Category Archives: Libraries

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.




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

University Yearbooks and Publications

The University Libraries of the University of Memphis has partnered with the Internet Archive to make their institutional repositories available through the Internet Archive.  This includes the DeSoto, the yearbook of the University of Memphis, from 1916 to 1996; and the Lantern, the yearbook of Lambuth University, from 1927 to 2009.  Bulletins, catalogs and directories for both the University of Memphis and Lambuth are also available.  You can also browse  the University of Memphis, University Libraries collection at Internet Archive by subject or keyword.

DLynx, the Rhodes College Archives Digital Collection, is available to those who are interested in viewing archival collections, publications and institutional documents from Rhodes.  The Sou’wester, the student newspaper of the college, is available in its entirety, as are many editions of the school’s yearbook, the Lynx.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some embarrassing photos to search for…

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Filed under Libraries, Memphis History, Resources

Integrating the Libraries

On August 15, 1958, Jesse H. Turner, a bank cashier, filed suit against the Memphis Public Library in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee to force the library’s Board of Directors to allow equal access for African Americans to all facilities.  Filed by attorneys from the NAACP, the suit named librarian Jesse Cunningham (who retired that year, to be replaced by C. Lamar Wallis), library board president Wassell Randolph and all members of the library board as defendants.

Over the course of the next three years, the battle to integrate Memphis’ libraries would be waged primarily in the courts.  Ultimately, libraries and their restrooms would be fully accessible to all, as per the order by Judge William E. Miller.

The Library Integration Collection contains legal documents, letters and news reports related to the desegregation of the Memphis Public Library and Information Center.  These documents were saved by library staff and include papers from C. Lamar Wallis’ personal files, so although they are not an exhaustive record of that period of the library’s history, they are extremely telling in consideration of both the inclusions and the omissions.


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Filed under Black History, Civil Rights, Digital Archive, Libraries, Memphis History