Archives & Manuscripts - Guide to the Collections
The collections of the Birmingham Public Library Archives contain more than 400,000 photographs and 30,000,000 documents, including government records, business records, maps, letters, diaries, scrapbooks and architectural drawings.
Literature and Journalism
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Since the 1920s the Birmingham Public Library has collected material documenting the lives and careers of Birmingham authors and journalists and the activities of Birmingham literary organizations.
The Collections
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Akers, Arthur K.
Typescript, 1929 and 1934
Arthur K. Akers was a Birmingham resident and writer who published more than 30 short stories in various magazines, including The Saturday Evening Post and Redbook. This collection contains typescripts with some handwritten notes for two Akers stories, “Business and Domestic Entanglements” and “Recovery, Here We Come” (published in Redbook, March 1934). These are comic stories typical of the era, employing characters that are caricatures of African American Southerners and exaggerated black dialect.
Size : ¼ linear foot (1 box)
Collection Guide Available : Yes (online)
Alabama Press Association
Scrapbook, 1939-1940
The Editors and Publishers Association of the State of Alabama was established n 1872 in Montgomery. The group, which changed its name to the Alabama Press Association in 1891, was organized to support and to improve newspapers in Alabama and to promote tourism and trade in the state. This oversize scrapbook contains mostly newspaper clippings from over fifty Alabama newspapers in 1939 and 1940 compiled by APA Field Manager Doyle Buckles. The clippings cover the activities of the association including participation in National Newspaper Week, the selection of Buckles to be the field manager, plans for the 70th annual convention, and details of a state-wide tour of Alabama editors that resulted in a media campaign calling Alabama the "nation's number one economic opportunity" (rather than its number one economic problem). Buckles regularly sent memos to APA members suggesting ways to increase advertising revenue and circulation and offering suggestions for ad copy and layout. These memos and examples of when the suggestions were used in newspapers are in the second half of the scrapbook. Some correspondence between Buckles and newspaper editors is included. The scrapbook also contains a few brochures published by the Alabama Power Company and the Alabama State Chamber of Commerce promoting industrial development and tourism in the state.
Size : 1 flat box
Collection Guide Available : No
Alabama Writer's Conclave
Records and Publications, 1923-1975
The Alabama Writer's Conclave was founded in 1923 at Alabama College in Montevallo as a women's club, but it quickly opened the membership to include men and "all people in Alabama interested in writing." By 1930 the Conclave was composed of Alabama historians, playwrights, fiction writers, poets, and newspaper writers. The purpose of the conclave is to promote fellowship, to provide an opportunity for improvement of craft, and to support Alabama writers. The Conclave meets for four days every summer, usually at the University of Montevallo, although the conference has been held at Samford University and, during the years of the Second World War, at the Birmingham Public Library. In 1931 the Alabama State Legislature created the honorary office of Poet Laureate of Alabama. Poet laureates are designated by the Alabama Writer's Conclave. The collection is largely comprised of Conclave programs from 1923 to 1975 with some missing. Also included are a brief history of the AWC and other literary clubs in Alabama, the constitution and by-laws of the AWC, a roster of members, and a bulletin from 1962.
Size : 1 box
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Armes Family
Papers, 1904-1958
Correspondence, financial records, writings and an unidentified diary. The bulk of the material relates to Edmund Campion Armes, brother of author and historian Ethel Armes (The Story of Coal and Iron in Alabama), and includes records from Armes’ years as an agent for Jemison-Seibels Insurance Company and as a major in the Army Air Corps during World War II.
Size : 1 box
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Bethea, Jack
Papers, 1927 and undated
Jack Bethea was a Birmingham novelist and editor of the Birmingham Post newspaper. Bethea was born in Birmingham in 1892. He worked as a reporter for the Birmingham Age-Herald and as city editor for the Birmingham Ledger before joining the Post when the paper was established in 1921. Bethea was the author of four novels: Bed Rock (1924), The Deep Seam (1925), Honor Bound (1926) and Silver Fleece (1927). Much of his fiction was set in the industrial communities around Birmingham. Bethea committed suicide by hanging himself in a Birmingham hotel room in 1928. This collection contains a partial typescript for Bed Rock and a more complete typescript for Deep Seam. Both typescripts show the author’s handwritten corrections.
