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.
Tourism, Travel and Migration
The Collections
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Alabama Railroad Depots
Photographs, 1950s, 1970s, and undated
This collection contains black and white postcards showing railroad depots in Alabama. Not all of the post cards are dated but the majority of the pictures were taken in the 1950s and 1970s. Railway lines represented include the Frisco, Southern, and L & N.
Size : 2 boxes
Collection Guide Available : Yes (online)
Brannon, Peter A.
Scrapbook: "Two Men and Three Days in Massachusetts, 1936"
Peter Brannon served as director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History and was the author of numerous books on Alabama history and anthropology. This scrapbook contains postcards, a narrative and other material relating to an automobile trip in Massachusetts.
Size : 1 item
Collection Guide Available : No
Duffee, Mary Gordon
Manuscripts, circa mid-1880s and 1920
Mary Gordon Duffee's father, Matthew Duffee was born in Ireland and immigrated to Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 1823. In Tuscaloosa he operated a popular tavern, and he later bought a resort hotel at Blount Springs. Mary Duffee was born in Alabama in 1840 and spent many summers with her family at the resort. It was the journey to and from Blount Springs that inspired Duffee's best-known work, Sketches of Alabama, which originally appeared as fifty-nine articles in the Birmingham Weekly Iron Age in 1886 and 1887. She also contributed articles to several out-of-state newspapers, wrote guide books, advertising copy, and poetry. She died in 1920. This collection contains typescripts of some of Mary Gordon Duffee's Iron Age columns "Sketches of Alabama," manuscripts of seven of Duffee's poems, a typed biographical sketch of Duffee, undated, and Duffee's obituary from the Birmingham Age-Herald.
Size : ¼ linear foot (1 box)
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Faunsdale Plantation
Papers, 1840-1970
In 1843 Thomas A. Harrison, a native of Virginia, traveled to Alabama accompanied by a party of slaves, and purchased the property in Marengo County that became Faunsdale Plantation. Harrison later sent for his new wife, Louisa Collins Harrison, a native of North Carolina. In 1844 the Harrisons had their only child, Louise Collins Harrison. Thomas A. Harrison died in 1857. Louisa managed Faunsdale and her late husband's estate until 1863 when she married William A. Stickney, a priest in the Protestant Episcopal Church and a native of Alabama. Stickney served in several parishes and ministered to the slaves and later freedmen at Faunsdale. Louisa died in 1896, William in 1907. The plantation remains in the family today. The collection contains extensive correspondence, diaries, photographs, financial records, slave records (including births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and harvest records) and other material documenting several generations of the family.
Size : 56 boxes
Collection Guide Available : Yes (online)
Henley, Linn, Hooks and Parker Families
The Henley and Linn families are among the earliest settlers of Birmingham, Alabama. Robert Henley served as the city's first mayor (1871 to 1873) and Charles Linn built Birmingham's first "skyscraper" in 1873, the three-story First National Bank building. This collection contains correspondence, journals, clippings, photographs, publications, and other material relating to the Henley, Linn, Hooks, and Parker families. Significant amounts of material are included relating to Charles Linn, Robert Henley, Annie Linn Henley, John C. Henley, Thomas Henley, John C. Henley, Jr., Walter Henley, and John C. Henley, III. The papers of Annie Linn Henley include material relating to her education and a journal from a trip to Alaska. The collection also includes material on the history of Birmingham and Birmingham area businesses and family history charts and other material relating to the four allied families.
Size : 3 linear feet, 1 flat box
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Jefferson County Board of Equalization
Appraisal Files, 1939-1977
The Board of Equalization is the agency that appraises property in Jefferson County, Alabama for purposes of taxation. Established in 1938, the BOE maintains files on each piece of taxable property in the county. The appraisal files contain basic information on structures (such as whether the structure is wood frame or brick, the type of roofing, heating, plumbing, number of rooms, size of structure) and the accessed value of the property for various years (but not every year). The files usually include an exterior photograph of the façade of the structure and sometimes date the structure. The structures appraised include residences, commercial and industrial buildings, schools, and churches. Some files include references for deeds and mortgages. Structures built before 1938 are included if they were still standing at the time of the Board of Equalization's first appraisal (generally 1938 to 1940). Structures built after the mid 1970s are not included in these files. The files do not include interior photographs, floor plans or other architectural drawings, names of architects, or detailed information on owners or occupants of a structure. In some cases files for demolished structures were discarded by the Board of Equalization before these files were transferred to the Archives Department in 1981. The collection includes several thousand photographs showing African American homes, businesses, schools and churches.
