Memphis and Shelby County Room


ACCESS
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.

LOCAL HISTORY GENEALOGY U.S./WORLD HISTORY & SOCIAL SCIENCES

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.

Researchers in the Memphis/Shelby County Room of the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library

features

  • Memphis Information File: Over 425,000 newspaper clippings, some of which are available in Dig Memphis HERE.
  • Memphis Photograph Collection: Over 11,000 local and regional photographs. More details HERE.
  • Manuscript Collections: The papers of over 200 local residents from all walks of life. Finding aids and descriptions of these manuscript collections can be found in Dig Memphis HERE.
  • Map and Poster Collection: Over 5000 maps and posters of local interest. More details including links to historical Memphis maps HERE.
  • Book Collection: Over 15,000 volumes dealing with Memphis and Shelby County.
  • Tennessee Biography Index: Over 125,000 entry index to local history books.
  • Memphis Periodical Index: Over 30,000 entry index to local periodicals.

Visit the digital archives, Dig Memphis, for more information.

contribute to your local history

There are several ways for you to include YOUR story in the Memphis and Shelby County Room Collection.

  • 901Voices Oral History Collection: Come record your stories! We hope to collect oral histories, reminiscences, and family stories from Memphians. These oral histories not only preserve Memphis history but also help build a stronger sense of community. More details HERE.
  • COVID-19 Collection: We want to hear how you are coping during the Novel Coronavirus pandemic. We will gather and preserve these stories to create a record of how Memphians hustle, manage, get by, and help each other. More details HERE.
  • General Donations: 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.

Researcher in the Memphis/Shelby County Room of the Main Library on Peabody.

Special Considerations

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.

See how the Memphis/Shelby County Room works and get a behind-the-scenes look at your archives!