During the historic flooding event in mid-May, hundreds of Mid-Southerners flocked downtown to snap once-in-a-lifetime shots of Tom Lee Park and parts of Mud Island submerged in water.
Now Ellery Ammons, a 17-year-old senior at St. Mary's Episcopal School, wants some of those shots for a 2011 flood photography archive she's spearheading for the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library.
"I was watching the news during the flood and seeing them reference old pictures," Ammons said. "I thought it would be a shame to have pictures from 1917 and 1927 and not any from 2011. I want the collection to be for the community. They can use these [recent] pictures to gain a better grasp on this flood compared to others in the past."
Ammons began working on the collection in early June, but so far only 13 photos have been submitted. She hopes more images will be contributed before summer ends.
The library is looking for both print and digital photographs showing rising waters, people filling sandbags, flood damage, and snapshots taken inside temporary emergency shelters.
"Everybody has something in their house, in their attic, that they think isn't that important. But combined with images and documents from around the city, suddenly we have a very complete story," said Sarah Frierson, the library's digital projects manager. "We're trying to show a complete picture of what happened in Memphis in the spring of 2011."
The photos will become a part of the library's Mid-South Flood Collection, which currently only documents the city's historic floods. Frierson said she and other colleagues had been talking about creating an archive of the 2011 flood and are thrilled by
Ammons' offer to take charge.
"I was pretty amazed, because it's not often that a 17-year-old has the foresight to see that this is something that could be really valuable to the community for generations to come," Frierson said.
Ammons, who is a Girl Scout, will also use the collection for her Gold Award Project, which requires scouts to do a good deed for the community.
The print photographs collected for the 2011 flood archive will become part of the library's permanent archive in its Memphis and Shelby County Room, and the digital images will be available at memphislibrary.org.
"In 10 years, 15 years, or even in 80 years, we hope that people can look back at this collection and see what happened and how this community made it through that challenge," Frierson said.
People can submit flood photos to firstname.lastname@example.org. Print photos are being collected at the library's Memphis Room on the fourth floor.