The A. S. Williams III Americana Collection, housed at the Gorgas Library at the University of Alabama since 2010, is an extensive collection of Americana. Assembled over forty years by insurance executive and bibliophile A.S. Williams III of Birmingham, Alabama, the collection is an exceptional archive of southern history and literature in size, rarity
About the CollectionThe Collection includes some 20,000 volumes and pamphlets published between the late-seventeenth century and 2009. These pertain to the U.S. presidents and the history and culture of the South. The Civil War is particularly well represented, with some 6,000 volumes published from the earliest days of Secession to the present. These materials reflect the observations of the Union, the Confederacy, European visitors during the War, veterans, and subsequent generations of scholars. The Collection also contains a wide variety of archival materials ranging from the mid-eighteenth century to the Great Depression. Particularly noteworthy are some 18,000 Southern photographs taken between the 1850s and the mid-1930s. These document
Likenesses Within the Reach of AllThe Southern Cartes de Visite Collection is a digitized group of 3,356 photographs taken between 1850 and 1900. Small, albumen images mounted on cardstock,
Scenes from the Lincoln Normal SchoolThe Lincoln Normal School, in Marion, Alabama, was an important institution in the history of African American education in the South. Founded by freed slaves shortly after the Civil War, it educated students from kindergarten to high school, with a special focus on teacher training. It was open for more than one hundred years, from 1868 to 1970. The A.S. Williams III Americana Collection owns two rare photograph albums kept by teachers at the school in the early decades of the twentieth century. The exhibit uses these images to illustrate the history of the school, its campus, its students, and its faculty during this time.
American Civil War
The American Civil War collection covers both the Union and Confederate sides of the struggle and the Collection contains a number of rare volumes. Based on current information, the Collection may hold the only copy extant of some titles. The books and pamphlets are supplemented by an important group of Confederate imprints, that is, books and other publications printed in the Confederate States from 1861 to 1865. The Collection is further enhanced by original art, including works by Allen C. Redwood and Edwin Forbes, prints and lithographs, including E.D.B. Julio’s “Last Meeting of Lee and Jackson”, Civil War manuscripts and major photographic archive.
African American History
The African-American experience in the South is well represented in the Collections from original
art, to photography, to extensive holdings in the book and pamphlet collection. A special effort has been made to collect significant material on Tuskegee Institute, Booker T. Washington, and George Washington Carver.
Books and PamphletsThe Collection houses more than 20,000 volumes and 3,000 pamphlets, covering five major areas: the American presidency, the American Civil War, the history and culture of Alabama and the South, Southern literature, and pre-Civil War American history. Sub-collections include slavery and African American history with an emphasis on Tuskegee Institute, the Southern Indians, and an important grouping of books issued from the press of publisher Walter Neale. It also contains a substantial portion of the output of Palaemon Press, a small, independent Southern literary publisher.
Presidential CollectionThe presidential collection includes a considerable quantity of manuscript material and ephemera. Every president is represented by a significant grouping of volumes, including contemporary works, secondary scholarship and, where published, scholarly annotations of their public papers and addresses. The Collection holds at least one document signed by every past president and contains a number of books signed by various presidents. The Collection is further enhanced by a collection of political campaign buttons and other political ephemera.
Southern History and LiteratureThe Collection holds important books and pamphlets on Southern history, with a particular emphasis on Alabama. This section is rich in personal narratives, county histories, biographies, and scholarly monographs. The pamphlet collection is strong in rare Alabama and Southern titles including African-American history, church history, and town histories. A significant number of rare titles are held on southern Native Americans, including first editions of early travel narratives through Georgia, Alabama, Florida, and the Carolinas. Mr. Williams also assembled an extensive collection of Southern literature. Every major Southern writer is represented, along with
- The Cowbellion de Rakin Script
- Daniel Geary Scrapbook on the Mobile Volunteer Fire Companies
- Alabama Authors and Publishers