The Manuscript Collections at the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library consist of over 4000 collections with 8500 linear feet of materials that cover a wide array of research interests and subject areas.

Search our collections in ArchivesSpace, our archives database. Many finding aids are also available in Acumen, our digital archives explorer, along with digitized materials.

Many of the collections reflect life in Alabama from territorial days to the present, though there are numerous collections that are of much broader interest, especially from other Southern states. Common research areas include the following subjects:

Business & Industry

Business records of merchants and business records of industries, particularly the iron and steel industry in Alabama.

Examples include

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  • Shelby Iron Company records (MSS.1261) – Contains records of the Shelby Iron Company, including correspondence, directors’ minutes, stockholder records, manufacturing records (charcoal reports, stable reports, mining, time books, payrolls by department), commissary records, grist mill toll books, furnace record books, and many other records. 1862-1930.
  • Republic Steel records (MSS.1186) – Contains correspondence, security and insurance records, and other materials of this Birmingham steel company. Circa 1930-1980.
  • Bessemer Coal, Iron, and Land Company records (MSS.0145) – Contains much of the business correspondence and records of the Bessemer Coal, Iron and Land Company. 1886-1982.

Agriculture

Plantation records, farm journals, diaries, and letters.

Examples include

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  • Hugh Davis papers (MSS.1611) – Contains extensive correspondence, business records, and receipts of this Marion, Alabama, plantation owner and attorney, and his family. 1825-1898.
  • John Horry Dent papers (MSS.0430) – Contains three ledgers (a plantation book, a farm journal, and a letter copybook) and a folder of miscellaneous letters written by John Horry Dent of Eufaula, Barbour County, Alabama, and Cave Springs, Floyd County, Georgia. 1840-1891.
  • John Cocke papers (MSS.0328) – Contains business correspondence, accounts, legal documents, and other materials (including the selling and purchasing of slaves) of this Marengo County, Alabama, plantation owner. 1810-1899.

Religion

Church records and papers of clergymen as well as reflections of religious beliefs found in letters and diaries.

Examples include

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  • Frederick Divers papers (MSS.0437) – Contains weekly bulletins from several central Alabama African American churches served by the Rev. Frederick Divers, 1933-1956.
  • First Presbyterian Church, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, records (MSS.0518) – Contains record books, list of baptisms, Board of Trustees record books, Board of Deacons minute book, and miscellaneous other documents for this Tuscaloosa, Alabama church. 1820-1948.
  • John Collier Foster papers (MSS.0536) – Contains church correspondence, sermons, and other religious materials, and family correspondence and other personal items of this farmer and Southern Baptist minister in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. 1841-1892.

Social Life & Customs

Diaries, journals, scrapbooks, correspondence, photographs, and memorabilia.

Examples include

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  • Allen family papers (MSS.0064) – Contains the business and personal papers of John G. Allen and his son Charles Edward, planters of Marengo County, Alabama. 1848-1906.
  • Wynne family papers (MSS.3918) – Contains letters and papers pertaining to various members of this large Hale County, Alabama, family. 1804-2009.
  • Cahill Family Papers (MSS.2282) – Contains personal correspondence and business papers of the Cahill family of Ohio. 1886-1935.

Politics

Papers of Alabama congressmen, senators, and other officials; additionally, political beliefs, and observations reflected in papers of private individuals.

Examples include

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  • Lister Hill papers (MSS.0670) – Contains subject files, correspondence, reports, and other materials by, to, and about this Alabama senator who served in the U. S. House of Representatives and the U. S. Senate. 1923-1969.
  • Tom Bevill papers (MSS.0152) – Contains records from Bevill’s term as U.S. Representative of Alabama’s Fourth Congressional District as well as some materials on his law practice and personal life. 1967-1997.
  • Samuel Francis Hobbs papers (MSS.0682) – Contains correspondence, memoranda, pamphlets, government publications and other materials concerning Samuel Francis Hobbs’s career as the U.S. Congressman from the 4th District of Alabama. 1934-1951.

