Saul Brown was born in 1910 in New York to Russian immigrants. As a young adult, Brown attended Tech High School in Memphis and graduated from the Memphis Academy of Fine Arts with a degree in Fine Art. Brown served in the Air Force during World War II. After graduation, he found work with Loew's Theaters, where he created publicity displays.
Brown worked as a staff photographer for the Memphis Press-Scimitar for twenty years, retiring in April of 1980 as the newspaper's chief photographer. After retirement, Brown continued taking publicity photographs for various Memphis theaters as well as images of public figures, personal friends, and Memphis and its residents. He received the Freedom Foundation Award in 1972.
In 1986, Brown donated $5,000 to Memphis State University to establish the Saul Brown/Memphis Press Scimitar Award, awarded to students in news journalism and news photography beginning in the 1987-1988 academic year. In 1987, due to his financial support of the school's academic fund, Brown was granted membership in the school's Presidents Club.
Saul Brown passed away in Memphis on March 13, 1992 at the home of Myron Taylor, the brother of Mildred, his late wife.
The Saul Brown Photograph Collection includes 33 boxes of color and black and white prints, color and black and white negative and positive film, and color slides. Dated photographs range from the 1950s to the early 1990s; the bulk of the material dates to the 1970s and 1980s. Original order has been maintained where possible and is noted in the detailed finding aid where applicable; elsewhere, the items are sorted by subject and year.
A majority of the photographs in the collection were taken in Europe and Asia during Saul Brown's extensive travels. Researchers will also find visual documentation of local Memphis theater in the 1980s in the form of publicity photographs, Graceland at the time of Elvis Presley's death, people in the news, and many Memphis businesses, including King Cotton, Burkle's Bakery, Stroh Brewery, and others.
Throughout the collection are images which contain insights into Brown's personal life. Friends and colleagues (including "Saul's Harem" a group of close female acquaintances) appear repeatedly throughout the years, as do locations throughout Memphis and the surrounding areas. Overton Square, Graceland, and Brown's home are some common subjects. Many photographs are dedicated to documenting Brown's many Memphis-area photography exhibits. These picture some prints not included in the donated collection. The collection also includes color film of aselection of Brown's paintings and works by other artists.
- From the finding aid, by Emily Baker
View the finding aid for the manuscript collection.
View the digital collection.