By Lane Gardner Camp, Memphis Conference Director of Communications
The Memphis Conference Archives of The United Methodist Church are now housed in Nashville, Tenn., with the Tennessee Conference Archives.
The holdings began being moved in the summer of 2016 with the final load leaving Dec. 19 from the Memphis Conference office in Jackson, Tenn.
The new home for the Memphis Conference Archives is 520 Commerce Street, Suite 205, Nashville, TN 37203. Hours of operation are 8 am to 2 pm, Monday through Friday.
Ann Phillips, Memphis Conference archivist and historian, supervised the packing and shipment of the archives, working closely with Von W. Unruh, Tennessee Conference archivist and historian, who will now oversee the archive collections of both conferences. Unruh may be reached at 615-335-0729 or Von.W.Unruh@gmail.com.
The Memphis Conference office, located at 24 Corporate Blvd. in Jackson, had been home to the archives since July 2012, when they were relocated from the lower floor of the former Lambuth University Gobbell Library in Jackson. It became necessary to move the archives to the conference office after the Methodist-affiliated school closed in 2011. The archives had been at Lambuth since the mid-1970s. (Lambuth is now part of the University of Memphis.)
Even though Phillips had retired before 2011 after more than 20 years at Lambuth, she came out of retirement to manage the archives at their new location for approximately four more years. In December, she effectively retired a second time.
With Phillips’ “second retirement,” it was a “good time” to gain efficiency for the Nashville Episcopal Area by combining the archives of the two conferences, said Larry Davis, Memphis Conference treasurer. The Tennessee Conference has space and staff to house and manage the Memphis Conference Archives.
The housing of the archives at the Memphis Conference office was always a “transitional alternative” after Lambuth closed in 2012, noted Dr. Joe Geary, Memphis Conference director of Connectional Ministries.
Praising Phillips for her work in Jackson, Geary said, “We give God thanks for the extraordinary legacy of service rendered to the Memphis Conference from Ann Robbins Phillips. She served as historian and archivist with distinction, dedication and devotion.”
The Memphis Conference will contribute funds to the Tennessee Conference for the maintenance of its archives in the new location, said Davis.
Any church or individual with records or artifacts to donate to the Memphis Conference Archives may do so by contacting Unruh and/or delivering materials to the Memphis Conference Office in Jackson. Unruh and his staff will schedule periodic trips to Jackson to pick up and transport materials to Nashville.
Even though the Memphis Conference Archives have moved to Nashville, the conference’s Journals (1862 to present) are still available in electronic form on the Memphis Conference website. Click here.
The archives are a vast collection of historically significant materials of the United Methodist Church of West Tennessee and Western Kentucky.
Holdings include deeds, baptism records, directories, member rolls, pastor files, closed church records, meeting minutes, photographs, financial records, obituaries, newspaper clippings, sermons, and rare books, Bibles and hymnals.
Artifacts include photographs, legal seals, building bricks and much more.
One valued holding, according to Phillips, is a copy of A Debate on Christian Baptism, published in 1824, and inscribed in 1829 as belonging to Benjamin Franklin Peeples, who was sent into the present-day Memphis Conference from the Tennessee Conference in the 1820s.
To read about the relocation of the Memphis Conference Archives from Lambuth University to the Memphis Conference Office in 2012, click here.