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.
Today we are very excited to announce that the Memphis & Shelby County Room is the new repository for WREG Channel 3’s broadcasts of the Memphis in May Sunset Symphony. Late last year WREG graciously donated their broadcasts to the library and we have been hard at work preparing these to go up on Dig Memphis for your enjoyment. The broadcasts span a 12 year period from 1988 -2000 and include such highlights as the 20th Anniversary concert (1996), performances from Ruby Wilson (1992) and Isaac Hayes (1994), a symphonic work composed by the King of Thailand (1995) and, of course, many renditions of “Ol’ Man River” by the inimitable James Hyter (1988-1998).
We are going to be rolling out all these broadcasts over the next few weeks but today you can view both the entirety of the 1994 and 1998 broadcasts on Dig Memphis (all the broadcasts will also be available on our Vimeo channel). While every concert is a treat, we have chosen to post these two broadcasts first because of their special significance: the 1994 broadcast features a special performance from Isaac Hayes (including the “Theme from ‘Shaft'”) and the 1998 broadcast represents the end of an era with the final performances of both Maestro Alan Balter and James Hyter.
We would once again like to give a large and sincere Thank You to WREG for the donation of these videos, insuring that, although the Sunset Symphony is no longer a part of Memphis in May, music lovers the world over can watch these incredible performances whenever they desire. Enjoy!
The 1994 broadcast may be viewed by following these links: Part 1, Part 2.
The 1998 broadcast may be viewed by following these links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
Black Monday Arrests
Marching on Beale Street
Freedom Sunday Meeting
Picketing on Main Street
This week we launch a new Civil Rights Collection, combining materials from various manuscript collections, including the Frank Holloman Collection, the George W. Lee Collection, the A.W. Willis, Jr. Collection, the Arthur L. Webb Collection, and the Catholic Human Relations Council Papers.
Eldon Holliday began curating this collection as an intern, but in the process of working on it we hired him to work full-time in the History Department. (And we started calling him “Chip.” He’s okay with that, but not “Chipper.” Just an FYI.) It is all a well-developed plan to make sure that he keeps doing great work like this and that he continues to add to this particular collection along the way.
This digital collection also contains a slide show, entitled The Unfulfilled Dream: A History of Race Relations and Civil Rights in Memphis since the Civil War, and images from an earlier version of the Civil Rights Digital Collection.
We are pleased to announce that our new Benjamin L. Hooks Collection is now available on Dig Memphis.
This past summer, Matthew Hicks and Katie Jakovich (our archival fellows from Rhodes) processed the Benjamin L. Hooks manuscript collection and digitized selected items from that collection for inclusion here in the digital archive. In addition, Hooks’ daughter, Patricia Hooks Gray, very kindly allowed us to make digital copies of a large number of family photographs which have also been added to this digital collection.
The digital collection includes dozens of photographs of Hooks with civil rights leaders, presidents, family members and celebrities, as well as documents and reports related to his time as the Executive Director of the NAACP and a member of the FCC.
We hope you will join us on Saturday, October 25th, at 2:00 to celebrate the opening of the Benjamin L. Hooks Collection and to congratulate Matt and Katie on a job well done.
Judge Robert Lanier has always been a generous friend of the Memphis Room.
Once again, he has given us a gift — this time, a collection of 295 photographs documenting the evolution of some of Memphis’ buildings and public spaces. Spanning from the 1950s to the present, the Robert Lanier Collection includes images of Beale Street, Court Square, Overton Park, the Tennessee Club, Main Street, Overton Square, the Exchange Building, and so much more.
Our sincere thanks also go out to volunteer Victoria Grey, who not only processed the collection and created a finding aid, but digitized the entire collection as well.
2013 marked the 175th anniversary of the Memphis Chamber, and to celebrate the Chamber donated this digital collection to the Memphis Room. Our many thanks to the Chamber’s Director of Operations, Eric Elam, for scanning all of these files for us.
Included are annual minutes and publications, photographs, resolutions, news clippings, marketing materials, and more from across the years. (Additional photographs and newspaper clippings will be added in the coming months.)
We’re really not supposed to play favorites, as everything in this collection is pretty awesome, but… The film footage from this collection is just incredible!