I spend my days researching for other people. I answer their questions and sniff out leads on their behalf. Genealogy, congregational history, biography, orphaned parents, scholarly articles and books, institutional research, seminarians and professors: it varies from day to day and no two days are the same. I really like the variety because it forces me to interact with the full range of our materials at work and really has broadened by understanding (while at the same time reminding me how much I do not yet know or understand).
I also nurture some research projects of my own. The last three weeks, for example, I’ve been up at the crack of dawn tracing out the story of Nashville Churches of Christ from 1866-1906 in preparation for a paper I’m presenting at Union University in Jackson, TN in September. I’ve had long-standing research interests in Central Church and J. W. Shepherd and constantly keep my eyes open for anything that can contribute to an understanding of them. My most recent project included the Churches of Christ in North Edgefield, a suburb of Nashville just across the river from downtown. This project, slated for publication in September, led to my paper on the Nashville churches.
This afternoon, I enjoyed a few hours at church with former residents of the Central Girls’ and Boys’ Homes. Right at 100 folks, primarily from the Nashville area, gathered for lunch, to share memories and to keep in touch. I listened to stories and met some fine folks.
Last night Laura and I, Sharman, Sara and Marice (colleagues from DCHS) attended the Friday Night Singing at Charlotte Avenue Church of Christ. The congregation is merging with West Nashville Heights and will sell the building later this fall; this was the last singing in the old building (circa 1921-1923 or so, patterned after the Ryman Auditorium). I’d never before been to church at Charlotte Avenue, so I thought I’d better strike while the iron is hot. At one time it was about the largest Church of Christ in Nashville with something like 1200-1300 members. A historic congregation to be sure.
So, this weekend was a real treat. Let me plug my research projects: If you have, or know of anyone who has any historic material (paper items, photographs, ephemera, congregational records, books, periodicals, bulletins, letters, etc. no matter how insignificant you think it might be) along these lines, drop me a line, I’d love to meet you, listen to your story and talk with you.
It is up to us to keep and preserve our stories!