Today was my last day at Disciples of Christ Historical Society in Nashville.   June 1, 2011 would have marked five years at the Society.  I visited DCHS for the first time as a researcher in March or April 1992.  I was working on a high school history project and Uncle RD Ice suggested I might find there some new information about Dr. K. C. Ice.  I did, and remember vividly the sights and even the smells as May Reed gave me a tour and assisted me with several volumes of Disciples’ Yearbooks.  A few weeks later I attended a lecture, perhaps the first Reed Lecture, and there met Eva Jean Wrather (who was very kind to me) and Carisse Berryhill (Carisse do you remember that?).  Carisse was also very kind and, indicating that if I ever needed assistance to please call her, gave me her card.  I caught very little of what was said that evening in the lecture hall, but I caught enough to know that I wanted to know more about and spend more time in this place.  Little did I ever imagine then that I would later be working in Spencer’s office at Eva Jean’s desk.

I am grateful for the many opportunities of the last five years: opportunities to process primary source archival materials, to provide research assistance for (by my best count) well over 2000 requests and to have met many fine people.  I am certainly much more familiar with the breadth and depth of Stone-Campbell universe; I likewise feel like a novice because of how much material is available for research and how many gaps there are in our collective published history.

Though we do not yet know what the future holds, we are grateful for many friends and family who are walking with us and who have come alongside us in the last month.  Very likely some who read these lines are among those who have supported or comforted us in any number of ways.  Please let me tell you again how much we appreciate it.  Pray for those of us who suffer from “unavoidable budgetary constraints.”

If you contacted me at ice (at) discipleshistory.org please note that I can be reached at icekm (at) aol (dot) com.  I am eager to assist in your research in any way I can, but reallize that I no longer have the Society’s collection at my fingertips.  I expect to resume more substantive stone-Campbell historical posts to this blog in the coming days.

Grace and peace.

Nashville Churches of Christ History Group on Facebook

Nashville Churches of Christ History group is open to anyone interested in the Stone-Campbell movement in Nashville and Davidson County.  Here is the first post I made a few days ago:

I envision this community as a place to share common interest in the rich story of the Stone-Campbell Movement in Nashville. I am conducting research for a book which will highlight each congregation of Churches of Christ and Christian Churches from the 1820’s to the present…basically the entire movement from its beginning in our city until now. I envision this group as a place to share memories, photos, news and generate discussion and interest. Please join and contribute. Please feel free to contact me directly at icekm (at) aol (dot) com.

The group is open to all.  Help spread the word and generate interest.

Genealogical Workshop

Religious Archives-Registration Form (2)Genealogists in the Nashville area will want to know about this event:

Located in the buckle of America’s Bible belt, Nashville, Tennessee is home to several major repositories of religious records.  Denominational archives, publishing boards, and local congregations offer a wide array of research opportunities.  In addition to documenting de­nominational histories, religious archives also preserve information that tells the stories of the individuals and families who comprise each faith. This workshop provides an overview of historical records, manuscripts, and other documents in Nashville’s religious archives.

PDF flyer: Religious Archives-Registration Form (2)

Tweets from the Past

My colleague Sara Harwell has an innovative project afoot.  In 2007 DCHS was given a marvelous collection of material from First Christian Church, Frankfort, Kentucky.  Included in the gift were decades worth of diaries kept by FCC minister George Darsie.  In brief daily entries George recounts the ins and outs, the people and moments, the tasks and the the chores and the tasks of his life…about thirty years worth.  The collection is a rich glimpse into the life of a minister across the last third of the 19th century.

Sara’s project brings the richness of this archival material to the public using Twitter.  In a clever twist of space and time–think Back to the Future meets the Stone-Campbell Movement–George Darsie tweets from the 19th century.  Read Sara’s blog about it here and follow George here.

Two Disciples websites, and a reflection on archiving

DisciplesWorld‘s website will change and evolve over the next few months.  Keep up with it all at Verity Jones’ blog here and get connected at the Intersection, a social networking site for Disciples and friends, here.  Change and evolution is the order of the day it seems.

It remains to be seen what an archive will look like and how it will function in a few years as print media continues to disappear.  Certainly the day of printed journals as media of information, opinion and discussion like we have known it for the last two hundred years, is over.  I don’t know what the new day will be like, but I don’t think it will look like yesterday.  Maybe we will see a resurgence of journals?  Maybe the few survivors will emerge stronger?  Maybe not?  Maybe something else will emerge that none of us as yet can image.  Who knows?

