Chattanooga History - Explore our City's Past

Chattanooga History


Photos, documents, maps, and other unique resources of information about our city's past

To share the history of Chattanooga visually through images and interactive resources.

Locate and digitize unique photos and other content from donors and found acquisitions

Research and provide information about the locations and people in the photos.
To tell their stories.

Featured Content

A look back with unique and memorable photos

In partnership with The Chattanooga Times Free Press

The Richardson Building

The Richardbuilding - A Chattanooga Tragedy

Our Coca-Cola Legacy

In July of 1899, a simple 600-word contract was signed.

Chattanooga Flyers

CHA Airport and Flyers Club History

Once Upon Cameron Hill

Never before shared views of Cameron Hill's former residents.

Class of '99

Forty students named from an 1899 class photo.

Launched in 2014 as ‘Deep Zoom Chattanooga’, this site is maintained to serve as a place to present unique historical images and publications, as well as provide resources not easily available in the research of continual discoveries of our past.

Chattanooga Tennessee and surrounding areas share a rich history; from settlement, war, boom times, decline, and renaissance. In a tragic irony, it’s also one of the largest cities in the United States without a local history museum*. The reasons are complicated but are not for a lack of public interest. Curated collections and donated photos remain mostly inaccessbile and out of reach by the public. Our heritage is 'on hold'.

*Based on 2017 Census Bureau MSAs populations between 500K-1M. Defined as a publicly accessible venue featuring local area history without a niche focus on ethnicity, age, industry, or art. VIEW CHART OF MARKETS HERE

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Special Collections

Perry Mayo Collection

History Shared: Perry Mayo generously donated a box of medium format black & white negatives. The photos were likely taken from the mid-1950s through the early 1960s. They capture some of the most active periods of infrastructure change in Chattanooga's history since the Civil War.

Stokes Photos

In 1922, his obituary described him as ‘one of the most prominent photographers of the city.’

Remarkably, a significant set of his photo collection has survived three generations. Stokes uniquely featured landmarks, buildings, and historic vistas.

Glass Plate Negatives

Glass plate negatives captured over 100 years ago represent daily life, homes, friends, and landmarks that are difficult to place in our current landscapes.

Here we see young men and women with gleams in their eyes - great grandmothers and great grandfathers in their prime around 1900. While all of their lives have come and gone, we get a remarkable glimpse into their world.

The Battle of Chattanooga

November 23 - 25, 1863

Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, having taken over the Western armies of the Union in October 1863, concentrated on lifting the Confederate siege of Chattanooga, which had been in place since the Chickamauga Battle in September.

Grant opened the "Cracker Line" across the Tennessee River to take supplies inside the town to the beleaguered Cumberland Army, and also brought the Tennessee Army of Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman to the town in mid-November.

The Confederates had settled on Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain under Maj. Gen. Braxton Bragg, both of whom had commanding views of the town. The strengthened Federals started fighting their way out on November 23rd, overrunning Orchard Knob at Missionary Ridge's base and gaining a foothold for ongoing assaults on the Confederate line.

The next day, after six hours of fighting, Grant initiated an assault on Lookout Mountain and captured it. Grant ordered Sherman to attack Tunnel Hill on the ridge east of the city on November 25th. While the original assault by Sherman was a failure, Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas ' second assault managed to break the Confederate line center along Missionary Ridge entirely. This third victory in three days forced a withdrawal from the Confederate and opened the deep South to an invasion of the Union.

Projects: Digitized Newspapers

30,000+ pages of Chattanooga newspapers are now searchable online

After years of being told 'no' and frustrated with waiting for a formal organization to digitize Chattanooga historic newspapers, it was time to be proactive.

Thirty individuals donated to make this happen. It was only possible with the partnership of The Tennessee State Library and Archives, and digitization services of Jeffrey Kiley at Advantage Archives, as well as the man who has put more newspapers online than the Library of Congress; Tom Tryniski of Fulton County (NY) History.

Other links that include Chattanooga area digitized newspapers:

Search over 47,059,000 historical newspaper pages from the USA & Canada at: Fulton History (new improved interface)
READ the FAQ (really) to fully understand how to use this powerful search engine!

The Georgia Historic Newspapers Archive is a project of the Digital Library of Georgia, including the Walker County Messenger (PAID) now has over 700,000 pages of historic Chattanooga papers!

newspaper digitization