Hashtag Project: First Three Months

By: Amy Hildreth Chen, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow

Back in December 2014, Cool@Hoole discussed its newly-launched initiative: the hashtag project. The hashtag project, managed by SLIS student Ashley Bond (@LibraryAshB), brings subscribers to either our Facebook page or our Twitter feed a new item from our collections Monday through Friday.

Some of our most popular posts, perhaps not surprisingly, feature notable events and people from the history of Alabama’s football team. But other well-received posts include those showing a Jane Austin book and one of Ashley #twinning at work!

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If you’d like to catch up on what we’ve featured on specific days, we created Storify feeds for some of our most frequently-used hashtags. #ThrowbackThursday is our most commonly-used hashtag.

ThrowbackThursdayBut we also have used #marbledMonday, #TuscaloosaTuesday, #WaybackWednesday, #WorkdayWednesday, #foodieFriday, and #flashbackFriday.

We hope to see you on Twitter or Facebook soon!

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The Acquisition History of the papers of Confederate Brigadier General Johnston

By: Amy Chen and Mary Bess Paluzzi

Did you read our earlier post on Confederate Brigadier General Johnston’s career? If you haven’t yet, be sure to check it out to learn more about the history this collection represents. 

The George Doherty Johnston Collection was donated to the University Libraries Division of Special Collections at the University of Alabama in 2014 by the family of Netta Holley, the great-great-granddaughter of Brigadier General George Johnston and the great-great-niece of Julia Tutweiler.

As these papers are a recent acquisition, Cool@Hoole thought it would be helpful to discuss some of the behind-the-scenes work it takes to add to our holdings. After all, the Division of Special Collections at the University of Alabama is a “living library.” Our Associate Dean, Mary Bess Paluzzi, is in continual contact with donors and prospective donors who are interested in depositing their records with us.

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Confederate Brigadier General Johnston: A newly acquired and digitized collection

By: Ashley Bond, SLIS graduate student

General Johnston was born in Hillsboro, North Carolina, on May 30, 1832. After studying at Cumberland University’s School of Law in Lebanon, Tennessee, he began his own practice in Marion, Alabama, the town where he was raised. There he was elected mayor in 1856 and afterward served in state legislature from 1857 to 1858.  Johnston enlisted as a Second Lieutenant of Company G in the 4th Alabama Infantry in the Confederate Army at the outbreak of the Civil War. With this unit, he fought at the first Battle of Bull Run and was later commissioned as Major of the 25th Alabama Infantry in early 1862. In September 1863, he was promoted to Colonel, and by July of the following year, he rose to the rank of Brigadier General. Two days after his promotion, he received a bullet wound to the leg and continued to lead his brigade on crutches. After the Battle of Franklin, he took command of Brigadier General William Andrew Quarles’ Brigade through the Battle of Bentonville in March 1865. Afterward, he led General E. C. Walthall’s division until reorganization at Goldsboro. He eventually headed westward to join Lieutenant General Richard Taylor in Alabama up until the Confederate Army’s surrender.

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Armed Services Editions: A quest for a complete collection

By: Allyson Holliday, complex copy-cataloger

As we approach the 75th Anniversary of the entry of the United States into World War II, Hoole Library actively seeking to complete its collection of Armed Services Editions.

Editions for the Armed Services, Inc., was a non-profit organization established in 1943 by the Council on Books in Wartime. Its purpose was to publish and supply American troops with easily portable, pocket-sized paperback books. Any reminder of the comforts of home and entertainment were welcome distractions for World War II servicemen. Over 120 million of these inexpensive, light-weight paperbacks were distributed to troops everywhere – from the beaches at Normandy, the trenches in the Argonne forest, to warships at sea, and to the island jungles of the Pacific. The diversity of the more than 1,200 original titles chosen for printing meant that there was surely something to satisfy the interests of any given serviceman. From classic literature, to history, mysteries, Westerns, popular fiction, and even romance – authors and the publishing industry provided them all. For more on the history of Armed Services Editions, see Molly Guptill Manning’s When Books Went to War: the stories that helped us win World War II.

In 1983, for the celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the ASE program at the Library of Congress, our library was noted “as having a set, received as duplicates from the Library of Congress, which lacked only sixteen titles.” At the time, the set was displayed in the special collections reading room in Gorgas Library, and then-Curator Joyce H. Lamont “reported that the books always draw comments from World War II veterans, who point out titles they read. Furthermore, many tell me they have copies of especially meaningful books at home.”

