Kent Flanagan: For Sunshine Week, Kent Flanagan looks at history of Tennessee Public Records Act of 1957

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March 15, 2013 3:02 PM

Opinion from The Nashville City Paper:

For months last year, I kept asking members of the Coalition for Open Government and the Tennessee Press Association if they knew anything about the history of the Tennessee Public Records Act of 1957.

I found details about the TPRA and what it covered, but little in the way of context until I visited the Tennessee State Library and Archives and began reading about who developed the legislation and how it was enacted. And, yes, TPA was the driving force behind it.

During the summer convention of 1956, TPA began an ambitious campaign to make state and local government records and meetings more accessible to citizens.

The effort was lead by Carl A. Jones, then publisher of the Johnson City Press-Chronicle and incoming TPA president, and Coleman Harwell, editor of The Nashville Tennessean and chairman of the organization’s FOI Committee.

Kent Flanagan is executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government. The Tennessee Coalition for Open Government is a member of NFOIC. --eds