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About Us

Crossroads to Freedom is a collaborative effort to answer the question "How do we as a community, in Memphis, Tennessee, work together to preserve and understand our cultural heritage?" Many institutions and individuals in Memphis are dedicated to this task. The Crossroads team collects and makes accessible primary materials dating from about 1950-1970 that can support conversations about the impact of the past on our community today. We also provide technical and organizational support for preservation of Memphis historical and cultural materials by working with individuals, neighborhoods and cultural heritage organizations.

The Crossroads Website

Our published items are fully searchable using the Search box at the top of this page, and our Advanced search enables searching specific metadata fields and/or transcripts. Our collection-builder tool allows registered users to create small sub-collections. The available public collections are not intended to represent all archive items on any given topic. For best research results, please search the archive.

The Crossroads Team

The Crossroads digital archive is primarily maintained by students. Since 2006, a team of 10-20 students has worked each summer to gather and process new materials for the archive. Students have come from Rhodes College as well as a number of partner institutions, including Fisk University in Nashville, TN and Central High School in Memphis. Students also work on the project during the academic year, processing materials and generally maintaining the archive. As part of the "Memphis Coalition for Cultural Heritage" funding from IMLS, we continue to expand this model of a student-based team to include the wider Memphis community. Interested? Contact us to volunteer!

How to Contribute

Community participation is fundamental to the Crossroads to Freedom project. Here are some ways you can get involved:

  • Tell your story or contribute your artifacts**. Everyone's story contributes to our understanding of the community. Or you may have primary materials like old letters, flyers, neighorhood association minutes or photographs. Contact us to arrange for an interview or an evaulation of your materials.
  • Volunteer yourself! You can process items like interviews or documents we need help digitizing. If you already have experience in cataloguing or digitization, all the better, but we also provide training and technical support.
  • Does your church or neighborhood association have archives in need of digital preservation? Would you like to lead a new project to collect and digitize primary materials about your community or group? Organize a group to be trained together to help tell the story of your neighborhood, school, etc. We can show you how to process documents or interviews you may have already collected. We can help you plan and implement your project, add it to the archive, and make a website, film or brochure to bring your story to a wider audience.
  • Become a preservation team manager and trainer. After you have completed all our training modules, you can train additional volunteers and coordinate contributors from your neighborhood.

Use our contact form, or write to crossroads-admin@rhodes.edu to volunteer!

**We return all materials that are digitized for the archive, and the owner retains rights to the materials and receives credit as the donor. Rhodes College also requires non-exclusive rights, and contributors sign a release form allowing Rhodes to continue to display these objects in Crossroads and other contexts.

Oral interview subjects likewise retain non-exclusive rights with Rhodes, and also sign a release form. For more on our intellectual property policy see our Copyright and Terms of Use.

Technical Information

The Crossroads to Freedom digital archive is built on Fedora, with a custom-developed Java front end built on a Spring framework. We use Elated, developed by students in the Associated Colleges of the South Software Engineering program, for archive administration.

Metadata Harvesting:


Crossroads is funded in part by 2 grants (2006 and 2010) from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas.

In addition we are grateful for the support of the following institutions and individuals:

IBM, The Mike Curb Family Foundation, William W. Deupree, Jr., the Deupree Family Foundation, FedEx Corporation, Cal Turner, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Patrick P. Carey, and Lynne and Henry Turley

Please contact us if you are interested in or have questions about contributing to the archive.