Preserving the Past & Enhancing the Future

Interview Projects

The Oral History Project is part of an ongoing project of the Jewish Historical Society of Memphis & the Mid-south (JHSMM) and the Temple Israel Archives.  It is carried out by volunteer members who collect interviews with individuals in the Memphis Jewish community.  

One portion of the collection is comprised of interviews done by Selma Lewis for her 1998 book, A Biblical People in the Bible Belt, on the Jewish community of Memphis 1840s through 1960s. It also contains interviews of individuals involved in the community and/or who have significant knowledge of its past. Some of the interviews have multiple dates which means the same names were included in the second portion but not listed separately.  Additonal interviews will be added as they become available.

Click here to access current listings of available Interviews

The Exodus Project, documented the story of Jews who came to Memphis from the Former Soviet Union (FSU) during the latter part of the 20th and early 21st century. Volunteers recorded the stories of the people who helped in their resettlement during and after the great Soviet Jewry Movement to free Soviet Jews.  On October 15, 2015, the Memphis Jewish Federation’s Fedovation Committee approved a generous grant to the Jewish Historical Society of Memphis and the Mid-South (JHSMM) for The Exodus Project, led by Lynnie Mirvis, to collect these stories. Seventh and eighth graders from Bornblum Jewish Community School, the Margolin Hebrew Academy (MHA) and throughout the Jewish community played a role in the project along with adult volunteers who helped to interview participants, connect and listen to their stories and record their findings. Through this experience they learned about this important era in Jewish history, understanding the impact of a communal effort, as well as the mitzvah of hospitality and welcoming newcomers and immigrants.

The Exodus Project is a collaboration of the Jewish Historical Society of Memphis and the Mid-South, Bornblum Jewish Community School, Jewish Family Service at the MJCC, MHA, Memphis Jewish Community Center, Plough Towers and Temple Israel Archives.

Click Here to access listings of the Exodus Project Interviews.

The Rhodes College "Crossroads to Freedom Oral History Collection" is a collection of more than 300 oral histories conducted or filmed by the Crossroads to Freedom team of Rhodes College. In these twelve interviews from the collection, members of the Memphis Jewish community discuss a range of topics including Stax Records, the Civil Rights Movement, the life and assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, education, integration, race relations, and local neighborhood histories.

Click here  to access the Rhodes College "Crossroads to Freedom Oral History Collection".

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, CONTACT the Temple Israel Archives: