She is only the third person to receive the award since it was created in the mid-1990s.
“I was quite surprised,” Fagan said. “I found out during the reception yesterday.”
The Col. James F. Corn Sr. Award was presented at the restored Cleveland railroad depot Sunday.
Bryan Reed, historical society president, said Fagan was more than deserving of the award. He explained that she has spent years transcribing many years of nearly illegible handwriting on court and government documents.
Fagan is modest in recounting her years of transcribing historical pieces. “I saw a need and realized to better serve our patrons, they needed to have this information,” she said.
Previous recipients of the award consist of Dr. William Snell, 1996, and Katherine Trewhitt, 1998.
Snell wrote several books and edited the diaries of Civil War teenager Myra Inman.
Trewhitt contributed to “The History of Bradley County” during the 1976 U.S. bicentennial year.
Col. James F. Corn Sr., the man for which the award is named, wrote about the Cherokee Removal in Bradley County. His book, “Red Clay and Rattlesnake Springs,” among other writings, helped preserve Red Clay to become a state park.
Fagan began by working on records in the basement of the old county court house. According to Fagan, the records were covered in mildew, mold and a layer of coal dust.
“The first group of records I worked on were the 1836-1860 Bradley County Court records,” Fagan said. “They needed indexing, flattening, cleaning, and abstracting. It only seemed logical to go to the next set upon completion.”
Added Fagan, “The social history you can derive from these cases is important.”
According to Fagan, the records allow the public to better understand the time and what people were doing.
“Early in Tennessee you had to go to the Legislature to get a divorce. It was an act of state,” Fagan shared.
Fagan was the circulation supervisor at the Cleveland Bradley County Public Library until 1993. At which point she moved to the history branch where she has been for more than 20 years. During her time at the historical branch she has transcribed nearly illegible documents, helped the historical branch grow, and sent the documents to the Tennessees State Library for the first time to get them micro filmed.
“It has been a real pleasure to be here and see the growth of the history and interest of the community,” Fagan said.
Fagan will be retiring from her position at the end of this month. She said she is looking forward to spending time with her husband and grandchildren, ages 4 and 6.