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Blount County Archives celebrate ‘Archives Month’ with special showcase events

Display photos are from Elaine Russell’s display on William B. Scott. – Photo courtesy of Jackie Glenn

Less than 10 minutes from the Maryville College campus exists a treasure trove of history for our entire community to enjoy. The Blount County Archives, run by Records Manager and County Archivist Jackie Glenn, was created to help serve the general public and offices of the Courthouse and Justice Center by receiving and processing both permanent and temporary records created by the Blount County Government from 1795 to present.

The Archives provide information on court records, demography, genealogy and the history of Blount County and Tennessee, as well as providing access to all records not deemed confidential by law. The records are open to those in the government, legal professions, historians and the general public.

To help spread the importance of the many materials found in the archives, the department holds events during the year to showcase different elements found there. In celebration of Archives Month, the department held an exhibit at the Blount County Library on Oct. 26, 2017 in the Dorothy Herron Room from 11:30-12:30 p.m.

The presentation was about William B. Scott, former Mayor of Maryville, and was entitled Putting the Puzzle Pieces Together with the Help of the Archives & Other Resources. Speaker Elaine Russell, a volunteer for the past several months at the Archives, has been researching original documents for information on Mayor Scott who served in Maryville in 1869.

This month, the Archives will be hosting another event in conjunction with the Blount County Library on Monday, Nov. 13, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. in the Sharon Lawson Meeting Room.  This event, held in remembrance of East Tennesseans that participated in World War I, will host a screening of the film “VALOR: The Kiffin Rockwell Story,” presented by filmmaker and author Marc McClure, Ph. D., Professor of History at Walters State Community College.

“VALOR” tells the story of Kiffin Rockwell, a Tennessee native from Newport, Tennessee, who volunteered for the French Foreign Legion with his brother, Paul, upon the start of World War I in August 1914.  Wounded after a year of fighting, Paul left the legion and became a war correspondent in Paris, while Kiffin joined the French aviation division and became a noted aviator. Joining a newly formed squadron of American volunteer pilots, the famous Lafayette Escadrille, in April 1916, Kiffin became a celebrated member of the American unit as it fought against German aviators during the battle of Verdun in June and July of 1916 and others.

On May 18, 1916, Kiffin shot down a German aircraft over the Alsace battlefield becoming the first American pilot to shoot down an enemy plane during World War I. For this action he was awarded the Médaille militaire and the Croix de guerre. On Sept. 23, 1916, during an air fight with a German plane, Kiffin was shot through the chest by an explosive bullet and killed instantly. He became the second American airman to die in combat in France, and was buried with military honors.

To create his movie, McClure used voice actors to perform the original letters of Kiffin, as well the letters of his family, friends and French commanders. McClure also incorporated the writings of Paul Rockwell to create narration. The film includes photographs that McClure collected in the Rockwell manuscript collections at the Washington and Lee University Archives and the State Archives of North Carolina and includes archival film footage from the U.S. National Archives and the Etablissement de Communication et de Production Audiovisuelle de la Défense in France.

McClures film has received the endorsement of the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission as well as Frances National Centennial Commission. McClure has screened the film at various venues in North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Washington D.C., as well as a French language version of the film in Alsace, France, where Kiffin fell in combat. “VALOR: The Kiffin Rockwell Story” is McClures first documentary film. The event is free and open to the public.

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