Size : 1,460 linear feet (1,500 boxes)
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Jemison, Robert, Jr. (14)
European Trip Photograph Album, 1920s
These photographs show Birmingham real estate developer Robert Jemison, Jr. and his wife on a trip to Europe and North Africa.
Size : 1 volume
Collection Guide Available : No
Lakeview Hotel
Records, 1887-1888
The Lakeview Hotel was a lake resort located on the site that is now the Highland Park Golf Course. It offered visitors a hotel that was removed from the smoke and heat of downtown Birmingham, dance pavilions and boat rides. This collection contains a guest register, time book, day book and cash book.
Size : 4 flat boxes
Collection Guide Available : Yes
London, Edith Ward and Family
Papers, 1881-1961
Born in Birmingham in 1881, Edith Ward London was the daughter of Thomas Ward, an early Birmingham industrialist. London was an avid reader and writer, and in her papers she chronicles her childhood, family life, her poor health, social activities, literary aspirations, religious beliefs, her travels in the United States and abroad, her opinions on literature and the events of her day. Edith Ward grew up near the Birmingham Rolling Mill where her father was a manager. After marrying John London in 1901, Edith resided briefly in Ensley, but most of her life was spent in the Southside neighborhood of Birmingham. The Londons had one child, John London III (Jack). In addition to pursuing her interest in writing, Edith was a member of the Nineteenth Century Club, the Birmingham Camera Club and the Birmingham Amateur Movie Association, for which she wrote movie scripts. She was an active, and sometimes questioning, member of St. Mary’s-on-the-Highlands Episcopal Church. Edith London died in Birmingham in 1933. In addition to correspondence this collection includes examples of Edith Ward London’s poetry, short stories, religious writings, essays, and scrapbooks. The scrapbooks are typical of the kind kept by women in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and include photographs, clippings, dance cards, calling cards, poetry, pencil drawings, dried flowers, letters, and greeting cards. The collection also includes material relating to Edith’s husband and son, including correspondence, newspaper clippings, educational records, photographs, and material relating to the Birmingham Amateur Movie Association. The two volumes of Edith’s diaries included in this collection are extensive typed excerpts that provide a detailed chronicle of the life of an upper middle class girl and woman. The location of the original diaries is not known. The bulk of the material in this collection covers the 1880s to the 1930s.
Size : 4 linear feet, 1 reel, 9 flat boxes
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Lowery Family
John W. Lowrey and his wife Eva lived on Twenty Third Street, South in Birmingham from at least the 1920s through at least the 1940s. Lowrey was employed by the National Supply Company, a firm that sold paints, lubricants, disinfectants, and other industrial supplies. This collection contains 13 photographs and one postcard. The photographs show family outings and students at Birmingham's South Highland elementary school.
Size : ¼ linear foot (1 box; 19 images)
Collection Guide Available : No
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
Postcard Collection
Postcards from Birmingham, Alabama and Europe in the early Twentieth century
The Postcard Collection contains thousands of postcards from throughout the United States and from around the world. The cards showing Alabama scenes have been indexed. The collection includes postcards showing some Alabama Episcopal churches.
Size : 1,946 postcards (Alabama images)
Collection Guide Available : No
Robinson, Lillian
Diary, June, 1917
In this diary Lillian Robinson, a resident of Birmingham, Alabama, chronicles a trip she made to Washington, D. C. in June 1917.
Size : 1 box
Collection Guide Available : No
Sommerkamp, Ferdinand S.C.
Travel Diary, 1835
This diary is an account of the move by Sommerkamp, his wife Julia and their eleven month old child from Baltimore, Maryland to Talbotton, Georgia. The diary provides detailed descriptions of travel in this era.
Size : ¼ linear foot (1 box)
Collection Guide Available : Yes
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