The Responsibility of Historical Accuracy

In response to Dave Young's reply ["Unfair Tirade," Jan. 7, 2010] to Bradley Reeves' letter regarding the inaccuracies in Ed Hooper's Knoxville's WNOX book, I would like to speak up in defense of our organization, Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound. In answer to the questions posed by Mr. Young in the conclusion of his letter, I offer the following explanations:

The mysterious credentials of Bradley Reeves?

Brad trained as a film archivist at the George Eastman House in Rochester, N.Y. He has worked at the Library of Congress, the National Archives, and the Archives of Appalachia. In recent years, as co-president of TAMIS, he has built up a solid reputation in Knoxville as a well-respected source to consult on matters of the film, television, radio, and music history of our region. He has spent incalculable hours interviewing people connected with WNOX's Midday Merry-Go-Round (including the many remaining performers from the MMGR) and unearthing and amassing rare film, photographs, and documents relating to the show.

What is TAMIS? And how is it funded?

TAMIS is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to collecting, preserving, and providing access to the moving image and recorded sound heritage of our region.

No individual may profit financially (or in any other way) from the organization's activities. Indeed, Brad and I work as volunteers the majority of the time and have even paid out of our own pockets to fund much of the archive's work in its formative years.

One source of funding of which we are particularly proud: TAMIS has been the recipient of several National Film Preservation Foundation grants (affiliated with the Library of Congress). Our organization, therefore, has successfully competed at a national level—and has proved itself worthy of federal recognition.

We established TAMIS as a nonprofit archive because we care about our region's history and we believe that it belongs to the community. Our organization is still young; we have many goals to fulfill in terms of public access to our collections. We are striving for recognition (and funding!) at the state level as we believe that the historical documents we collect and preserve are as integral to our region's history as a painting by Krutch, a letter written by a Civil War soldier, a Knoxville trolley, or a log cabin in Cades Cove. It is a long, hard battle but we do it in the interests of our community and not for personal gain.

Who is responsible for Mr. Reeves' tirade?

Ultimately, Brad Reeves himself claims responsibility for the points he puts forward in his letter ("tirade" is perhaps a little melodramatic). However, one might also argue that Mr. Hooper and his shameless disregard for historical accuracy should be held responsible.

I would like to clarify one other point in Mr. Young's letter. Mr. Young states that "[Mr. Reeves] provided NO photos or other materials to be included" in the book. On the contrary, I was present in the archive the day that Mr. Hooper came in and collected a disc containing photographs from our collection, many of which now appear in the aforementioned book. The photographs form part of the Harley Sunshine Slim Sweet collection at TAMIS; Mr. Sweet donated them to the archive and I digitized them in order to provide better access to them. The book credits the photographs to Mr. Sweet (correctly) but does not mention TAMIS. Yet another oversight, not only in the book but in Mr. Young's letter, too.

Louisa Trott

Co-President, TAMIS