May 16, 2022

Tennessee State Library & Archives Launches New Digital Project on Revolutionary War

From the Tennessee State Library & Archives:

As our nation prepares to celebrate Independence Day, the Tennessee State Library & Archives has launched Patriot Paths, a new project that uses Revolutionary War pension records to map the paths that these soldiers took before and after their service.


Thousands of veterans flooded into Tennessee at the conclusion of the war, and about 2,000 pension files exist for those who came here. Since most of the soldiers were not eligible for a pension until they were in their 80s, the number who received a pension was relatively small compared to the number who served.

Staff and interns at the Library & Archives pored over those pension files to find the dates and places where the soldiers were born, married, enlisted and died. Soldiers who had been born throughout the colonies and even Europe ultimately made their way to Tennessee. After the war, many crossed the mountains from Virginia and North Carolina, but some came from as far away as New York and Massachusetts.

That information was added to a database and then coordinated with GIS mapping software. The result is Patriot Paths, where historians and genealogists can search for veterans and study the patterns of migration.


Historians can also use Patriot Paths to learn more about this period in American history. “We learned that an unusually high number of Tennessee pensioners came from Orange County, North Carolina,” said Sherrill. “We don’t yet know why, but Patriot Paths provides the data to help us ask new questions about who came to Tennessee and what motivated them to launch into the wilderness.”

The public is invited to visit the site and conduct searches, but Sherrill asks that they remember it is a work in progress. Data has been entered on only 1,200 of the pensioners so far.

Direct to “Patriot Paths”

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.