Civil War & Reconstruction

Civilian and military correspondence, diaries, journals, muster rolls, accounts of battles, and maps, as well as a significant collection of the papers of Jefferson Davis.

Examples include

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  • Henry De Lamar Clayton Sr. papers (MSS.0313) – Contains the personal, legal, military, and administrative papers, of this Alabama politician, Confederate general, and University of Alabama president. 1840-1925.
  • George Doherty Johnston papers (MSS.4018) – Contains the personal letters and war-related correspondence of Brigadier General George Doherty Johnston of the Twenty-fifth Alabama Infantry, C.S.A. 1845-1885.
  • Holliman and Stewart families letters (MSS.3749) – Contains Civil War letters and miscellaneous documents of James Franklin Holliman and William Stewart, to and from their families. 1862-1911.

Transportation

Records of railroad companies in Alabama, documents on road construction, bridge building, and ferry operation.

Examples include

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  • Robert Jemison Jr. papers (MSS.0753) – Contains both the personal and business papers of Robert Jemison Jr. and various family members, including records of his grist and lumber mills, plantations, stage line, the Tuskaloosa Plank Road, toll bridges, ferries, postal contracts, and the North East and South West Railroad. 1797-1973.
  • Bert Neville Collection of steamboat documents (MSS.1342) – Contains bills of lading and receipts for freight costs, passage, storage, and other documents, relating to steamboat lines, mostly within Alabama, plus some receipts from stagecoaches, warehouse and storage companies, and railroads. 1820-1945.
  • Woodward Family Papers (MSS.1577) – Contains business and personal correspondence, financial records, photographs, and other materials of this Birmingham, Alabama, family which owned and operated the Woodward Iron Company. 1829-1958.

Literature

Many original manuscripts and papers by Alabama literary figures.

Examples include

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  • Elise Ayers Sanguinetti papers (MSS.0098) – Contains the correspondence, manuscripts and galley proofs, as well as reviews and notices of Elise Ayers Sanguinetti, the Alabama author of “The Last of the Whitfields” (1962), “The New Girl” (1964), “The Dowager (1968), and “McBee’s Station” (1972). 1929-2003.
  • Martha Young papers (MSS.1597) – Contains many of the works, both published and unpublished, many in the dialect of Southern African Americans, written by Martha Young of Greensboro, Alabama, in the late 19th century and early 20th century, as well as correspondence, photographs and pictures, genealogical information on the Tutwiler and Young families, and other miscellaneous items. 1867-1977.
  • Augusta Evans Wilson papers (MSS.1563) – Contains correspondence, newspaper clippings, and a bound manuscript of the 19th-century author Augusta Evans Wilson of Mobile, Alabama. 1859-1909.

Natural History

Collections of historical, geographical, geological, and botanical interest.

Examples include

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  • David DeJarnette papers (MSS.0421) – Contains photographs related to archaeology and geology, including photos of the Stanfield-Worley Bluff Shelter dig. 1935-1975.
  • C. L. Boynton maps (MSS.0197) – Contains Printed maps of Georgia with additions showing routes taken for “botanical tours.” 1895-1902.
  • Allan F. Archer papers (MSS.0082) – Contains documents pertaining to the career of Dr. Allan F. Archer from 1932 to 1951 when he worked at the University of Alabama Museum of Natural History and Geological Survey of Alabama. The material primarily focuses on Dr. Archer’s study of spiders, but includes crabs, mollusks, crustaceans and matters of ecological and biological importance as well. 1932-1951.

Genealogy

Collections of family histories and pedigree charts, including the papers of noted Alabama genealogist Pauline Jones Gandrud (MSS.0555).

Examples include

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  • Alton Lambert papers (MSS.0837) – Contains genealogical information, cemetery records, photos, clippings, correspondence, and other materials. Circa 1980-1989.
  • Lucille Dorroh Burton papers (MSS.0239) – Contains genealogical records. Dates unknown.
  • Myrtis Parker Handley papers (MSS.0617) – Contains alphabetical folders of genealogies and genealogy research, including notebooks, newspaper clippings, and photos. Dates unknown.