Memphis Shelby County Photograph Collection

The Memphis and Shelby County Photograph Collection is located in the Memphis and Shelby County Room.  The collection consists of 11,000 local and regional photographs.  These photographs are indexed in a contact print index which arranges the photographs alphabetically by topic (example:  Memphis - Streets - Main Street - 1888).

The works of two notable Memphis photographers are included in the collection.  J. C. Coovert and Clifford H. Poland captured buildings, events and scenes of everyday life in Memphis from the 1880s to the 1950s.  Major themes in the collection include bridges, buildings, the cotton and hardwood timber industries, fairs, floods, businesses, transportation, historic homes, portraits and street scenes.

The Library of Congress American Memory website has several Memphis photographs available.  Photographs of interest include Farm Security Administration photos of Beale Street, Memphis cotton classing houses and the Memphis Cotton Carnival as well as photographs of historic buildings taken by the Detroit Publishing Company and Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record (HABS/HAER). Click here to access their index.

Of particular interest are three Haines Photo Company panoramic photos of downtown Memphis and three J. C. Coovert panoramas of cotton fields.