U of M News
William Bearden Makes Photographic Gift to U of M Libraries University News
For release: January 10, 2008

For press information, contact Gabrielle Maxey

William BeardenAcclaimed Memphis author and filmmaker William Bearden will present a gift of more than 1,000 digital photographs of Memphis' Victorian Village to the University Libraries at the University of Memphis. He will make the presentation Jan. 30 at noon in the rotunda of the Ned R. McWherter Library. The program immediately following by Mr. Bearden will occur on the fourth floor, west side of the McWherter Library, just outside the Special Collections Department. The photos were taken by Bearden
and his staff.

The president of the William Bearden Co. and native of Rolling Fork, Miss., also will speak on the Memphis Legacy Project, an ongoing photography, writing and video program documenting Memphis and the surrounding area. As a part of the project, he is writing and producing an hour-long film on Victorian Village, encompassing its history and impending renaissance. It is the first Legacy photographic archive on Victorian Village presented to the University Libraries.

Accepting the gift will be U of M President Shirley Raines; Dr. Sylverna Ford, dean of University Libraries; and Edwin Frank, curator of Library Special Collections. The photos will be maintained in Special Collections, where the public will have access to them under secure conditions.

Bearden is the author of Cotton: From Southern Fields to the Memphis Market, Memphis Blues: Birthplace of a Musical Tradition and maker of the films Visualizing the Blues, Horn Island Journal, The Story of Cotton and Elmwood Cemetery.

Victorian Village is at the heart of the Memphis story. It was the first “suburb" of Memphis, and in its heyday it was the true economic, social and political center of the city. Captains of commerce and industry built grand homes to reflect the affluence, tastes and opulence of the times. Although many of the neighborhood's homes no longer exist, the remaining few are a testament to the hard work and seemingly limitless possibilities of the Victorian era, and the struggles and triumphs of the men and women who sought to make Memphis the shining jewel on the Mississippi.

“We are pleased that Willy Bearden has chosen the University Libraries to receive this collection of Victorian Village images," said Ford. “The grand and beautiful houses of Victorian Village represent an important part of the history of Memphis. They reflect the wealth and power of the families that played key roles in the growth and development of the city's economy. Many an intriguing story can no doubt be traced to origins within those walls. The talents and skills of photographers such as Willy Bearden give voice to those stories and make them come alive today. We are truly delighted to add these images to our collection, and we welcome the opportunity to make them available to those who wish to study the architecture and lifestyles of that era."

For more information, contact Tom Mendina at 901-678-4310.

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