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.
World War II
The Collections
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ACIPCO Methodist Church Sunday School Class
WW II Correspondence
This collection contains letters exchanged between members of the American Cast Iron Pipe Company Methodist Church Sunday school class and members of the church’s congregation serving during World War II.
Size : 1 box
Collection Guide Available : No
Anselmo-Antonio, Carmella
Born in Sicily, Carmella Anselmo Antonio immigrated to Birmingham in 1921 where she taught in the public schools and taught English language and citizenship classes to other immigrants. She worked at the Bechtel-McCone aircraft facility in Birmingham during World War II. The collection contains correspondence, photographs, clippings and other material relating to her life and her students.
Size : 2 boxes
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
Birmingham Public Library. Wylam Branch
Wylam History Files, 1898-1967
Wylam, Alabama, to the west of Birmingham, originated as a mining town housing employees of the nearby coal mines and steel mills. It was incorporated in 1900. It later became part of the City of Ensley and in 1910 was incorporated into the City of Birmingham. The material in this collection was compiled by librarians at the Wylam Branch Library of the Birmingham Public Library. The first half of this collection contains materials recounting the history of several institutions and churches in the Wylam community. The second half is devoted to material relating to World War II. Most of the items are photographs and newspaper clippings.
Size : ½ linear foot (1 box)
Collection Guide Available : Yes (online)
Brandino, Paul D. and Elizabeth
Correspondence, 1943-1944 and undated
Paul and Elizabeth Brandino were a Birmingham, Alabama married couple. Paul served in the United States Army during World War II, and following the war Paul worked as secretary-treasurer at Brandino Sales Company, which dealt in “hardware specialties.” Elizabeth worked as a clerk for the same company. This collection contains 43 letters dated November 9, 1943 to January 15, 1944. All of the letters are from Elizabeth Brandino to Paul Brandino, and deal with everyday life in Birmingham during wartime. Elizabeth discusses household chores, family life, and occasionally mentions the difficulty of acquiring rationed goods like gasoline and chocolate. Some picture of Paul’s experiences, especially during basic training, can be gleaned from Elizabeth’s references to his letters to her.
Size : ¼ linear foot (1 box)
Collection Guide Available : Yes (online)
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
Chitwood, Lynn
Correspondence, 1942-1943
This collection contains 68 letters written by Lynn Chitwood, a college student, to her boyfriend Elbert Hamilton while Hamilton was undergoing military training. Hamilton served in the 82nd Airborn Division and was killed in July 1944 in Europe. In her letters, which are often amusing, Chitwood discusses family and friends, her social life and the war.
Size : 2 boxes
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Fairview Elementary School
Original Poems by Students, 1942
These poems relating to World War II were written by students at Fairview Elementary School in the western section of Birmingham in April 1942.
Size : 1 box
Collection Guide Available : No
Grafman, Milton L.
Papers, 1907 – 1995
Milton L. Grafman was born in 1907, in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Pittsburgh. He graduated from the University of Cincinnati, earned a Doctor of Divinity Degree from Hebrew Union College, and was ordained in 1933 as rabbi of Temple Adath Israel in Lexington, Kentucky. Grafman came to Temple Emanu-El in Birmingham in 1941. He was active in the civic and community life of Birmingham. Grafman was a founder of the organization Spastic Aid of Alabama and helped establish the Institute for Christian Clergy, an organization established to promote understanding and cooperation between Jewish and Christian ministers. Grafman was one of the eight white clergymen that Martin Luther King, Jr. famously replied to in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Though a racial moderate, Grafman was grouped with racial reactionaries and received death threats and hate mail for the rest of his life. Grafman retired from Temple Emanu-El in 1975and died in 1995, in Birmingham. This collection contains files kept by Grafman during his tenure as rabbi at Temple Emanu-El, including copies of The Serviceman, a newsletter published by Grafman for members of the Temple Emanu-El congregation serving in World War II. Funeral sermon files contain biographical information on members of the congregation who died during Grafman’s tenure. Subject files contain correspondence, clippings and other material relating to Jewish life, particularly in Alabama. Office files consist of correspondence, clippings, photographs and other items concerning civil rights controversies of the 1960s and 1970s, the nation of Israel, the administration of Temple Emanu-El, and Jewish education, organizations, and practices.
