Hutchins Library
Special Collections & Archives
Guide to the Edna Lynn Simms Collection

Accession Number: 81
The Edna Lynn Simms Collection
Papers, 1855-1963
3.6 Linear Feet
Online Catalog Record (BANC)

Overview & Series Description
Series I - Personal / Biographical
Series II - Mountain Family Documents and Records
Series III - Printed Material
Series IV - Photographs
Series V - Note Cards
Series VI - Scrapbook and Ledgers


These are letters, family documents, note cards, articles, and photographs relating to the life and work of Edna Lynn Simms, founder of The Mountaineer Museum in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.


Edna Lynn Simms was born in Lexington, Kentucky around 1880. After her marriage to Charles Sumner Simms in 1900, she moved to Knoxville, Tennessee. The couple had two children, Charles Jr. and Ruth Simms. Edna worked as a free-lance journalist and photographer while also participating in local women’s clubs and parent-teacher organizations. Her articles appeared in The Mother's Magazine and Concrete and she served as an editor for The Forest Farm and Mascot Concentrates. Simms was also an avid hiker and horseback rider and became interested in the lives of mountain people she met on the trail in the Gatlinburg, Tennessee area. This interest lead to her founding the Mountaineer Museum, which opened May 30, 1931. Until her death in 1961, she continued to collect information on mountain culture via photography and note taking. Simms' collection of notes, photographs, and artifacts were donated to Berea College in 1962 and became the core of the Berea College Appalachian Museum.

Series Description

Series I Personal / Biographical Box 1

This series consists of materials related to Simms' career as a journalist and founder of The Mountaineer Museum. An article she wrote for the Mascot Concentrates is included, along with another from the Christian Science Monitor about her and the Museum. An account ledger and some other miscellaneous items, such as an invitation to the 1939 New York World's Fair, are also included.

Series II Mountain Family Documents and Records Box 1, cont.

This series consists of pre-Civil War letters, poems, family records, legal documents and other papers documenting the Trentham and Ogle families. Also included is a map of eastern Appalachia and an address book.

Series III Printed Material Box 1, cont.

This series consists of newspaper clippings and notes related to the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, local news, poems, obituaries, and archeological and historical findings.

Series IV Photographs Boxes 2-4

This series consists of over 160 images depicting mountain people and lifestyles made by Simms and various professional photographers. They are arranged in numbered order and an identification label with information about the photograph is attached to each.

Series V Note Cards Box 5

This series consists of a set of categorically arranged note cards on which Simms recorded much of her research data. The cards have been preserved with Simms' sub-headings, labels and filing order. Topics within the note card collection include herbs and cures, Appalachian speech, traits of mountain people, and information on the Smoky Mountains.

Series VI Scrapbook and Ledgers Box 6

This series consists of a scrapbook of Knoxville News-Sentinel clippings from 1928-1935 relating to The Great Smoky Mountains. Also included are five guest register ledgers from the Mountaineer Museum.

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