DIG Memphis Mysteries brings out the digital Memphis sleuth in all of us
In April of 2020, as pandemic isolation was taking a firm hold on our daily lives, the team in charge of the digital archives of the Memphis Public Library had an idea.
Why not give our Memphis history enthusiasts something fun and engaging to do while stuck in front of their laptops or digital devices?
“I thought well, everyone’s kind of stuck at home,” said Jamie Corson, Digital Projects Manager for the Memphis Public Library. “What would be a cool way to have people be able to virtually travel the city and also delve into the city’s past?”
The idea also had an added benefit. With thousands of photographs in the digital collection, and that many more that have been submitted and not yet scanned and digitized, there are countless of photographs that are unmarked, poorly marked, or incorrectly marked. Just think of your own family photos – Where was that? Who is that? What year was that?
“It’s always been something that’s been on the back of my mind,” said Jamie. “Some of the staff up in the history department that work with this material all the time as well . . . they’re just things in there that we don’t know, either who they are or where it is or what building this is, because it’s no longer there or, just unsolved things. We’ve always talked about trying to find a way where we could get the public involved with trying to help us answer some of these questions.”
When the lockdown took hold, the timing of unveiling a weekly digital mystery felt tailor-made. And to Jamie, the library’s Streetscapes Collection seemed like the perfect place to start. “I thought this was a great way to first promote the Streetscapes Collection, but also if people have more time or want to be distracted or taken away from the day-to-day reality . . . Maybe they’d be interested in going down that rabbit hole of trying to solve some of these mysteries.”
And what a fun rabbit hole – and safe and healthy rabbit hole – it is.
There are still numerous unsolved mysteries in the DIG Memphis collection, with many more always on the way. Here’s one to put Memphis history enthusiasts to the test.
From DIG MEMPHIS MYSTERIES: The data accompanying the image below indicates that the photograph was taken in 1962. Beyond that, we don’t really know much about where this photo was taken. The description on the digital record simply states, “A photo of Colonial Road.” Do you know where this photo was taken on Colonial Road? (ANSWERS SHOULD BE SUBMITTED TO DIG MEMPHIS MYSTERIES)
For more of the story, listen to our complete September 2020 interview with Jamie Corson, from StoryBoard 30: