Before cameras and photographers, there were skilled artists who were tasked with providing detailed images to accompany the news. And since photographs of Memphis in the 19th century are fairly rare, we rely on these sketches and drawings to tell us about what Memphis looked like in its early history.
The Illustrations from Harper’s Weekly Newspaper and Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper collection contains numerous images (and news articles) from the second half of the 19th century, covering events in Memphis and the surrounding areas. We’ve added some of them to Dig Memphis and we hope you enjoy!
The Britton Duke Papers are being scanned and uploaded, making this the first manuscript collection to be added to the archive.
The Papers provide a unique chronicle of an early Germantown family, with family letters and business papers dating back to the 1830s. Most papers belonged to Britton Duke, a prominent citizen and cotton planter, who owned the property adjacent to the Nashoba Plantation (a utopian community founded by Frances Wright). He was also extremely interested in education and served as the long-time school commissioner for the 11th district of Shelby County.
For now, we have digitized all of the correspondence files, a broadside from the Civil War, and the slave records. We’ll probably add some examples from the business files, but if you want to see the collection in its entirety, stop on by the Memphis Room.