Scope and Coverage

Most materials range from the early 19th century (1800s) to the middle of the 20th century (1900s). Published materials do not go past the 1920s, with the exception of University of Alabama publications like the Corolla (yearbook) and Crimson-White (student newspaper).

Most of the content is about Alabama and Alabamians, including materials about the early life of the state, the Civil War, and the University of Alabama. Frequent topics include business, law, politics and government, industry, agriculture, and daily life.


The digital archive contains previously unpublished manuscript collections, photos, and audio, as well as some published material not under copyright, including rare books, maps, and sheet music. The archive also holds all University of Alabama student dissertations and theses from 2011 forward, as well as some from as early as 2009.


Most of the material in the digital archive is from The University of Alabama Libraries Division of Special Collections, including those held at W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library and others held in Gorgas Library, floor three, in the A. S. Williams III Americana Collection.


See the Search page for details.

Organization and Navigation


The digital collections are arranged in a heirarchical order, from the item level up through the collection to the type (manuscripts, images, audio, etc.) and source (UA content, content from other institutions, patron content, etc.).

Content levels

Information about materials exists at two primary levels: collection and item.

Item-level records contain thumbnails for all images in the item as well as information about that item.

Collection-level records are called Findings Aids. They contain scope and content information for the entire collection, as well as a listing of the boxes and folders in the collection. Use the expandable menu to see each series, with a description and components in detail. These menus sometimes contain links directly to digitized items.

Partial screenshot of finding aid in Acumen


To get to the collection from the item level, use the ↑ (up arrow) at the top right of the page.

To get back to the search results from any page, use the ← (left arrow) at the top left of the page.

Printing and Downloading

Use the dropdown menu at the top left of the viewer.

Partial screenshot showing the print and download menu in Acumen

Thumbnail List

This allows you to print the images in view in the thumbnail bar. If the item is more than 40 pages, you’ll have to click through to the next page of the thumbnail bar to find subsequent sets of images to print.


This allows you to print or download the image currently in the viewer.

Citing Acumen Content


Preferred citations on the collection level can be found in the collection’s Finding Aid, which from item view can be accessed by clicking the tab at the top right of the screen. If none is provided, use this form:

Collection Title, University Libraries Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama.


Perkins Family papers, University Libraries Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama.


Citations to particular items should take this form:

Item Title, Collection Title, University Libraries Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama, Item ID.


Letter from Stephen C. Perkins, Buck Creek, Alabama, to Carolina A. Walker, Everittsville, Virginia, May 31, 1847, Perkins Family papers, University Libraries Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama, u0003_0001127_0000018.

Other FAQs

Why are there collection guides (Finding Aids) for things that haven’t been digitized?

Archives offer collection guides so that patrons can see what is in a given collection and request the specific box they want to look through. These electronic Finding Aids allow for preview in the same way, but are accessible without having to come to the library.

Can these collections be found through Scout?

Yes. You can limit a Scout search to these items by going to the Advanced Search page and checking the box for Digital Collections Only. Within the Scout record, clicking on either Online Access or View in Acumen provides a link to the item.

Partial screenshot showing access point from Scout record to Acumen


Acumen is a homegrown interface, so we want your feedback so we know how to improve it for maximum usefulness. Click on the Acumen Feedback button in the top menu bar.