The Memphis High School Pin - Circa 1898


Click on the small photos for an enlargement


Dave French, Tech 1969, came across this very rare Memphis High School pin on Ebay.  He knew it was a "find of the century". 

Memphis High School was the only public "white" high school in Memphis from 1877 to 1911.  Originally located on the corner of Market and 3rd, it moved to a new building built specifically for it at 317 Poplar in 1898.  It would remain in this building that we all know so well, until 1911. 

Because the pin has an image of the Poplar Avenue building on it, that would date this unique item from 1898 to 1911.  However, we strongly feel that the pin was probably created specifically for Memphis High School in 1898 to celebrate the opening of their new school and the move to the new building.

In 1912, Central High opened in a new building on Bellevue, taking the teaching staff from Memphis High School with them.  At the same time in 1912, a new high school, named Memphis Vocational High School opened in the vacated building on Poplar.  The name "Memphis High School" ceased to exist.  *

Notice the colors on the pin - Green and Gold.  Those are Central's colors.  A coincidence?

This was the only actual item that we've come across with the name "Memphis High School" on it.  Since it was found we have recently found other items, such as post cards, souvenir items, and commencement programs.  Since the pin was found on Ebay, we feel confident that our missing 1924 Yearbook will show up one day.


Dave French also came across two postcards on Ebay - one dated 1905-1907, and the other after 1912-1914.  The postcards have the same building on them, but the earlier one is identified as "The High School" and the later one is identified as "Vocational High School".  This coincides with the above  information about the two schools.



This early postcard is identified as "The High School".  The seller of the card identifies it as 1905.  But the U.S. Government didn't allow private publishers to divide the cards on the back and use the word "Post Card" until 1907.

This later color postcard is identified as "Vocational High School"  It was printed by the Acmegraph Co - Chicago, who produced cards of this color type and with rounded corners and the "Post Card" logo on the back, from 1912 to 1914.



*  Memphis HS was closed from 1892 - 1898 when the new Leath High Shool opened - taking the Memphis HS teachers with it.  Leath HS only lasted 6 years before a new and larger school were needed.  That new school on Poplar was re-named Memphis High School and the original MHS teachers returned. 

All information above can be verified in the Memphis Newspaper Archives on the Shelby County Register website: ...and then click on "Ray Holt Memphis School Article Collection", scroll down and click on "Proceed", and then click on any year.  Many of the articles with this information have been reproduced on the Tech Roster pages of this website  in the early years from 1875 to 1921.



Thanks Dave, for sharing your discovery with this website.