Numerous library and archive resources are located on the MTSU campus. Copying of materials housed in these facilities is permitted only in compliance with federal copyright statutes and in accordance with departmental rules and regulations.
Albert Gore Research Center
The Albert Gore Research Center serves the campus community and members of the public interested in American politics, the history of MTSU, veterans’ and military history, and regional history. You can visit the center in TODD 128 weekdays from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm and online at www.mtsu.edu/gorecenter/index.php.
The Albert Gore Research Center has especially strong collections documenting American government and political activism. It holds the papers of Albert Gore Sr., (MTSU ‘32) from his years in the U.S. House and Senate and the records of Representative Bart Gordon (MTSU ‘71), Representative LaMar Baker, Representative Bill Boner (MTSU ‘67), Representative Jim Cooper, and Representative Richard Fulton and Representative Clifford Allen. Tennessee state legislators’ materials include the records of LaMar Baker, John Bragg (MTSU ‘40), Frank Buck, Jim Cummings, Buford Ellington, John Hood (MTSU ‘54, ‘74), and Andy Womack (MTSU ‘70). The center also holds the records of numerous political activists and citizen groups. The center is a member of the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress.
As the institutional archive for Middle Tennessee State University, the center holds the official records of MTSU programs and departments as well as the papers of alumni, faculty, staff, and campus organizations. A rich collection of photographs documents all aspects of MTSU campus life from its founding in 1911 to the present. MTSU publications such as yearbooks and media productions are also part of the University archive.
Materials related to American veterans and the home front document the American military experience from the Civil War to the present. Collections related to World War II are especially rich, and include oral histories with veterans as well as documents and artifacts from the Tennessee Maneuvers. The center is a partner in the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.document the American military experience from the Civil War to the present. Collections related to World War II are especially rich, and include oral histories with veterans as well as documents and artifacts from the Tennessee Maneuvers. The center is a partner in the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.
The research center has significant collections about local history and culture, including educational institutions, Murfreesboro businesses, women’s organizations, and LGBTQ+ organizations.
James E. Walker Library
The James E. Walker Library is one of the leading Tennessee university libraries in its range of high-impact services and its research collection. The library collection has 1.5 million physical and electronic volumes, over 500 databases, and access to millions of journal, magazine, and newspaper articles, as well as streaming audio and video. Electronic resources are available anytime, anywhere to MTSU students. Among its specialized collections is a Special Collection of rare books, a Curriculum Collection that provides a model library for K-12 education students, and a Listening and Viewing Center with sound recordings.
The Walker Library provides the necessary research and study support sought by students. The library offers a variety of study spaces, including collaborative study rooms to work on group projects and presentation practice rooms; an easy recording studio and podcast studio; current technology such as computers, laptops, scanners, and printers; and expert staff to assist in conducting research and effectively using technology. Graduate students have access to a Graduate Student Study Room.
Students will find technology and expert assistance in utilizing a variety of software and devices in the library. The Reference Desk is staffed with skilled professionals who can help students with their class and research assignments and in using any of our electronic resources. The Technology Services Desk assists students in accessing the campus network, accessing campus online course systems, checking out laptops, and other technology related services. The Makerspace is a creative zone for students working on multimedia projects, 3D printing, augmented and virtual reality, robotics, and much more.
Walker Library also hosts other student services, including tutoring, the writing center, an adaptive technology lab, and a Starbucks coffee shop. The library provides a full range of student support in one location and is a hub for student work and creative activity.
More information can be found on the library’s website at library.mtsu.edu/.
Women’s and Gender Studies Library
The Women’s and Gender Studies Program, located in JUB 308, maintains a collection of books and other research materials related to women’s and gender studies. Most volumes circulate. (See also Women’s and Gender Studies Minor .)
Center for Health and Human Services
The Center for Health and Human Services is a federation of academic units that share the common goal of preparing the health and human services workforce in Tennessee. Coordinated by the chairholder of the Adams Chair of Excellence in Health Care Services, the center encourages quality interdisciplinary education, research, and service programs in health and human service areas. The center also collaborates with public agencies and private not-for-profit organizations to develop and implement programs designed to improve the health of the middle and greater Tennessee community. MTSU programs affiliated with this center include Aging Studies; School of Nursing; Departments of Psychology, Sociology and Anthropology, Social Work, Health and Human Performance, and Human Sciences; Speech/Language Pathology and Audiology; Pre-professional Health Sciences; and graduate studies in gerontology and health care management.
