The Knoxville History Project (KHP) is an educational nonprofit whose mission is to research, preserve, and promote the history of Knoxville. Knoxville’s only city-focused historical organization, KHP covers the city’s historic center, but also neighborhoods throughout the county, to the north, south, east, and west.
KHP offers educational talks and tours to the public and through schools, museums, churches, and other groups. We support numerous other historical organizations in their work and partner with Knoxville Walking Tours to expand the range of history education in the community.
In addition, KHP provides consultation services to property owners, developers, local government, and other groups to research and document buildings, structures, and places of interest. Please contact us to discuss the nature and scope of your history project.
KHP accepts fees for services, but its main source of revenue is philanthropic contributions. Contributions to the KHP are tax-deductible. Please contact us to schedule a program for your group.
The Knoxville History Project is served by a committed elected Board of Directors, including Dationa Carter Mitchell (President), Scott Fugate (Vice President), Finbarr Saunders (Treasurer), Erin Slocum (Secretary), Linda Billman, Dan Brown, Casey Fox, Charles Fels, Dasha Lundy, Rosa Mar, Cat Shteynberg, Marshall Stair.
Ex-officio members: Eric Dawson (McClung Historical Collection, Knox County Public Library; Warren Dockter, East Tennessee Historical Society; Nicki Russler (Knoxville Jewish Alliance); Shellen Wu, University of Tennessee History Department.
Duane Grieve serves as an honorary board member. Board members serve three-year terms.
At its inception, KHP’s largest project was supporting the Knoxville Mercury, an independent newspaper, in its work to promote better understanding of the city of Knoxville and its history and culture. The Mercury produced 109 award-winning issues between 2015 and 2017. The Mercury continues to maintain an online presence here on this website.
KHP works closely with other nonprofit organizations, including the East Tennessee Historical Society, Beck Cultural Exchange Center, the Knox County Public Library (including McClung Historical Collection, and Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound), Knoxville Jewish Alliance, University of Tennessee History Department, University of Tennessee Libraries, WUOT Radio, and Visit Knoxville. KHP also works with local historic house museums, including Blount Mansion, Mabry-Hazen House, and Westwood, owned and managed by Knox Heritage, to promote their work.
Jack Neely, Executive Director – Founding director of the Knoxville History Project in 2014, Jack Neely is a longtime journalist and historian who has been writing about his hometown’s character and heritage for many years. After graduating from the University of Tennessee, where he studied American history, Neely was an Egyptian museum tour guide at the 1982 World’s Fair. Later, he was a criminal-defense investigator, and an assistant editor for a national fiction magazine. Through his Metro Pulse column, “Secret History” (1992-2014) and his subsequent Knoxville Mercury column, “The Scruffy Citizen,” he’s been known for his particular interest in the city’s unique culture and heritage. He has written several books about Knoxville and its history, including Historic Knoxville: The Curious Visitor’s Guide (2018) and Historic Bearden (2019), and others published by the Knoxville History Project; as well as several published by other entities, including The Old City: A Short History (2018); The Tennessee Theatre: A Grand Entertainment Palace (2015); Market Square: A History of the Most Democratic Place on Earth (2nd ed., 2011) and Knoxville, Tennessee: This Obscure Prismatic City (2009). He has earned numerous awards, including an honorary doctorate from Maryville College; the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the University of Tennessee’s History Department; Awards of Distinction from the East Tennessee Historical Society; and a place in the University of Tennessee Educators Hall of Honor.
Paul James, Director of Publishing & Development – a 20- year-plus nonprofit professional, Paul joined KHP in 2017. Previously, the Executive Director of Ijams Nature Center (2004-2016), Paul has long been fascinated with Knoxville History. He is in charge of fundraising, publishing, and helps with program development. His published titles on his own include: An Exhibition Guide to Lost Species (2006), Ijams Nature Center (2010), and Brockway Crouch: a Naturalist’s Life in Knoxville and the Smokies (2012). He wrote a feature article on the Passenger Pigeon for Smokies Life Magazine (2014), and numerous articles for the Tennessee Conservationist Magazine (2006-2015). He authored Downtown Knoxville (2022) with Jack Neely, and serves as editor and photo researcher for all KHP publications.
Nicole Stahl, Administrative Coordinator- Nicole joined KHP part-time in 2016 with over 12 years of administrative experience. Her love for history, along with passion for administrative work, makes her work at KHP nothing short of a dream job. She takes care of the day-to-day activities, along with assisting Jack and Paul with the larger projects and events. Originally from New York, she has lived in Knoxville since 2007 and had fallen hard for this “scruffy city”. From getting married in the Sunsphere, to weekends spent strolling Market Square with her family, Knoxville is definitely home.
All content in this website copyright Knoxville History Project except when noted.