One-hundred and fifty years ago this May, a conflict between local policemen and African American soldiers set off three days of rioting in Memphis and resulted in the deaths of nearly 50 people — almost all African Americans. Now known as the Memphis Massacre, this event heavily influenced the path of Reconstruction and the eventual passage of the Fourteenth Amendment. Over the next three months, in commemoration of the 150th anniversary, the University of Memphis and the National Park Service are partnering with several local institutions for a series of discussions, lectures, and book talks with the goal of bringing greater public awareness to this pivotal–yet largely unknown– event in our history.
The full calendar of events, more information about the Massacre, and links to resources are all available at the University of Memphis’ Memories of a Massacre website. The Memphis Public Library & Information Center will be hosting two of these events: “Great Conversations — The Memphis Massacre” with Dr. Timothy Huebner on March 22 at 5:30 pm and a Book Discussion led by Drs. Bond and O’Donovan on April 14th at 6 pm.
The Memphis and Shelby County Room houses several items relating to life in Memphis during this time period, including two illustrations of the Massacre that were originally published in Harper’s Weekly on May 26, 1866:
(Click either picture to see the full description in Dig Memphis)
Other 19th Century Memphis items may be viewed at the following links: 1820s, 1830s, 1840s, 1850s, 1860s, 1870s, 1880s, 1890s.
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.
Thanks to the hard work of University of Memphis history student Christopher Montoya, the Colton Greene is now available online.
Colton Greene, a businessman and Civil War veteran, is remembered as the originator of the Mardi Gras celebrations in Memphis in the 1870s. The collection contains materials related to his service in the Civil War as well as documents related to the planning and execution of the extravagant Mardi Gras celebrations hosted by the Mystic Society of Memphi.
A few highlights include hand-drawn maps of the Trans-Mississippi Military District, numerous invitations to Mardi Gras events, and pages from the sketchbook, Mardi-Gras Costume Designs for the Society of Memphi.
The fifth and final discussion of our Making Sense of the American Civil War program series.
Please join us for a reception and viewing of the film Shiloh: A Fiery Trail on Thursday, April 18th, at 6:00 pm in the Meeting Rooms at the Central Library. (Feel free to wear your period costume!)
MAKING SENSE OF THE CIVIL WAR – PART V: WAR AND FREEDOM from Memphis Public Library on Vimeo.
Here is Part IV of our ongoing series, Making Sense of the American Civil War. Join us Thursday, March 28th, at 6:00 pm for Part V: War and Freedom.
MAKING SENSE OF THE CIVIL WAR – PART IV: THE SHAPE OF WAR from Memphis Public Library on Vimeo.
Despite the rain, we had a great turnout last night for Part III of our continuing series Making Sense of the American Civil War. We hope that everyone will join us again for Part IV: The Shape of War on Thursday, March 14th at 6:00 pm.
Unfortunately, last night’s session was not recorded. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Here is Part II of our series, Making Sense of the American Civil War.
Join us Thursday, February 21st, at 6 pm in the Memphis Room for Part III: Making Sense of Shiloh.
MAKING SENSE OF THE CIVIL WAR – PART II: CHOOSING SIDES from Memphis Public Library on Vimeo.