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Excellent Citizens and Notable Partings in Williamson County, Tennessee Book Publication Announcement

What was Special Collections doing during the covid-19 shelter-at-home mandate?

We’re glad you asked! Your Special Collection librarians were right here, working hard on compiling and editing a new book for our department, and for you! As much as we didn’t like the circumstances, we welcomed this time to focus on bringing our work to completion. We fully intend to have our new book available for purchase and/or perusal sometime in June, barring any unforeseen circumstances. 

What is the title?

The long title is: 

Excellent Citizens and Notable Partings: A Further Look at the Popular Series, “Portrait of an Excellent Citizen,” Published in The Review-Appeal, 1966-1968, in Franklin, Tennessee

What made you compile a book? 

Inspiration. It’s as simple as that. Nearly two years ago, an old box of donated items provided  hours of delight and entertainment as we combed through its contents. Among the assorted papers, we found a nearly complete set of Review-Appeal “Portrait of an Excellent Citizen” clippings which, we soon discovered, ran as a series between the years 1966-1968. We were intrigued by this Review-Appeal appointed group of outstanding citizens, so highly regarded that each face was individually hand drawn by Tennessean staff artist, Bill Duke. 

Why these citizens?

Each generation recognizes those among us who stand out, the ones getting things done, the ones everyone either knows or “knows of.” How the Review-Appeal “Portrait of an Excellent Citizen” series came into being is a bit of a mystery, as well as their selection process. It seemed to have just appeared out of the blue, with no introduction and no conclusion. However, once re-discovered, we quickly recognized that this collection of citizen portraits gave us a unique snapshot of Williamson County and some, but not all, of the more visible citizens of the late 1960s, and that in itself was significant. While our nation was in the throes of political turmoil and cultural revolution, it would seem that business and life went on as usual in Williamson County.

Why is this book important?

As we began to wonder how the lives of these “Excellent Citizens” played out and what it would look like to read their end-of-life story, we set out to locate their obituaries and other articles. After compiling a fair amount of additional material, it was easy to see the treasure we had unearthed. We knew if we could get this all into a book, it would become an important resource for present and future researchers in finding family connections and aiding their understanding of these citizens and their place in our midst. For added interest, we threaded in ads of the era found in the Review-Appeal, The Williamson Leader, and the local Franklin phone directory. We also used quotations and excerpts from other local sources whenever possible.

Are any of the Excellent Citizens still living?

Yes, only about 10. For those citizens who are still living, we sent letters or called asking for their help, or their family’s help, in creating an updated entry for them. Most were happy to do so. And as word got out, some families of those citizens already gone were eager to help as well. In that way, we were able to amass original and important additional content for many of our living and deceased Excellent Citizens.

Are there other books about local people from Williamson County?

Yes, there are quite a few wonderful biographies, and several narratives of life in Franklin which are very  entertaining as well as factual. We are eager to point out to our readers works such as Who’s Who in Williamson County by Jane Bowman Owen, Who’s Who in Williamson County by Nat Osborne, Jr., and Who’s Who in Williamson County by Derry Carlisle, reprints of the Review-Appeal column of the same name published over a span of 35 years, all colorfully written and re-published by Rick Warwick. We also encourage our patrons to read the narratives of locals who have chronicled their own lives in Williamson County during this era, and in doing so, have animated the lives of many other citizens, some featured in our book. Look for works by Leonard Isaacs, Russ Farnsworth, Bill Peach, Bobby Langley, Jimmy Gentry, W.C. Yates, and others. Many of these are available to check out at WCPL.

Why are these 143 citizens important?

In today’s world, we have “social media” and “influencers,” but these men and women of the late 1960s were influential — they were doers, and their lives reflected their interaction with and influence in the community. For a time, they were all here in this one place, together, the stalwarts of their day. We hope this book, which we have painstakingly compiled and edited, will provide its readers and researchers with a useful resource as well as a source of memories of a time gone by, now known as The Sixties. 

Watch for details about our new book, Excellent Citizens and Notable Partings, coming out soon!

From the Special Collections Department

Marcia P. Fraser and Ashleigh M. Florida

Janice Keck Awards Ceremony

The Williamson County Public Library held the Janice Keck Literary Awards Ceremony in August with Bill Peach acting as the emcee.  The winners received their own Janice Keck Literary Award Medallions with family and friends, and many of the local community watching (unfortunately, Brad W. Hoover, the nonfiction winner for “Tears of Hope: Hero in a Bandanna”).

Clcik Image to Enlarge

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Left: Sandy Coomer (Poetry: The Presence of Absence), holding book cover

Middle: John Neely Davis (Fiction: Bear Shadow), holding book cover

Right: Jean Simmons (Children’s Literature: Willy the Panther Cat), holding book cover

 

PicMonkey Collage

Top Right: Awards Seal Design

Center: Book Cover for Non-fiction (Tears of Hope: Hero in a Bandanna) winner, Brad Hoover

Middle Right: Emcee Bill Peach

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