It took the greater part of 50 years to happen, but Knoxville eventually realized that a scruffy past was not necessarily something to be embarrassed by, but rather something to learn from. By embracing our history, warts and all, we discovered the value of civic character as an asset—a character that has made Knoxville’s revitalization possible.
Those who love being surprised by discoveries of Knoxville’s past will want to gravitate to the East Tennessee Historical Society on Sunday afternoon for a glimpse into “Knoxville Christmas History in Print, Photo & Film,” a program assembled by the Knoxville History Project and Knox County Public Library’s Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound. KHP’s Jack Neely will take the audience back via Dickens-inspired local stories from the 1800’s, tales of Christmas Eve shenanigans from the 1920’s and 1930’s, the raising of the city’s first municipal Christmas tree, and the long-running Christmas Parade.
TAMIS’s Eric Dawson will show vintage photos and video footage of Knoxville’s Christmas past, including black-and-white home movies and rare color footage of the Christmas Parade in the early 1950’s.
Was Knoxville really this weird and wonderful? At the center of Sunday’s program is a just-released book by Neely, A Knoxville Christmas, with the full stories. Intriguing chapter titles include: “Christmas in 1915: The Garden of Allah, Creeping Babies, and the Blue Rabbit” and “Magnificent Distractions: Christmas, 1916, Saw a Promenade of American Show Biz.”
Copies of A Knoxville Christmas are available directly online from the Knoxville History Project as well as select Knoxville stores, including Union Avenue Books, East Tennessee Historical Society, Rala in the Old City, and Visit Knoxville.
WHAT: Knoxville Christmas in Print, Photo & Film
WHEN: Sunday, December 10, from 2:00pm – 4:00pm
WHERE: East Tennessee Historical Society, 601 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, TN 37901
HOW MUCH: Free.