Future of Center for Southern Folklore uncertain

By , Special to The Daily Memphian Updated: June 10, 2024 11:39 AM CT | Published: June 10, 2024 4:00 AM CT

The Center for Southern Folklore, which celebrates its 52nd birthday this year, isn’t much more than a name at this point.

The small facility at the back of Pembroke Square, just off Downtown’s Main Street, isn’t closed, but it’s not open much either, just three days a week and only during the day. It hasn’t featured regular live music in years, and the Memphis Music and Heritage Festival, its signature event that began in 1982, hasn’t been staged since 2017.

The center’s former director and cofounder, Judy Peiser, is suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s disease and stepped away from the organization nearly three years ago. Its board is barely functioning, apparently having met only once in the last several years.

The worst thing about this situation for historians, music afficionados and those who care about the culture of Memphis and the Mississippi Delta is the center’s voluminous archives, which are in desperate need of help. For now, the archives are safe, if largely ignored. But the fear is what happens in the future. 


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Jody Callahan

Jody Callahan graduated with degrees in journalism and economics from what is now known as the University of Memphis. He has covered news in Memphis for more than 25 years.


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