Local History

History, Genealogy, Social Science

Local History

Archives at the Library

Memphis Shelby County Room

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.

Dig Memphis

Dig Memphis is the digital archive of the Memphis Public Libraries. We will showcase many of the treasures of the Memphis and Shelby County Room. As an ongoing project of the library, new items are added regularly, so check back frequently.

Memphis Maps

We’ve pulled together this collection of online maps from various entities such as our own Dig Memphis digital archives, the Tennessee Virtual Library, and the Library of Congress

Historic Newspapers

Commercial Appeal

Search The Commercial Appeal and other variations going back to 1847.

Knoxville News Sentinel

Search Knoxville News Sentinel going back to 1887.

Nashville Tennessean

Search Knoxville News Sentinel from 1812-2009.

Southeastern U.S. Historic Newspapers

Search historic newspapers throughout the Southeastern U.S.

e-Books, e-Audiobooks, and e-Magazines

Memphis related e-Books & e-Audio

Visit this special collection of eBooks from our OverDrive eBook service.

On Our Shelves

Browse these titles.

Top Subjects

Memphis History
Memphis Music History
Memphis Civil Rights History

In the Community

Linc/2-1-1 community information

Our LINC/2-1-1 Community Information Database includes several resources for local history:


Library of Congress

The Library of Congress has over 1,000 digitized items related to Memphis. View them HERE. There are also over 200 items for Shelby County.

Of particular interest are these 1910 Haines Photo Company shots:

Also, J. C. Coovert Cotton Field Panoramic Photos:

And sheet music of blues and jazz classics:

Memphis Heritage – Newman’s Memphis

The Don Newman Photography Collection includes thousands of photos around Memphis from the 1940s through the 1960s. Many feature buildings and street activity. View the collection HERE.

National Archives

The National Archives holds a couple of items of particular interest including:

Rhodes College DLynx Digital Archive

This digital archive holds many items related not only to Rhodes College but to the overall city as well, such as the Memphis and the Mid-South collection that includes historical maps, oral histories, and Beale Street historical documents.

Shelby County Register of Deeds

The Shelby County Register of Deeds has many archive records available on their website HERE, including:

Tennessee Virtual Archive

The Tennessee Virtual Archive is home to the Tennessee State Library & Archives digitized collections. This includes nearly 400 items for Memphis found HERE and another 400 for Shelby County HERE (some overlap).

University of Memphis Digital Repository

The University of Memphis Digital Repository holds documents related to regional history including the Civil War, Civil Rights, and the African American Community including a collection on Benjamin L. Hooks.

Withers Digital Archive

The Withers Collection Museum & Gallery has digitized many of the 1.8 million photos of famed photographer Dr. Ernest C. Withers including photos of many civil rights leaders and legendary blues and jazz performers. View the archive HERE.

Community Historians

Crème de Memph Blog

A blog by a devoted researcher provides a deep cut look at the history of many Memphis buildings, zoning cases, and more. View the blog HERE.

Historic-Memphis Website

What initially started out as a brief section on Memphis History for the Memphis Tech High Alumni Website has grown into an entity of itself. A small group of dedicated researchers have pulled together many stories and images of Memphis’ past. View the website HERE.

Memphis Historical Railroad Pages

A group of researchers used many items from the Memphis/Shelby County Room to develop this fascinating site detailing the history of railroads in Memphis. Visit the page HERE.

Our Memphis History

Our Memphis History is made up of researchers, hosts, writers, editors and guests. They use all mediums including blog posts, podcasts, articles and public appearances. 


Visit or call the Library or submit a question online.

Upcoming History & Genealogy Events

Juneteenth ( Freedom Day ) Celebration
Cornelia Crenshaw Memorial Library
Mon., Jun. 17, 10:30 am
Hollywood Eats High On The Hog
Hollywood Library
Mon., Jun. 17, 12:00 pm
2nd Annual Juneteenth Celebration @ Levi
Levi Library
Tue., Jun. 18, 12:00 pm
The Meaning of Freedom: A Juneteenth Celebration
Hollywood Library
Tue., Jun. 18, 1:00 pm
Juneteenth String Art
Frayser Library
Tue., Jun. 18, 3:30 pm
Hollywood Eats High On The Hog
Hollywood Library
Mon., Jun. 24, 12:00 pm
Genealogy Class: The Benefaction of You
Orange Mound Library
Sat., Jun. 29, 11:00 am
Hollywood Eats High On The Hog
Hollywood Library
Mon., Jul. 01, 12:00 pm
Hollywood Eats High On The Hog
Hollywood Library
Mon., Jul. 08, 12:00 pm
Hollywood Eats High On The Hog
Hollywood Library
Mon., Jul. 15, 12:00 pm

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