The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the State of Tennessee

Tennessee Portrait Project

Portrait HomepageThe Tennessee Portrait Project developed from a desire to expand on and update an earlier study of Tennessee portraits that the Tennessee society published in 1964. Instead of publishing a print catalogue as they did in 1964, their goal was to create a new kind of catalogue made possible by new technology, an online catalogue with a website that could continually be added to, updated, and visited by millions of people world-wide. The project does not have an end date, because it is dynamic and will continue to grow and host visitors well into the future.

In 2002 members of the Nashville Town Committee established a committee to contact their members for information about portraits which were not included in the 1964 catalogue. They also met with the staff of the Tennessee State Museum to determine a process for carrying out the project. The project grew from the collaborative efforts of these Dames and the Museum staff.

The Nashville Town Committee took the lead in raising funds from individuals, from other town committees, from family foundations, from community foundations, and from The Tennessee State Museum Foundation. They employed a web designer, who would become the webmaster for the site,, and a research coordinator, who began the initial photographing of portraits, collecting of data about the photographs, and submitting of information on the website. Throughout the history of the project, Tennessee Dames from the four town committees have also photographed portraits, collected information, and submitted the information on the website. In addition to Dames adding information, submissions have come from viewers of the website who wish to add portraits and information. The website includes sections on private collections and on institutional collections. (Additional information about the history of The Tennessee Portrait Project is available at

Unknown GirlThe mission of our Society is to actively promote our national heritage through historic preservation, patriotic service, and educational projects. The Tennessee Portrait Project supports all aspects of our mission in preserving history as expressed through portraits of the men and women who came from other areas of the United States and other countries to settle the frontier that would become the State of Tennessee and who have participated in its success. The individuals in these portraits have stories to tell of their own patriotic service, from the creation of statehood, to establishing institutions to support Tennessee culture, to fighting to preserve their rights and freedoms on their native soil and in foreign lands. Educational opportunities abound as information is available for amateur and professional historians, genealogists, and family members who want to know more about their ancestors. Currently there are over 2,700 portraits documented on the website, with more added each year. Viewers can contact the webmaster through the website to obtain additional information, correct information, and have a discussion with other visitors by posting questions which go beyond the information available on the website.

In providing information about the history of Tennessee through the portraits of its people, The Tennessee Portrait Project has an impact that reaches beyond our members. Many people, as well as Tennessee institutions, are sharing the images of their portraits and information about their subjects with the public world-wide through the website. As an ongoing project, the volume of information will continue to grow, as we add portraits to the database for Tennessee history.


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Travellers Rest Historic House Museum
Headquarters of
The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the State of Tennessee

636 Farrell Parkway
Nashville, TN 37220

Tennessee State Pin

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