Arthur L. Webb, one of Memphis' most renowned local historians and genealogists, was born on December 6, 1943, in Memphis. Webb attended Memphis State University, and soon evolved into a noted journalist, genealogist and historian, specializing in local African-American history. Having joined the Tri-State Defender staff in 1978, Webb worked at the newspaper for twenty-eight years, eventually rising to the rank of Associate Editor before his death on October 25, 2006.
Webb was relentless in his goal of illuminating the bright history of African-Americans and their role in the development of Memphis. His column, "Sands of Time" brought him great recognition and helped to create a more accessible format for African-American history. Annually, he published the "Memphis African-American Historical Calendar," and he was also the author of "1,000 Facts about African-Americans in Memphis." Webb's status as a significant African-American historian extended beyond Memphis and the Mid-South region; Webb was hired as a consultant on numerous occasions, most notably with the National Park Service in Washington D.C. in conjunction with the National Memorial to Black Union Soldiers.
In addition to his journalistic successes, Webb was an exemplary genealogist. With over 16,000 genealogical entries, Webb was a considerable resource to many seeking more information about their ancestral line.
The material housed in the Aruthur L. Webb Collection was donated to the Memphis & Shelby County Room by Webb's family after his death. The collection is the culmination of his research on African-American history and genealogy, and it includes correspondence, newspaper articles, genealogical research, handwritten notes and photographs. A selection of the material is available on this site, but anyone may access the collection in its entirety by visiting the Memphis Room.
- Information taken from the collection finding aid, by Jordan Redmon and Lauren Peterson.
View the finding aid for the manuscript collection.
View the digital collection.