Center for Historic Preservation
One of two Centers of Excellence at MTSU, the Center for Historic Preservation (www.mtsuhistpres.org/) was established in 1984. The center works with communities to interpret and promote their heritage assets through education, research, and preservation. With the assistance of both graduate and undergraduate students, the center practices “boots-on-the-ground” historic preservation. Center staff go to property owners, communities, and elected officials and listen carefully to what they wish to achieve with their history. They then work together through reciprocal partnerships to craft a plan to move forward, helping our partners integrate their pasts, historic sites, and traditions into tools for stronger communities, enhanced economic opportunities, and more meaningful engagement with their fellow citizens on what is significant to them, and in turn to the state and nation. Providing leadership and assistance on a local, state, regional, and national basis, the center’s work falls within five initiatives.
Rural preservation recognizes the unique heritage, resources, and problems of rural areas and small towns. The overall goal is to create a heritage infrastructure for successful, long-term project development in small towns that have outstanding resources but lack the expertise to use heritage resources for cultural and economic improvement. The Tennessee Century Farms Program, established in 1985 in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, is centered on farms that have been in the same family for at least 100 years. Center staff approve applications for the program and manage a Facebook page that is very popular with Century Farm families. The Rural African American Church Project documented the state’s historic black churches and serves as a cornerstone for ongoing work in rural African American communities. Professional services partnerships also reach rural areas through such projects as exhibitions and driving tours.
Heritage education addresses the use of primary sources, including cultural heritage resources, as across-the-disciplines teaching tools in the K-12 grades. Much of this work is accomplished through the center’s statewide Teaching with Primary Sources-MTSU program, a partnership with the Library of Congress (library.mtsu.edu/tps). TPS-MTSU works with school systems, community heritage organizations, and higher education teacher-training programs to develop and present materials that meet curriculum standards. Serving educators and students at all levels, TPS-MTSU partners with other MTSU departments and educational institutions throughout the state, such as the Tennessee Historical Society and the East Tennessee History Center. A successful partnership with the TPS programs at Mars Hill University in North Carolina and the University of South Carolina involved a Civil Rights fellowship for Tennessee educators to study that movement in depth. The new World War II Homefront in Tennessee curriculum examines the impact of New Deal programs in the lead up to U.S. entry into the war and then explores Tennessee’s role in military operations, the role of civilians and changes in the economy, and how life changed during and immediately after the war.
The Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area (www.tncivilwar.org/) was created by Congress in 1996. The Heritage Area focuses on the preservation, interpretation, and heritage development of the multiple legacies of the Civil War and Reconstruction in Tennessee. The center is one of the only university units in the nation to serve as the administrative head of a National Heritage Area, which are partnership units of the National Park Service. The Heritage Area provides professional services to institutions, agencies, and property owners across the state and develops funding partnerships with groups, governments, and institutions, which work with the center to establish joint projects and programs of long-lasting benefit to the state and nation. The Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County, located just off the square in Murfreesboro, is a partnership with the Main Street downtown revitalization program. The Heritage Center features a new digital history lab to preserve Civil War-era primary sources and serves as a learning laboratory for graduate and undergraduate students, who assist in welcoming visitors, giving downtown walking tours, and creating exhibitions. A major new exhibition will be based on two extensive historic site collections from the Matt Gardner Homestead and Stony Point.
Heritage Diversity focuses on incorporating the stories and traditions of all Tennesseans into the history and preservation of the state. Identifying, documenting, and assisting in the interpretation of historic African American schools, cemeteries, farmsteads, businesses, and contributions to the arts are a part of this initiative. National Register documentation of Tennessee, Alabama, and other southern sites associated with the Civil Rights movement are continuing projects. Interpretation and preservation of the Trail of Tears is also a top priority. The center partnered with the National Park Service’s National Trails Office to complete a comprehensive, nine-state survey to identify and document historic buildings associated with the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, and we are now working on a high-potential sites and segments assessment in Tennessee and Kentucky. The center also partnered with the National Trails Office to survey structures along both the Sante Fe Trail and the Mormon Pioneer Trail and to nominate sites on the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro Trail to the National Register of Historic Places. Center staff research and write about Tennessee women’s history, especially during the Civil War and Reconstruction.
