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December 3, 2012
It is a rare chance to see the most important documents in Tennessee history.
All three original State Constitutions will soon be on public display for the first time ever.
The three handwritten Constitutions are almost never seen, and until this week they have never been on public display all together.
Whenever you see the white gloves, you know what you're looking at is special.
"It's very rare to get a chance to see the original Constitutions," says TN State Librarian and Archivist Chuck Sherrill.
The names on these documents are well known. The words were written in 1796, and again in 1834, and 1870.
They are the three original Tennessee State Constitutions.
"They're so well protected and we cherish them so much, that we very rarely have an opportunity to bring them out," says Sherrill.
On Tuesday the documents, which are normally sealed in a vault, will be moved from the State Library to the State Supreme Court building next door. For five days they will be placed on public display.
"There is sort of an awe and wonder associated with viewing an ancient document like that," says Sherrill.
The display is part of the 75th anniversary of the Supreme Court building, and includes the opening of the Tennessee Judiciary Museum.
"These documents are the foundation of our government, and they're never seen by people, they've never been displayed together," says Tennessee Court of Appeals Judge Andy Bennett.
In addition to putting the documents on display, the state has also created a digital file of each of the three Constitutions.
The digital records allow another way to preserve history.
"In order to have a backup in digital form and be able to share these digital images with students and scholars who are interested," says Sherrill.
"We're always looking for way to get the message out about the great history that Tennessee has," says Judge Bennett.
And while you may not be able to touch the state constitutions, for a few days at least, you will be able to see them.
You may be wondering why there are three documents.
The Tennessee Constitution was redrafted as times changed. For example, the 1870 version deals with the abolition of slavery.
The document will go on public display beginning Thursday.
Here are the times you can see the documents.
Thursday, December 6th from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Friday, December 7th from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 8th from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. to allow school children who can't come during the week to view the constitutions
Monday, December 10th from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Starting Tuesday, December 11, the museum will be open weekdays from 9 a.m. - Noon. There is no admission charge. The Supreme Court building is at 401 Seventh Ave, Nashville, 37219, at the corner of Charlotte Avenue.
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Tuesday, December 4 2012, 07:26 AM CST
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