Size : 1 box
Collection Guide Available : No
Birmingham Writer's Club
Programs, 1915-1937
In September 1906, thirteen women organized the Birmingham Writers' Club, open to women who were either newspaper women or had written for publication in some form. The objectives of the club were to promote fellowship among writers and to encourage literary work. After three years the club became inactive. It was reorganized in 1915 and met regularly until at least 1937. This collection contains programs for 1915/16, 1923/24 - 1927/28, 1929/30-1936/37. Each program provides a membership list and a meeting schedule for the upcoming year. Schedules include locations, speakers, and topics for each meeting.
Size : 1 box
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Brooks, Charles
Birmingham News Editorial Cartoons, 1959-1985
Charles Brooks served as editorial cartoonist for the Birmingham News from 1948 until his retirement in 1985. Born in Andalusia, Alabama, Brooks enrolled at Birmingham-Southern College in 1939, applying $200 won in an art contest toward his tuition. He studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts with Chicago Daily News cartoonist Vaughn Shoemaker, a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. In 1948 he returned to Alabama and was hired by the Birmingham News as the paper’s first editorial cartoonist. Brooks served as president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (1969-1970) and president of the Birmingham Press Club (1968-1969). He continues to edit Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year, an annual publication. His cartoons have been included in more than 50 books, including encyclopedias and textbooks and exhibited at the Birmingham Public Library, the White House, the National Portrait Gallery in London, and the Smithsonian Institution. This collection contains original pencil and ink drawings of cartoons, most on 11 inch by 7 inch drawing paper. A chronological guide and a subject guide to the cartoons are available in the Archives.
Size : 19 ½ linear feet, 1½ linear foot (1 box)
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Childers, James Saxon
Papers, 1918-1965
Writer and publisher James Saxon Childers was born in Norwood, Alabama in 1899. He graduated from Oberlin College in 1920 and attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. From 1925 to 1942 he was a professor of literature and creative writing at Birmingham-Southern College as well as a columnist and book reviewer for the Birmingham News. In 1942 Childers married Maurine White and soon left Birmingham to serve as an Air Force intelligence officer in World War II. Upon his return from the war he and Maurine lived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (1947-1951) and Atlanta, Georgia. He was an editor at the Atlanta Journal (1951-1957); a lecturer for the U.S. Department of State in the Far and Middle East (1958-1959); and president of Tupper and Love book publishers after 1959. Childers authored more than twenty books including A Novel About a White Man and a Black Man in the Deep South (Farrar and Rinehart, 1936), the biography Erskine Ramsay, His Life and Achievements (Cartwright and Ewing, 1942), the travel book Sailing South American Skies (Farrar and Rinehart, 1936), and The Nation on the Flying Trapeze: The United States as the People of the East See Us (David McKay Company, 1960). James Saxon Childers died in Atlanta in 1965. The papers include family photographs, college memorabilia, articles by and about Childers and articles of interest to him, personal and business correspondence, financial records, copies of most of the books authored by Childers, galley and page proofs for The Nation on the Flying Trapeeze, and ephemera from Childers’ travels abroad. The correspondence includes letters from Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry S. Truman, and Flannery O’Connor.
Size : 5½ linear feet, (3 flat boxes), 18 volumes
Collection Guide Available : Yes
City Paper Company
Records, 1897-1935
City Paper Company was founded in 1897 by German immigrants E. Lesser and Louis Braun. From 1895 to 1913, City Paper published Birmingham's longest lived German language newspaper The Birmingham Courier. This collection includes probate court records establishing City Paper, minutes of the board meetings, stock certificates, some correspondence, and other documents from the company's early years.
Size : 1 reel microfilm
Collection Guide Available : No
Cohen, Octavus Roy
Typescript, circa 1927
Octavus Roy Cohen was born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1891. He graduated from Clemson College in 1911, Birmingham-Southern College in 1927, and practiced law in South Carolina. Cohen wrote for various newspapers including the Birmingham Ledger, Charleston News and Courier and Newark Morning Star. He wrote more than 50 novels, detective mysteries, and books of short stories, more than 20 motion picture screenplays, and at least one stage drama. He contributed stories to The Saturday Evening Post, Colliers and other magazines and is best known for his detective fiction and for comic stories about African Americans. These stories, set in Birmingham, featured uncouth characters and exaggerated dialect. Cohen lived variously in South Carolina, Alabama, New York and California. He died in Los Angeles in 1959. This collection contains one autographed typescript for the short story “Hearts and Glowers,” published in the October 8, 1927 edition of The Saturday Evening Post.