Today, only 5 titles are missing to complete The University of Alabama Division of Special Collections ASE collection. So, in honor of our nearly-complete collection, I’ve put together a list of my favorite selections!


Forever Amber, Hoole Library Armed Services Edition AC1 .A7 T-39

Forever Amber is a historical novel written by Kathleen Winsor. Her husband served as a First Lieutenant in the Fourth Marines, Pacific Theater. Described as “bawdy” and “romantic” on the back cover, Forever Amber was thought so indecent that the city of Boston had it banned (Manning, 123). Considered trashy for its racy descriptions of a young woman and her exploits in London society, the publishing council at first balked at the notion of printing it for the armed services. However, as Americans were fighting to preserve freedom, the decision was made to provide “access to a diverse set of titles – even trashy ones” (Manning, 124). It was a best-seller on the home front and a very popular title amongst the soldiers as well.

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Love Letters in Acumen

By: Ashley Bond, SLIS graduate student


Roberta Dorsey Taylor to Herbert Taylor (February 1918)

Valentine’s Day is approaching, and in the spirit of romance, Cool at Hoole has taken a look at various love letters within Acumen. The Herbert J. Taylor, Jr. Letters, which includes written correspondence between Major Herbert J. Taylor, Jr. and his fiancée (and later wife) Roberta Dorsey, along with many of his other communications during World War I, is a particularly rich collection.

One very sweet correspondence is the Valentine’s Day card Roberta Dorsey Taylor sent from Columbus, Ohio, to husband Herbert while he was stationed at Camp Sheridan in Montgomery, Alabama, in February 1918:

“To my darling Hubby—the only one on earth to me –whom I love. Your loving wife Roberta”

Here is another letter from April of the same year, this time from Herbert to his wife Roberta while they are still separated by war:

“4/27/18 Saturday

My dear darling little Precious Wifey:-

Well little sweet-heart, one more week gone & by. Old Father Time certainly is good to us, in the way he makes the time fly. Oh! I do hope he’ll be equally as good when I get back & we are to-gether again in our little Paradise, & make the hours[?] as slow as they are fast, because when I am with my little dear beloved, I want the time to drag & when I am separated from my little Princess, I want it to fly.

HerbertTaylorLetterTranscript 1

Letter from Herbert Taylor to Roberta Dorsey Taylor (April 1918)

Dear little Baby…”

Once the United States entered the war in April 1917, congressmen secured three training bases in Alabama. While the merchants in these base cities thrived from having new business customers from around the country, the troops themselves had to cope with being separated from their loved ones for a period of time. Although these letters were likely intended for private consumption originally, the Herbert J. Taylor, Jr. Collection gives readers insight to the passions and hardships endured by a young couple in love during the war. The language style and circumstances have changed, but the story of a long-distance relationship is still relatable today. It is fascinating how affectionately they speak to each other, but perhaps social media, e-mail, and texting have heavily shaped our modern-day ways of speaking.

However, due to the handwritten nature of many of these online documents, certain words and unfamiliar phrases in the letter may be difficult to read to our contemporary eyes. For this reason, University Libraries’ Digital Services allows users to read and transcribe handwritten documents online and submit it for the benefit of future users. Cool at Hoole invites you to take a look at some of the historical documents on Acumen today and even add a transcription or tags on materials you find useful or interesting! Just check out Acumen’s button to the right of each image that says “Transcript.” And, for more details about how to transcribe a written document on Acumen, check out Digital Outreach Coordinator Kate Matheny’s post on this subject the Digital Services blog.

Have you booked your session this spring?

By: Amy Chen, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow

We’re one month into the spring semester, but requests are still coming in for sessions in the Division of Special Collections.

If you’d like to bring your class to special collections, please contact Amy Chen at ahchen [at] ua.edu.

Before you email, make sure to do the following:

1. Look over the following checklist to assess your instructional needs in greater detail. Or, view the slideshow Amy made on this topic on Slideshare.

2. Write down a few options for dates and times that will work for your class to visit. We host up to 50 sessions a semester, so more options allow us to fit our schedule to yours. We prefer at least a few weeks notice in order to prepare for your visit. Ideally, we’d hear from you prior to the start of the semester.

