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 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 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 and

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



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:

2014 Cool@Hoole Year in Review

By: Amy Chen, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow

2014 was the first calendar year I edited Cool@Hoole! Take a moment to revisit my favorite post from each month this year if you haven’t been following us for very long or if you’d like to refresh your memory of some of our greatest hits. Don’t forget to follow our Facebook and Twitter feeds to see our hashtag posts Monday through Friday of every week — including over winter break when students and Hooligans alike are at home on holiday. Take care and we’ll see you back on January 5 for our first post of the New Year.

Editor’s Picks for 2014


Joyce Lamont

January: Bobby Allison of the Alabama Gang: Through Triumph and Tragedy,” by Allyson Holliday

February: Interview with Stephen Rowe, author of From a Love of History,” by Christa Vogelius [three part series]

March: Remembering Joyce Lamont,” by the Division of Special Collections [three part series]

April: New Possibilities for Special Collections in Digital Scholarship,” by Emma Wilson and Christa Vogelius


The Anxiety Alphabet, Book Arts Collection N7433.4.M364 A82 1998b

May: Hoole Book Arts goes on the road,” by Amy Chen

June: CSS Alabama,” by Kevin Ray [three part series]

July: Interview with Mary Haney, Special Collections graduate assistant,” by Mary Haney

August: Glimpses of the Great War: Abroad and at Home,” by Martha Bace [three part series]

September: Interview with Isabela Morales,” by Isabela Morales [three part series]

October: Kevin Ray promoted to Institutional Analyst” and “April Burnett becomes a Certified Archivist,” by Donnelly Walton

November: Pedagogy Series 3: American Folklore,” by Stacy Morgan and students Emily Tarvin, Samm Banks, and Laci Thompson [four part series]

December: Pedagogy Series 4: English 103’s Artifacts from Ancestry,” by Lauren Cardon, Amy Chen, and student Annemarie Lisko [five part series]

Time hop with Christmas music

By: Allyson Holliday, Complex Copy-Cataloger

The W.S. Hoole Library has many different musical formats in its sound recordings collections. Considering that most freshman students at the University of Alabama were born around 1996 and don’t remember life before compact discs – how about a hop down memory lane through Christmas music featured on LPs, eight tracks, cassettes, and CDs? Plus– check out those hair styles!


Our LP player and Nat King Cole

Tucked away in the back corner of the reading room, Hoole has an audio-visual room including record, eight track, cassette, and CD players for the use of listening to our materials.

The record player is streaming the smooth sounds of Alabama’s own, Nat King Cole. He introduced “The Christmas Song” (Merry Christmas to You) in 1946 and it quickly emerged as one of America’s favorite Christmas songs of all time. This LP album cover is from 1963.

As technology advanced,  LP records were replaced with eight track tapes. Our funky yellow eight track tape player was donated by Wade Hall. Here we have a couple of treasures from 1964 – Merry Christmas by Brenda Lee, which features the immensely successful “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” and Elvis Sings Songs of Christmas with the ever popular “Blue Christmas.”

8 tracks

Elvis, Elvis Sings Songs of Christmas and Brenda Lee, Merry Christmas, both from Wade Hall’s Eight Track Collection (PM.001)

Then it was out with the eight track tapes and in with the cassette tapes through the 1980s and early 1990s. But, by the mid-1990s, CDs began to end the reign of cassette tapes. Many old recordings were digitally re-mastered and released with the crystal clear sound of compact disc technology. For the traditionalists, we’ve got What a Wonderful Christmas by Louis Armstrong & Friends or Silver Bells of Christmas with Bing Crosby & Rosemary Clooney.

louie and bing

Louis Armstrong and Friends, What a wonderful Christmas, Wade Hall Sound Recording Collection, CDWH 16 and Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney, Christmas Classics, Wade Hall Sound Recording Collection, CDWH 30

We even have the boy band craze of the late 1990s-early 2000s covered with N Sync’s Home for Christmas:

So, whatever your musical tastes or preferred format may be, Hoole Library has quite a selection to choose from. And wow – check out that those hairstyles through the years!