One hundred years ago a preacher (like C.E.W. Dorris when he published The Bible Student) would purchase a printing press, a couple trays of type, set about to build a readership and promulgate his views and the teaching of those he respected.  Frequently these small operations were expensive, time-consuming and soon abandoned.  For example, Dorris and his wife often worked twelve or fourteen hour days setting type, printing, labeling and mailing his journal.  Subscriptions barely enabled them to break even (partly because it was a small readership, and partly because he operated it cheaply for a theological reason: to preach to the poor).  So, the Dorrises used the press for job printing to pay the bills.  Eventually he abandoned the paper because he felt it a better use of his time to preach in person rather than teach through a printed page.  We are fortunate, very fortunate, to have a full run of his paper.  We could repeat a similar story several times over.

Now preachers, pastors and especially average pew-ers sign up for wordpress or facebook or blogger or intersection or whatever…for free and build a readership through near-instant networking.  The dynamic has changed altogether.  One aspect of archiving will certainly need to be addressed in this new day: in the past we have collected papers and journals which have almost exclusively been printed and published by preachers or (un)denominational publishing houses.  What little we have in the way of the average person in the pew is in the form of diaries or letters, and they are scarce…scarce.  Not so with wordpress, facebook, blogger… everyone can be ubiquitous in this new day.  So, the archivist’s choice is this: whose voice do we preserve?  We can’t keep everything, and choices must be made…so who gets saved to the server and who gets deleted? And furthermore, not only does everyone have a voice now, most of what they say doesn’t look like it is worth keeping.  Much of what I see on blogs and social networking sites is the minutiae of daily life.  But I also see some wonderful historical, theological and ministerial reflection taking place…stuff that needs to be kept.

So, here I am wishing we had more leather-and-paper diaries from the 19th century and bemoaning the banality of much of what I see in the blogosphere.  What is disturbing is that in 100 years we may wish we had a hard drive or three worth of blogs and facebook accounts…all keyword searchable and ready for PhD (or whatever they’ll call it then) dissertation research.  In short, I don’t have an answer I’m comfortable with…I’m only just now beginning to wrestle with the problem.  What is at once frustrating and (on my good days) exhilarating, is that by the time we think we have the problem somewhat under control, it will change again.

Enough for now, I think I’ll check out who is on intersection…:)

Louisville Free Public Library flood damage

Read the story and see the pictures at Library Journal.

Eerie…really eerie.  Especially since as I type this we have workmen in T. W. Phillips Memorial replastering the ceiling in the Fiers Lecture Hall in preparation for painting to be followed by new flooring.   Then the crew will move downstairs for more painting, more new floors and ceilings (including my office).

When we have heavy rains in Nashville…every time…I go to the basement loading dock and keep an eye on the storm drains.  Laura and I have driven by at 10pm to check the drains (as have some of my colleagues).  Ordinarily people think of ‘preservation’ and images of full closets and sagging shelves come to mind.  There is much more to preserving history than stashing it away…sometimes it means checking the storm drains and monitoring weather forecasts.

I keep these handy

The summer of 2009 has been, without question, the busiest research season in my three years at DCHS.  It’s been terrific: lots of people are working on congregational history, personal family history and genealogy, scholarly articles and presentations, theses and dissertations, plus an array of books.

In one sense our stacks are my reference shelf, but here are a few books I keep handy and use constantly in assisting patrons with their research:

1. Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement, Eerdmans, 2004.

2. Survey of Service, Organizations Represented in International Convention of Disciples of Christ, St. Louis: Christian Board of Publication, 1928.

3. Churches of Christ, by John T. Brown, Louisville: John P. Morton, 1904.

4. Periodical indices, especially for Millennial Harbinger, Christian Standard, Christian-Evangelist, Christian Magazine, Christian Record, World Call and Missionary Tidings.

5. Directories and Yearbooks (Yearbook of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Directory of the Ministry, A yearbook for Christian Churches and Churches of Christ; and Churches of Christ in the United States).

I’m curious: what resources do you use often?

TSLA Workshop Materials Available

Just added to the Spoken Word page are one presentation and three handouts from yesterday’s workshop. 


I spent a few in the reading room after the workshop.  I will post sometime this week another installment in the Dorris Research Unanswered Question series.


If you have not already heard about it, check out this article at DisciplesWorld concerning our week at DCHS (hence my absence from the blogosphere).  The article pretty well covers the bases.  Needless to say we have a mess on our hands, but a local company is taking care of it in good order.  I suspect by sometime this week we should be back at a good level of functionality.  My office on the other hand…it may take a couple weeks to get all the stacks of paper back in proper disarray.  Thankfully only a few rather unimportant working files got damp and nothing truly important was damaged at all.


I’m teaching Philippians and Colossians again this quarter at church.  The intro to Col has been up at the Spoken Word page for a few weeks.  I will add the presentation on Phil next week.