3. Fill out the Instruction-PullList-Template so Amy knows what you might like to have your students view. She’s willing to help guide you to collections that might fit your needs best, but it’s better if you look at and note the available options first. Click through Amy’s presentation introducing special collections and explaining how to find items at UA if you haven’t tried to find materials on your own before. (Hint: you can post this powerpoint to your class website/Blackboard to help prepare your students too!)

4. Suggest a few dates and times for a consultation with Amy to discuss your class. A consultation helps to ensure your visit goes according to plan and meets best practices in pedagogy. We will review your checklist and pull list at this time.

Need help? Feel free to ask Amy any questions you have regarding using primary sources in your email or during your consultation.

You may also want to check out the following resources:

  • TeachArchives.org: This site is the best for teaching with special collections sources within an undergraduate curricula. It contains articles on primary source pedagogy and example assignments, many of which could be easily adapted to fit the resources available here at UA.
  • Library of Congress: The Library of Congress has many resources to help teachers integrate primary sources into their classwork. For example, read “Using Primary Sources” or browse through their available Teacher’s Guides. You could practice by applying their guide to Sheet Music to ask questions about the cover featured on this blog post!
  • Digital Public Library of America: DPLA does not have specific teaching resources, but it’s a great aggregation of digitized collections throughout the United States and their website offers apps to help visualize the contents of their collections.
  • Prentice Hall: While aimed at high schoolers, this site steps you through the way primary sources can also be taught to undergraduate students. Key themes highlighted here are to select just a few items to discuss in depth and to match your items to the objectives of your class topic.
  • Interacting with History: This book was published by the American Library Association and can be helpful to imagine how working with original materials can enliven the classroom and enrich your pedagogy. Find it under the call number: Gorgas E175.8.I57 2014.

Tracing your Ancestry

By: Mary Bess Paluzzi, Associate Dean of Special Collections


Letter from Anna M O’Brien to Brother John (1929) about recent interest in ancestry

There is a resurgence of interest in family history because of Public Broadcasting Service’s “Finding Your Roots” and The Learning Channel’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” — not to mention the frequency of ads from Ancestry.com and our current exhibition, Artifacts from Ancestry, which documents the family stories of Dr. Lauren Cardon’s English 103 students using materials found in our special collections. After the holidays, you may be interested in learning more about your own family genealogy. Our Associate Dean of Special Collections, Mary Bess Paluzzi, offers these simple steps to help you begin building your family history.

  • Begin by collecting facts in your home from Bibles, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, certificates, etc.
  • The National Archives is an excellent site for family history research suggestions and resources.
  • Starting with yourself, collect names, dates and places for birth, marriage and death for each individual in your family (parents, children, siblings, etc.).
  • Genealogy Search is a link to free family tree forms. The use of family tree forms not only helps organize the facts, but it is a quick view of missing facts that need further research.
  • Genealogy Software Review rates the top ten genealogical computer software packages available to help organize your information.
  • The first source to check outside your home is your oldest relative or the family member who collects newspaper clippings (births, wedding, military service and obits), the stories, family Bible, photographs, letters, etc., and knows where family members are buried.
  • Documents must be located to prove each fact that you collect. Alabama birth and death records were collected since 1908 and are available at county public health offices. Marriages are recorded in the county probate office where the license was issued.
  • A federal census was taken every 10 years since 1790. From 1850-1940, the information was arranged by state, by county and, finally, by individual household, including names of each person living in a house, their age and the state/country of their birth. Additional information was collected in later censuses.
  • Transcriptions of many public records (marriages, deeds, wills, etc.) are available in the state archives, public and university libraries and online.
  • The commercial site Ancestry.com is but one of many paid subscription services that offer online access to public records. Many libraries offer free access to Ancestry.
  • Selective U.S. military records are available online through Ancestry.com and Fold3.com.

As Paluzzi notes, your search will last a lifetime, and, through it, you will extend your family relationships far beyond your wildest imagination. The search will provide hours of intense concentration, pleasant companionship and haunting frustrations. You will work intensely for weeks, months, years and put it aside to be picked up again in the future. Many hours of exciting studies await you.