Size : 8 boxes
Collection Guide Available : No
Hamilton, Elbert
Papers, 1942-1947
This collection contains letters written to Hamilton, a young Army paratrooper stationed in the United States, including one letter from Normandy written shortly after the D-Day invasion.
Size : ¼ linear foot (1 box)
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Hamilton, Frank
Correspondence, 1938-1943
The letters in this collection were written by two servicemen named Frank Hamilton, one the uncle of the other. Both served in the Army during World War II, and the younger Hamilton was shot down and killed over occupied France in 1944.
Size : ¼ linear foot (1 box)
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Hulsey, Walter J. and Robina T. Hulsey
Correspondence, 1942-1945 and undated
Walter Hulsey was born in 1903 in Alabama. He was a graduate of the Colorado School of Mines and served in the Marines during World War II. He and Robina Hulsey were married in March of 1938. After the war, he was a sales engineer at Jeffrey Manufacturing Company. He and Robina lived in the same home on 52 Fairway Drive in Mountain Brook for most of their married life. He died in 1974. Robina was born in 1905 and died at the age of 97 in 2002. Robina was a member of the Church of the Advent choir and was encouraged by Walter to take singing lessons throughout his letters. The letters are filled with every day stories from a Marine in love and he often chides Robina for not writing him more often.
Size : 1 ¼ linear feet (3 boxes)
Collection Guide Available : No
Koenig, Frederick G., Jr.
Short Stories and Poetry
Frederick Koenig was a lawyer, manufacturing executive, and an active member of the Birmingham business community. Born in 1915 in Birmingham, Koenig earned a bachelor’s degree from Birmingham-Southern College in 1935 and an LL.B. from Harvard University in 1938. He worked as a lawyer in Birmingham until he enlisted in the U.S. Infantry in 1942. Koenig returned to Birmingham in 1946 and worked for Alabama By-Products, the company he remained with for the rest of his life. He served on various boards and as the director of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce. He died in Birmingham in 1978. This collection contains a form rejection letter from The New Yorker and one bound volume of typescripts of stories and poetry relating to World War II entitled “War Stories and Poems.” The stories were probably written in the 1940s when Koenig was in the Infantry and then working for the Tennessee Valley Authority. At least one of the poems may have been written while he was a student at Harvard in the late 1930s. None of the material is dated, but most of the stories have return addresses. The stories and poems are about espionage, love, and betrayal, and are populated with handsome men in uniform and alluring women either mourning a soldiers’ departure or themselves agents in international intrigue.
Size : 1 volume and 1 file
Collection Guide Available : Yes (online)
Matthews, Martha Franklin
Papers, 1900-1987
This collection contains photographs, correspondence, and an assortment of papers of Martha Matthews. The collection primarily consists of letters from Martha’s mother: Addie Norton Matthews. Very few letters from Martha to her mother are contained within this collection. There is a scrapbook and loose collection of Martha’s photographs of American soldiers engaging in “R&R” in Germany and other locations in western Europe after the war.
Size : 6 linear feet (4 boxes)
Collection Guide Available : Yes (online)
May, Elizabeth Ann
Papers, 1935-1949
These papers contain brochures, correspondence, subject files, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks and photographs relating to May’s activities while President of the Birmingham Business and Professional Women’s Club. The collection also contains newspaper clippings, correspondence and other material relating to the 1948 demonstration of Alabama’s first television broadcast; National Business Women’s Week and Woman of the Year for Birmingham; the cancellation of the Freedom Train stop in Birmingham due to controversies over racial segregation; the March of Dimes campaign in Birmingham; and clippings on the role of women on the home front during World War II.
Size : 1 box
Collection Guide Available : Yes
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