Overton Park Stories

Overton Park StoriesSince it opened in 1901, Overton Park has held a special place in the lives of generations of Memphians.  From the boy who built a sailboat to traverse Rainbow Lake in the 40s, to the woman who performed at the Shell in the 60s, to the couple who got married in the formal gardens just last year, it seems everyone has a tale to tell about what the park means to them.

At Overton Park Conservancy, we’re privileged to hear people tell their stories on a daily basis.  Now, we want to share those stories with everyone. 

For the next several months, we’ll be asking you to tell us about your experiences with Overton Park.  It can be a quick, funny anecdote or a long list of the things you remember most.  We also want to see your photos of the park–whether it’s your family having fun or a beautiful shot of the landscape.

How does it work?
Our Director of Communications, Melissa McMasters, will be the primary contact for collecting your stories and photos.  We’ll have several ways for you to submit stories:

  • Set up a time to talk with Melissa.  She’ll meet up with you, with a tape recorder for transcription and a mobile scanner for any photos you’d like included in the project.
  • If you’re a writer, not a talker, you can submit stories or photos through our online form.
  • Check out our story ideas page for some creative ways to help us spread the word about the program.
  • Come to us!  We’ll be set up to collect your stories at several events over the next few months.  This month: Visit us at the Memphis & Shelby County Room at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library on Saturday, June 29, 1:00 – 4:00pm.  Bring your photos of the park and come prepared to tell us your stories at this Memphis treasure, where you can contribute to the Memphis Room’s Overton Park collection.  The Memphis Room is located on the fourth floor of the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, 3030 Poplar Avenue.  Event Flyer

We have a mobile scanner, which allows us to scan your photos without needing to remove them from photo albums.  We’ll also bring a digital voice recorder so we can have a conversation without needing to pause for transcription.  We can meet you anywhere that’s convenient for you (including your favorite spot in the park)–no electrical outlet required!

Overton Park Doughboy

Overton Park doughboy, by Ramsay Wall, Jr.

What will happen to the stories?
First, we’ll be archiving them here on our website.  We’ll add them as they come in, so keep an eye on our blog throughout the year for new stories!

The centerpiece of the project will be an Overton Park Stories book, which we’re hoping to publish in November of this year.  It’ll be a great keepsake of the park, and one which we hope will pass down its history to future generations who will make their own memories here.

Is there a permanent archive I can contribute to?
Yes!  We’re thrilled to announce that we’re partnering with the Memphis and Shelby County Room at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library to create a new Overton Park collection.  This means that you will also have the option of donating your photographs (digital or physical) to the library’s permanent collection, ensuring that they remain a permanent part of Memphis history.  Learn more about the Memphis Room here.

On Saturday, June 29, we’ll be hosting a story-collection day at the Memphis Room.  Library staff will be on hand to answer any questions about the archiving process and show you around this Memphis treasure.  You’ll be able to tell your story and scan or donate your photographs right there on-site.

What’s the deadline?
We have a tight deadline for including stories in the printed book, so don’t wait!  Get in touch with Melissa at mmcmasters@overtonpark.org or 901.214.5450.  We’d love to have the bulk of the stories collected by July 31, 2013.