The idea for this exhibit came about in the fall of 2014. While conducting my PhD residency in the Special Collections Division (SCD) of the Nashville Public Library (NPL) I cast about for various projects to work on. At NPL's 2014 system-wide staff day, I met Ronnie Pugh, manager of NPL's Old Hickory, Tennessee branch. Ronnie and I decided to collaborate on a project. When I visited him and his branch in Old Hickory, he told me the history of the community. As I listened, I found myself drawn in to the story of Old Hickory. Deciding what aspect of Old Hickory history to focus on and what form our project would take represented a bit of a challenge. As we looked through various sources, including the Rayon Yarns, a monthly magazine published by and for Old Hickory Du Pont workers, the amount of coverage given to sports struck me as significant. As I dug deeper, I realized that from the late 1920s to the 1940s, Du Pont company organized and sponsored baseball enjoyed enormous popularity in Old Hickory. I decided that Ronnie and I should focus on the subject of baseball in Old Hickory. I told him my thought, and he agreed.
We decided on a small physical exhibit, one case-given the extremely small size of the Old Hickory NPL branch and the limited area in which to place an exhibit- as well as a public panel discussion with panelists consisting of Old Hickory residents who attended or participated in the Old Hickory baseball games in some way at the height of their popularity, or local historians deeply knowledgable about Old Hickory's history. The exhibit consisted of photographs focusing on three themes related to Du Pont company organized and sponsered baseball in Old Hickory: the teams, the diamond, and the action of the games. The images came from Rayon Yarns, photographs owned by local residents, and primarily from the collection of a local collector of images related to Old Hickory, Jerry Barnes.
I hope you enjoy this exhibit about a little known, but jewel of a community in eastern Davidson County, Tennessee. If you would like to learn more about Old Hickory, Tennessee, please see the "Further Reading" page of this exhibit.
PhD candidate in public history, Middle Tennessee State University