Spring has sprung in our collections

By: Amy Hildreth Chen, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow

Spring’s sprung all across our collections! Let’s investigate what’s sprouted.

Among our literary collections are Martha Young’s papers. Martha Young wrote the poem “The Keys of Spring,” although you can see that was not her original title.


Our sheet music contains the Spring Festival March and Two Step, put out by the Chattanooga Spring Festival Association in 1899.


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Interview with Martha Bace, curator of Passion for History

By: Martha Bace, Processing Archivist

MarthaBaceHello! Thank you for speaking with Cool@Hoole about the process of creating A North Alabama Clergyman’s Passion for History: Preserving Black History through Words and Images, currently mounted in the Pearce Foyer of the Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library.

First off, can you tell us a bit about your position in the Division of Special Collections? 

I am a Processing Archivist in the W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library.  In a nutshell, what that means is that I take collections we have been given and provide a concise description of the collection that includes enough detail to enable patrons and scholars determine what materials we have that are applicable to their area of interest or research.

Prior to Special Collections, what other parts of the library have you worked in? 

I came to UA in April 2002 as a monographs cataloger and moved over to Hoole in October 2007 after four years as department head.  Prior to coming to UA, I was a librarian at Southern Arkansas University’s Magale Library for seventeen  years where I worked in just about every department except Government Documents and Archives; and for six years before that I was a cataloging/reference librarian at the University of Montevallo.  So I’ve been in the library “business” for almost 35 years.  Besides my MLS, I have a history degree which can come in handy in Special Collections.


From the exhibition

What steps did you go through to create your exhibition?

Of course, a lot of it depends on whether the exhibit is highlighting a specific collection (such as the current exhibit) or an event (such as the WWI exhibition last summer).  Generally for me, I first try to identify an overall theme for the exhibit.  After that it works best for me to know what kind of space will be available for the exhibit.  Then I look at the materials available and make a rough plan of divisions and groupings based on the number of display spaces.  Next I try to find particular items in the collection(s) that are representative of the idea being displayed in each space.  Once these things have been identified, I usually go through the collection more deliberately to find the best items – whether that is a photograph, a letter, a ledger, or whatever – for display.  Sometimes the direction of a display case changes midway through the development of the exhibit because either there isn’t enough material to support the theme or if something more “significant” turns up that needs to be included.


From the exhibition


As materials are decided on for each display case, captions, photographs, letters, and other 2-D materials are scanned or copied to make surrogates (most papers items used in displays outside of Hoole are surrogates for security and preservation reasons).  Once the surrogates are made, I usually “mock-up” each case to see how it all works together and to see what else is needed.  Occasionally I’ll take snapshots of each “mock” case to use as a reference on installation day.  Then it’s just a matter of boxing up all the materials and supplies, taking it to the exhibit space, and setting it up, tweaking it as necessary.

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Interview with Katie Howard, Part II

By: Katie Howard, Director of the Paul R. Jones Gallery and The University Gallery, graduate of the University of Alabama’s School of Library and Information Studies program

This post concludes our interview with W.S. Hoole Library volunteer Katie Howard. Be sure to read the first portion of our interview with her from Monday if you haven’t already! 

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 3.41.47 PMWhat role do you have at the W.S. Hoole Library now?

I am currently volunteering and assisting Kevin Ray with outside reference requests. I began volunteering last summer and after a brief hiatus over the fall semester, I was able to return in January. I am so happy to be back! Kevin and I assist patrons who have sent in reference requests over email or phone, and sometimes snail mail. These requests can be anything from research to genealogical and are always fascinating. I love the thrill of the search and the satisfaction I get from being able to find exactly what a patron needs.

We know we’re not your main job; what else do you do?

I am currently the Director for the Paul R. Jones Gallery and The University Gallery, both of which are part of the College of Arts and Science here at UA.

The Paul R. Jones Gallery hosts year-round exhibitions from the Paul R. Jones Collection of American Art, which was donated by Paul R. Jones to the College of Arts and Sciences in 2008. It contains over 2000 works, most of which were done by African American artists and is one of the largest collections of its kind in the world.


I work with our collections manager and education outreach coordinator to curate thematic exhibitions and help to develop programing around those exhibitions. I also work with guest curators, faculty campus and students to plan exhibitions, lectures and programs all revolving around the Paul R. Jones Collection of American Art and the gallery space. Follow us on Facebook!

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Interview with volunteer Katie Howard, Part I

By: Katie Howard, Director of the Paul R. Jones Gallery and The University Gallery, graduate of the University of Alabama’s School of Library and Information Studies program

IMG_3982Hi, Katie! Thank you for taking the time to talk to us today. Can you tell us a little about your history at the W.S. Hoole Library?

I grew up in libraries. More specifically, elementary and academic libraries.

My mother, Penny McAllister, was an elementary school librarian for 30 years. My grandmother, Joyce Lamont, had a 40-year career at the University of Alabama as an archivist and preservationist and eventually ended up as the Associate Dean of Special Collections. While my mother passed on to me her love of reading, my grandmother is the one who instilled in me the importance of preserving history for future generations.

I have been in and out of the halls and stacks of Hoole (Gorgas and current location) for the past 20 years. It wasn’t until 2003, when I began working as a student assistant under Jessica Lacher-Feldman that I actually began to understand and appreciate special collections for the sheer volume of rare materials it holds and the endless opportunities there were to share this information. For the longest time (and I hate to admit this) but I always thought special collections were only filled with dusty old books. It wasn’t until I came to Hoole as a student and employee that my eyes were opened to the treasure trove of cultural history that Hoole holds in the form of manuscripts, ledgers, maps, photographs and yes, even the dusty old books.

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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!

2015-12-18 2015-01-21 2015-01-23 2015-02-08

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!

Hoole-Twitter Hoole-Facebook


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.