History, Genealogy, and Social Science

History, Genealogy, Social Science

The Memphis and 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. This page provides an overview of the resources found in the Memphis and Shelby County Room including historical maps and photographs.

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Dig Memphis Digital Archives logo

Dig Memphis Digital Archives

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. Collections include:

Visit Dig Memphis Mysteries to help us solve archival puzzles. Each week we’ll be posting images from Dig Memphis that are missing crucial details. See if you can help us fill in some of the gaps!

Memphis Bicentennial 1819-2019

In 2019, the Library celebrated the City and County’s Bicentennial with various programs and special online exhibits including a timeline of major events, a revamped Streetscapes collection, and the launch of “Memphis Then and Now”, a series of current-day replicated photos of some of the more iconic Streetscapes images. View the online exhibits and recordings of programs HERE.

Commercial Appeal Archives (1847-)

Search The Commercial Appeal and other variations going back to 1847, including The Appeal-Avalanche (1890), The Commercial Appeal (1894-2009), The Commercial Appeal (2010-), The Daily Memphis Avalanche (1866-1885), The Memphis Appeal (1886-1889), The Memphis Appeal-Avalanche (1890-1892), Memphis Avalanche (1885-1890), Memphis Bulletin (1863-1865), The Memphis Commercial (1891-1894), Memphis Daily Appeal (1857-1886), The Memphis Daily Avalanche (1858-1862), Memphis Daily Commercial (1890-1891), and The Memphis Daily Eagle (1847-1849)

The Tennessean

Access articles from the Nashville newspaper from 1812 to 2002.  Provided by the Tennessee Electronic Library.

Memphis Grit and Grind OverDrive eBook Collection

Visit this special collection of Memphis and Shelby County eBooks from our OverDrive eBook service. You’ll find all things Memphis in this collection, whether it’s our history, music, food, or fiction titles set in Memphis.

Other online Local History resources

Here is a collection of local history resources from the Library of Congress, National Archives, local universities, and more.

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. 

This is in the works and we will add more.


Visit or call the Library or submit a question online.

Visit our YouTube Memphis History Playlist to learn more about our past and how it has shaped the present.

Videos in Dig Memphis – a wide assortment of videos

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