About the Project

This project is a collaborative effort of the Middle Tennessee State University Walker Library, the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University, and Vanderbilt University Libraries.  We are grateful to those organizations and to the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, which provided major funding for the project’s planning and implementation. Additional funding came from Anode, Inc., Vanderbilt University, and Middle Tennessee State University.

Over the course of three years we visited 23 of Tennessee’s 95 counties and a total of 74 historic homes, museums, cemeteries, and other historic properties in search of Tennessee-made or-owned art and artifacts that bring to life compelling stories of  Civil War Tennessee.  We were immensely gratified by the generosity and enthusiasm provided by the stewards of those organizations and became deeply aware of the well-founded pride that Tennesseans take in the places that we call home. We hope this website inspires viewers to visit these amazing locations.

The objects we found told us two important things: that Tennessee’s division between pro-Confederate and pro-Federal sectors was not a bright line.  There were Confederates in East Tennessee and Unionists in West Tennessee.  And we came to understand that the underlying story of the objects, diaries, correspondence, and ephemera that we uncovered was the tale of survival during an unspeakable time. Some Tennesseans died, some merely survived, and others thrived during the war.  The website themes reflect their stories, but there are many more such stories around the state waiting to be told.

The Civil War divided our state and our country in ways that few other events have done. The destructive power of the war and the resulting emancipation of enslaved people made it a great watershed of ‘before’ and ‘after.’  As non-military historians, we are grateful for the opportunity to connect with a period of history that has often seemed off-limits. We hope that this website will give others who may have felt disconnected from this period of our history new insights into life in Civil War Tennessee.

For Researchers

The Shades of Gray and Blue website was designed to place images of works of art and material culture objects within easy reach of teachers and students of Tennessee history, but it is hoped that scholars at all levels will find the materials assembled here exciting and valuable. The collection of images and information for Shades of Gray and Blue, while useful within the context of the themes and stories presented here, is also housed permanently in a CONTENTdm database that will become a permanent part of the Middle Tennessee State University Walker Library Digital Collections. These electronic records are searchable online and available for browsing with complete catalog information that will lead scholars to additional resource collections.


We wish to thank the lenders to this project and the writers; without them none of this would have been possible.  Each is noted with his or her text or in the object record. We also wish to thank Ken Middleton and Mayo Taylor of Middle Tennessee State University’s Walker Library for their work on the CONTENTdm database and their willingness to maintain it.  We are grateful to Anode, Inc.’s Melanie Barnett, James Muspratt, Chris Lee, and Mark Magnuson, who have designed an elegant and intuitive website for the project. The wonderful lesson plans that accompany this website are the work of Jeff Sellers, who showed amazing patience with very short deadlines. We thank our readers: Dr. Antoinette van Zelm and Dr. Stacey Graham; our colleagues at the Center for Historic Preservation: Elizabeth Moore Humphreys, Anne-Leslie Owens, Caneta Hankins, Laura Holder, Jessica Bandel, Cheri LaFlamme Szcodronski, Cindy Duke, and Ann Hendrix, and, most of all, our mentor on the project, Dr. Carroll Van West.

In addition to the writers whose credits appear on these web pages and entries, we also wish to thank Adam Alfrey, David Andrews, Gib Backlund, John Baker, Jr., Doug Berry, Andrea Blackman, Myers Brown, Marie Bourassa, Theresa Burchett, Dr. Jeff  Chapman, Calvin Chappelle, Dr. Dale Cockrell, Jennifer Core, Jenny Esler, Terry and Dr. Charles Faulkner, Missy Fletcher, Ed Frank, John George, Virginia Gilman, John Guider, Linda Gupton, Cherel Henderson, Dennis G. Hall, Ginnie Harris, Susan Hawkins, Susan Hellman, Cherel Henderson, John Holtzapple, Jim Hoobler, Beth Howse, Tracey Howerton, Kay Johnson, Patricia Johnson, Stuart Johnson, Ken Kowen, Strawberry Luck, Peggy Mask, Kimberly McCollum, Lee McDaid, Michele MacDonald, J. Andrew McGill, Joyce Mandeville, Melissa Falkner Mercurio, Marsha Mullin, Jim Ogden, Mary Beth Nevills, Renee Norton, Lisa Oakley, Dan Pomeroy, Sally Ripatti Polhemus, Elizabeth Queener, Joan Schwarzenberg, Joanna Stephens, J.T.Thompson, Sarah and Plato Touliatos, Jane Townes, Denise West, Beverly Williams, Richard Williams, Namuni Young, and Fred Zahn. We are especially appreciative of the following institutions: The Battle of Franklin Trust/Carnton/Carter House; Belmont Mansion; The Birmingham Museum of Art; Bleak House/Confederate Memorial Hall; The Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University; Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park; The East Tennessee Historical Society; Elmwood Cemetery; The Frank H. McClung Museum; The Hermitage, Home of President Andrew Jackson; The James K. Polk Ancestral Home; The Library of Congress; The Lotz House; The Mabry-Hazen House; Mount Olivet Cemetery; Nashville Public Library; Oaklands Historic House Museum; The Pillars; Sewanee: The University of the South; Stones River National Battlefield; The Tennessee Sampler Survey; The Tennessee State Museum; The Tennessee State Library and Archives; and Woodlawn Plantation, National Trust for Historic Preservation, for their gracious assistance in obtaining images.

— Celia Walker, Director of Special Projects, Vanderbilt University Libraries, and Susan Knowles, Research Fellow, Center for Historic Preservation, Middle Tennessee State University.

A website co-sponsored by Vanderbilt University Libraries, Middle Tennessee State University Walker Library, and the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation, with generous support from the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area.

  • Tennessee Civl War National Heritage Area logo
  • MTSU Center for Historic Preservation logo
  • Vanderbilt Jean and Alexander Heard Library logo
  • MTSU James E. Walker Library logo