The Memphis and Shelby County Room is an area within the History/Social Sciences Department on the 4th floor of Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library where researchers may view items from the library’s archival and manuscript collections. These include historical records of people and families, maps, photographs, newspaper vertical files, books, and music and video recordings. These materials document the development of the community, government, economy, culture, and heritage of Memphis and Shelby County, Tennessee.
The Memphis and Shelby County Room features:
- Memphis Information File – 425,000 newspaper clippings
- Memphis Photograph Collection – 11,000 local and regional photographs
- Manuscript Collections – The papers of 200 local residents from all walks of life
- Map and Poster Collection – over 5000 maps and posters of local interest
- Book Collection – 15,000 volumes dealing with Memphis and Shelby County
- Tennessee Biography Index – 125,000 entry index to local history books
- Memphis Periodical Index – 30,000 entry index to local periodicals
National Archives Documents of Interest:
- Elvis Presley’s Letter to President Nixon
- Court Documents Related to Martin Luther King Jr. and Memphis Sanitation Workers.
Library of Congress Documents of Interest:
- The March of the Chickasaw Guards (sheet music)
- The Beale Street Blues (sheet music) (recording)
- The Memphis Blues (sheet music)
Researchers may access the Memphis and Shelby County Room during regular library hours. Librarians provide assistance in selection and retrieval of needed materials, as well as the use of microfilm readers and photocopiers. Researchers may bring scanners or digital cameras to reproduce library materials upon obtaining permission from the History/Social Sciences Department manager.
Please help keep the Memphis and Shelby County Room clean and quiet by leaving food and drinks outside and holding conversations to a minimum. Books, manuscript, and archival items should stay in the Memphis and Shelby County Room, and the arrangement of the antique furniture should remain unchanged. The Memphis and Shelby County Room is intended for individual study and research. The library provides other facilities for study groups and those conducting meetings.
The staff of the Memphis Public Library & Information Center primarily provides reference and bibliographic services to residents of Memphis and Shelby County. As a result, the library is unable to provide all the reference and bibliographic services requested by customers from outside its service area. To help those with extensive information needs, the staff of the History/Social Sciences Department maintains a list, available upon request, of non-affiliated researchers available to conduct research and document reproduction for a fee.
The History/Social Sciences Department staff welcomes donations of print materials, audio and visual recordings, and photographs related to Memphis and Shelby County, Tennessee.
Please call 901-415-2742 for more information.