Perre Magness is an avid volunteer, historian, and writer. Magness has served many volunteer positions in Memphis, including the founding president of the Volunteer Center of Memphis, President of the Junior League of Memphis, and a board member of LeMoyne-Owen College. In the 1960s, she served on the historic Panel of American Women, helping women learn to overcome racial, religious, and socioeconomic differences. In addition to her philanthropy work, she reviewed books for the Nashville Banner and the Commercial Appeal for several years before she started writing her own column. "Past Times" began in 1987 and was printed in the Commercial Appeal for sixteen years. She also has written ten books, her first one published in 1983. Most of her books are about Memphis and the Mid-South, but topics of these books range. Notable books she has written include Past Times: Stories of Early Memphis, and books about Memphis landmarks, such as In the Shadows of the Elms: Elmwood Cemetery, which won the Memphis Heritage Historical Writing Award in 2002.
Magness has been celebrated and honored with many awards. She has won Junior League Sustainer of the Year, the Women of Achievement Award, the Leadership Memphis Kate Gooch Award, and is the namesake of a lecture series organized by the Hutchinson School. Her steadfast love for Memphis and its community has not only been recognized by prestigious organizations, but also by avid readers who have followed Magness' intriguing and fascinating writings for decades.
Series I of the Perre Magness Collection contains an all-encompassing wealth of information on the city of Memphis, since its founding in 1819 to the early 21st century. Major historical events occurring in Memphis, such as the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878, the annual Cotton Carnival, and the Earthquake of 1848, are thoroughly covered in this collection. With information about the state of Tennessee and the entire Mid-South region, this collection is by no means limited to the city of Memphis. This series includes correspondence, newspaper clippings, and handwritten notes pertaining to Magness' research throughout her career as a historian, author, and writer for the Commercial Appeal.
Series II primarily contains information on Magness' philanthropic and volunteer work, but also some research material. Records of volunteer ventures, organizations, and events are plentiful throughout the collection. Through this series, a researcher can gain a better understanding for Perre Magness' personal life, which she dedicated so much of her time to volunteerism. Included are photographs, records, brochures, and pieces of correspondence.span
- Information taken from the collection finding aid, by Lauren Peterson and Jordan Redmon.
View the finding aid for the manuscript collection.
View the digital collection.