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.
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.
Do you want to get down and dirty in Memphis history? Or perhaps you want to climb around in a few family trees? We are always looking for a few good volunteers!
In the Memphis Room, we rely upon our awesome volunteers to help provide access to our resources and to assist customers with genealogical research. There are several ways you can lend your talents to the Memphis Room, including:
- Process a manuscript collection. Preserve and organize historical materials and create a finding aid. (See examples of finding aids here.) Your finding aid will be added to the library’s catalog.
- Create a digital collection. Scan and create metadata for digital items to be added to Dig Memphis. Those with knowledge of digital photography can put their skills to use on our large-format items, such as maps and posters.
- Assist others with genealogical research. We are always looking for volunteers to staff our Genealogy desk on the 4th floor.
- Transcribe or enter data. Are you a great typist? Do you have a knack for reading 19th century handwriting? We have a project for you!
For students, we also offer a formal internship program and can adjust these projects to fit your school’s requirements. Talk to your professor and then contact us.
Anyone interested in volunteering or interning should call the History Reference Desk at 901.415.2742.
Each summer, our Archival Fellows from Rhodes College are required to write a brief reflective essay on their time in the Memphis Room. This year, Regan Adolph submitted the following essay to her professor. She has given us permission to post it here, and we do so because she does such a wonderful job of capturing the excitement and variety of experience that working in the archives can provide.
Tomorrow is Regan’s last day, and though we are sad and will miss her (as we already miss Lanier!), we are so glad that we had the opportunity to play host to these two wonderful young ladies and to help them learn to apply their knowledge and skills to preserving Memphis’ history. We are so proud of both of them and we cannot wait to see what they do next!
Walking into the Memphis Public Library and Information Center for the forty-sixth time this summer, on the tenth Monday of my fellowship, I realized that I was just as excited to start my day in the archives as I was on that first Monday in May. I genuinely looked forward to working on my current project, seeing everyone in the history department, and being responsible for something in the Memphis and Shelby County Room that would be the authority on a certain topic. Knowing the importance of what I was accomplishing, utilizing my passion for meticulous organizing, and working alongside someone of considerable similarities made for an incredible experience as an Archival Fellow. Continue reading
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.