Happy Holidays from Hoole Library!

New hashtag initiative on Facebook and Twitter

By: Amy Chen, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow

If you follow Cool@Hoole’s Facebook and Twitter feeds, you may have noticed a new flurry of activity. Ashley Bond, a graduate student from the School of Library and Information Studies currently working in outreach within the Division of Special Collections, designed a hashtag (#) initiative to help spread awareness about our collections to a wider audience both within and outside the University of Alabama.

Side note: Not sure what a hashtag is or what it does? Learn more by watching this video by Boot Camp Digital. 

Each day during the workweek, an item from the Division of Special Collections will be paired with a common hashtag. For example, a photograph of a historic football game program might be paired with #footballfriday to raise awareness about the presence of the University Archives within Hoole Library.


Check out @coolathoole on Twitter

Hashtags like this are a fun way to remember UA’s history. After all, winning football championships are just another one of our traditions here at the Capstone!

Please feel free to suggest hashtags you’d like us to use in the the future by replying here or talking to us over on Facebook or Twitter. If you haven’t yet, make sure to subscribe to our Twitter and Facebook feeds to catch all the fun.

Pedagogy Series 4.5: Photographs from the Reception

By: Amy Chen, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow

This is the final post of a five-part series on Dr. Cardon’s English 103 classes and their project using Special Collections materials to create a physical display for exhibition in the W.S. Hoole Library Lobby. Read the first and second posts which provide an overview of the class and project and then look over student Annemarie Lisko’s piece and her interview if you haven’t yet had a chance! 

The following are a few photographs from the reception last Thursday, December 4, 2014 in honor of the opening of Artifacts of Ancestry. We had around fifty attendees, including students from all three of Dr. Cardon’s sections of English 103, parents and family members of the curators, and a large portion of the local Tuscaloosa Genealogical Society. Thanks everyone for coming out and thanks to Muzel Chen from the Alabama Digital Humanities Center for taking photographs of the event.


From Left to Right: Christian Perkins, Chandler Flurry, Dr. Lauren Cardon, Emme Brown, Josie Herumin, Emily Sutton


From Left to Right: Dr. Lauren Cardon; Chuck Gerdau, President of the Genealogical Society; Dr. Joan Parsons, Emeritus Instructor of Biology; and Dr. Amy Chen


A visitor inspects the displays


From Left to Right: Christian Perkins, Chandler Flurry, Dr. Emma Wilson from the Alabama Digital Humanities Center, Dr. Lauren Cardon from English, Emme Brown, Josie Herumin, Annemarie Lisko, Emily Sutton, and Dr. Amy Chen from Special Collections


Pedagogy Series 4.4: Interview with Annemarie Lisko

By: Annemarie Lisko, UA undergraduate

This is the fourth post of a five-part series on Dr. Cardon’s English 103 classes and their project using Special Collections materials to create a physical display for exhibition in the W.S. Hoole Library Lobby. Read the first and second posts which provide an overview of the class and project. Yesterday, we published Lisko’s piece for the show. On Monday, we’ll cover the exhibition reception.

9-14 Walgreens Pics 096-1

Annemarie Lisko

Congratulations on having your work chosen to be featured on Cool@Hoole! To start with, can you summarize why you decided to focus on the particular part of your family that you featured in your display?

I had heard my grandmother refer to the history of her side of the family a couple of times in the past, and I knew that she had done research on that topic. So when Dr. Cardon first introduced the assignment, I called my grandma right away, because I thought that maybe she could give me some advice about a starting point for the project.

She started telling me this fascinating story about the Georgia Salzburgers—Lutheran Protestants from Salzburg and the surrounding lands—who fled their country in the 1700s because of religious persecution and then settled in Georgia, founding a town called Ebenezer…Her ancestors were among those people.

I was intrigued because I had never heard of the Georgia Salzburgers before. Furthermore, the idea that some of my ancestors have been here, in the South, for more than two hundred years, grabbed my attention. I was curious to find out the precise details of why and how they ended up here. So I chose to do my exhibit on the Gnann family (George and Anna, and their sons Andrew, Michael, and Jacob), who came from Langenau, Germany to Ebenezer, Georgia in 1751, as part of the Georgia Salzburger movement.


