Department of History College of Arts and Sciences
University of Memphis Photo
Event Calendar

Some of the events listed here are not sponsored directly by the Department of History, but they are of interest to historians.


Continuing Events


Through 28 February
Various campus locations
Black History Month at The University of Memphis

Download a PDF document listing all the events.

University Libraries subject guide to racial inequality has separate tabs for:


Through 10 May 2015
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, 1934 Poplar Avenue
“This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement”

This exhibition offers a remarkable opportunity to experience the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of nine photographers who were actively involved, not as professional photojournalists but working primarily with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. It comprises 157 black-and-white images by Bob Adelman, George Ballis, Bob Fitch, Bob Fletcher, Matt Herron, David Prince, Herbert Randall, Maria Varela, and Tamio Wakayama and offers a remarkable, moving view of this crucial period in American history. An accompanying audio guide brings these photographs to life through eye- witness accounts and personal observations. 

The exhibition is organized by the Center for Documentary Expression and Art in Salt Lake City, Utah, and curated by Matt Herron, one of the contributing photographers.

For more information, visit the event’s website.

Information about the Museum’s hours and admission fees.


Through 10 May 2015
National Civil Rights Museum, 450 Mulberry Street
“Pictures Tell the Story”

From the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art’s permanent collection, including photographs by Ernest Withers, organized to run concurrently with “This Light of Ours.”

For more information, visit the event’s website.

Information about the Museum’s hours and admission fees.


February 2015


28 February 2015
10 am-2 pm
C. H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa, 1987 Indian Village Drive
Celebrating Black History— African-American Women Who Led the Way

Events include:

  • The Vietnam War from the Perspective of an African-American Woman Officer, by Major Georgia B. Harris, Retired, United States Air Force, who served in Utapao, Thailand, during the Vietnam War Era
The "Memphis State 8"
  • Desegregating the University of Memphis—A Participant’s Report, by Bertha Looney, one of the Memphis State 8, the first African-Americans to attend Memphis State (now the University of Memphis) in 1959

  • Opening of the photographic exhibit Culture and Resistance: Civil Rights Photography, Memphis 1968, curated and organized by Leila I. Hamdan

  • Comments and recognition of U.S. military veterans

  • Showing of Chisholm ‘72: Unbought & Unbossed, a film documenting the 1972 presidential candidacy of Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman to run for the presidency

A pizza lunch will be served. All events, including the lunch, are free and pen to the public.

Download the full schedule of events as a PDF document.

For more information, call 901.785.3160.


28 February 2015
10 am-2 pm
Art Museum of the University of Memphis, 142 Communications and Fine Arts Building
Family Day at the Egyptian Institute

Poster of the event

Write your name in hieroglyphs, color a mask while learning about ancient Egyptian gods, make your own copy of an ancient Egyptian amulet, and much more.

See real ancient Egyptian artifacts in the Egyptian Gallery and meet students and Egyptologists of the IEAA. Guided tours of the Egyptian collection will be offered.

Sign up for our School for Scribes, an intensive, hour-long session where you will learn more about ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. Class size in the "School for Scribes" is limited, so please call 901.678.2649 to reserve your place. Scribes must be 10 years of age or older. Adults are welcome.

For information or to make group reservations, call 901.678.2649.






March 2015


2 March 2015
Noon-2 pm
University Center Ballroom A & B
Lunch and presentations by members of the Office of the Prime Minister of Japan

The purpose is to promote understanding of Japan by having experts of various fields communicate with the Memphis community. Topics will include Japanese society, economy, women in management positions, politics, business culture, and Japan’s strengths and the challenges it currently faces. All lectures will be presented in English.

The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required because of limited seaton. Please reply to giving your name, major (if a student) or specialty, and the topic you are most interested in.

The delegation is headed by the Honorable Yasuo Saito, former Japanese Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Russia, and France, former Consul-General in Atlanta, Georgia, and Executive Board member of the Japanese Olympic Committee. Others include Hiroshi Tsukamoto, former Deputy Director General for the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry; Tetsuo Mamada, former president of Mitsui Bussan Steel Trade Co., Ltd.; Mio Iwai, university student with experience in international conferences; and Chitose Nagao, consulting supervisor and copywriter at DENTSU, one of the the largest advertising companies in Japan.