Remembering MLK

By: Amy Chen, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow

Last year, on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Cool@Hoole profiled a signed first edition of Dr. King’s book, Strength to Love (1963). As Strength to Love is from the Williams Collection in the Gorgas Library, this year we thought we’d profile a few of the material types related to the civil rights leader that can be found in Hoole in Mary Harmon Bryant Hall. This way, we can celebrate the achievements and memory of Dr. King while also highlighting the diversity of materials we have on King and the importance of visiting both branches of the Division of Special Collections when you conduct your research.

This photograph, which can be found online on Acumen as well as in the physical collections of Hoole, depicts a march held in Woods Quad in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Hoole holds a wide variety of children’s and juvenile literature. June Behrens’s Martin Luther King, Jr: The Story of a Dream (Wade Hall PS3552.E415 M3 1979) and Kathie Billingslea Smith’s Martin Luther King, Jr. (Alabama E185.97.K5 S575 1987) begin to show how King’s life and work was described in writing for children in the decades following his assassination.


Hoole also contains a sizable amount of musical scores. One notable item related to King is from “Realizing the Dream,” the Tenth Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Concert held on January 17, 1999. A pamphlet from the concert is included alongside a copy of “The Black Warrior,” a score by Gunther Schuller (Alabama M2000.S387 B5 1989x).



Likenesses Within the Reach of All

By: Chistopher Sawula, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow

In early December, the A.S. Williams III Americana Collection launched Likenesses Within the Reach of All, a digital project centered on the cartes-de-visite within the archive’s extensive holdings. The project, initiated by former CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow Christa Vogelius and completed by her successor, Christopher Sawula, features over 3,330 photographs from the mid- to late-nineteenth century. Using maps, databases, and visualizations, Likenesses provides access to a unique and important part of southern photographic history.

Cartes-de-visite, or visiting cards, were invented in Europe in the mid-1850s and consisted of a small print mounted on card stock about the size of a baseball card. Less expensive than earlier forms of photography, photographers could easily produce multiple copies of a carte-de-visite, deliver them quickly to their customers, and in the process expand the capabilities of their businesses. Once printed, cartes-de-visite could be given out to friends and family as a momentos during visits, holidays, or social events. As photographers grew more adept at the techniques necessary to produce visiting cards and the cost of materials dropped, the format spread widely throughout the South and could be purchased by virtually all classes of people. The Williams Collection’s set of cartes-de-visite cover virtually the entire span of the format’s popularity and feature examples from the 1850s to 1900.

Likenesses Within the Reach of All allows researchers and the general public to explore the cartes-de-visite through a number of ways. The site’s central map shows the locations of the collection’s photographers, studios, and galleries across the United States. By clicking on these locations, researchers are given information about the photographs taken at these locations and can access the images directly through The University of Alabama’s digital archive explore, Acumen. Users can also zoom into specific cities like New Orleans, Baltimore, and Louisville to see where competing studios and galleries were located and how they fit into the commercial urban landscape. Finally, the central map can be filtered by specific photographers to show how individuals often needed to operate in several different cities and towns during their course of their career.

The project also includes several examples of data visualization that showcase some of the major trends present within the collection. Researchers can see the collection broken down by state, the most common photographers and studios, and the chronological rise and fall of cartes-de-visite as a format. These visualizations and accompanying essays explain both the advantages of cartes-de-visite as a body of research as well as their limitations. These maps and charts, as well as the site’s central map, grew out of the collection’s metadata, which can also be accessed directly on the site. By placing these photographs and accompanying data in the hands of researchers, Likenesses Within the Reach of All hopes to generate interest in the A.S. Williams III Americana Collection and showcase the digitization efforts underway in Special Collections and other divisions at The University of Alabama.

Support Tide For Tusks

By: Amy Chen, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow


From tidefortusks.org

The University of Alabama recently created the organization Tide for Tusks to “raise awareness of the threat of extinction for the African Elephant due to ivory poachers.”

You can support their campaign by donating, following the activity of Tide for Tusks through either their Facebook group or their Twitter feed @tidefortusks, and by tweeting or Instagramming messages using the hashtag #savetheelephants.

To add our voice to this initiative, we’d like to use our blog space this week to share a few articles on the African elephant as well as show some photographs from the University Archives demonstrating how important the elephant is to our community.

As the largest university in the United States with the elephant as a mascot, we all must contribute to ensure the continued life of this majestic species.

Read more about the threat to elephant populations: