Meet the team that works hard to document, preserve, and share our great city’s history. Our backgrounds are varied and we’ve spent our lives living in Memphis. We’ve witnessed first hand the growth, setbacks, political scene and all that Memphis has been through. Our bench is deep with knowledge and a genuine desire for our history to be preserved.
(in alphabetical order)
Willy Bearden is a Memphis-based filmmaker, photographer, author and producer. His documentary films include: Visualizing the Blues, The Story of Cotton, A History of Memphis Garage Bands, Overton Park, Elmwood Cemetery, Horn Island Journal, Project 366, The Perea Project, 100 Years of Juvenile Court, and The View From Adams Avenue. His museum projects include The Blues Hall of Fame, The Tunica RiverPark, The Elvis Presley Birthplace Museum, Gateway to the Blues Museum, The Cotton Museum at the Memphis Cotton Exchange, and the Memphis Wonders Series. He is the chairman and a founding member of the annual Delta Symposium held at the University of Memphis. He is the recipient of the 2011 Distinguished Achievement Award in the Creative and Performing Arts presented by the College of Communication and Fine Arts at the University of Memphis. Bearden regularly participates on film and writing panels, and presents twenty to thirty public speaking engagements each year. Other honors include the Blues Foundation’s Keeping the Blues Alive Award, and the Paul Coppock Award for Outstanding Contributions to West Tennessee History.
He is the author of four books: Cotton, From Southern Fields to the Memphis Market; Overton Park; Elmwood Cemetery, and Memphis Blues, Birthplace of a Music Tradition. Bearden is also a 35 year veteran of the live event production business. He has produced the Blues Music Awards since 1998, the inaugural Memphis Music Hall of Fame, and the Mississippi Salute to the Grammys since 2007. In the summer of 2010, Mr. Bearden released his first feature film, One Came Home. Bearden grew up in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, in the Deep Delta.
Drew was born in Memphis attended Christian Brothers High School, Graduated Memphis State, Magna Cum Laude in ’79 and the Law school there in 1981.
Practiced law with Gerber, Gerber & Agee from 81-87 and in 1987 founded Canale Farms where he has since that time served as its president. Canale Farms is located in beautiful Oakland TN.
Dr. Doug Cupples
Dr Cupples holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in political science, and a Ph.D. in history from The University of Memphis. He is active in several national and local historical organizations, and is Secretary of the Shelby Historical Commission. He holds memberships in the Organization of American History, the Southern Historical Association, and the Tennessee Historical Society. He is a member of the editorial board for the West Tennessee Historical Society Papers, and has served as associate editor for the Confederate Chronicles of Tennessee. In 1988 Dr. Cupples received the Colonial Dames in America Award for excellence in American history.
Dr. Cupples serves as Secretary for the Shelby County Historical Commission, and has held the offices of Chairman and Vice Chair. He has a been a member of the West Tennessee Historical society for many years and has held numerous offices in that organization including two terms as president. He is also a member of the American Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition and the Memphis Chapter.
He served on the University of Memphis President’s Committee for the Chucalissa Archaeological site. Since 1995, he has been a member of the Board of Directors for the Memphis Youth Symphony and a term on the Memphis Orchestral Society Board. In the school year 1996/97, he served on the Parent’s Advisory Board for the Interlochen Arts Academy at Interlochen, Michigan.
Dr. Cupples has been an adjunct faculty member of The University of Memphis Department of History (1994) and Christian Brothers University Department of History and Political Science (1990) for many years, and he joined The University of Memphis as a full-time instructor in fall 2002 through 2011 after a forty year career in health care. He taught courses in American History and World Civilization, U.S. Military History, National Security Issues, and Tennessee History and Civil War and Reconstruction.
Research interests include Memphis Civil War and Reconstruction History and local culture and artistic history. In addition to research on mid-nineteenth century America, Dr. Cupples is currently undertaking an oral history project on Memphis/Mid-South art and art education and the Vinson-Owen figure skating family of Winchester, MA. He is also an active photographer and artist. He is married to Connie Cupples, PhD.
