Internet Archive has digital copies of most of the yearbooks (Lantern) and bulletins for Lambuth College from 1924 until it closed. Lambuth University by Pam Dennis and Susan Kupisch appeared in 2004. University of Tennessee law students Jennifer Crake, Zackarij Gradner, and Scott McLeod did a study of Lambuth College in 2012 : <trace.tennessee.edu/utk_studlawbankruptcy>
The Memphis Conference Female Institute was founded by the Methodist Church at Jackson in 1843. That school closed in 1920. In 1924, the Methodists opened a co-educational junior college in Jackson on a new campus. A third year was added to the curriculum in 1925 and a fourth year was added a year later. Through World War II, the school seal (left above) shows 1924 as the founding date. By the 1950's, catalogs claim the MCFI as part of the Lambuth College history. A new school seal that first appeared in the 1968 catalog (above right) shows 1843 as the founding date.
By 1930 Enrollment was 147—17 Seniors, 14 Juniors, 41 Sophomores, and 75 Freshmen. Almost all students were from Tennessee. Since Lambuth was a liberal arts college, its graduates majored in English, religious education, biology, history, mathematics, French and Latin.
The 1935 Lantern shows that Lambuth students had chapters of the YMCA, YWCA, Ministerial Brotherhood, and Student Volunteers. Students published a newspaper in addition to the Lantern. Lambuth also had an honorary society, a French club, a literary forum, and a drama club. There were local chapters of three social fraternities and three sororities.
Lambuth College experienced a period of growth beginning in the 1950's. The freshman class of 1959 brought enrollment to 600. Increased enrollment led to added programs, added sports, added diversity, and added buildings. In 1991 Lambuth declared itself a university, and its enrollment reached 1227 by 1995. However, soon that growth began to stagnate. Crake, Gradner and McLeod blame part of the problem on local competition. Union University with stronger programs--especially at graduate level--siphoned off the top area students. After its opening in 1965, Jackson State Community College began to draw the students interested in two-year programs. By 2008 Lambuth was down to 650 students.
Financial problems brought on by loss of students coupled with program and building costs led the school to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009 and to close in 2011.
Bricks and Mortar
The Administration Building was begun in 1922 and completed before Lambuth College opened. A three-story brick building with basement, it was described as having a "stern Grecian appearance" in the 1939 Lantern. For a number of years the upper floor housed female students, and part of the building served as the dining hall. Epworth Hall, the men's dormitory, was added in 1929. The Lambuth Physical Education Building came in 1948.
As enrollment increased, the campus grew from 24 to 50 acres while the number of buildings increased from one to twelve.
When Lambuth College closed, the campus became the Lambuth Campus of the University of Memphis. Except for Epworth Hall, the campus has remained largely intact.
Postcard view of the Administration Building. Now called Varnell-Jones Hall, it is the administration building for the Lambuth Campus of the University of Memphis. (<cardcow.com/492975/lambuth-college-jackson-tennessee/>)accessed 2-07-2017
Colors: Blue and White
Team name: Eagles
Lambuth teams were members of the Mississippi Valley Conference with West Tennessee Teachers College (now Memphis State), Tennessee Junior College (now UT-Martin), Sunflower JC, Bethel, Delta State, Murray Normal, and Little Rock College. Later Lambuth teams were members of the Mid-South Conference.
Lambuth fielded football teams from 1924 through 1935 with little distinction. After World War II, the 1947 team won only one game. Football was reinstituted in 1985, and some of the later teams enjoyed great success. The 1989 team (9-2) won the Steamboat Classic. Eight teams (1994, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2008, and 2009) made the NAIA Playoffs. The 1994 and 1995 teams reached the semi-finals, The 1999 and undefeated 2009 teams reached the quarterfinals. Three players--led by Ron Dixon-- had brief professional careers.
Lambuth College pitcher Ray King had a ten-year major league baseball career with the Cubs, Brewers, Cardinals, Rockies, and Nationals.
By 1995 Lambuth University's sports program included twelve sports.
1935 Mississippi Valley Conference champion basketball team (Lantern <archive.org/stream/lantern1935unse#page/70/mode/2up>)accessed 2-07-2017