Reviving the Memphis Blues in the 1980s


This Thursday, April 23rd, the Memphis & Shelby County Room will host Dr. David Evans as he discusses the rebirth of Memphis blues, including the revival of Beale St., the rise of Memphis in May, and the creation of the Center for Southern Folklore.  Recently featured on the Memphis Room Music Show podcast, Dr. Evans is an anthromusicologist and professor of music at the University of Memphis.  He has recorded local blues and gospel artists for the University’s High Water Records label since 1979.

Dr. Evans will be speaking and playing music in the Memphis Room starting at 6pm.

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Filed under History Department

Free Genealogy Workshops in May!

Free genealogy workshops will be offered on Tuesday nights in May.

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by | April 15, 2015 · 6:06 pm

Memphis Room Music Show – Episode 2 – High Water Records


In this episode, Dr. David Evans sits down with us to discuss the creation and history of the University of Memphis’ High Water Records.  Since 1979 Dr. Evans has been recording local and regional blues, jazz, and gospel artists for the label.  Listen as we discuss his personal interest in blues music, play some tracks, and discuss the importance of preservation in the digital era.

After you listen, be sure and check out our Spotify playlist of music discussed in the show.  Additionally, Dr. Evans will be giving a presentation in the Memphis Room on April 23rd at 6pm.  Dr. Evans will be playing music and discussing the revitalization of blues music in Memphis during the 1980s.

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Aerial Photographs of Memphis

Joe Lowry has donated a small collection of 70 photographs that feature some incredible aerial shots of Memphis.  A label on the box suggested that these photos were shot by the Secret Service in preparation for a visit from President Nixon in 1968.  Actually, the photos date to about 10 years later, and it is very likely that they were shot in preparation for President Carter’s visit to Memphis in December of 1978 for the Democratic Midterm Convention. Included in the images are numerous shots of the interior and exterior of Cook Convention Center, where the convention was held, and photos of the Holiday Inn Rivermont, where the President and First Lady spent the night.

Take a look at the photos and you’ll be able to see some pretty great views of Memphis as it was growing and changing.

There are a couple of very striking images of downtown that show the immediate aftereffects of urban renewalAerial view of downtown from Union to Huling.

Or, check out Poplar and Park near St. Francis Hospital:

Very little development around St. Francis Hospital

Several photos cover the Medical District. Here is Baptist Hospital with its very visible helipad:

Baptist Hospital and the Medical Center

There are even a few color photos to round out the collection. Downtown skyline with Mississippi River

Enjoy!  And thank you, Joe!

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Filed under Digital Archive, Memphis History, Photographs

New Podcast! Memphis Room Music Show!


Check out the first episode of our new podcast – the Memphis Room Music Show.  Eldon “Chip” Holliday has been hard at work creating a show that will allow everyone to get to know more about Memphis’ musical heritage. The first episode is all about the history of the Memphis Jug Band, and several of their tracks are included.

After you’ve listened to the show, be sure to check out the Spotify playlist of music mentioned in the episode and a bibliography of bonus materials related to the episode.

Many thanks to Gil Worth at OAM Audio for production assistance.

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In Memoriam: John J. Shea, Jr., 1924 – 2014

John J. Shea, Jr.

For more information on Dr. Shea:

The John J. Shea, Jr. MD Collection finding aid

Memphis Business Journal

Commercial Appeal (Subscribers Only)

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Filed under Collections, In Memoriam

Hallelujah! Screenings

We are very excited to host two screenings of the 1929 classic film Hallelujah! this month.  Want to know more about the film?  Take a look at the Hallelujah! Collection.


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Filed under Black History, Collections, Events, Memphis History