This program is co-organized by the West Center of the Japan-America Society of Tennessee, the Consulate-General of Japan in Nashville, the Japanese Manufacturers and Traders Association of Memphis, and The University of Memphis.



3 March 2015
5:30 pm—light hors d’oeuvres
6 pm—lecture
4th floor of McWherter Library
Opening reception for “Woven into Words: Tennessee Women Making History”

This is the opening event for the exhibition which is part of Women’s History Month at The University of Memphis.

It will feature a presentation entitled “Lessons Learned in the Archives" by Dr Christine Eisel, instructor in the Department of History, who will discuss the online women’s history project her students are building using the Libraries’ special collections.


3 March 2015
6 pm
University Center Theater
4th Annual Norm Brewer First Amendment Lecture

Leonard PittsAward-winning writer Leonard Pitts will be the lecturer.

The lecture series is named for Memphis journalist Norm Brewer, who devoted his life to reporting about politics, social issues, and justice, working for Memphis radio and television stations and the Memphis Commercial Appeal. He died in 2010. He worked along with Otis Sanford, who created the lecture series in his honor.

Mr Pitts is a columnist for the Miami Herald and the winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary. His column is focused mostly on First Amendment rights and social issues in the United States.

The lecture is sponsored by the Department of Journalism, the National Association of Black Journalists, and the Society of Professional Journalists.


7 March 2015
10 am
Brownsville, Tennessee
Meeting of the West Tennessee Historical Society

Elbert WilliamsWTHS member Jim Emison will present the story of Elbert Williams of Brownsville, Tennessee, who was murdered 20 June 20, 1940. Mr Williams was the first NAACP member in the nation known to have been killed for his civil-rights work. Elbert Williams, First To Die is the working title of Emison’s book in progress, chronicling the murder, the unsuccessful efforts of the NAACP to obtain a federal civil rights prosecution, a reluctant FBI’s investigation, and the U. S. Justice Department’s reversal of its decision to prosecute.

Mr. Emison is working with the University of Tennessee Forensic Anthropology Department (The Body Farm) and other experts to locate Mr. Williams' unmarked grave, analyzes his remains, determine the cause of his death, and identify his killer. Mr. Williams was a charter member of the Brownsville NAACP Branch organized in 1939 to obtain the vote for Haywood County African-Americans who had not been allowed to register since 1888. A May 6, 1940, attempt to register provoked a white terror campaign to destroy the local NAACP branch by expelling its leaders from the county and terrorizing its members. The campaign culminated when Elbert Williams was taken from his home the night of June 20, 1940, by Brownsville police and a civilian, locked up, and questioned about whether he was planning an NAACP meeting in his home. Never again was Williams seen alive. Sunday morning, June 23, Williams' body was found floating in the Hatchie River south of Brownsville. The coroner, without any medical examination, ordered an immediate burial, and Williams was buried the same day. The NAACP branch disbanded. Thurgood Marshall gathered evidence in Brownsville, and was livid when the Department of Justice failed to prosecute. No one was prosecuted for the crime. Mr. Emison will discuss the murder, its aftermath, the use of the law as an instrument for political and economic repression, and his effort to locate Mr. Williams' grave and solve the crime.

The presentation will be in the Delta Room behind Backyard Barbeque, 703 East Main Street, Brownsville, Tennessee.


18 March 2015
12:30-2 pm
342 University Center
“Environmental Insecurity: Assessing Environment Change, ‘Threats,’ and ‘Gender’”

Dr Nikki DetrazLecture by Dr Nikki Detraz, Department of Political Science and Center for Research on Women, in the Humanities Brown Bag Series for faculty sponsored by the Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities.

Environmental security is a concept that acknowledges connections between environmental change and security broadly construed. Dr. Detraz explores the various ways that actors have linked the issues of security and the environment over the past few decades and the gendered implications of these links. She will discuss how gender can be fruitfully included in the ways that we understand issues of resource conflict, human vulnerability stemming from environmental change, and security threats to the environment itself.


