Bolton, Dickens & Co. Record of Slaves, 1856 – 1858

Cover of Document

This document, created by Shirley Neely, is an oft-requested resource in the Memphis Room.  Featuring a transcription and compilation of the records of one of the largest slave dealers in Memphis during the middle part of the 1800s, this manuscript is now available in its entirety in the archive. Pages 1-38 are a day-to-day accounting by Isaac Bolton for the months of March and April 1865. Pages 39-79 list the names of slaves, purchase prices, etc. Pages 80-91 include entries for sale of slaves. Pages 92-99 are transcriptions of correspondence and the last section includes newspaper articles and advertisements.

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Filed under Black History, Books, Civil War, Digital Archive, Genealogy, Memphis History, Resources, Volunteers

In Memoriam: Roy Cajero

Roy Cajero and Libby Carroll at Arts in the Park in Audubon Park

I met his work before I met him, and I was drawn to his vision instantly. His photographs were unlike anything else in the Memphis Room. They display an intimacy all while maintaining a wider, more objective perspective. He captured the mundane, but managed to elevate it to the extraordinary.

When I encountered the first two notebooks of his photographs, I had no idea who Roy Cajero was — the name was completely unfamiliar to me. I was very surprised to learn that we had worked at the library at the same time and that although he had retired, he was still a frequent visitor. One day, someone who knew of my growing obsession with him told me that he was in the building. I stalked him like prey.

I was very nervous to introduce myself to him, but there was no need. To meet Roy Cajero was to meet humility and kindness embodied. He was a soft-spoken, thoughtful man who was somewhat bewildered by my interest in him. I wanted desperately to interview him and to get some background on the person behind the beautiful photographs; I wanted to add his story to the digital archive along with the images I loved. But he wanted nothing of the sort. An intensely private man, he preferred that I write nothing about him.

Despite his hesitancy to be in the spotlight, he willingly agreed to share his work with the Memphis Room, and he has spent the past few years preparing hundreds of photographs for addition to the digital archive. His gifts will be forever in the hands of the community, and I greatly appreciate his willingness to share himself in that way.

I am also thankful for the gift of knowing him. Just as his photographs led me to examine Memphis from a different point of view, he could always help me look at life with a slightly new perspective. With a sly joke or a twinkle of the eye, this quiet man exuded warmth and put the people around him at ease, all while challenging us to think and grow.

Thank you, Roy. For your many gifts to the library and the Memphis Room, but most importantly for the gifts to your loved ones, friends, and admirers – the latter of which I am a proud member.

Oh, and sorry for breaking our deal.  I know you never wanted attention, but you deserve it nonetheless.


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Filed under Collections, In Memoriam, Libraries, Photographs, Portraits, Volunteers

Back On Beale with Lt. George W. Lee

Back On Beale with Lt. George W. Lee

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April 2, 2014 · 2:28 pm

Thank you, Karen!

A quick but heartfelt THANK YOU to our departing volunteer, Karen Kalnins!

Karen has worked diligently for two years adding images to Memphis Streetscapes, but we must say goodbye as she leaves us for an appointment with the Peace Corps.  Best of luck and congratulations!

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Park Commission Minute Books

John Dulaney has been hard at work over the past year processing the Park Commission Minute Books.  And when I say hard at work, I mean it. The amount of time he has committed to this project is staggering.  The detailed finding aid he has created will be ready soon, but we’ve added a few items to Dig Memphis to give you a taste of what sorts of wonders you will be able to find in this collection:


Minute Book 1

The Memphis Park Commission was created in September of 1900, and the first minute book covers 1900 – 1910.  This volume is available in its entirety.  From the creation of Overton Park, the Parkways, and the Zoo to growing demand for “a park for the colored citizens,” the early years of the Commission’s history shed a unique light on a slice of Memphis history.


A number of documents were inserted into the pages of the 29 Minute Books used between 1900 and 2000.  Several of those are digitized and available here.

And now, just because I have it (and despite the fact that he will kill me… ) – A picture of the dutiful Mr. Dulaney doing what he does so well.  Now that you know what he looks like, thank him when you see him!

John Dulaney

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Filed under Collections, Dig Memphis, Memphis History, Volunteers

Calling All Red Knights!

Bishop Byrne Crest

Angie Price, class of 2002, is creating an archival collection of Bishop Byrne Middle and High School memorabilia.  Please bring in your photographs, programs, school newsletters, playbills, etc. to help create a permanent collection in the Memphis and Shelby County Room.  We will be receiving donations on Saturday, March 8th, between 10 am and 4 pm, in the Memphis Room on the 4th Floor of the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library.  If you have something that you are not yet ready to donate, volunteers will be available to scan your items for inclusion in this collection.


Filed under Collections, Events

Video: President Obama at Booker T. Washington High School’s Graduation

BTW Graduation

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February 26, 2014 · 8:01 pm