A Life at the Round Table: the Transfer of the Teddy Bart Collection

Written by Sarah Calise, graduate assistant

Teddy Bart was a broadcasting legend in Nashville, and was inducted into the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame in May 2014. He began his Nashville presence with a piano bar on Printer’s Alley, while writing songs for Brenda Lee and other artists in the early 1960s. Not long after, he began his accomplished career in radio with “The Teddy Bart Show” in 1969, which was WSM’s first call-in talk show. Bart was the leading personality on several shows throughout his career, including “Waking Crew” on WSM-AM radio, the “Noon Show” on WSM-TV, and “Teddy Bart’s Round Table” with co-host Karlen Evins.

Teddy Bart and Carolin Darden perform a duet at The Nashville Tennessean’s Centennial Park concert in 1964. Credit: Jimmy Ellis/The Tennessean

A few weeks ago, I traveled to Manchester, Tennessee with the Albert Gore Research Center’s Director Dr. Louis Kyriakoudes and archivist Jim Havron to complete the transfer of materials relating to Teddy Bart’s career. Typically, I always start working with archival papers once they have already arrived at the repository, so getting to witness and partake in the initial transfer of documents from a donor’s home to the hands of the archivist was a beneficial experience.

When it comes to donations, sometimes you never know what condition the materials will be in upon arrival. It is common for documents to be covered in dirt and grime from being boxed up in garages or sheds for years. Perhaps the order of the material makes sense, or perhaps there is no clear order. Maybe the materials were labeled and organized neatly, or maybe further information is needed. Luckily, in the case of this collection of mostly audio and visual material, Teddy Bart and his wife Jana kept it all in a nice and clean arrangement, including some inventory lists. This definitely made the physical transfer easier, and will make the processing of the collection run much smoother.

Yet, the transfer of materials from the donor to the archive is really about building a relationship with the community and with that donor in particular. Jana Bart was incredibly welcoming and helpful throughout the transfer. Her insight into the collection is invaluable and she was able to provide background stories to some of the items that an archivist may never figure out. This is one of many advantages to maintaining a transparent and open relationship with a donor. I am honored to have been a part of the transfer of memories from Teddy Bart’s outstanding and influential broadcasting career. Stay tuned for future blogs about this collection!


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