method of return communication in your e-mail to us."