Birmingham Public Library
2100 Park Place
Birmingham, Alabama 35203
http://www.bplonline.org
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.
Civil Rights Movement and Race Relations in Birmingham
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For more than fifty years the Birmingham Public Library has collected and preserved the documentary history of Birmingham’s civil rights struggle. Beginning in the 1950s, BPL librarians compiled scrapbooks, acquired items from the community and created large newspaper clipping files relating to civil rights activities and activists. This effort accelerated in 1976 with the establishment of the library's Department of Archives and Manuscripts. The new department systematically collected the records of local, city and county government, area civic and civil rights organizations, individuals and the news media. In 1984, a major grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission allowed the Archives to survey and preserve City of Birmingham records. This project rescued many civil rights related treasures, including the papers of former Birmingham city commissioner Eugene ‘Bull’ Connor, discovered in the attic of an abandoned fire station. Without the library’s efforts much civil rights and local history material would have been lost or destroyed. The Archives’ civil rights collections now contain more than one million documents, and the BPL Archives is recognized around the world for holding one of the most comprehensive and heavily used research collections on the Civil Rights Movement.
The Collections
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Alabama. Tenth Judicial Circuit Court
State of Alabama vs. Robert E. Chambliss Trial Transcript, 1977
AR85
On the morning of Sunday, September 15, 1963 a bomb planted by members of the Ku Klux Klan exploded outside the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, an African American church, in Birmingham, Alabama. The blast did extensive damage to the church building and killed four girls inside. Several other members of the congregation also suffered injuries. This collection contains a transcript of the trial of Robert E. Chambliss, the first person convicted for the bombing.
Size : 1 reel microfilm plus 2 duplicates, ½ linear foot
Collection Guide Available : Yes (online)
American States' Right Association, Inc.
Assorted Documents, 1954-1956
AR416
Memorandum and other material dealing with the groups support for racial segregation. Includes two items relating to Asa Carter.
Size : ¼ linear foot (1 box)
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Birmingham Post Herald
Civil Rights Photographs
AR827
This collection contains photographs taken by photographers for the Birmingham Post-Herald newspaper showing various civil rights related individuals and events including lunch counter sit-ins, bomb damage to Bethel Baptist Church and the home of attorney Arthur Shores, police dogs, and events surrounding the implementation of the Voting Rights Act.
Size : 65 photographs
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Birmingham World
Office Files, 1939-1988
AR1102
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
Birmingham, Ala. City Commission
Minutes, 1911-1963
AR1647
Since the founding of the city in 1871, Birmingham has operated under three successive forms of municipal government. The city was established with a mayor and board of aldermen. Before 1896 aldermen were elected at large. Each alderman represented a ward. After 1896 aldermen were elected directly by wards. In 1911 the form of government for the city was changed by referendum (held in 1910) to a five-member (later changed to a three-member) city commission. The president of the commission also held the title “mayor” and commissioners were responsible individually for various city services. The city commission was replaced in 1963, again by referendum, with a mayor and nine-member city council. Members of the council are elected by district. This collection contains the minutes of the meetings of the Birmingham City Commission for the period April 11, 1911 to May 21, 1963.
Size : 57 reels microfilm
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Birmingham, Ala. City Council
Minutes, 1963-1999
AR1648
Since the founding of the city in 1871, Birmingham has operated under three successive forms of municipal government. The city was established with a mayor and board of aldermen. Before 1896 aldermen were elected at large. Each alderman represented a ward. After 1896 aldermen were elected directly by wards. In 1911 the form of government for the city was changed by referendum (held in 1910) to a five-member (later changed to a three-member) city commission. The president of the commission also held the title “mayor” and commissioners were responsible individually for various city services. The city commission was replaced in 1963, again by referendum, with a mayor and nine-member city council. Members of the council are elected by district. This collection contains the minutes of the meetings of the Birmingham City Council for the period 1963 to 1999. Size: 126 reels microfilm
Size : 123½ reels microfilm (1963-1999)
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Birmingham, Ala. City Council
Scrapbooks, 1962-1969
AR491
Newspaper clippings relating to the council and Birmingham city government.
