The key to unlocking government information often includes knowing what records are kept and what they are called.
In this quest, retention schedules can be your best friend.
For local government in Tennessee, there are two main resources to peruse:
The County Records Retention Schedule, produced by the County Technical Advisory Service (CTAS) as a model for all county governments; and
Records Management for Municipal Government, produced by the Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS), also as a model.
Both of these organizations are a service of the Institute for Public Service at University of Tennessee.
If you want to get deep into details of your own county or city, you can also check the policies of the local county public records commission, or the governing body for the municipality – both of which have authority to adopt local policies.
Map of state records
At the state level, the Division of Records Management within the Secretary of State’s office is a great resource.
It develops a Records Disposition Authority (RDA) for all state agency records. The RDA is simply the rule on how long a government record must be kept and when it can be destroyed.
The important thing is that the process of developing RDAs creates a map of all types of state records.
There are literally hundreds, and you can find those here: Effective RDAs.