Map and Poster Collection


The Memphis/Shelby County Map and Poster Collection is located in the Memphis and Shelby County Room. The collection includes over 5000 maps and posters of local and regional interest. Here is a list of cataloged maps.

The poster collection includes Memphians During War (patriotic posters from World War I, World War II and other wars) and the Beale Street Collection (musical advertisement posters). Both of these collections have published finding aids.

We’ve also 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:

plan of memphis (1819)

An 1854 reproduction of the 1819 plan for the city of Memphis, this map reflects the city at its founding as laid out by surveyor William Lawrence. In it, the city has a basic grid pattern with a few open areas. Some of which still exist today such as Court Square. In the upper right hand corner is a map of the general area with a few landmarks noted. Fort Pike refers to a fortification established by the U.S. Army in the 1790s. While Fort Pickering refers to a later fortification established further south. The U.S. government also set up an indian agency nearby. The names Judge Fooy and Paddy refer to two early settlers Dutch immigrant Benjamin Fooy and Irish immigrant Patrick Meagher. Source: Tennessee Virtual Library

Map of the City of Memphis including Fort Pickering and Hopefield, Ark. (1858)

This detailed antebellum map shows the growth of a number of institutions in Memphis in the years before the Civil War. Among those shown are Elmwood cemetery, St. Agnes Academy, 2nd Presbyterian Church, St. Peter’s Church, and B’nai Israel. The last was the city’s first synagogue founded in 1854. Also shown are major antebellum hotels such as Gayoso House and Worsham House along with railroad lines such as the Memphis & Charleston. Source: Library of Congress

Bird’s eye view of junction of the Ohio & Mississippi Rivers, showing Cairo and part of the southern states (1861)

The above Civil War map shows the settlements on the Mississippi. It gives an overview of the small settlements around Memphis that existed in the 1860s such as Big Creek and Fort Pickering, Tennessee and Austin and Mound City, Arkansas. The map is laid out with north at the bottom of the map and south at the top. Memphis is located at the left bottom of the large bend in the river near the top of the page. Source: Library of Congress

memphis and vicinity (1862?)

This is a Union Army map of Memphis drawn during the occupation of the city, which started in June 1862. General Sherman served as garrison commander in Memphis starting in July. However, the map is undated. Depicted are major strategic targets in the area such as railroads and fortifications. For example, the Memphis & Charleston railroad and Fort Pickering, the main Union garrison in the city, are shown. Lieutenants Julius Pitzman and Killian Frick created the map. Source: Library of Congress

Bird’s eye view of the city of Memphis, Tennessee 1870

“Perspective map not drawn to scale.” This 1870 map is reasonably accurate. Most of the buildings and streets are drawn realistically. Source: Library of Congress

Map of the City of Memphis and suburbs (1871)

Though not detailed with regard to the layout of Memphis, the map shows the areas surrounding the city. Noted are land ownership at the time and major highways such as State Line, Pigeon Roost, and Old Raleigh roads. Source: Tennessee Virtual Library

Map of the City of Memphis (1872)

This map depicts Memphis just prior to the city’s first widespread yellow fever epidemic of the 1870s. Noted on the left side of the map is the Leath Orphan Asylum and the Colored Orphan Asylum a few streets over. As is the transfer ferry for the Memphis & Little Rock railroad across the Mississippi River. The first bridge at Memphis was constructed in 1892. Near the corner of Main and Monroe is marked the original Peabody Hotel, built in 1869. Civil districts are numbered. Circles radiate from Court Square indicating distance. Source: Tennessee Virtual Library

The Sewerage of Memphis (1880)

Created in response to devastating Yellow Fever epidemics, the Waring sewer system was a major achievement for Memphis during its long recovery period from 1879 to 1893. During this same period, the city was largely administered by the state government of Tennessee. Memphis had virtually declared bankruptcy in the wake of the worst epidemic in 1878, and the local government had asked the state to step in to help the city pay its debts. Despite a mountain of debt, the state and local governments made better sanitation a priority, resulting in the construction of a sewer system designed by George E. Waring, Jr. Source: Dig Memphis

Perspective map of the city of Memphis, Tenn. 1887

Perspective map not drawn to scale. Includes detailed drawings of many buildings. This map is somewhat less accurate than the similar perspective map from 1870. The artist took some liberties with the sizes of the buildings. However, it is still useful in determining the early layout and development of the city. Source: Library of Congress

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee (1888)

Provides detailed information on streets and structures. Source: Library of Congress

Map of Shelby County, Tennessee (1888)

“Cadastral map showing the lot/block numbers and the names of residents.” Source: Library of Congress

Map of City of Memphis and Vicinity (1925)

This detailed color street map of Memphis and its immediate environs contains the names of landowners provided by Bluff City Abstract Co. Key institutions depicted for the first time include Rhodes College and the University of Memphis. On the map, they’re respectively labeled as Southwestern Presbyterian University and West Tennessee State Normal School. Rhodes moved to Memphis from Clarksville in 1925 while the University of Memphis was founded in 1912. Beyond this, the newly annexed Binghampton neighborhood is shown within the city limits for the first time. Binghampton had been its own town until annexation by Memphis in 1919. Source: Tennessee Virtual Library

Railroads in Memphis, Shelby County, Tenn (1929)

“Map detailing the rail system in Memphis in 1929. Shows underpasses, overpasses, grade crossings with watchmen, and grade crossings with watchmen and gates. Also shown is Grand Central Station, Frisco Freight House, and Frames Island (present-day Mud Island). Major railroad lines running through Memphis include the Illinois Central, the Union Railway, the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway, the Southern Railway, and the Frisco Union Railway.” Source: Tennessee Virtual Library

Ashburn’s Memphis Street Map (1951)

“Two sided tourist street map of Memphis showing schools, highways, parks, cemeteries and neighborhoods. Reverse side has a street guide index and advertising for Fischer Lime & Cement Co.” Source: Tennessee Virtual Library

We’ll be adding more as we can.