Philip and Marguerite Hamer, both of whom held doctorates from the University of Pennsylvania, joined the History Department in 1920. Philip Hamer had previously been on the faculty of the University of Chattanooga. He was one of the founders of the East Tennessee Historical Society, helped to found the Southern Historical Society (and served as its president in 1938), wrote a well-regarded scholarly history of Tennessee, and served as the acting dean of the College of Liberal Arts (now Arts and Sciences).
He left UT in 1935 to join the newly established National Archives and served successively as head of its library, accessions, reference, and records control division. In 1951 he became the first executive director of the National Historical Publications Commission. He is the author of A Guide to the Archives and Manuscripts in the United States (1961)—a guide to thousands of collections in over 1,300 repositories. In 1960 he began the work of editing The Papers of Henry Laurens and had published the first of what would be 12 volumes by 1968.