FIND YOUR FOLKS: Searching for Your Chattanooga Ancestors

Hi Everybody,
Stopping through to bring you a tip on how to search for your Chattanooga ancestors.

Recognize any of these faces? They could be your ancestors. Really, they could.

This photo was lifted from the Chattanooga Times Free Press. I found it from a reference from the Hamilton County Bicentennial library’s photo database.

The database houses three major collections, including:
1. The Paul A. Hiener Collection (dating back to the 1960’s),
2. The Chattanooga Album Collection, consisting of 8 scrapbooks containing photos, newspaper clippings, drawings, postcards, etc. dating to 1960.
3. The Local History and Genealogy Department Picture File, which has images of the Chattanooga area from the mid-1800’s.

To use these databases, follow these steps:

1. Log onto the Chattanooga Hamilton County Bicentennial Libary.
2. Look at the sidebar on the left, and click on”Databases.”
3. Click on “Photographs.”
4. When the Photographs Database (green page) opens up, click on “Search the Database.”
5. When the search page opens up, write the words “African American” in the search field.

You will then be taken to a large (and still growing) database with photographs of known and unknown African Americans from early Chattanooga.

Of course, you won’t find photographs like the composite I’ve included here. It took me three years to find this one! But the library’s database does have a rich collection of faces you can browse through.

To see more wonderful photos from yesterday like the one I’ve included, be sure to pick up your copy of African Americans of Chattanooga: A History of Unsung Heroes and find out about other African American personalities and events from long ago. Just click on the icon to the right, and you’ll be taken directly to’s website, where you can make your purchase.

Best wishes and happy researching,

Rita Lorraine

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