When Margaret and Elise Croft deeded their property to the Nashville Children's Museum in 1964, they left not only their land to be used for nature education, but also their home and all of their personal belongings, including more than 10,000 paper documents. All of those documents were transferred to the Tennessee State Library and Archives for safe keeping after Elise Croft's death in 1985. The collection was digitized a few years ago, and now part of the collection is being made available online for the first time through Library and Archives' Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA) website.
Curated by staff at Library and Archives and Nashville Zoo, the collection of around 300 documents highlights photographs, letters, deeds, maps and oral history clips of four main areas - the early history of the property, farming and animals, the Croft family's life in Cuba, and the legacy of Margaret and Elise Croft.
For the first time, visitors, researchers and history buffs alike will be able to see and learn about Nashville Zoo's amazing history. Our hope is that by exploring this website and the vast array of documents, people will come away with a better understanding of the property that Nashville Zoo is on, as well as the family that made it all possible.
To access the general TeVA site visit here.
To access the Grassmere collection visit here.
Once on TeVa's website:
1. Click "Browse Collection" at the top left. Then click on individual files to see what they are, or to listen to audio clips.
Each file has detailed information on what it is, and when known, names, dates and locations.
2. Files can also be searched based on subject. At the top Search bar, type in a subject (I.e. Margaret Croft), and all files with that word or words in its description will be displayed.
3. The box at the bottom left narrows the search even further. Click on Media Type, then Oral Histories, to get all of the audio clips on one page.
4. Click on Place to see all documents related to any topic about the Croft family, such as Havana, Cuba, etc.
5. These files can also be downloaded and printed.