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Tennessee has more than 1,500 family Bibles online

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (Times Free Press) -

Family Bibles were far more than Christian stories on the windswept American frontier or a lucky charm clutched against an immigrant’s heart as he sailed toward the New World on a ship.

All during America’s infancy, into its adolescence, even up to just a few decades ago, family Bibles were often used as a combination of scrapbook, haphazard diary, log of births, funerals, baptisms and weddings and, if necessary, proof that one was born to a certain father with inheritance rights to his land.

READ MORE | The Tennessee Bible Records

In Tennessee, birth certificates were not required until 1908 and, to this day, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will accept a family Bible’s list of births as one proof of citizenship for those with no birth certificate.

“On the U.S. frontier, the family Bible might be the only book in existence for 100 miles,” State Librarian Chuck Sherrill says. “Those early Bibles did not have lined pages inside where you could record births, deaths and weddings the way modern Bibles do. Families inserted pages or wrote on the flyleaves of their Bibles. When families recorded the important events in their lives in the sacred book, it gave them a sense of permanence. These were books that were meant to be handed down through the generations.”

Read more from our news partners at the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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