John Harkins

We at Our Memphis History are sadden today to report the passing of one of our treasured team members, John Harkins. John was a consistent voice for the accurate retelling of history and he will be missed in both our podcast and in our daily lives.  

John, thank you for what you have done for the furtherance of Memphis history, both locally and nationally. Your articles and books will live on as testaments to thorough research, captivating topics and wonderful storytelling.

John’s bio reads as follows:

Dr John E. Harkins and his wife Georgia, are both fourth-generation Memphians with decades-long, passionate commitments to Memphis-area history and to institutions serving that history. John taught history for thirty-plus years, with more than twenty-five of those years being at Memphis University School. He has written dozens of articles on Mid-South history and three highly regarded books on Memphis and Shelby County topics. These include Metropolis of the American Nile, MUS Century Book and Historic Shelby County. The first two of these have also been republished in revised editions. 

By way of preparation in local history, John served six years as Memphis and Shelby County archivist, eight years on the Tennessee Public Records Commission, eight years on the Shelby County Historical Commission and four years on the Tennessee Historical Commission. During the 1980’s, John produced and hosted a local history talk show on the public library’s cable television channel. 

In the private sector, Harkins served eight years as president of the West Tennessee Historical society, two years as president of Descendants of Early Settlers of Shelby County and eight years in various offices on the board of the Davies Manor (museum home) Association. Over the decades, John has also held memberships in the Tennessee Historical Society, Memphis Heritage Inc., the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities, the Tennessee Preservation Trust, the Jackson Purchase Historical Society and the Bartlett Historical Society. 

1 thought on “John Harkins

  1. God Bless Mr. Harkins. I did not know him BUT EVERY City, County, and State NEEDS committed citizens that dedicate their time and life – whether professionally and personally – to the research and documentation of a regions history – good or bad. I am dedicated to my own familys’ first and then our impact on our city, state and country. IT’s IMPORTANT and necessary to elevating our own history.

    Bill Harbin
    University of Memphis
    Campus Planning + Design

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