Ernest Columbus Withers (1922-2007) was a freelance photojournalist in Memphis, Tennessee and captured nearly 60 years of cultural history. Born and raised in Memphis to Arthur and Pearl Withers, Ernest was the fifth of six children. Ernest Withers' love of photography was sparked when he received his first camera, a hand-me-down gift from his sister, when he was a young boy. When Withers enlisted in the army in 1942, he was trained as a military photographer and learned dark room development while serving in the South Pacific during World War II.
The Withers Collection Museum and Gallery
Located at 333 Beale Street, in Ernest Withers’ last working studio and the building that was named in his honor in 1995, the Withers Collection Museum and Gallery is 7,000 square feet of Memphis History. In 2011, The Withers Collection opened its doors to the public, inviting everyone to see what Ernest Withers had accomplished. With close to 1.8 million images in the archive, you can imagine what a labor of love it was to sort, preserve, and print the images they chose to put on display, a labor of love that isn’t even close to completion. The images on display range from key Civil Rights Movement events to legendary blues and jazz performers...