Papers of Ralph Alston Cannon

Cannon, Ralph A, 1929-2008
Papers of Ralph Alston Cannon
MSS Cannon
1 cubic foot

Biographical note:  Born in Spartanburg, SC in 1929, the Rev. Dr. Ralph Alston Cannon graduated from Wofford College in 1950.  At Wofford, he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the Senior Order of Gnomes.  He then enrolled at Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut, graduating in 1953.  He returned to South Carolina and joined the South Carolina Annual Conference of the Methodist Church.  Ordained a deacon in 1955 and an elder in 1957, he served churches in Chesnee, Spartanburg, Bethune, Mt. Pleasant, Darlington, Rock Hill, Camden, and Greenville before retiring from the ministry in 1994.  In 1965, at only 36 years of age, he was awarded an honorary doctor of divinity degree by Wofford College for “an interest in scholarship that does not stop with graduation” and “a keen conscience, both social and personal.”  He was a regular columnist for the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, and his column, “Cannonaids,” made “the profound appear simple,” as an Advocate editor put it.  In retirement, he lived in Charleston, SC.  Dr. Cannon died on February 25, 2008. 

Organization note: Organized into 5 series: Memoirs; Pastoral Record; Books and Articles; Personal Items; Official Files. 

Access note: unrestricted

Summary note: The papers consist largely of Rev. Cannon’s memoirs, both in typescript and manuscript form.  After his retirement, he began to write notes about his life and ministry, and Mrs. Cannon began surreptitiously to copy them, and later to type them.  The result was a typescript that runs some 359 pages and covers much of the goings-on of a minister’s life.  As a leader in the Annual Conference, Rev. Cannon had particular insights into its operations.  The collection also includes some of Rev. Cannon’s books, his pastoral record, and scrapbook items.  One particular file covers his involvement with the committee that merged the black and white Methodist Conferences in South Carolina, and some items document his service as a delegate to General and Jurisdictional Conferences.  Rev. Cannon’s 41 years of sermons were donated to the library of the Yale Divinity School.

Citation:  Cite as: Papers of Ralph A. Cannon, Archives, Sandor Teszler Library, Wofford College

Location:  Archives, Sandor Teszler Library, Wofford College, Spartanburg, SC 29303

Administrative notes:  Papers received by gift from Mrs. Mildred Bowers Cannon, February 2010.  Processing involved re-foldering and minimal arrangement of correspondence and sermons. 

Finding Aid:  Folder listing

Series 1 - Memoirs

Memoirs (typescript) 6 folders







Memoirs (manuscript) 3 binders





Series 2 – Pastoral Record

Pastoral Record (1 volume)


Series 3 - Books and Articles

A Sickness in Society

The Faith of a Fiddler

Jots and Tittles


Series 4 - Personal Items

Yale Divinity School



Series 5 - Official Files

Merger Committee


Administrative Materials