A chronicle of Memphis’ past, Don Newman photo collection now available online

“Hidden Memphis” feature for The Commercial Appeal

March 25, 2012

Memphis has a soul, and if you can hear it in the music and taste it in the food, then you can certainly see it in the photography of Don Newman.

Images that date back to the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s give us a glimpse of the city in her heyday, when Downtown was the focal point of shopping, commerce and entertainment.

Pick a street scene — Main Street, Madison Avenue, Union Avenue — and witness the men and women bustling from here to there. Stare into one, and you can almost hear their footsteps and feel the breeze as they walk past on their way to Goldsmith’s Department Store, Britling’s Cafeteria or the Warner Theater.

Though the sites themselves may be gone, their images live on and online at memphisheritage.org, where since January, the public can click on the Newman Collection portfolio and choose a print to view or purchase.

Newman, who passed away in 1994, was born in Memphis in 1919, and his interest in photography was fostered at an early age by an uncle in Meridian, Miss., who owned Hammond Photography Studio. After attending Tech High School, Newman was offered a job with George Haley, a well-known commercial photographer at the time.

His work with Haley began a career that would last a lifetime. “He thought maybe he would go on to college, but he took this job because he was interested in it and he never left; he stayed in photography because he loved it,” said Newman’s widow, Bertha Newman … (read more)