Alabama Authors origins

The Alabama Authors database, which covers Alabama Authors from the state’s beginning to the present, is maintained and updated by the Alabama Library Association and hosted at the University of Alabama Libraries website. Through the years, it became quite evident that a source was needed to help identify Alabama authors and their works.

In order to meet this need, the Alabama Library Association’s Bibliographic Committee, in 1982, undertook the task of compiling a list of writers and their works. Using an earlier publication, 20th Century Alabama Writers: a Checklist, the Committee started collecting other names to add to the list. The Committee, to accomplish its task, searched for the following information: 1) Occupation, 2) Date and place of birth, 3) Parents’ names, 4) Education, 5) Marriage, 6) Children, 7) Employment or career, 8) Honors, 9) Miscellaneous information, and 10) Works. It was often difficult to clearly identify the correct relationship with the writer’s work. So, in order to avoid any confusion, it was decided that writer’s relationship would be distinguished by listing the work as compiler, editor, contributor, or joint author.

To locate as much information about each entry in this directory, the Committee Members consulted the Biographical and Genealogical Master Index and its annual supplements. Vertical files at Jacksonville State University and the Alabama Authors file at the Alabama Public Library Service were also consulted. Other files checked were the Birmingham Public Library’s Southern History Collection and the Personal Names File at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. (It should be noted that during this phase of the project, the files at BPL and State Archives were closed or partially closed for renovations or filming of files.) Book jackets, prefaces, introductions, or the contents of other works were examined for biographic information.

If insufficient information was located, and if an address connected with a writer was present, a questionnaire was mailed to request further information. This method proved very successful as many biographic entries were compiled form the data gathered.

Bibliographic information was compiled primarily from the OCLC Database. The holdings at Jacksonville State University or the listings of other reliable bibliographic sources were consulted when possible or necessary. Other publications of an author were examined for the listing of other works. A few entries were located through the use of the Library of Congress’s printed catalog, the National Union Catalog, the card catalog of other libraries, or other standard bibliographic sources. Current newspapers were read for stories about new Alabama authors.

While the Biographical and Genealogical Master Index was a very useful resource, other reference tools were researched. These included the following:

  • Alabama Blue Book and Social Register. Birmingham: Blue Book Publishing Co., 1929. 
  • Alabama Distinguished: Reknown Achievements. Albertville, Ala.: Reese Publisher, 1974. 
  • Barton, Virginia Hooper. Scripsit. Albertville, Ala.: Thompson Printing Co., 1979. 
  • Durham, Frances Gildart Ruffin. Anthology of Alabama Poetry, 1928. Atlanta, Ga.: E. Hartsock, The Bozart Press, 1928. 
  • Marks, Henry S. Alabama Past Leaders. Huntsville, Ala.: Strode, 1982. 
  • Marks, Henry S. Who Was Who in Alabama. Huntsville, Ala.: Strode, 1972. 
  • Owen, Marie Bankhead. The Story of Alabama: a History of the State. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1949. 
  • Owen, Thomas McAdory. History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography. Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1921. 
  • Who’s Who in Alabama, vols. 1-3. Birmingham, Ala.: s.n. (John W. Sayers), 1965-1973. 

Since the beginning of this project, so many individuals have contributed to its completion that it is almost impossible to express the appreciation of the Association for the task well done. Nevertheless, there are certain individuals who should be singled out for a very special “Thank You.” Without the single-mindedness of Dr. Thomas Freeman, the original 859 page manuscript would never have materialized. The Association is forever indebted to Dr. Freeman for his tireless efforts to produce the much needed reference tool about contemporary Alabama authors.

While Dr. Freeman was the driving force behind this project, others performed invaluable service. A special thanks goes to Robert Avant, Prudence White Bryant, Robert R. Burkhardt, Regina Cooper, Marguerite Lange, Patricia B. Malone, Barbara J. Moore, Julia Pfau, and Prahbha Sharma. Many thanks to each of you for your contributions to the project.

There were others who contributed to the final version of the original manuscript. Without the efforts of Marie Bingham, Kathryn Jones, Mary Ann Veenstra, Elizabeth Pollard, Dr. Paul Spence, Nancy Dupree, and Gene Geiger, no final version would have been completed. Many, many thanks for your time and efforts.

Two very special people deserve the highest praise. Dr. Sue Medina and Ms. Ellen Snipes, of the Network of Alabama Academic Libraries, were indefatigable in their efforts to input the material into a computer for editing and rearranging material. They were constant in their work to correct all mistakes. Without their unselfishness, this final version would never have been completed.

As usual, there is always a chance that someone who worked without complaint to finish this project failed to be recognized. Should that have happened, please accept a heartfelt thanks. Remember, you know you contributed to the final product. Through the many, many years of work to complete this manuscript, a large number of individuals have contributed their time for its completion.

During this past year, 1992, new names must be added to the list. It is with heart felt thanks and with deep appreciation that I acknowledge the contributions of Harmon Straiton, Lynn Williams, Marcia Boosinger, Tamera Lee, Fred Edmiston, Sherida Downer, Donna McCurley, Henry McCurley, Kathy Yarbrough, and Cecilia Schmitz for their assistance in the completion of this project. Without their help, the task would not have ended.