East Tennessee has a fascinating, storied history. These ancient hills have seen Cherokee tribes do battle with Creeks and Shawnees. They’ve heard the whispers of slaves concealed from sight on their way to freedom in Canada. They’ve witnessed bloody Civil War skirmishes, observed African-American students desegregate a state-supported public high school and watched as atomic energy itself was harnessed. They’ve even heard the screeching fiddle of a toe-tapping country song or two.

Capturing that rich tapestry of history is the East Tennessee History Center. The Center explores the history, culture and heritage of the East Tennessee region and its people.



ETHC is a multi-faceted facility that consists of the East Tennessee Historical Society, the Museum of East Tennessee History, the Knox County Archives and the Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection. All are housed at 601 South Gay Street in downtown Knoxville, located across from the Tennessee Theatre at the corner of Gay and Clinch streets. Hours for the assorted aspects of the ETHS vary. Check visit www.east-tennessee-history.org or call 865-215-8824 for more information. For a map of parking in the downtown area, click here visit www.ci.knoxville.tn.us/map/mapdowntown.pdf .

Perhaps the most interesting portion of the Center is the Museum of East Tennessee History. The museum begins its journey in the 1700s and continues to the present. The museum’s signature permanent exhibit is Voices of the Land. The exhibit, which opened in 2008, is 8,300 square feet of floor space. Voices of the Land looks at the last 250 years of East Tennessee history. Emphasized are the Cherokee Indians, the East Tennessee frontier, the Civil War, Oak Ridge (birthplace of the atomic bomb), the emergence of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, country music and Civil Rights activism. In addition to the Voices of the Land permanent exhibit, changing exhibits are also displayed at the museum. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, and free for children 16 and under when accompanied by a paying adult. Special group rates are also available.


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The East Tennessee Historical Society portion of the facility is home to the nonprofit organization of the same name. Since 1834, the Historical Society has been helping to preserve the history of East Tennessee. ETHS hosts lectures, plans school programs and produces publications in pursuit of its educational mission.

Located on the second floor of the Center is the Knox County Archives, which preserves and provides public access to documents from Knox County government agencies. Records housed in the archives date back to 1792.

The third floor houses the Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection, which is the local history and genealogy department of the Knox County Public Library. The collection contains more than 63,000 volumes, 12,000 rolls of microfilm, 3,000 maps, 100,000 photographs and negatives and 600 manuscripts. There is also considerable information about genealogical records.

The History Center hosts numerous events, including lectures, tours and workshops. Seminars focus on everything from the Civil War to Genealogy.

Also on-site is a museum gift shop. Well worth browsing, the shop is filled with books, toys, magazines and other curiosities for those interested in the history of East Tennessee.


Attraction Details

Concessions Gift Shop Live Music Rides Cost Age
$ N/A

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