Any good newspaper reflects the city it covers. The good and bad. The inspiring and shameful. It reflects the people and the times. You'll see just that as we commemorate our anniversary by looking back at how The Commercial Appeal and its predecessors — The Appeal, Memphis Daily Appeal and Memphis Appeal-Avalanche — covered an assortment of events over the last 175 years.
"175 Moments" does not attempt to annotate Memphis history or rank the city’s most significant historical events. It’s a broad, unfiltered sample from our archives, a taste of how our reporters and photographers saw important, interesting and, yes, curious moments in the city’s extraordinary history.
There was a single prerequisite to make this list: the original item had to have appeared on our pages. So you’ll not see, for example, an entry on the sinking of the Sultana in April 1865 — the largest maritime disaster in U.S. history, which killed an estimated 1,700 — because our press had been disabled by Union troops. You’ll not see anything of civil rights icon Ida B. Wells because, from what we can determine, the editors chose to give her remarkable bravery and fortitude precious little ink, if any.
Still, it wasn’t easy to win a spot in these pages because over 175 years — from pre-Civil War Memphis to today — the never-say-die CA has been ringside for history.
Research for this project took me on a fascinating, sometimes jarring journey retracing the steps and editorial judgments of my predecessors and gave me a deep new appreciation for the institution I’m lucky enough to lead as one of fewer than two dozen Editors since its inception on April 21, 1841. I hope you’ll enjoy a similar trip across these pages and learn something about your newspaper and the city we call home.