Bellevue UMC Archives Wins State Award!

The Archives of Bellevue UMC was recognized for outstanding achievement by the Society of Tennessee Archivists during their annual meeting this year. Margaret Cornell accepted the award on behalf of the church, thanking all those who worked on and supported the establishment of an archival collection at the church.

If you are considering establishing a new archives for your church and are anywhere near the Nashville area, call Bellevue and make arrangement to visit theirs. It is an excellent example of what can be done.

Published in: on November 3, 2011 at 7:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

October is Archives History Month in TN

Tell us what is going on in your archives. If you do not have one, this is a good time to consider creating one. If you have ideas, suggestions, or need help, contact the archivist, Jim Havron, at archivist@tnumc.org.

Published in: on September 23, 2011 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Von Unruh Selected as New Conference Historian

Von Unruh, pastor at Morton Memorial in Monteagle, has been asked by the Commission on Archives and History to take on the job of Conference Historian. He has accepted. Von has long been a mainstay of the programs, societies and commissions in the conference, as well as the Southeastern Jurisdiction, relating to history. He is past archivist, past editor of the Historical Society’s journal, and a long friend of past historian, John Abernathy Smith. The CAH is very pleased to have him.

Published in: on May 1, 2011 at 7:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Leland Carden elected chair of the Commision on Archives and History

Leland Carden, past and current member of the CAH, has been elected to chair that commission. Leland immediately replaced archivist Jim Havron, who had been serving as acting chair for some months.

Published in: on May 1, 2011 at 7:29 am  Leave a Comment  

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.

Published in: on February 24, 2011 at 6:21 am  Leave a Comment  

Methodist History Rebuilt (Literally) In Lebanon TN–Part 4

The structure is up!

 

The Main structure of the Asbury-Babb House reconstruction is complete

 

 

Stone steps on one side of the home

Stone steps are on the side opposite the road, while the accessibility walkway is on the road side of the house.

 

I had a chance to visit today and the foundation is complete, the log walls are all in place, the roof is done and the shakes are complete. This was our goal for what was to be completed by this time, with the understanding that there would still be a need for work on the chimneys, flashing, (both of which needed to be done before the gables could be completed,) chinking, interior and steps.

We also hoped we would be able to install a concrete walkway for accessibility, but that was expected to take more time.

David and his team did as they usually do, they took advantage of opportunities and re-prioritized. The main goals accomplished, they worked in a bit more. The grading is done already, with some drainage to keep water seepage away from the house (part of what caused the decay of the lower logs on the original construction.) Stones steps are on one side of the house while a cement walkway goes up to the other. One chimney is in place already, which I guess will speed up the completion of the gables, though I didn’t remember to ask David. The roof looks great as well.

 

Chimney and accessibility walkway

Chimney and accessibility walkway. There is a hidden drain between the walk and the house and the ground slopes to another drain to the right (unseen in the photo.)

 

There will be grass planted soon, we hope. I understand that the church behind which the home is located is supposed to decide on the type soon. It is hard to be certain how much work can be done during the winter. I did not have time to confer with David about all of that. I do know that chinking cannot be done in cold weather, so I suppose that will need to wait until next spring.

 

Grading falls away from house

The ground falls away from the house on the side towards the shurch. As soon as a decision is made regarding the exact type of ground cover needed, it will be in place, assuming the season is still right for it.

 

I apologize for the lack of a film link at this time. I thought I was filming a complete walk around explaining what I saw, but must have done something to the camera as it came out as a 2 second film. I will try to get up there soon for some video, but except for the drainage explanation and such, most of what I explained is what is written here and you can get the same views from these pics.

Thanks again to the team that is doing this. Also to all those community volunteers (and those who traveled pretty far to help) that we have yet to officially thank. I have met some of you and know where your heart is on this.

Jim

Celebrating Archives Month! – 10 Reasons for Methodists to Save Documents and Historical Objects

October is both National and Tennessee Archives Month. I have spoken with a good number of church historians (sorry if I haven’t gotten to you; feel free to email me at archivist@tnumc.org) and encouraged them to establish records management programs and archives if they did not already have them. I have also encouraged them to use this time to make a concerted efforts to recover the church records that were in “Granny Williams'” trunk and celebrate their return. I also noted that the Conference archives will gladly take copies of such records for preservation or keep the originals, if the charge has no ability to do this.

One thing I found, (not surprisingly, actually) was that many folk do not see the importance, in the grand scheme of things, of keeping all that stuff. Will it help feed someone? Will it bring someone to Christ? Will it support someone’s faith as they deal with the death of a loved one or some other tragedy? Is it that important?

As someone who wrestled long and hard with the idea that a person could be called to “memory ministry,” I answer unequivocally, “Yes!” (I will cover this idea later in another piece, as I have written a more extensive document on the subject and will extract passages to make it appropriate for this forum.)

