Knox County Archives receives national award for preservation efforts


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Knox County Archives has received national recognition for its work to save important records and provide them to the public.

The Society of American Archivists has awarded its 2021 Distinguished Service Award to the Knox County Archives and its former manager, the late Doris Rivers Martinson. The SAA credited Knox County for the “many steps to preserve and make accessible its records to residents.”

According to a release from the mayor’s office, the archives preserves local court records going back to 1792. It also saves and organizes wedding records, deeds, school records, and other important documents.

“Doris set a standard of excellence. All the different courts have their own way of doing things. She was able to compile and bring them together from their separate places to make this a ‘one-stop-shop.’ She focused on serving people and organizing the archives so we can quickly find what you need,” said Head. (Photo via Knox County)

“We have people come to us for records the need to receive Social Security when they retire. […] We help people find records for researching their family history and genealogy,” said archives manager Eric Head. “Sometimes it can be emotional. I’ve had people literally cry on the floor when we were able to find something that they were looking for a long time.”

Head said the staff is honored to be recognized with Martinson, who retired in February 2020 following a career spanning over three decades. Martinson died on January 27, 2021. The Knox County Archives Reading Room on the second floor of the East Tennessee History Center is named in Martinson’s honor.

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