18 March 2015
3-4 pm
212 Scates Hall
CROW Book Salon

Dr Sarah PotterAs part of this year’s Women’s History Month, Dr Danielle McGuire will lecture in the Belle McWilliams Lecture Series on 26 March on her book At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance.

In this Book Salon, sponsored by the Center for Research on Women, Dr Sarah Potter, associate professor of history, will facilitate discussion of the Prologue; Chapter 1, “They'd Kill Me If I Told"; and the Epilogue of the book.


19-21 March 2015
Beale Street and Rhodes College
The Beale Street Symposium

Book coverThe Beale Street Symposium, sponsored by the Mike Curb Institute for Music and the Memphis Center, is a three-day exploration of history, culture, and student work relating to Beale Street, music, and the broader identity of downtown Memphis. More information will be forthcoming as the symposium draws closer. For more information, please contact Dr John Bass, Director of the Curb Institute (, or Dr Elizabeth Thomas, Director of the Memphis Center (

Events include a lecture and book release by Preston Lauterbach on 19 March in the McCullum Ballroom of the Bryan Campus Life Center for his book Beale Street Dynasty: Sex, Song, and the Struggle for the Soul of Memphis; panel discussions focused on historical and contemporary perspectives on Beale Street and contributions to the identity, culture, and economy of Memphis, in Hyde Hall on 20 March; a concert by Calvin Newborn with the Rhodes Jazz Band at the Historical Daisy Theater at 7:30 pm on 20 March; and a walking tour of Historic Beale Streeet with Preston Lauterbach and special guests at 4 pm on 21 March.


20 March 2015
12:45 pm
200 Mitchell Hall (auditorium)
Phi Alpha Theta pizza lunch

Sliced pizzaDr Beverly Tsacoyanis will speak on “Understanding Illness and Treatment in early 20th century Syria and Lebanon.” She will present material from her book manuscript based on research from her dissertation and from subsequent fieldwork in England.

Her sources, drawn from medical records, correspondence, and ethnographic studies from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, suggest that concepts surrounding the etiology and treatment of disease were varied, and practitioners of a variety of healing systems operated in contested spaces as their communities witnessed the end of the Ottoman Empire and negotiated new roles for themselves in the challenging landscape of colonial and post-colonial states.

Syrian medicine cartoon


20 March 2015
12:45-2:15 pm
223 Mitchell Hall
Taking Your Work Public: Conferences and Peer-Reviewed Articles

ToolboxPart of a series of professionalization workshops for MA and PhD students.

It will be led by Dr Susan O’Donovan and Dr Sarah Potter.




26 March 2015
5:30 pm — reception
6 pm — lecture
University Center Theater
“To Gain Title to Our Bodies: Black Women and the Long Civil Rights Movement”

Dr Danielle McGuireBook coverLecture by Dr Danielle McGuire, assistant professor of history at Wayne State University.

Dr McGuire’s book At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape and Resistance—a New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power was published by Knopf in 2010 and issued as a Vintage paperback in 2011. Her current book project will investigate the ways in which ordinary people experienced the 1967 Detroit racial uprising.  

This is the Belle McWilliams Lecture in U.S. history for 2014-2015, sponsored by the Department of History. It is also an event of the Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities, co-sponsored by the Center for Research on Women, African and African American Studies, and the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change.


26 March 2015
6 pm
Blount Auditorium, Buckman Hall, Rhodes College
“The Arab Uprisings and the New Middle East”

Dr James GelvinLecture by Dr James Gelvin, professor of history at the University of California-Los Angeles.

Dr Gelvin is the author of several books and numerous articles bout the modern Middle East. His books include The Arab Uprisings: What Everyone Needs to Know (New York: Oxford University Press, rev. ed. 2014) and The Modern Middle East: A History (New York: Oxford University Press, rev. ed. 2015).  

The lecture is in the Communities in Conversation series of Rhodes College.


29 March 2015
Noon-4 pm
Hillwood Hall at Davies Manor Plantation, 3570 Davieshire Drive, Bartlett, Tennessee
6th Annual Shelby County History Festival

Hillwood HallApproximately twenty historically-oriented organizations are expected to “represent” at this year’s event. In previous years, organizations have included the West Tennessee Historical Society, Davies Manor Association, Bartlett Historical Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Descendants of Early Settlers of Shelby County and Adjoining Counties, Elmwood Cemetery, Mississippi River Museum, Shelby County Archives, Cordova Museum, and Morton Museum of Collierville.



