Albert Gore, Sr. Speaks on St. Patrick’s Day in 1944

Written by Bradley Harjehausen, Graduate Assistant

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from the Albert Gore Research Center! On March 17, 1944 Albert Gore, Sr., then a member of the House of Representatives, was a guest speaker at the St. Patrick Society of Brooklyn’s annual banquet. In the speech, he praised Irish contributions to the society, culture and other aspects of American life. Being in the midst of World War II, the speech also notes St. Patrick’s representation of freedom and the Irish’s military contributions in the past and present.

Gore St. Patrick's Day Speech, 1944

The first page of the speech is featured above. The location in our stacks of the full speech and associated correspondence, in which Gore was both commended and criticized for the speech, can be found on our website.


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99 Problems but a Woman Aviator Ain’t One

By Kelsey Lamkin

Amelia Earhart might be the most famous woman aviator in history, but in Tennessee, we have our own sheroes.

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Courtesy of Albert Gore Research Center, Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame, The 99s Collection

The Ninety-Nines was founded in 1929 to encourage and support women aviators. Tennessee established its own chapter on August 9, 1940 with five charter members: Pearl Fancher Brock, Chairman; Louise Carson, Vice Chariman; Ruth Bowler, Secretary Treasurer; Ruth Wolfe Thomas; and Millie Ownby. The first year saw tremendous interest in the state as membership more than doubled.

The Ninety-Nines dazzled the nation in its early years, conducting air shows and showing amazed citizens what women were capable of. But the events of December 7, 1941 interrupted such aeronautical displays and plunged the nation into the realities of World War II. The next day, all pilot certificates were suspended, casting doubt on the future of the organization. Many Ninety-Niners jumped at the chance to serve their country, and some even gained national recognition for their efforts. Cornelia_Fort_early_Tennessee_aviator_present_at_the_attack_on_Pearl_Harbor (1)

Cornelia Fort worked as a flight instructor in Hawaii and witnessed the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The Ninety-Nines received correspondence from Fort about her near-collision with a Japanese plane. She wrote that she was “especially angry at them for blasting [her] beautiful job right out from under [her].” Read Fort’s full news report for the March 1942 Ninety-Nine Newsletter below. Tragically, she was killed in action in 1943, which distinguished her as the first woman to die in military service during World War II. The Cornelia Fort Airpark was named to honor Nashville’s first female licensed pilot.


Courtesy of the Albert Gore Research Center, Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame, The 99s Collection.

The national chapter of the Ninety-Nines remains active today, and their mission statement is “to preserve the unique history of women in aviation.” For more information on the national chapter, visit their website:

To research The 99s Collection in the Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame Records contact University Archivist Donna Baker or Archivist Sarah Calise at the Albert Gore Research Center.

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Bringing Congress to Campus

Written by Sarah Calise, Archivist

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, the Albert Gore Research Center hosted two distinguished guests from Congress: Ron Sarasin, who represented Connecticut’s District 5 from 1973-1979, and Glenn Nye, who represented Virginia’s District 2 from 2009-2011. The program was part of the Congress to Campus initiative of the United States Association of Former Members of Congress. Kent Syler, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Special Projects Coordinator for the AGRC, was crucial in bringing this program to MTSU as well as organizing the many classroom visits and civic discussions.


Kent Syler, Glenn Nye, Ron Sarasin, and Dr. Louis Kyriakoudes during the Congress to Campus visit, February 27-28th.


The former congressmen visited with the archive first, where they read through constituent letters on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 from the Albert Gore, Sr. Senate Papers as well as material from the Bart Gordon Papers during Gordon’s service as Chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology. We hope this experience stressed the significance of preserving the records of Congress and the individual Members of Congress. The preservation and study of these records not only provides a historical understanding of the legislative process, but they also help contextualize current political issues and public policies.

