KNOXVILLE- The University of Tennessee Press will reach its seventieth anniversary on February 15, 2010.
On February 15, 1940, University President James D. Hoskins read a statement to the university trustees proposing the establishment of a University of Tennessee press http://utpress.org/pdf/utpressfounding.pdf. The University of Tennessee Press was among many prestigious university presses to be established during the first half of the twentieth century, including the University of North Carolina Press in 1922, the University of Georgia Press in 1938, the University of South Carolina Press in 1944, and the University of Kentucky Press in 1949.
Throughout the 1950’s, the press’s publishing program was the responsibility of the “University Editor” in the Division of University Extension. Under this arrangement, the press published only one title per year. In 1957, the press was reorganized and granted departmental status. Under the leadership of Louis T. Iglehart, who served as the press’s director for thirty-eight years, the press was established as a full-time publisher. Other major changes included the addition of an editorial board represented by faculty from all University of Tennessee campuses, a faculty committee of eminent scholars, as well as the employment of professional editorial, production, and marketing staff.
After seventy years of growth and change, the University of Tennessee Press has earned a reputation for excellence. Today it publishes 35 to 40 titles a year representing many different fields. The press is especially known for its important publications in the fields of African American studies, women’s studies, history, anthropology, religion, folklore, Native American studies, and especially Appalachian and southern history.
Since its founding in 1940, the press has been guided by three specific mandates: (1) to stimulate scientific and scholarly research in all fields, (2) to channel such studies (either in scholarly or popular form) to a larger number of people, and (3) to extend the regional leadership of the university by stimulating research projects within the South and by publishing worthwhile material from non-university members. The Press dedicates itself to the publication of high-quality works in selected fields, seeks always to represent the best in original scholarship, and provides the academic community, as well as the general reading public, with unique and important works that would not necessarily be printed by commercial publishers.
Some of the Press’s most outstanding publications include the Encyclopedia of Appalachia, winner of the Weatherford Award; Intellectual Life in the Colonial South, by Richard Beale Davis, winner of a 1978 National Book Award; The Collected Works of James Agee, edited by Michael Lofaro; and the presidential papers of Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson, and James K. Polk.
In July 2008, Scot Danforth was named the fourth director of the Press. Among some of the exciting projects currently in the works under Mr. Danfoth’s direction are a 2010 revision of the online Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, an extremely popular website maintained in conjunction with the Tennessee Historical Society; the construction of an online edition of the Encyclopedia of Appalachia under a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission; and a textbook imprint, Torchbearer Texts, which will utilize new technology.
Steeped in a rich tradition of bringing important scholarly and regional publications to light, the Press is committed to its mission for the next seventy years.
The University of Tennessee Press is planning several events in celebration of its anniversary, including a reception in October.