There are many reasons I give this answer, but below I have a sort of “Top 10 List. They aren’t necessarily the top reasons, but they are quick, easy to understand, and cover several areas of use of records. They come, with the exception of number 10, from the conversations I have had with church historians and staff of different kinds, secretaries, clergy, and laity, regarding this topic. I particularly like the last one, which is just a quote, but which I use frequently enough to have printed on a business card. So here they are. For Tennessee Archives Month:

“Ten Reasons Why Methodists Should Actively Pursue Keeping Records and Preserving Their History”

1.       Records and church documents are testimony. Can you imagine the Bible without the testimony of Peter and Paul through the Epistles? Our historical documents are the testimony of saints.

2.       What is not history today will be tomorrow; what is not important or unusual today, may be tomorrow.

3.       Preservation of our history is a gift to our descendants. I have seen tears of joy in the eyes of many people when they found evidence of the activities of their ancestors or the early days of their congregation.

4.       Documents may help us discern and explain the truth. In a world where our youth (and older folk as well) are bombarded by opinions about all manner of things, through all manner of media, there must be some place that they can go to see original sources, allowing them to base their opinions and beliefs on less filtered information. It is amazing how many people get incorrect ideas about Christianity and other things from the opinions of other people whom they have never met and about who they know little.

5.       Record preservation helps resolve disputes. More than once in the past few years disputes regarding past actions of the church were resolved by consultation of records. By the same token, I have seen the absence of records leave arguments unresolved and seen dissension grow.

6.       Historical documents show our relationship with the Methodist Church as a whole and the Church Universal. They also help us see our relationship with the world at large and how we both affect and are affected by it.

7.       Maintenance of church records is part of our tasks as Methodists, outlined in the Discipline and further defined by the actions of various Commissions and Committees.

8.       Maintaining our records is a good idea for very practical reasons. As of this writing, 3 times in the last 6 months, I have been asked as conference archivist to search for records that would prove changes in the structure of a congregation or support actions they have taken with distinct legal and monetary repercussions.  In none of the 3 cases had the records been deposited with the archives, so I was unsuccessful. In 2 cases we were able to find some things that helped, but in 1, there was nothing.

9.       In many cases, records maintenance is required by law. In many more cases, a well implemented records management program may save a church from severe consequences in a legal action. The presence of such a program is a defense, its absence a tool for a plaintive against the church.

10.   “Biblical faith takes history very seriously because God takes it seriously”Frederick Buechner

One last thing. I work in the secular world of archives. In the past several years I have had the pleasure of doing outreach, helping people with their own programs, and just generally working with folk regarding history on different levels. In a secular world (e.g. working for the Nashville Public library, my former employer) if someone looks at you and thanks you for your ministry, you know it makes a difference.

Jim

Tn Conf. Archivist

Jim Havron currently serves as archivist of the Tennessee Conference of the United Methodist Church. He holds a Masters in History and is a Certified Archivist, working in the public sector in addition to his work with the church. The opinions expressed, however, are his own, unless otherwise stated. His education and experience is in history with additional focus on public history, archives and museums, and with practice focusing on religious history, oral history, and user advocacy. His primary area of historical expertise is the creation, preservation, perpetuation, dissemination, and use of information and technology, as well as religious history. He can be reached at archivist@tnumc.org. He also blogs at other sites (his own and as guest or designated blogger,) under both his own name and pseudonyms.

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 buy-new-homes-for-no-money.com or something worse. In short, the delay in posting comments is to remove spam.

Published in: on September 24, 2010 at 1:52 am  Leave a Comment  

Methodist History Rebuilt (Literally) In Lebanon TN–Part 3

I’m doing better. I’m posting only a week after the last visit to the house.

I visited the project site last Saturday (2 previous posts will give newcomers information on the project) and found the men hard at work as usual. David Collier, the project manager, was there, so we were able to discuss some of the ideas that various folk have had about how we could interpret the house in an educational environment that includes a wide range of historical subjects as well as audiences [Video of house here.].

David Collier shows off the new shakes (shingles) for the roof.

David Collier shows off the new shakes (shingles) for the roof.

The main roof was on the second section of the house and preparations being made to add the cedar shakes that will

Roofing continues on the Asbury-Babb House near Lebanon, TN

cover the entire roof. Said shakes had arrived a day or so before and David explained their construction to me, also pointing out the areas where the logs were different because the old ones had rotted away and the new ones had to be done in as close to original manner as possible (a major delay in the reconstruction.) [Video here.]

The spaces between logs will be filled with a mixture that includes clay and straw.

He also explained the “chinking” process by which

we will fill the spaces between the logs.

We are currently looking for a good, relatively nearby, source of clay of the type that would have been available to the original builders.

As always, my “video” footage was just simply the clicking of the switch to let the camera run while I looked, we talked, (okay, mostly I talked, unless David was educating me as to the process,) and therefore the sound is not well balanced nor are any of the niceties one expects with edited footage present. At least David was aware enough to occasionally ask if I was filming and then point me at something. I think David will have a very good presentation style when the time comes to do educational programs for the process (note: I am volunteering him, but have not asked him) that will accompany Linda Collier’s (his wife and curator of the A-B House) presentations on the history of the home.

