“Scene On Main Street.” Memphis Streetscapes

DIG MEMPHIS is Memphis Public Libraries’ digital archive. Created to provide greater access to archival material, DIG showcases many of the treasures found in the Memphis and Shelby County Room, including photographs, letters, audio recordings, videos, maps, etc.

All of the digital material is organized and stored in the unique DIG MEMPHIS archive.  There you’ll find a series of digital collections, each with a distinct theme or provenance.  The archive is also searchable across all collections by entering a subject term, time period, item type, or keyword.  To get an idea of what’s in each collection, explore the collection summary pages here, or dive in and start viewing items in the archive.

As an ongoing project of the library, new items and collections are added regularly, so check back often!


View Archive



More Information about the Memphis and Shelby County Room

Have you ever wondered when your house was built, who was the first city mayor or what Memphis was like during World War II? You can find these answers and so much more in a special room on the fourth floor at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library. Established in 1971, the Memphis and Shelby County Room contains a wealth of primary sources on the history of our city and county.

What are primary sources? They are original records created at the time a historical event occurred. For example the diary of a Memphian who fought in the Civil War, a map of Memphis in 1900, an 1880 photograph of Main Street, the memoirs of a television journalist who covered the Civil Rights movement, newspaper articles describing the death of Elvis Presley in 1977, and the remembrances of a founder of the Universal Life Insurance Company are all primary sources housed in the Memphis and Shelby County Room.

“Boys on Main Street.” Memphis Streetscapes

The Memphis and Shelby County Room houses thousands of books, reports, pamphlets, 600 maps, 35,000 photographs and hundreds of oral histories. In addition, the Memphis and Shelby County Room contains the Memphis Information File which contains 400,000 vertical files of newspaper and magazine articles, pamphlets and other small items.  The files are organized by subject and there is a card file index for easy searching.

Some of the most interesting primary sources in the Memphis and Shelby County Room are its manuscript collections.  Manuscript collections are an assortment of items such as correspondence, photographs, maps, financial records, contracts, and newspaper clippings of individuals and organizations. For example the library has the manuscript collections of Memphis political boss E. H. Crump, civil rights pioneer Maxine A. Smith, musician Jerry Lee Lewis, the Goldsmith’s Department Store, Rabbi James Wax, the Piggly Wiggly grocery store chain and Church of God in Christ leader E. W. Mason.

All of the primary sources in the Memphis and Shelby County Room are waiting for you to come and search through them. You will be surprised at what you learn about your own hometown.  Learn more about the Memphis and Shelby County Room here.


Memphis and Shelby County Room
4th Floor
Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library
3030 Poplar Avenue
Memphis, Tennessee 38111