April 2015


6 April 2015
7 pm
Wunderlich Auditorium, Memphis University School
Meeting of the West Tennessee Historical Society

The Sultana docked the day before the sinking

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the sinking of the Sultana, the greatest maritime disaster in U.S. history. The meeting will feature a presentation by Jerry O. Potter, Memphis attorney and author of The Sultana Tragedy (Pelican Publishing, 1992). In addition, Ms Roslyn O’Neal of the Sultana Historic Preservation Society will outline the activities happening 23-25 April to commemorate the event.

The Sultana was a Mississippi River steamboat paddle wheeler destroyed in an explosion on 27 April 1865. It was carrying approximately 2100 released Union prisoners of war, a few hundred civilian passengers, and livestock (its legal capacity was 376). An estimated 1800 of the more than 2400 passengers were killed when three of the boat’s four boilers exploded and the Sultana sank about seven miles north of Memphis. It is pictured above, docked at Helena, Arkansas, the day before the explosion.The disaster received little public attention, occurring soon after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln (John Wilkes Booth was killed the day before the sinking) and about three weeks after Lee’s surrender. Despite investigations, no one was ever held accountable.


9 April 2015
12:30-2 pm
338 University Center
“Stories that Stick to the Skin: Visualizing Transatlantic Slavery in African Diasporic Art”

Dr Celeste-Marie BernierLecture by Dr Celeste-Marie Bernier, Department of Art, in the Humanities Brown Bag Series for faculty sponsored by the Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities.

Drawing on unpublished archival materials and artist interviews, this talk will trace issues related to representation, memory, and the body in the last fifty years of African-American and Black British Art. Examining paintings, drawings, installations, sculture, and mixed-media artworks by African Diasporic artists—and including some never-before-seen works—this talk will come to grips with the powerful ways in which the task of imaging slavery and imagining freedom remains an ever ongoing, unfinished, and lifelong project and one which results in “stories that stick to the skin.”


13 April 2015
12:30-2 pm
223 Mitchell Hall
Archive and Research Basics

ToolboxPart of a series of professionalization workshops for MA and PhD students.

It will be a roundtable discussion with Drs Peter Brand, Andrew Daily, Susan O’Donovan, and Sarah Potter




16 April 2015
12:30-2 pm
342 University Center
“Reading Like a Realist”

Dr Donal HarrisLecture by Dr Donal Harris, Department of English, in the Humanities Brown Bag Series for faculty sponsored by the Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities.

For the last ten years or so, novelists and literary critics have devoted an inordinate amount of mental energy to the possibility that literature, and particularly the novel, might not matter anymore. The causes of this cultural demotion are legion, but an eclectic array of authors and scholars has clustered around an unlikely solution to the novel's felt irrelevancy: a return to literary realism. This talk takes inspiration from recent work on the sociology of reading to lay out how realism becomes both an asthetic strategy and, more surprisingly, an ideal reading practice for those attempting to reinstate the novel as an important cultural form.


23 April 2015
6 pm
Blount Auditorium, Buckman Hall, Rhodes College
“Monuments and Documents: On the Object of Study in the Humanities”

Dr John GuilloryLecture by Dr John Guillory, Silver Professor of English at New York University.

Dr Guillory will reflect upon Erwin Panofsky’s use of the terms “monument” and “document” to describe the works of art studied by the art historian or critic, and on the utility of these terms in describing the object of study across humanities disciplines generally. He is best known for his book Cultural Capital (1993), which applied Bourdieu’s sociology of aesthetics to clarify debates about canon formation in literary studies.

The lecture is in the Communities in Conversation series of Rhodes College.



May 2015


1 May 2015
12:30 pm
223 Mitchell Hall
“The Job Market”

ToolboxPart of a series of professionalization workshops for MA and PhD students. This session is for PhD students. It will be led by Dr Andrew Daily.

This is the last workshop in the series for the current academic year.





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