Size : ½ linear foot (1 box)
Collection Guide Available : No
Finch, Lucine Gordon
Lucine Finch was a poet, dramatist, graphic artist, and magazine storywriter born in Alabama in 1875. Finch published a number of books, articles, and poems including "The Butterfly" and "A Sermon in Patchwork." Her last known published writings date from 1917. This collection contains two short stories, The Darkey and the Deed and Mammy's Past Crust, the first written by Lucine Finch and the second written by her mother, Julia Neely Finch in the early twentieth century. Both stories illustrate stereotypes of African Americans common in the United States during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Size : ¼ linear foot (1 box)
Collection Guide Available : No
Gaines, Charles
Papers, 1965-1980
Charles Gaines was born in 1942, in Florida. He graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in 1963 and earned an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa in 1967. Gaines served as director of the federal Title III Operation Arts program in Green Bay, Wisconsin for two years before accepting a position as associate professor of creative writing at New England College in Henniker, New Hampshire in 1970. He resigned in 1976 to take up writing full time. Gaines' writing explores the psychology and practice of sports, especially body building. His first novel, Stay Hungry (1972), is set in Birmingham and was a finalist for the National Book Award. Gaines later co-authored the screenplay for the 1976 film Stay Hungry. Gaines's other books include Pumping Iron (1974), Staying Hard (1975), Dangler (1976), and writing for Esquire, Playboy, Geo, Harper's, Outside, Architectural Digest, Fly-Fisherman, and Sports Illustrated. The papers include correspondence, notes, photographs, and manuscripts of the novels Staying Hard, Stay Hungry, Pumping Iron, and Dangler.
Size : 7 linear feet (7 boxes)
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Graves, John Temple, II
Papers, 1903, 1908, 1929-1961
John Temple Graves, II was a Birmingham newspaper columnist and author. Following work in Washington on the Federal Trade Commission and in New York and Florida as a newspaper journalist and editor, Graves moved in 1929 to Birmingham, Alabama to work for the Birmingham Age-Herald. In 1946 he moved to the Birmingham Post, and following the merger of the two newspapers he worked for the Birmingham Post-Herald until his death. His daily column was syndicated to western and southern newspapers and he served as a correspondent for the New York Times. Graves was active in politics and was in demand as a lecturer, focusing much of his speaking and editorializing on southern ideology. Considered a southern liberal early in his career, Graves by the 1950s had become a spokesman for the White Citizens' Council, an advocate of States' Rights, and an opponent of federal intervention in the southern race question. He authored several books of fiction and nonfiction, including The Fighting South (1943). Graves died in 1961. The papers include correspondence, newspaper clippings, booklets, three scrapbooks, a manuscript of an unpublished novel (“The Ticket to Nowhere”), and typed drafts of his newspaper bylines and speeches. Graves corresponded with many leading newspaper editors and their letters to him address issues of race relations, the U. S. Supreme Court, states' rights, the change in voting laws, northern attitudes toward the South, and the southern economy.
Size : 2 boxes
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Graves, John Temple, II
Scrapbooks, 1929-
Newspaper clippings of Graves’ “This Morning” and “This Afternoon” columns written for the Birmingham Age-Herald, Birmingham Post, and Birmingham Post-Herald.
Size : 2 flat boxes (5 volumes)
Collection Guide Available : No
Hamilton, Virginia Van Der Veer
Virginia Van der Veer Hamilton worked as a reporter for the Birmingham News in the 1940s and later taught history at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She is the author of several books, including Hugo Black: The Alabama Years, Lister Hill: Statesman from the South and Seeing Historic Alabama. This collection contains correspondence, photographs, interview notes and other material relating to Hamilton’s research on Black, Hill, Selma and Alabama history.
Size : 3 linear feet (4 flat boxes)
Collection Guide Available : Partial
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Page Last Modified: 1/31/2018 11:31 PM