Our Story . . .

A Nashville native, Mike Slate (1947-2021) attended Metro public schools and held degrees from Lipscomb University, Harding School of Theology, and Peabody College. Concerned by Nashville’s lack of a publication dedicated to “saving and conveying the local historical knowledge of its citizens,” Mike founded the Nashville Historical Newsletter (NHN) in January 1997 as a “medium for historical sharing.”

Mike Slate (photo by Tim Slate)

Mike was also one of the presenters in the WNPT production of “Memories of Downtown Nashville,” which still appears frequently during station fundraisers. (Here is a segment of that program dealing with the history of Union Station: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBWgti8iLvk). After many requests for the NHN collection in book form, Mike and his wife Kathy Lauder published The Confederate Twenty-Dollar Irony and Other Essays from the Nashville Historical Newsletter, a compilation of selected essays, in 2004. A second book, From Knickers to Body Stockings and Other Essays from the Nashville Historical Newsletter, followed in 2006. In recent years, Mike had become a zealous advocate for Buchanan’s Station, helping to organize the Friends of Buchanan’s Station Cemetery, a group formed in 2012 to raise awareness of the site and to provide needed funding for its protection, preservation, and ongoing maintenance. After a kick-off event commemorating the 220th Anniversary of the Battle of Buchanan’s Station in September 2012, the group collected more than $10,000 in donations to construct a metal fence around the cemetery, marking and protecting the site. In addition to organizing cleanup days, members have also raised funds for repairs and an archaeological assessment of the property. Their efforts ultimately encouraged the owner of Pinnacle Business Products, who owned the 1.46-acre site, to donate it to Metro Nashville Government in 2015. The Metro Parks and Recreation Department now manages the property, which is located on a proposed future expansion of the Mill Creek Greenway system.

Kathy Lauder, current NHN administrator, moved to Nashville from Maine in 2003. She taught high school English and theatre for 30 years in Maine and Maryland and was an employee of the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA) from 2003 until her retirement in late 2013.

Kathy Lauder (r) with Vanessa Williams in a still from “Who Do You Think You Are?” 2011

As part of her work with TSLA, Kathy completed the research and writing for the award-winning online exhibit “‘This Honorable Body’: African American Legislators in 19th Century Tennessee”, which was featured in the Nashville Public Television documentary, First Black Statesmen: Tennessee’s Self-Made Men. She also appeared in the NBC television series Who Do You Think You Are, providing historical background for the 2011 episode featuring Vanessa Williams. Kathy joined the NHN staff as editor in 2002, shortly after the newsletter’s transition from printed to online publication. As a board member of the Nashville City Cemetery Association, she edited that organization’s newsletter Monuments and Milestones for several years. Currently engaged in a project to locate and restore missing names of people buried in Mt. Ararat and Greenwood cemeteries, she publishes a short biography of one of those individuals every Friday on the Greenwood Project Facebook page. A published poet, she is also an occasional contributor to The Tennessee Conservationist magazine. (Oct 2021)

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