Dr. Simone Delerme – Cultural Anthropologist
McMullan Associate Professor of Southern Studies and Anthropology
Simone Delerme joined the University of Mississippi’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology and Center for the Study of Southern Culture in the fall of 2013. She specializes in migration to the US. South, with interests in race relations, integration and incorporation, community development, and social class inequalities. Delerme holds a bachelor’s in political science and a master’s in liberal arts from the University of Delaware, as well as master’s and doctorate degrees in anthropology from Rutgers University. Delerme spent her childhood in a Puerto Rican concentrated enclave in Harlem, New York, and later developed an interest in Latin American and Caribbean studies while abroad in Havana, Cuba and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Shortly after her time in Latin America, Delerme conducted comparative ethnographic fieldwork among Puerto Rican migrants in Delaware and New York. The research for her first book, Latino Orlando: Suburban Transformation and Racial Conflict, focuses on Puerto Rican migration to Orlando, Florida and the social class distinctions and racialization processes that create divergent experiences in Southern communities. Delerme’s work has been featured in several academic publications, including Southern Spaces, Southern Cultures, and Anthropology News.
Mark has lived in Memphis since October of 2015. He is the Publisher and Chief Editor of StoryBoard Memphis, a formerly digital-only publication that is now available in a free, monthly print journal.
Devin was born in Memphis TN in 1965. He graduated from White Station and the University of Memphis. He has done numerous stories often focusing on local history for different publications. Some of his local interests include the evolution of downtown, lesser known places with interesting stories and public safety in the city. He can be reached at devingreaney.com.
Venson (Vince) Hughes matriculated at Overton High School, Memphis State University and Rhodes College. He spent 25 years with the Memphis Police Department where he worked a number of assignments, including, communications, Regional Organized Crime Information Center, Metro Law Enforcement Planning, ASD, and others. He retired as a Section Commander at the Deputy Chief Level.
Upon retirement, he started a second career with an international organization which provided services to law enforcement and military agencies worldwide. Most of Vince’s 15 years with this group was spent in the U.S., Canada and South America. After his second retirement, he was invited to do part time consulting projects with a well known law enforcement investigative agency.
He continues to take on pro-bono projects when requested and stays quite busy supporting a number of groups.
During his career with the Memphis Police Department, Vince was involved with activity surrounding the investigation and pursuit of the assassin of Martin Luther King in Memphis in 1968. As a result, he began collecting historic documents related to that case and has been called on by numerous writers, TV producers and journalist to support their reporting of the assassination. He has presented many lectures to a variety of interested audiences on the MLK assassination using original documents and first hand knowledge.
Vince has served on the Board of Directors of the West Tennessee Historic Society and as a Board Member and webmaster for the Tennessee Genealogical Society.
Jen Canale Ireland was born and raised in Memphis. She graduated from St. Agnes Academy in 1991 and holds a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Memphis. Jen and her husband, Bobby, have two sons: Nick, a junior at Christian Brothers University, and Matt, a sophomore at Christian Brothers High School. Jen has proudly held the title of “stay-at-home mom” for the past two decades.
For years, Jen has held the unofficial role of her family’s genealogist. With her children getting older, she is able to dedicate more time to her passion for genealogy and the delights in discovering her family’s roles in Memphis’ rich history.
In addition to being a member of the well-known Canale family, Jen’s roots also reach to the banks of the Mississippi River where her maternal grandmother, Ann Young McDaniel (1914-2011), had an impoverished childhood as a “river rat.” In the later years of her life, McDaniel shared the tales of her life up and down the river as a storyteller for the Center of Southern Folklore, touring Memphis schools and festivals where she educated and entertained audiences.
Also, Jen has a deep appreciation for Memphis music history. Both of her sons play in successful Memphis rock bands and her father-in-law, Rick Ireland, held a prominent role at Ardent Recording Studio in the 1970s.
Jen is a valued member of our team as a research assistant.
Neil Loftiss – Lead Genealogist
Neil is a 6th generation Memphian. A proud graduate of Memphis State University (now, University of Memphis), he worked over 30 years, split between two of Memphis’ Fortune 500 companies, FedEx and AutoZone. He is retired now, living the simple life of tending to his dogs and horses.
He has a special interest in Genealogy, and working tirelessly to add to the Find-A-Grave website, which allows information on burials all around the world. This site is free to all on the internet, and a rich source of information to those seeking information of people from the past. Here in the Memphis area, he has added over 28,000 burial records, most with photos of the headstones. He works with online historical records, through Ancestry, and various city and state records, to add to the memorials that have been created.
