Following a proposal by Charles Nicholson at the 1981 Tennessee Ornithological Society (TOS) Fall Meeting, a resolution forming the TOS Certification Committee was unanimously passed at the 1982 TOS Spring Meeting (Stallings 1982). The committee was charged with compiling an official list of all bird species documented to have occurred within the state. The Certification Committee consisted of one regular member and one alternate from each of the three Grand Divisions of the state with the editor of The Migrant acting as Chair (ex-officio). The first edition of the Official List was published in The Migrant in 1983 (Nicholson 1983).
In 1987, Stephen Stedman and John Robinson wrote a comprehensive guide to documenting bird sightings. Many of the guidelines presented in their article still hold true today and may be referred to by those submitting a rare bird sighting.
At the 1989 TOS Fall Meeting, following a proposal by Richard Knight, a resolution was passed that changed the name of the committee to the Tennessee Bird Records Committee and specified that the committee chair be selected by the committee members (Robinson 1989).
A resolution at the 1994 TOS Spring Meeting redefined the membership of the TBRC to include five members and one alternate (to vote on any record submitted by a TBRC member). Also, geographical restrictions requiring that the membership represent all three Grand Divisions of the state were lifted in favor of insuring that the most-qualified persons are selected to serve, no matter where they may reside (Hatcher 1994).
Further changes were adopted in a resolution at the 1998 TOS Spring Meeting following a proposal by Chris Sloan aimed at increasing the responsibilities of the TBRC and bringing the committee more in-line with records committees of other states. Specific changes to the TBRC included increasing the membership to six voting members and one alternate, allowing members to serve consecutive terms, and changing acceptance criteria to require at least five (out of six) votes to accept a record. Geographic restrictions on membership were once again put in place. New responsibilities of the TBRC included defining and maintaining a set of status codes to indicate the abundance and frequency of occurrence of each species within Tennessee and acting on all submitted reports (whereas formerly only the first three reports of a species in the state were solicited and acted upon) (Martin 1998).