During visits to classes in both the History and Political Science departments, Sarasin and Nye held lively discussions with undergraduate and graduate students on various issues, such as the challenges they faced creating public policies. In Dr. Louis Kyriakoudes’ Public History Seminar, graduate students were particularly concerned with funding of the humanities and federal agencies, like the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. The congressmen and the students considered how difficult it is for citizens to weigh the importance of healthcare and jobs in relation to funding the arts and humanities. Overall, the program was a great success in helping increase civic literacy and participation among students.

We would like to thank Ron Sarasin and Glenn Nye for donating their time and knowledge to civic education at MTSU. We look forward to continuing this program in the future!

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The Musical Side of Murphy Center

Written by Donna Baker, University Archivist

It is not unusual for archivists to get attached to their collections.  When you are the University Archivist, you can get attached to a particular place and protective of the people associated with that place.  Whether I am conscious of it or not, I am looking out for connections to the institution I archive.  For me, no matter where I am, even on vacation, Middle Tennessee State University and Murfreesboro are always in the back on my mind. For example, on the Cayamo cruise this year while watching Steve Earle and Shawn Colvin perform, a story brought MTSU immediately into my focus.

Mr. Earle told the audience the origin story about Guitar Town.  Guitar Town was not just Steve Earle’s debut album, but also is considered one of the 500 greatest albums ever by Rolling Stone.  He explained that he had written the songs on the album after watching Bruce Springsteen in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  He had gone home 4 hours later (a joke about the marathon that is a Springsteen show) and wrote most the songs on the album.

Murfreesboro?  He could have only seen Bruce Springsteen at Murphy Center on the campus of MTSU.  Did he camp out with the others for tickets, or did a friend get him a ticket?  These thoughts kept cycling through my brain.  After vacation, when I got back to the Albert Gore Research Center, I tried to write a blog post about this.  I struggled with this post through March, which was the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Guitar Town. I finally set this aside to wait on a sunny day to finish it.  “Someday,” I thought, and went on with the business of archiving MTSU.

It has been thirty-two years this month since Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played at Murphy Center. This was in the middle of the Born in the U.S.A tour, and Murphy Center was the only venue in the immediate area at that time that could handle the size and intensity of a Springsteen show.   University Archives materials help tell the story of this event. The “Bruce Springsteen” file in the Student Programming Records is a half-inch thick, with one draft of the show rider alone being 29 pages. We learn about staging and promotion of this show from these files, including just how complicated it was for Harold Smith, Director of Student Programming, to bring Springsteen to Murfreesboro. We learn from this file that there was a strict “No Camera” rule that applied to everyone, including MTSU’s own staff photographer. No detail was overlooked to ensure “the intimacy of a Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performance.”


The student newspaper, Sidelines, reported that some people camped out for weeks to get tickets. In an article from 7 December 1984, a mother is quoted as saying to her son, “Why would you camp out three days for a concert?  Who is this guy?”


In the same article, there is speculation about the set list, suggesting that “Jungleland” (from Born To Run) would be replaced by his famous rendition of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”


As the Fall semester ended right after the concert, the review of the show had to wait until January 1985. The article can only hint at the show Steve Earle saw that night. To quote the article:

Few performers dare to say something substantial with their music, especially if it steps on someone’s toes, but Springsteen does more. He not only awakens the public to controversial themes, he packages his ideas in an ingenious musical presentation for impact, and the fans eat it up.


I am an archivist, not a music critic, so I am not quite qualified to compare the political and controversial implications of Steve Earle’s oeuvre to Bruce Springsteen’s.  (Something tells me that both Mr. Earle and Mr. Springsteen would hate that anyway.) What is important to me is not how much Springsteen’s work influenced Earle’s output on Guitar Town, but how this specific event impacted Steve Earle artistically. Had Murphy Center not hosted The Boss, Mr. Earle might have tried to see him in Birmingham, Memphis, or Atlanta.  Still, the logistical challenges to get to those shows might have been too much to overcome for a yet-unknown artist. He could have missed the show, and his debut album would have been a different creation.

