Summer Road Trip 2019: Memphis and New Orleans

On to…. Memphis!

After much fun visiting “Pinckney Castle” in Charleston, South Carolina, it’s time we hit the road again! Along with everyone else, apparently. But really, what road trip is complete without some sort of traffic fiasco? It’s all part of the cross country touring experience, as you can see in the image 30-N-5523! This photograph comes from the Bureau of Public Roads series 30-N, Historical Photograph Files. Photographs in this series range in date from the late 1890’s through the early 1960’s and document the role of the Bureau of Public Roads in federally supported highway construction projects, planning, road material and construction research, and highway safety and maintenance.

30-N-5523: Pioneer Cross Country Touring. Knoxville-Morristown. Memphis to Bristol pathfinders on the route between Knoxville and Morristown. June 23, 1911. Paul D. Sargent.

Thankfully the traffic troubles are mostly eastbound so our delays are minimal and we quickly arrive at our next destination – Memphis, Tennessee! And what better way to start our tour of Memphis but with a look at the local life, art, and culture? The photographs in the series 69-N, WPA Information Division Photographic Index, do just that. These black and white photographs date from the mid 1930’s through the early 1940’s. Photographs in this series cover many different cities in many different states. While a good portion of the photographs taken in Memphis document the care and experience of flood refugees, other subjects vividly depict the work and leisure of life in Memphis. Perhaps we will purchase some paintings, learn to weave, or catch a show while we are here?

Of course we must also plan a visit to some famous local museums. For a stop off in Graceland: The Home of Elvis Presley, check out photographs in the series 48-DP, Photographs Documenting the Secretary’s Activities, and Agency Officials, Events, Programs, and Managed Sites. The images in this series date to the early-to-mid 2000’s and were taken to document the tenure of Secretary Gale Norton. There are over 23,000 images from this series available online at the National Archives Catalog – including photographs of Graceland!

There is also the National Civil Rights Museum At The Lorraine Motel. As my personal favorite museum in Memphis, it is definitely on our itinerary. Photos of this institution can be found in the series 406-NSB, Digital Photographs Relating to America’s Byways. This series is available online with over 6,200 images on the National Archives Catalog. The photographs date from 1995 to 2013 and were taken to document 150 roads located throughout the United States that have been designated as National Scenic Byways or All-American Roads.

To complete our visit to Memphis, we should definitely go on a driving tour of the city. For that we can turn to the series 196-HA, Photographs of Public Works Administration and United States Housing Authority Projects. Photos in this series date from the mid 1930’s through the early 1950’s. They were taken as before and after photographs of housing projects, but many of the earlier photographs do include people in the frame. Although captioning is sporadic, these streetscapes and structures give rich illusion to life in mid-twentieth century Memphis, Tennessee.

196-HA-TENN-1-2-O-3398: Memphis, Tenn. Houses facing Somerville St. off Lamar St. Veterans Hospital in background.

Next Stop….New Orleans!

Continuing south, we land next in New Orleans! The great history of this city is illustrated in 306-PAR, Posters Created or Acquired for Outpost Use in the records of the US Information Agency. New Orleans has always been worth the international highlight!

The history of the city is part of its’ charm, and just like Memphis, 30-N documents some of the fascinating history. Imagery documenting the history of the city from the 1700s forward, can be found in federal collections. From Army Air Force Airscapes (18-AA) to the modern photography documenting hurricanes and their aftermath (26-HK – and see our 2015 post on this collection) to photos from space (255-AMP – Photographs of the Apollo Space Program), New Orleans is always worth a look!

Box_289_30-n-42-560: Plan of New Orleans the Capital of Louisiana – the London Magazine or Gentlemen’s Monthly Intelligencer, P. 201, vol. 30, 1761. size: 9 1/4 x 6 3/4 inches.
Box_289_30-n-42-560: Old Absinthe House, New Orleans – quarters of Pirate Lafitte in 1807 – U.S. Route #90 passes through this city of romance and history with its old French quarter – Photograph from Lafayette Chamber of Commerce.
18-AA-67-011: Louisiana – New Orleans
AS07071789 – Apollo 7 – Apollo 7 Mission, Louisiana: Apollo 7,Louisiana,New Orleans area,Lake Pontchartrain,regional transportation network. Dark,near vertical. Cloud Cover 22%. Altitude: 94 miles. Latitude: 29 degrees 57′ North,Longitude: 90 degrees 14′ West. Original film magazine was labeled S. Camera Data: Hasselblad 500-C; Lens: Zeiss Planar,F/2.8,80mm; Film Type: Kodak SO-121,Aerial Ektachrome; Filter: Wratten 2A. Flight Date: October 11-12. 1968.