We invite you to attend the 174th Annual Membership Meeting of the Tennessee Historical Society. Following our business meeting, Dr. Shawn Pitts will speak on “The Stanton Littlejohn Archive: The Rural Roots of Rock ’n’ Roll.”

Around 1946, McNairy County musician Stanton Littlejohn (1909–1983) picked up a recording console and began making acetate disc (lacquer) recordings of his friends and family at his Eastview, Tennessee home. Recording for more than ten years, the amateur sound engineer captured the performances of dozens of old-time musicians, southern gospel quartets, early bluegrass pickers and traditional country artists, from Southwest Tennessee and North Mississippi. When a young guitarist with an unusual new style wandered into the makeshift studio, Littlejohn became the first to record Carl Perkins and the sound that would soon be labeled rock ’n’ roll. The Littlejohn archive offers a rich resource for understanding the convergence of West Tennessee musical styles that resulted in the sudden, stratospheric rise of Memphis rock ’n’ roll.

Dr. Shawn Pitts is a former president of the Tennessee Folklore Society and has served on the boards of Humanities Tennessee and the Tennessee Arts Commission. Since 2021, he has served as co-convener of Tennessee 101, Tennessee Historical Society’s online webinar series. In 2012 he was awarded by the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress for documentation and preservation of the Stanton Littlejohn recordings. In 2019 Pitts coproduced Discovering Carl Perkins: Eastview, Tennessee 1952–1953 for the international roots music label Bear Family Records.


June 8, 2023


5:00 pm CT

6:00 pm ET