For those of you who are a bit more worried about the quality of the images, never fear. There are much better footage and images out there, and they will be presented at a later date.

The home site is not ready for unauthorized visitors. Bethlehem Church, however, does not consider visitors unauthorized. Please drop by and visit them for worship. They are located at 2102 Lebanon Road (US HWY 70) at the corner of Bethlehem Rd. (Map.) their number is 615-449-3234

Methodist History Rebuilt (Literally) In Lebanon TN–Part 2

First, I apologize for the delay in this second installment on the process and progress of the reconstruction of the Asbury-Babb House in Lebanon, TN. Shortly after my last visit I had several major personal issues that required my undivided attention. I am sure that all who are interested in this project would be willing to cut me a bit of slack, so I will not go into the details at this time.

I was quite pleased at the progress made by on the house when I visited on 16 July, nearly a month ago. The second story was up on the two-story side, the rafters fully in place and roofing underway on the other side.

2-story portion of house

Two-Story Portion of Asbury Babb House Before Roofing

1 story portion of house

Single-Story Portion of Asbury-Babb House With Roofing Underway

If one did not know that this was a reconstruction of a historic building, one might think that it was just a standard construction project, although not as elaborate as others in the area.

men working on roof

The Reassembly Team Working on Roof of Asbury-Babb House

Roofing was underway on the single-story while I was there, and most of the logs and other sundry materials were cleared away as they had already been incorporated back into the house.

The Area Beyond the Trees is a Private Residence. The Clear Area in the Fore-Ground is the Churchyard, Once Covered With Logs

Although modern tools were used for many parts of the work, and many neighbors and business folk have gladly lent their equipment, time and talent to this project, it was fascinating to watch the parts of the work done in a more traditional style. One of our primary workers (I apologize for letting his name slip my mind at the moment, but hopefully it will come back to me to replace this notation before too many have read this) gave me a rundown on some of the tools that were used and also on some of our log expert’s other old tools.

The rundown included showing how specific tools were used to cut and shape the logs and rafters for

Demonstration of Tools From Era of Asbury-Babb House. Hopefully the House Will be Used for a Variety of Education Techniques and Subjects

specific purposes, (techniques used to prepare the logs that had to be replaced,) as well as a demonstration of the used of a specific adz used to make wooden bowls (video here.) Although this last was not of use in the building of the home per se, it foreshadows  future demonstrations for school children, tourists, visitors, or other interested parties.

I was also shown some of the reproduction work being done to replace damaged attributes of the original house, including “beads” in the rafters. The intention is to restore the house as closely as possible to “original” state, while not losing sight of the fact that it represents the history of the following 200 years as well. (Video showing discussion of both, here.)

Detail of Interior of Asbury-Babb House Showing "Bead" Work During Reconstruction

The work proceeds well, as I said, and I have been informed that the team has received input from restoration people working at the Hermitage, Home of President Andrew Jackson, into a way to produce and apply the shakes for the roof. Chinking, internal work, and a variety of details remain to be taken care of, but the heavy lifting is mostly out of the way. Although it will be awhile yet before things have progressed to the point of doing tours again, not to mention coordinating with other institutions to provide an educational experience regarding Tennessee, Lebanon, Methodist, or general frontier history, as a trained public historian I can say I am pleased with how much progress has been made in the heat, not to mention the other, more severe weather we endured earlier in the year.

A Primary Team Member Takes a Break in the Heat

I hope to visit the site again very soon, and give further updates. I am starting a new job (besides my unpaid lay-ministry of historical and communication work) that will change my schedule somewhat, but I hope it will increase rather than decrease my ability to visit, and maybe I will be able to better connect those who wish to learn about Methodist and Lebanon history with the completed project. In the meantime, to those businessmen and women, neighbors, and folk from a distance who have just heard about the project and offered their good wishes, we want you to know that we do appreciate your contributions. We will extend more formal thanks as the project comes to a close (we do have a contact list, never fear,) but the team has informed me that they are grateful and could not have gotten this far without you. Just the same, the project is not finished, so keep it, the team, and the rest of us in your thoughts and prayers.

We welcome your comments. Please note that comments are filtered only to keep the site free of spam. For that reason, there could be a small interlude before a comment is posted as it is checked for authenticity. Content is not filtered, unless it is of a nature that falls under the obviously unjustified personal attack category. We reserve the right to remove words traditionally accepted as profanity, and will note that this has been done.

Jim

Tn Conf. Archivist

Jim Havron currently serves as archivist of the Tennessee Conference of the United Methodist Church, and posts this blog from that point of view.  A trained professional historian, he holds a Masters in History and is a Certified Archivist, working in the public and academic sector in addition to his work with the church. His education and experience is in history with additional focus on public history, archives and museums, and with practice focusing on religious history, oral history, and user advocacy. His primary area of historical expertise is the creation, preservation, perpetuation, dissemination, and use of information and technology, as well as religious history. He can be reached at archivist@tnumc.org. He also blogs at other sites (his own and as guest or designated blogger,) under both his own name and pseudonyms.