Emmett Till Memory Project

University of Kansas
  • Dave Tell, Professor of Communication Studies and Co-Director of the Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities, University of Kansas

Project Description

Twenty-first century attempts to commemorate the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till have been met with persistent vandalism. Born in direct response to that vandalism, the Emmett Till Memory Project is a website and mobile application that preserves the sites and stories of the Till lynching. The ETMP uses GPS technology to take users to the most important sites in the Till story. At each site, the project provides expert-vetted narratives, access to archival documents, and historic photographs. The ETMP teaches users what happened at each site in 1955 and how the sites have been commemorated. By telling Till’s story from the perspective of each site, the project encourages users to wrestle with different versions of Till’s story and think critically about how it has been passed on.

The project has the express endorsement of the Till family. Although Professor Tell continues to maintain the project, he has handed control and ownership of the project to the Emmett Till Memorial Commission, a biracial nonprofit in the Mississippi Delta. 100% of donations generated by the ETMP go to the nonprofit.

Project News

Marvar, Alexandra. “Remembering Slain Teen Emmett Till in His Hometown of Chicago via Civil Rights Tourism and a Mobile App.” Chicago Tribune, August 27, 2020. https://www.chicagotribune.com/travel/ct-trav-emmett-till-app-0823-20200827-je7tn6n3jfeddd7qriwxy46o2q-story.html?fbclid=IwAR1aRDTPG2S2rJ4ReoGm8tOEr3XyTtGM4G6IYN-YfEwJ0eifQmOtDA0PE7M.

Remembering Emmett Till: From Chicago to Mississippi, Connecting Visitors with Location-Based History (n.d.). Institute of Museum and Library Services. Retrieved March 5, 2021, from http://www.imls.gov/grant-spotlights/remembering-emmett-till-chicago-mississippi-connecting-visitors-location-based

The Emmett Till Memory Project. (n.d.). Retrieved March 3, 2021, from https://humanitiesforall.org/projects/the-emmett-till-memory-project

Tell, D. (n.d.). Commentary: Protecting the memory of Emmett Till from the scourge of vandals. Chicagotribune.Com. Retrieved March 3, 2021, from https://www.chicagotribune.com/opinion/commentary/ct-opinion-emmett-till-sign-vandalism-20190726-7kjjvedmzvhgxpvxspvsf5fg4u-story.html

Partner Details

  • Dave Tell

    Professor of Communication Studies and Co-Director of the Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities, University of Kansas


    Dave Tell is Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas. He is the author of Confessional Crises and Cultural Politics in Twentieth Century America (Penn State University Press, 2012) and Remembering Emmett Till (University of Chicago Press, 2019). Remembering Emmett Till was listed as a 2019 book of the year by the Economist and winner of the 2020 McLemore Prize and the 2021 Byron Caldwell Smith Book Award. 

    Professor Tell is a former fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities and a founding director of the Emmett Till Memory Project. His writing on the Till murder has been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Atlantic Monthly, LitHub, and has been turned into an exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. He is a past president of the American Society for the History of Rhetoric and the inaugural Public Humanities Officer for the Rhetoric Society of America. 

    Professor Tell is Co-Director of the Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities and the Allan J. Cigler Faculty Fellow in the University Honors Program. He holds courtesy appointments in American Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.