While some people have an aversion to detail, Brianne Wright, archivist for the City of Kingsport, seems to thrive on it.
Her new book, “On This Day in Kingsport History,” is living proof.
Newly released by Arcadia Publishing and The History Press, Wright’s text is a daily log over 365 days in Kingsport’s history – starting on January 1, 1942 (President Franklin Roosevelt’s proclamation for a day of prayer) and ending on December 31, 1929.
“The day-by-day book format is one I’d seen before about another city and liked,” the author stated in a recent interview. “And I thought it would be great for Kingsport, particularly since we’re celebrating the city’s centennial birthday in 2017.”
The book, which took Wright three months to complete, is the second she has produced with the Friends of the Archives – the first being “Images of America: Downtown Kingsport,” published in 2011 (also Arcadia).
Notably, all proceeds from both books go toward supporting Friends of the Archives’ work at the Kingsport Public Library.
The current work contains 12 chapters – one for each month of the year – and spans nearly two centuries. The oldest entry is for August 21, 1822, the date when Kingsport was originally chartered; and the most recent is from November 11, 2015, which is the date on which the Veterans Memorial’s Phase II was dedicated.
Wright stresses that “On This Day” isn’t meant to be a comprehensive history – but is more of a rollicking joy ride through time. It features many serious and life-changing moments, but also announcements about community and social gatherings, even death notices – for which Wright offers additional research information.
“I began by including events that were already well-known in Kingsport history,” she noted. “Like, for instance, the Eastman Aniline Plant Explosion is very familiar to a lot of people; the date was October 4, 1960. Another (important date) would be when the city was chartered the second time on March 2, 1917.”
She admits finding so many historic gems – 365 to be exact – was challenging. But she relied heavily on the library’s own digitized newspaper archives, which provided historic accounts from 1916 onward – including those from the Kingsport Mirror, Kingsport News, Kingsport Post, Kingsport Times, and, of course, the present-day Kingsport Times News.
Wright, who resides in Church Hill, has served as Kingsport’s archivist since 2007. She is a native of Knoxville and completed a degree in anthropology at the University of Tennessee in 2003. After working for a time at UT’s Archaeological Research Laboratory, she left to complete a master’s degree in archival studies at East Tennessee State University (2007). Wright also worked in ETSU’s Archives of Appalachia, before assuming her current post.
“I’m kind of the record keeper here,” she says of her current job, which includes overseeing more than 700 collections at the Kingsport Public Library, many of which contain literally thousands of items.
Both of Wright’s books are available for purchase at local bookstores, online, and at the Kingsport Public Library located at 400 Broad Street. For more information, phone 423-224, 2559 or go to www.kingsportlibrary.org.