January 29 – June 5, 2011
Courtyard Gallery, second floor
Electricity is so central to our everyday lives that we take it for granted. It may be difficult for those of us living in the 21 st century to fully appreciate the impact electricity had on the daily lives of Americans as it was first being introduced. However, at its creation and throughout the first half of the 20th century, electricity dramatically changed the lives of urban and rural Nashvillians, Tennesseans, and Americans.
This exhibition highlights materials found in the Nashville Electric Service Public Relations Records (c. 1866-1989), a collection of archival photographs, documents, publications and more, that illuminates over 100 years of our city’s history.
Street cars: A key feature of the collection is material relating to the history of street cars (both electric and non-electric) as a means of mass transportation.
Early lights: Images of the downtown’s early street lights and early lighted storefronts are included among the over 1,000 photographs found in the collection.
600 block of Church Street: The collection also includes numerous photographs and printed materials relating to the history of the 600 block of Church Street. The Nashville Railway and Light Company offices were located in the Watkins Building on the 600 block of Church Street on the site of today’s (2010-11) Nashville Public Library.
Early appliances and household electricity: The collection reveals how electricity transformed households. Electric appliances such as irons, stoves, furnaces, refrigerators and vacuum cleaners—displayed in the front windows and lobby of the Nashville Railway & Light Company—were presented as clean, modern conveniences that would revolutionize women’s work in the home.