Birmingham Public Library Explores The New
World With Map Exhibit In Gallery

BIRMINGHAM, AL -- Beginning November 1, 2002, through December 31, 2002, the Birmingham Public Library will display “Maps 1540 to Today” in the 4th floor Gallery of the Central Library. This exhibit from the Rucker Agee Map Collection includes an original wood block chronicling the Spanish discovery of America in 1540, maps showing conflicting claims by Spain, France and Britain to the Southeast, as well as maps of territorial boundaries of Indian nations.

Other notable maps in the exhibit include original printed maps from the 16th century; a “holster atlas” of the Southeast carried by British officers during the Revolutionary War; the first geological map of Alabama from 1849; a map of the existing railroads at the outbreak of the Civil War; maps of Birmingham and its suburbs from 1870 to today including a current satellite image of the region.

Rucker Agee was born in 1897 on Park Place, only yards from the site of the current Birmingham Public Library that houses his maps. A local stockbroker with Sterne, Agee and Leach, he was an avid collector of historical materials. The portion of maps donated to the library represents his acquisitions during the post World War II era. These seldom-seen originals are part of his collection housed in the Tutwiler Collection of Southern History and Literature Department of the Birmingham Public Library since 1965.

Dr. Walter W. Ristow, former map curator at the Library of Congress says, “Birmingham is one of few cities in America which can boast such a fine collection of historical and regional maps.”

“This collection is fabulous,” says Walker Ronaldson, owner of the St. Charles Gallery, who specializes in maps of the Southeast. “The scope of material is amazing, very rare for a municipal archive - or any archive - to possess. Whether you look at maps as elaborate artwork or as clues to the history of an area, this exhibit is of great interest. Birmingham residents are fortunate to have the chance to witness this piece of the past.”

This exhibit is co-sponsored by the Birmingham Public Library and the Birmingham Historical Society to commemorate the Society’s 60th anniversary.

“We feel it most appropriate to observe our milestone with the showing of a collection that speaks to the development of Birmingham,” says Marjorie White, director of the Birmingham Historical Society. “You get a glimpse of the entire region, then specific maps of Birmingham and its suburbs, a production map of the Industrial District, and a rendering of the Olmsted Brothers’ proposed parks for 1924. These maps visually speak an elaborate story of our own city.”

“Maps 1540 to Today” is open to the public during regular library hours at no charge. Special events include an exhibit opening and reception November 3, 2002, at 3:00 p.m.; a Brown Bag Lunch Series program and gallery tour November 13, 2002 at noon; and subsequent gallery tours every Thursday at noon. Tours meet in the Gallery. Reservations are not required. For more information, call 205.251.1880.

The Birmingham Public Library and its 20 branch locations provide the public with the most current collections, as well as the most comprehensive research tools in the state. The Birmingham Public Library strives to inform visitors by hosting special programs year round, such as Brown Bag Lunch series and Alabama Bound, in addition to children’s programs from toddlers to teenagers. These programs allow the public to meet and greet guest lecturers, musicians, authors and publishers. For more information regarding the Birmingham Public Library and a list of exciting, upcoming events, please visit www.bplonline.org or call 205.226.3600.