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A Continued Search for Meaning: Honoring the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King's Dream

Civil Rights-Focused Newspapers

Historical Newspapers Research Guide

The University Libraries' Historical Newspapers Research Guide provides a comprehensive resource for historical U. S. newspapers that are available online, including those available through, the Google News Historical Archives, Chronicling America (Library of Congress), and state archives.  The guide has two sections devoted to African American and Civil Rights-themed newspapers and how to access them.

Tennessee Newspapers

Tennessee (outside Memphis and Shelby County):

Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle (2002– ): snippets of Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle articles may be viewed for free 

Jackson Sun (2003– ): snippets of Jackson Sun articles may be viewed for free

Memphis World (an African American Newspaper): The University Libraries own microfilm for 1931-1932 and 1943-1970.

Murfreesboro Daily News Journal (1999– ): snippets of Murfreesboro Daily News Journal articles may be viewed for free

Nashville Tennessean (2002– ): snippets of Nashville Tennessean articles may be viewed for free

Note the University Libraries holdings listed for the Tennessee newspapers. 

For full text of an article within a newspaper date that the University Libraries do not have: please contact our Interlibrary Loan office at and be sure to include article details such as date, publication, page information, and so forth.)

For more information on University Libraries' access to newspapers and tips on searching for historical news, visit our Historical Newspapers Research Guide.

Civil Rights Headlines from Issues of the Memphis World, 1964

This digital collage was designed by Anna Swearengen, 2014, and contains headlines selected by University Libraries's staff from issues of the Memphis World published in 1964 and scanned from microfilm. A printed copy is displayed on the fourth floor of McWherter Library as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: How Far Have We Come? exhibition.

The Memphis World, published from 1931 to 1973, was one of Memphis’ leading African American newspapers that documented the challenges faced by the city’s diverse population.  The University Libraries owns microfilm for 1931-1932 and 1943-1970.

Memphis Press-Scimitar Morgue Files in Special Collections

Two women get affidavits notorized stating that their voting rights have been denied.  July 7, 1964, Press Scimitar

Memphis Press-Scimitar Morgue Files

When this newspaper closed in 1984, the McWherter Special Collections Department received its morgue file (a.k.a. "clipping library" or "library") along with the index files.  These files consist of clippings from the Press-Scimitar (and sometimes other papers), associated photos, and sometimes ephemeral materials such as programs, flyers, and brochures produced by people or organizations covered.

The Morgue File Index is available in the Special Collections reading room, and consists of hundreds of thousands of cards organized alphabetically by personal or corporate (i.e. organization) name, and sometimes by broad topic or category (i.e. "Desegregation").