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.
Birmingham Sports History
The Collections
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Birmingham Area Chamber of Commerce
Sports Files, 1974-1996
Newspaper clippings, correspondence, publications and other material relating to various sporting events held in the Birmingham area, including professional baseball, football and hockey; college football; Olympic sports; golf; high school sports; horse racing.
Size : 5½ linear feet (6 boxes)
Collection Guide Available : No
Birmingham Baseball
Photographs of players and games, primarily from the Birmingham Black Barons and the Birmingham industrial leagues. Many of these images come from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the Memphis-Shelby County Public Library, and permission from those institutions is required to copy or publish the images. Additional baseball photographs are available in the Archives’ collections Photographs: General Collection (AR 1556) and Lorenzo “Piper” David Photographs (AR 1700).
Size : 36 photographs
Collection Guide Available : Yes (online)
Birmingham News
Photographs, 1920-1950
Photographs taken by Birmingham News photographers from circ 1920s to circa 1950s, primarily showing Birmingham scenes and buildings. This collection does not contain all photographs made by the newspaper during this time, but a small sample.
Size : 750 photographs
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Birmingham World
Office Files, 1939-1988
This collection contains an extensive body of correspondence, clippings, publications, photographs and other material collected and created by the staff of the Birmingham World, the city’s longest running African American newspaper. Topics include civil rights organizations and their activities, sports, music, education, and politics.
Size : 62 boxes
Collection Guide Available : No
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
Davis, Lorenzo "Piper"
Lorenzo “Piper” Davis was born in the coal mining community of Piper, near Birmingham, in 1917. Davis played baseball in Birmingham’s industrial leagues and joined the Birmingham Black Barons in 1942. He became manager of the Black Barons in 1948 and later played for various minor league teams. He worked as a scout for the Detroit Tigers and other teams until his retirement in 1986. In 1993, “Piper” Davis was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. This collection contains photographs collected by Davis of himself and other athletes, including Willie Mays, Leroy “Satchel” Paige and Charlie Pride.
Size : ¼ linear foot (1 box) (29 photographs)
Collection Guide Available : No
Ferguson, Hill
Hill Ferguson was a Birmingham businessman active I many civic organizations, including the Birmingham Historical Society. Fascinated by the history of his hometown, Ferguson worked from the 1890s until his death in1971 to collect photographs, newspaper clippings, theater programs, unpublished histories and biographies, and a wide variety of ephemera documenting Birmingham history. Having come of age in the late nineteenth century, Ferguson witnessed many events from Birmingham’s early history, such as the city’s emergence as an iron and steel manufacturing center, the emergence of a local musical culture, and early sporting events. He knew many of the city’s founders and wrote biographical sketches and histories of events and organizations for his scrapbooks. He wrote to people of historical significance and their children requesting information and material. An index to the collection is available in the Archives.
Size : 129 boxes
Collection Guide Available : Yes
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
Hunt, Oscar V.
Photographs, 1910-1930
Oscar V. Hunt was one of Birmingham’s most prolific and adventurous early commercial photographers. Born in Bowdon, Georgia in 1881, Hunt lived most of his life in Birmingham. He worked briefly as a streetcar motorman for the Birmingham Railway, Light, and Power Company before spending a decade working and training in the studios of two of Birmingham’s best known early photographers, Bert Covell and R. T. Boyett. Hunt had his own studio by the early 1920s and also took photographs for the Birmingham Ledger newspaper. Hunt often focused on Birmingham streetscapes in his photographs and documented Birmingham area manufacturing and mining, trains and streetcars and the construction of downtown buildings. He is credited with making the first aerial photograph of Birmingham in 1912 and he photographed leisure activities such as parades and day trippers at local parks. Hunt’s photographs show an interest in individuals, especially working people, and his construction and industrial images often highlight workers. Some of Hunt’s photographs, such as one of Terminal Station with the old Magic City sign out front, have become iconic images of Birmingham. During his later years in the 1950s, Hunt’s studio became a favorite hang out for young photographers and photo enthusiasts. Oscar Hunt died in Birmingham in 1962.
Size : 1,269 photographs
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Jones, Sid B.
Birmingham Athletic Club Scrapbooks, 1893-1919
Newspaper clippings.
Size : 1 reel microfilm
Collection Guide Available : No
Newman, Henry H. "Zipp"
Papers, 1920-1976.
Henry “Zipp” Newman was a sports writer and editor for the Birmingham News and author of the books The House of Barons: Record of the barons since 1900 (1948), 50 Years of Professional Baseball in Alabama (1950) and The Impact of Southern Football (1969). This collection includes correspondence, newspaper articles, photographs and other material relating to Newman and sports in Alabama.
Size : 2¼ linear feet, (2 flat boxes)
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Photographs (General Collection)
Photographs, 1873-Present
The general photograph collection is an artificial collection created by the Archives Department to house photographs acquired individually rather than as part of a larger body of material. New images are added to the collection as they become available. This collection contains photographic prints and negatives. The images relate primarily to the Birmingham area and to a lesser extent Alabama, and include streetscapes, buildings, and events. The images date from the 1870s to the 1990s with the bulk of the collection dating from the 1890s to the 1950s.
Size : 4,900+ photographs
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Roberts, Sadie G.
Scrapbook “My Golf Life” and Photographs, 1924-1952
Sadie G. Roberts was a founder and served as President of the Women’s Alabama Golf Association. This scrapbook contains material relating to her golfing career spanning the years 1924-1952.
Size : 1 box
Collection Guide Available : Yes
United States. National Park Service. Historic American Buildings Survey
Rickwood Field Report
Size : 1 item
Collection Guide Available : No
Van Hoose, Alf
Scrapbook and Publications, 1952-1953 and 1966
Alf Van Hoose, Jr. was a reporter and sports editor for The Birmingham News. He joined the News in 1947 and served as sports editor for 21 years until his retirement in 1990. He died in Birmingham in 1997. In 1966 Alf Van Hoose and Birmingham News photographer Tony Falleta spent about 60 days in Vietnam with the First Infantry Division, known as the “Big Red One.” This collection includes one scrapbook of newspaper articles written by Van Hoose reporting on the war and describing the daily activities of American soldiers and the Vietnamese people. Also included are five copies of Golfing Alabama, a magazine for which Van Hoose was a contributing editor.
Size : ¼ linear foot (1 box)
Collection Guide Available : No
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