The University of Tennessee Press was established as a scholarly publisher in 1940 by the university trustees. Its mandate was threefold: to stimulate scholarly research in many fields; to channel such studies to a large readership; and to extend the university’s regional leadership by publishing worthy projects about the South, including those by non-university authors.
The press has earned a national reputation for excellence with its lists in African American studies, Southern history, Appalachian studies, material culture, and literary studies, as well as many regional books written for general readers. Over the years, its important publications have included Richard Beale Davis’s Intellectual Life in the Colonial South, which won the 1978 National Book Award in history; Charles Hudson’s The Southeastern Indians (1976), still the standard work on the subject; Jo Ann Gibson Robinson’s The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Women Who Started It (1978); Durwood Dunn’s Cades Cove: The Life and Death of a Southern Appalachian Community (1988); James Lee McDonough’s Shiloh—In Hell Before Night (1977); and the Encyclopedia of Appalachia (2006), which won the Weatherford Award.
Several outstanding series have further strengthened the press, including the presidential papers of Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson, and James K. Polk. Books in the Outdoor Tennessee Series range from hiking guides to studies of environmental problems. In 1994, the press launched the Voices of the Civil War, a series that brings into print the memoirs, journals, and letters of men and women, North and South, who endured America’s costliest conflict. Other series include Sport and Popular Culture and Studies in Vernacular Architecture, and the newly launched Legacies of War and The Western Theater in the Civil War.
In 2003, the press, in cooperation with the Tennessee Historical Society, launched its first electronic project, the online edition of the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture. The free site has been extremely popular—having received more than thirteen million hits to date— and offers more than 1500 entries about the people, places, and history of the state.
The press continually strives to meet its traditional commitments to scholarly research, to its diverse readers, and to its place within the larger mission of the university. It remains committed to excellence in scholarly and regional publishing.