Barry W. Moore – Research Assistant
Barry was born in Memphis and raised in South Memphis and Whitehaven. He spent 30 years working in the Bureau of Environmental Health at the Memphis & Shelby County Health Department where he served in various capacities ranging from urban sanitation, food safety, and groundwater protection. In 1995 he was assigned to steer the health department into the public health emergency preparedness arena partnering with local hospitals, emergency management and first response agencies to develop response plans for acts of biological terrorism. In 2002, Barry was honored by the Tennessee Public Health Association as the “Public Health Worker of the Year” for his contributions to bioterrorism and all hazards preparedness planning for public health.
Barry is a member of the National Environmental Health Association and served as the organization’s national chairman of the Bioterrorism and All Hazards Preparedness Section from 2000 to 2004. In 2007, Barry was appointed to serve on the West Tennessee Seismic Safety Commission as a representative of public health, where he continues his active participation.
In 2009, Barry began to help coach student athletes on the Collierville High School Trap Team. He was Head Coach for the school’s 2012-2015 Scholastic Clay Target Program seasons. He has been a member of the Boy Scouts of America, Chickasaw Council since 1965. He earned his Eagle rank in 1973 and has served as an adult leader in positions including Scoutmaster for 13 years and presently as a District Commissioner.
Barry and his wife, Donna, live in Collierville where they raised their two children.
Bill Nourse was born in Memphis, educated in the Catholic schools of Memphis (Little Flower, Sacred Heart) and graduated from Catholic High School for Boys (“The Finest in the South”) Class of 1960. He attended Loyola University and received B.S., M.A., (Political Science), Memphis State University. Ed. D., (Interdisciplinary, Center for the Study of Higher Education); Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis), Memphis, Tennessee. Bill served in the U.S. Navy from 67-70 at NAS Atlanta. He was an Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class (E-5) and subsequently served in the reserve component for nine years.
He has worked in City and Country government, been the Director of Safety & Security at Rhodes College, a Broker with Crye-Leike, a case instructor for the Catholic Diocese of Memphis Tribunal and a multi-disciplinary high school teacher at Immaculate Conception. He has too many certifications and awards to mention including being a member of Mensa.
William Novarese – Resource Contributor
Bill is the Film Archivist at the Fire Museum of Memphis and the Law enforcement Historian in Shelby County.
Carol Perel – Network Contributor
Carol is the Executive Director of the West Tennessee Historical Society, a position she has held for the past 8 years. She is a former teacher, University of Memphis graduate and the former COO of the Cotton Museum.
John is a lifelong Memphian. He graduated in 1968 from Memphis State with a degree in history, immediately started teaching at Christian Brothers High School and received his Masters in History in 1971.
John was on the 1972 committee to re-elect the President and worked in PR and advertising until 1979 when he joined the family business and was an executive at the Victor L Robilio company.
He’s an expert on the second world war focusing on the study of the Axis of powers made up by Germany, Japan and Italy. He’s a published historian and currently working on a study of Fascist Italy in the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s.
Jason Terrell is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and a family historian. He has been doing genealogical research for over 25 years with an emphasis on Native American family research. He served for five years as the Vice Chairman for the Cherokee Phoenix, the tribal newspaper of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and for two years as editor of Ansearchin’ News, the quarterly magazine of the Tennessee Genealogical Society. He is also a member of the Trail of Tears Association, which works to preserve the history of the removal of the tribes from the Southeast. Many of the fine photos on our site are due to Jason’s talent as a photographer. He can also be found on the web at Native Family Research.
Mike is a second generation Italian American whose grandparents on both sides came from the Tuscany region of Italy. He was born and raised in Memphis and attended parochial schools. Went to work for Big John Grisanti while he was a Sophomore in high school then after graduating served in the Navy on both active duty and in the naval reserves.
Went back to work for Big John while attending State Tech and Memphis State where he graduated and began work with Holiday Inns and then FedEx where he retired back in 2014.
He’s a charter member and past president of Memphis chapter of UNICO National Italian American Service Organization, past president of the Memphis Italian Society and a current Member of the Knights of Columbus.
Mike currently works as transportation/logistics consultant and lives in Middleton TN.