The Salzburgers and their Descendants, Rare F295.S1 S9

Did you consider other topics for your display? Or was this the part of your family’s history you immediately felt would work the best?

Really, once I had learned just a little bit about the Gnanns, I was convinced that they were going to be my topic. I find their story—and that of the Georgia Salzburgers in general—to be extremely interesting and moving.

Had you heard of or visited a special collections repository before you came to the W.S. Hoole Library?

Actually, I had never heard of or visited a special collections library before I came to Hoole. However, since being introduced to the Hoole library in October, I have been back about five times.

What was your first impression of Hoole?

I loved it! I really love all things history-related, and so Hoole is like a dream for me. Just being in the presence of so many historical documents and objects is absolutely fantastic!

How did you conduct your research for this paper?

I started with the information my grandma gave me during our phone conversation—the names of multiple Gnann family members (along with some dates of birth), the name of the town in Germany where they lived before coming to America, and a small bit of background on the Georgia Salzburger movement in general.

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Pedagogy Series 4.3: Citizens of the South

By: Annemarie Lisko, UA undergraduate

This is the third post of a five-part series on Dr. Cardon’s English 103 classes and their project using Special Collections materials to create a physical display for exhibition in the W.S. Hoole Library Lobby. Read the first and second posts which provide an overview of the class and project. Come back tomorrow for our interview with Lisko. We’ll also cover the exhibition reception next Monday.

The events that brought my ancestors to America began in Salzburg (part of modern-day Austria) in 1731. In that year, the archbishop of Salzburg passed the Edict of Expulsion against Protestants. To escape persecution, the Salzburger Protestants were forced to flee the country. Sympathetic English supervisors of the colony of Georgia offered land to the Salzburger refugees, and the first group crossed the Atlantic in 1734. They settled in Effingham County, Georgia, founding the town of Ebenezer. Though my ancestor George Gnann did not live in Salzburg itself (he was a potter from the small town of Langenau, Germany), he and his family were among the many Protestants from the lands surrounding Salzburg who set out for Georgia in the years following the Edict of Expulsion. The Gnanns—George and his wife Anna; their three sons Andrew, Michael, and Jacob; and George’s brother, also named Jacob—sailed, via England, on board the ship Antelope, arriving on October 23, 1751 and taking up residence in Ebenezer.


Biblia Rare Books Oversize BS460.G3 B5 1700z

In Ebenezer—which was named for a Biblical word meaning “Thus far the Lord has helped us”—the Gnanns found a vibrant religious community. Under the Edict of Expulsion, even the ownership of a Lutheran Bible such as this one (published in Germany in 1700, now kept in the University of Alabama’s Hoole Special Collections Library) had become a crime that would have resulted in the punishment of the owner and the burning of the book. But in Georgia, the Salzburgers and their countrymen were free to practice their religion in peace and safety. Pictured at the left is the Jerusalem Evangelical Lutheran Church, built by the townspeople of Ebenezer in 1769 and still standing today.

The Gnanns were active members of this church, as evidenced by a document preserved in Rev. Philip A. Strobel’s 1855 history text, The Salzburgers and Their Descendants. A transcription of the congregation members’ signatures (as of January 1775), found on pages 180 and 181 of this book, includes the names of George, Andreas [Andrew], and Jacob Gnann. Their names are also recorded elsewhere in the same book, on a list of Ebenezer citizens who opposed the American Revolution. Interestingly, though, Jacob and Andrew Gnann later actually did serve in the war, fighting to defend their new county—their names are now inscribed on the Wall of Veterans in the Veterans Park of Effingham County.

Many descendants of George Gnann and his family have continued to reside in Georgia and throughout the rest of the South ever since arriving there in 1751. In 1932, my grandmother, Virginia Davey Gnann (a 7th-generation descendant of George Gnann), was born in Jacksonville, Florida, and my mother and her siblings were raised there as well. My family moved away from Florida when I was seven, but I nevertheless have always considered myself to be a Southerner too.

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