I’ve discovered that many folks have interesting stories about challenges they have encountered as part of acquiring and processing collections. I have several of my own, the most recent adventure being captured by the camera.
Part of the mission of the archives of the Tennessee Conference of the United Methodist Church is the collection of records of churches of the conference that are no longer in existence. Unfortunately, some of these churches closed in the years before the establishment of the current archives and many of the records departed to whereabouts unknown. The Commission on Archives and History for the Tennessee Conference is always on the lookout for “lost” records that may have found their way to other temporary homes. Finding them is sometimes just a small part of the battle.
Carroll Street U.M.C., in Nashville, closed some years ago, and many of its records are among the prodigals. I have had several research questions about Carroll Street, so awhile back I decided to ask the incumbent archivist, Von Unruh, about missing records. He told me there was very little that had been placed in the repository. He did tell me that he knew of one record, in the form of a marble plaque bearing names of members of the congregation, that was in private hands. Arrangements were made to transfer the plaque to the Tennessee Conference Archives in downtown Nashville. (See photos.) The plaque was large enough that three grown men could not fully lift it off the ground. Thanks to the assistance of Sandy Swift, a courier who loves a challenge and a good cause, the job was accomplished. Several hundred pounds of church “record” are now firmly in place in the collection of the conference. The best means of processing and providing access have yet to be determined.
Jim Havron, current archivist, TN Conf. UMC