Archives Update as of Spring 2017!

This site is still in stasis for the time being. There are plans to use it in the future, starting with more blog posts, hopefully as an access portal for specific collection information and possibly digital materials. The wheels grind slowly, but they are grinding along.

Many of these links are still good, and we are not altering the past posts as some are still receiving traffic in a way that suggests interest by researchers or others. The primary Web page for the Tennessee Conference Commission on Archives and History (CAH), including the Archives itself and the Tennessee Conference Historical Society can be found on the Tennessee Annual Conference Website:
(This is under the Finance and Resources menu tab on the main page of the conference)

Updated information includes:
Chair of CAH-  Rev. Leland Cardin
Archivist and Historian- Von Unruh
Chair of Historical Society-   David Martin
Secretary/Treasurer of Historical Society-   Linda Collier
Conference Representative to SEJ CAH-  David Martin
Conference Representative to SEJ Historical Society-   Leland Cardin
Project Archivist and Resource Archivist-  Jim Havron (Jim serves as “Webmaster” of this site and may be reached at
Social Media and Internet Communication Committee-   Jim Havron and David Martin

The archives is generally open 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM (Central Time) M-F, excluding holidays. One should check ahead before visiting to be sure of the hours on the particular date research is desired. Contact can be made through email.


Oops! Site Restructure Replaced the “FAQ” Pages

At least, that is what we think. Awhile back, the theme that we used on this site was discontinued by WordPress and replaced with a new theme. We had the option to change, but remained with the updated version.
We have just (very) recently noticed that our FAQ page was no longer part of the site.
We do not know for certain when the changes occurred, so it is just an assumption on our part that this happened when the template for the site change.
We also noticed that a couple of previous posts (below) failed to publish, but when we re-published them, they appeared to publish on the original publication dates. We have not yet discovered any other posts that have not appeared, but if you are interested, you might browse the posts periodically to see if any have appeared to have published in the past.

Questions about this process can be addressed to Jim Havron,

Flip-Flop Here at Tennessee Methodist History

If you follow the blog, you may notice that it is once again active and once again holds the position of the “landing page” for this site. The “home” page is still currently a work in progress (or else will be replaced with another site, in which case we will post the information prominently!)

Plans to update this site to serve as an active, primary Website for the Commission on Archives and History, as well as to modify the blog, have been set aside for the time being as staff changes and shifting priorities have caused them to be placed on the back burner. For this reason, we will return to the previous format of blog posts fronting the site.
When future changes are made, be assured that plans will include providing appropriate links for continued access to this blog.

Reminder Regarding Archivist for Tennessee Conference

It has been brought to our attention that some people were unaware that Rev. Von Unruh serves as Historian and Archivist for the Tennessee Conference. This was posted on this site when he was appointed to that position some time ago, (here). At that time the position was part time, and Rev. Unruh also served as a local church pastor. Since that time the appointment has become a full-time position. This allows Von to maintain more consistent reference hours, primarily 7-3, Monday-Friday. Please note that because of staff limitations, the library and archival repository hours may still be inconstant, as Rev. Unruh may have to attend to business elsewhere and volunteer staff may not be available. Please call ahead before planning your visit.

For more on Von Unruh’s updated appointment, see the post, here.

(Jim Havron continues to serve as an archivist in the position of resource member of the Commission on Archives and History.)

Passing of John Abernathy Smith

John Abernathy Smith, minister and historian, passed away on February13, 2011. He served the Tennessee Conference in several capacities over the years, not the least of which was as a pastor and Conference Historian. He was the author of Cross and Flame: Two Centuries of United Methodism in Middle Tennessee‎ and a recent book on the history of First Methodist UMC in Pulaski. John will be greatly missed.

Apologies For Absences From This Site

I apologize for the lack of past posting and any future inconsistencies in the frequency of my posting. Besides the start of a new job in another city from the one where i live, there have been death and care-giving issues in my family that have hindered my abilities to do this work as well as i would like. As these issues resolve themselves and I adapt to changes that I do not control, I expect to come back up to speed. Feel free to express your own opinions through comments, adding to the blog content. I will note that we screen comments, but not so much for opinion (i.e. you may disagree with me to your hearts content) but so we can eliminate posts that seem to encourage debate if you follow them to their Website, but the link actually leads to or something worse. In short, the delay in posting comments is to remove spam.

Disaster Planning and Action for Your Historical Collections

In Tennessee and adjoining states, in general, and in the Nashville area in particular, we have just suffered major flooding and loss of property. We should first remember that we have had loss of life as well, and the bottom line on the property is that it is just “stuff.” Even if it is irreplaceable, it is still just stuff. Nothing is more valuable than the lives, so pray for those who have lost loved ones.

I still opened this post with the property issue because I have had some contacts from church folk who want to know what to do about their damaged records and historical items. Here is a preliminary list of responses to some questions.

  • Unfortunately, in some cases there will be little that I can do to help. In others, I will send (and have sent) basic preservation information or offer advice. I will be meeting with a couple of folks regarding their collections later in the week. I am willing to help as much as I can if time allows, but I do work full time and have other responsibilities as well. If you are trained in such things and able to help, please let me know. If you are in need of help, contact me via e-mail,
  • If you can’t reach me, try to reach a trained archivist, curator, or conservationist immediately!!!! Time is vital! Chances are I will send you to someone with more training than I have anyway. I have had or conducted workshops and seminars, passed my conservation and preservation section on my certification exam, and have some practical experience, so I can help. If you can find someone better at it than me or I can direct you to a better authority, that will be in everyone’s best interest. Those who work day-to-day with this are the best. I consult them when I can myself, so I suspect you will wish to as well.
  • There are copies of suggested disaster plans and recovery methods used by the UMC available. I will try to get them to whomever needs them.
  • If you are a member of another denomination or confession, I will happily help if help if I can, but I also will try to put you in touch with your structure. They may know of resources available to you of which I am unaware. They will certainly know better than I what is the biggest priority in your collection based upon types of records kept, what is most valuable to your practices, and where there may be other copies.
  • Remember that anything that has been submerged or exposed to flood water should be treated as toxic!!!! Gloves, protective clothing, clean-up well afterward. Tetanus shots are in order if there are any scratches or open wounds, no matter how small the injury or contact.
  • COW-MMM, Clouds of Witnesses-Memory Ministry and Missions, will be refining its “Basket or Bag” training to help people prepare for personal disaster by learning to prioritize and prepare what records and documents one most needs to take along in an emergency and how to prepare to minimize damage to the rest. It will be available again soon. There will be more on this as we develop a larger staff, but if you know of someone in need of this, please contact me. (Basket or bag refers to getting things down to what will fit in a large handbag or a basket that can be carried in one hand. We work on that, steps than can be taken to help preserve other items or the history they represent, and developing a mindset that helps us let go of the rest. I say “us” because I’ve been there.)
  • I have spoken with a colleague who is an archivist for a large church connection and with whom I have worked on other projects in the past. We hope to work out plans for special workshops or training for local churches on disaster planning and recovery. The idea will be to pool resources, hopefully including experts from different fields and professionals from different confessions who work at multiple levels of organization (local church, diocese, convention, denomination, historical society, etc.) We are archivists and historians, so records and historical collections are our focus, but we may work out ways to present this in a larger context of disaster planning and recovery for life in general. More to come.
  • The Society of Tennessee Archivists has potential resources that may be accessed as well. There are professional conservators among our membership.

Stay tuned for updates. Email if you need to.


Jim Havron, MA, CA

Archivist- TN Conf. UMC