For a time, MTSU was able to bring famous acts such as Bob Hope, Elton John, and Elvis to its students and community with this facility.  Gone are the big concerts staged at Murphy Center, though it sees its share of activities and events.  While there is only one Steve Earle, who knows how many others were inspired to create and dream by the artists who performed at Murphy Center?


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Albert Gore Research Hours Update

The Albert Gore Research Center will be open to researchers by appointment only from Monday, December 12, 2016, through Thursday, December 22, 2016.

Middle Tennessee State University will close for Winter Break on Friday, December 23, 2016, through Monday, January 2, 2017.

The AGRC will be available to researchers by appointment again from Tuesday, January 3, 2017 through Friday, January 13, 2017.

The Center will resume normal business hours for the Spring semester on Tuesday, January 17, 2017.

If you have any questions or need to schedule a research appointment, please email Donna Baker at

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On the Road Again: The National Historic Preservation Act 50th Anniversary Exhibit Travels to West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center

On Monday December 5, 2016, Albert Gore Research Center Director Dr. Louis Kyriakoudes and graduate assistant Julie Maresco traveled to the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville, Tennessee, to install the traveling exhibit at its second stop.  The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966: Preserving Tennessee’s Cultural heritage for 50 Years exhibit consists of 5 panels that show the affects of the NHPA on a national, state, region, and local level. You may have learned about this exhibit and how it came to be from Ms. Maresco’s 24 October blog.  West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center Director Sonia Outlaw-Clark created an additional panel featuring Haywood County’s preservation efforts and the work of their local Haywood Heritage Foundation.

Ms. Outlaw-Clark organized the exhibit’s opening reception, which was well attended by friends from the community and state.  (Please see the slide show below.)  She also gave Dr. Kyriakoudes and Ms. Maresco a tour of the historical properties under her stewardship, including Delta Heritage Center, the Flagg Grove School (childhood school of Tina Turner), and the home of Sleepy John Estes.

Slide show of the opening reception at the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center

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As this was the second stop for the exhibit, and because many parties were interviewed by WBBJ News Channel 7, there was time for reflection about the exhibit–the process, purpose and what it might mean for Tennesseans.  For Ms. Maresco, the exhibit was a positive experience and “this exhibit was a meaningful project that provided me with the opportunity to apply historic preservation theory from the classroom to the field by reaching out to communities and learning how buildings and landscapes are important to them.”  Dr. Kyriakoudes sees the exhibit as an opportunity to unite communities through historic preservation efforts. “Tennessee is a large state, of course we have our historic three regions, but we share a broader common history and historic preservation in one way that we can recognize and celebrate that history.”

The stops for the exhibit are at the following institutions:

1.) Tusculum College’s Andrew Johnson Library and Museum in Greeneville, TN                  2.) West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville, TN                                                        3.) Historic Lebanon in Lebanon, TN                                                                                                      4.) the Promise Land Community in Dickson County, TN                                                                5.) the Heritage Center in Murfreesboro, TN

The exhibit is the work of the Albert Gore Research Center in conjunction with the Center for Historic Preservation and the Middle Tennessee State University public history program.

Click here to see WBBJ news Channel 7’s article on the exhibit

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AGRC meets Veterans at Stones River National Battlefield and visitors listen to the Veterans Voice: Stories of Service Podcast

They Fought For Us:

The stories of veterans and their service at Stones River National Battlefield

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Written by graduate assistant Julie Maresco

On Saturday November 12, 2016, AGRC director Dr. Kyriakoudes, special projects archivist Sarah Calise, graduate assistant Julie Maresco, and PhD candidate Tiffany Momon visited Stones River Battlefield to meet with veterans, set up interviews for oral history interviews, and set up listening stations for visitors to hear the Veterans Voices: Stories of Service podcast episodes. They were joined by Dr. Kyriakoudes’s daughter Helen Kyriakoudes.

Veterans Ernest Newsom and Albert W. Wade Jr. made appointments to meet with us and talk about their time in the military. We look forward to working with them in the near future to record and share their stories. If you would like to participate in the veterans oral history project or know someone would be, contact us today to set up an appointment.






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