Public Engagement includes teaching historic preservation courses each year for the Department of History and directing a number of theses and dissertations. The center hosts graduate assistants from the Ph.D. program in Public History as well as those studying at the M.A. level. Graduate and undergraduate students who work at the center assist staff on a variety of applied research and public service projects, gaining valuable interdisciplinary experiences to supplement their in-class training. In addition, Center Director Dr. Carroll Van West is serving on the Tennessee Semiquincentennial Commission of the American Revolution in preparation for the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution in 2026. In partnership with local organizations, the center offers two cemetery preservation workshops each year.
The center creates and supports several digital humanities initiatives and has a strong presence on social media. The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture Online Edition is a partnership among the center, the Tennessee Historical Society, and the University of Tennessee Press. The encyclopedia Web site is a comprehensive reference for the state’s history. Southern Places, a digital humanities Web site developed by MTSU’s Walker Library, highlights the center’s fieldwork and documentary projects across the region. Trials,Triumphs, and Transformations: Tennesseans Search for Citizenship, Community, and Opportunity is a mobile-friendly digital collection originally funded by the Tennessee Board of Regents and features materials that reflect the period between Reconstruction and the end of World War II. Landscape of Liberation: The African American Geography of Civil War Tennessee is an interactive map created by a partnership between MTSU’s Geospatial Research Center and the Tennessee State Library and Archives, with digital research assistance from the center and Walker Library. Places, Perspectives: African American Community Building in Tennessee, 1860-1920, is a mapping tool completed in partnership with the Heritage Area, the Geospatial Research Center, and Walker Library.
For a comprehensive summary of our latest projects, see our annual report at www.mtsuhistpres.org/publications/annual-reports/.
Center for Popular Music
The Center for Popular Music (CPM) is an archive and research center devoted to the study of American popular and traditional music in all genres. It was established in 1985 as one of sixteen Centers of Excellence at universities in the Tennessee public higher education system. The center’s mission is to promote research and scholarship in popular music and to foster an appreciation of America’s diverse musical culture and its global reach. To carry out this mission, the CPM maintains a large research library and archive, presents public programs that interpret various aspects of American vernacular music, engages in original research projects, and disseminates the results of research through publications in various media. The center also runs a Grammy-winning documentary record label, Spring Fed Records.
The CPM’s archive is one of the largest and most important popular music research collections in the world. Materials in the center’s collection fall into three broad categories. First are extensive holdings of the various types of media in which music has been fixed and sold as a commodity. These include print materials such as sheet music, song books, song broadsides and songsters, and sound recordings in formats ranging from cylinders to compact discs and digital files. The center’s sound archive is one of the largest in the country and consists of more than 250,000 commercial sound recordings as well as many hours of unpublished recordings of music and interviews. The CPM’s sheet music collection of approximately 110,000 items is the largest in the Southeast, and its library of gospel songbooks is one of the most extensive of any repository not associated with a religious organization. Second are various materials that are needed to study popular and vernacular music in all its musical, cultural, historical, technological, and commercial contexts, including such items as photographs, posters, playbills, concert programs, trade catalogs, music manuscripts, news clippings, and personal papers of musicians, songwriters, and business people. Third are books, periodicals, and other reference materials about popular music. The center has one of the largest and most comprehensive libraries of books and periodicals about popular music anywhere.
Materials in the center’s collection do not circulate but are available to anyone doing research on popular music. Resources support undergraduate, graduate, and faculty research in a variety of disciplines and departments. In keeping with one of the aims of the Centers of Excellence program, the Center for Popular Music serves as a research resource for people far beyond the bounds of the University. Center staff members have fielded research queries from every state in the union and from more than thirty foreign countries. Authors, journalists, performers, media producers, documentary filmmakers, and students writing dissertations have all made use of the center’s archive and library.
Public programs sponsored by the center include lectures, conferences, symposia, film screenings, and concerts of contemporary and historical popular music. As part of its public outreach, the center also owns and operates Spring Fed Records, a Grammy-winning documentary record label dedicated to grassroots folk music of the U.S. South. The Spring Fed catalog includes such genres as bluegrass, blues, gospel, and tejano music.
Located on the first floor of the Bragg Media and Entertainment building, the center is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm. The web address is www.mtsu.edu/popmusic.