Size : 6 reels microfilm
Collection Guide Available : No
Birmingham, Ala. Law Department
Civil Rights Files
AR987
Office files and court papers relating to civil rights demonstrations, pornography, prostitution, voting rights and civil rights leader Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth.
Size : 2 linear feet (2 boxes)
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Birmingham, Ala. Law Department
Opinions of City Attorneys, 1910-1921
AR1190
City attorneys issue opinions, or interpretations of law at the request of city officials. These opinions relate to racial segregation, taxation, bawdy houses, Sunday movies and a wide variety of other topics.
Size : 2 boxes
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Birmingham, Ala. Police Department
Photographs of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Jail Cell
AR1391
Photographs of the cell at the Birmingham jail where King was held in 1963. It was during this incarceration that King wrote the first draft of his Letter from Birmingham Jail.
Size : 1 box
Collection Guide Available : No
Birmingham, Ala. Police Department
Surveillance Files, 1947-1980
AR1125
These files contain memoranda, correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings, interviews, and other material relating to a variety of individuals, organizations, and events. Individuals and organizations represented in the files include civil rights activists, white supremacists, anti-war protestors, and individuals involved in criminal activities. Events represented in the files include Birmingham area bombings and civil rights protests.
Size : 12 linear feet?, 14 reels
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Boutwell, Albert Burton
Papers, 1963-1967
AR264
Boutwell was elected to the Alabama State Senate in 1946 and after serving three terms was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1958. He defeated Eugene “Bull” Connor in a run for mayor of Birmingham in 1963, and served one term as head of the city’s new mayor/council form of municipal government. This collection contains correspondence, memoranda, and other material kept by Boutwell’s office during his term as mayor. The papers contain a significant amount of material relating to urban and economic development and civil rights activities in Birmingham.
Size : 41 linear feet (41 boxes), 113 linear feet
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Boutwell, Albert Burton
Scrapbooks, 1963-1967
AR575
Newspaper clippings relating to city government and Boutwell’s activities as mayor.
Size : 5 reels microfilm
Collection Guide Available : No
Carpenter, Charles Colcock Jones
Papers, 1920-1969
AR241
Born in Augusta, Georgia, Charles Colcock Jones Carpenter was an Episcopal priest and served bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama from 1938 to 1968. He died on June 29, 1969. The papers contain the files compiled by the bishop’s office and are divided into four series: parish files, office files, financial files and supplemental files transferred from the diocesan offices at a later time. In addition to correspondence, the files include such things as bulletins, pamphlets, news clippings, photographs, sermons and building plans. The parish files contain much routine correspondence between the bishop and the parish priest and between the bishop and parishioners concerning such matters as the formation of a new mission, property purchases, new building, divorce and remarriage, loss of a priest, and the calling of a new one. The office files include correspondence with various diocesan officials, information about organizations within the church, various discern facilities and other miscellaneous matters. There is a significant amount of material relating to the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama and the nation. The financial files contain material relating to various bequests and trust funds set up for the diocese.
Size : 21 linear feet (21 boxes)
Collection Guide Available : Yes
Carter, Asa Earl “Ace”
Publications, 1956 and undated
AR1265
Asa Earl Carter was a segregationist leader, politician, speech-writer, and novelist. He was active in the Citizens’ Council movement and the American States Rights Association and founded the North Alabama White Citizens Council. This collection contains three issues (March, April, and September-October 1956) of Carter's white supremacist newspaper The Southerner and one LP record entitled Essays of Asa Carter, Album 1. The record (purchased at a flea market by a member of the Archives staff) is the first in a series of twenty. On the record Carter reads four of his essays, "Communism: Trojan Horse," "Savage Showcase," Reconstruction Times," and "Jesse James."
Size : 1 reel microfilm and 1 LP record
Collection Guide Available : Yes (online)
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