Dr. Wade Henry Hall, Jr. (1934-2015)

We’re sad to report the passing of our friend, Wade Hall, on Saturday.

Having grown up with so little, Wade made it his mission to give as much as possible to others. Though he was born and raised in Bullock County, Alabama, and would eventually return there, he also lived for over four decades in Kentucky, while he taught at Bellarmine University. He was a prolific scholar and writer, producing creative works as well as teasing out the rich history of Southern literature and culture, particularly from his home and adopted states. Of course, we know him best as a collector, one whose instinct for finding the value in the ordinary as well as in the extraordinary was unparalleled.

Not only was he a collector, but he was also a generous donor. We’ll have a tribute post here in the days to come, with a more complete account of his impact on UA Libraries Special Collections. For now, you can get a small sense of his legacy by looking at the dozens of blog posts that reference his collections. Sometimes, they stand out and draw the focus, but just as often these materials are simply part of the tapestry of our archive — an integral part, the warp that makes the weaving possible.

Indian Comic Books

Comic books have become a popular form of entertainment in India. While at first they had to content themselves with our western characters and publishers, more and more India has produced its own heroes and superheroes, such as Super Commando Dhruva, Parmanu, and Shaktimaan.

It has also seen the rise of comics featuring legendary Indian figures and stories. The Alan R. Maxwell Asian Book Fund, endowed by a former anthropology professor, has provided the resources for Hoole Library to acquire over 300 of these comics, most published by Amar Chitra Katha.

Many states or regions of India are represented, including Assam, Arunchal Pradesh, Bengal, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Tripura.

Here’s an overview of what you’ll find.


Cover of four Indian comic books: Banda Bahadur, The Adventures of Agad Datta, The Churning of the Ocean, and The Cowherd of Alawi

(left to right) Stories of Sikhism, Jainism, Hinduism, and Buddhism

Hindu and Buddhist figures predominate, although there are a few stories of Jain or Sikh origin. (Islam, a significant religious minority in India, is not represented because of its discomfort with or outright prohibition of the depiction of humans in art.)

Most Buddhist stories are Jataka tales, fables featuring the Buddha in animal (or sometimes human) form. Many of Hindu stories are about Krishna or other incarnations of Vishnu.


Covers from Indian comic books: The Golden Sand, Gopal and the Cowherd, The Secret of the Talking Bird

(left to right) Folktales of Nepal, Bengal, Karnataka

Folk tales from various regions and ethnic groups of India are represented, as well as stories from neighboring countries.

Two common types are animal fables and Birbal tales.

Indian comic book covers: The Tiger and the Woodpecker, Birbal the Clever

Animal fables and Birbal tales

Animal fables are often drawn from the Panchatantra, a collection of tales designed to communicate wisdom and lessons to three young princes.

Birbal was a historical figure, an advisor to 16th century Mogul emperor Akbar. He’s passed into oral folklore as a man who is constantly tested by his enemies or his emperor, but manages to use his wit and cleverness to prevail.


Much of the collection features adaptations from other sources. Most come from literature, from ancient epics like the Mahabharata and Ramayana to collections of tales like the Bhavishya and Bhagavata Puranas. Others come from scripture and philosophy like the Upanishads and Vedas.

Covers of Indian comic books: The Gita, Vikramaditya, Prince Jivaka, Raj Singh

(left to right) Adaptations of Bhagavad Gita, Bhavishya Purana, a Tamil epic, and a historical romance


Many historical figures have their stories told in these comics. They are often rulers or spiritual leaders, people whose lives are to be emulated or who had a great influence on Indian history.

Covers of Indian comic books: Soordas, Sambhaji, Adi Shankara

(left to right) A 15th c. poet and Hindu saint, a 17th c. ruler, an 8th c. Hindu philosopher

To find these comics in our catalog, select the Advanced Search tab. Enter Maxwell Asian and select all of these from the dropdown beside it. Below the search boxes, from the Location dropdown select Hoole Library.

The Year of Utopia

The College of Arts & Sciences is today kicking off a year-long event, the Year of Utopia. We wanted to get in on the action and showcase some volumes in Special Collections that help trace the literary history of the concept.

Let’s start with the work that coined the term, Thomas More’s Utopia (1516), translated from Latin into English in 1551. Utopia translates to “no place” (source), but it also carries a connotation of sound-alike eutopia, or, “good place.”

Utopia, Thomas More, title page

Rare Books Collection HX811 1516 E751

This volume is from exactly 200 years later. Much had changed in the country’s government and society — notably, the English Civil War had happened, the Commonwealth experiment come and gone — but the yearning for a better society was a constant.

In the wake of the Civil War, another meditation on the perfect society was published, James Harrington’s The Commonwealth of Oceana (1656).

Oceana, James Harrington, title page and facing page, with portrait of the author

Rare Books Collection HX811 1656 .B37

This volume is from 1737.

Though similar works to these were published over the course of the 18th and 19th centuries, the 1880s-1890s saw a boom in utopias and counter-utopias, perhaps reflecting the major upheavals in western society that came with industrialization.

In A Crystal Age (1887), by W. H. Hudson, a narrator falls and hits his head, awakening to a new world of vegetarians who have mostly suppressed their human bodily urges.

A Crystal Age, W. H. Hudson, front cover

Armed Services Collection AC1 .A7 G-196

This volume is a 1944 Armed Services edition, intended to be read by a serviceman or -woman.

A Crystal Age, W. H. Hudson, Armed Services Edition, back cover

I’d imagine WWII was the perfect time to dream of a utopia.

Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward (1888) started a long literary conversation on the concept of the perfect socialist society.

Looking Backward, Edward Bellamy, title page

Rare Books Collection HX811 1887 .B213

In his novel, the protagonist falls asleep in the late 19th c. Boston and awakens 113 years later to find himself in a heavily industrial society.

The next year, William Morris, a socialist himself, published News from Nowhere, depicting a different sort of utopia, one more based on nature than machines.

News from Nowhere, WIlliam Morris, beginning of chapter one

Rare Books Collection HX811 1891 .M773

We usually refer to this model as a Pastoral Utopia.

Morris’s response was just one of many. Another was Looking Further Forward, by R. C. Michaelis, which sees Bellamy’s utopia end in violent revolution. In 1891, in response Michaelis’s work, Ludwig Geissler published Looking Beyond.

Looking Beyond, Ludwig Geissler, front cover

Rare Books Collection HX811 1891 .G4x

This work took up where Bellamy left off by retconning the plot of Michaelis’s sequel, treating it as a bad dream or hallucination of the original protagonist.

Looking Beyond, Ludwig Geissler, last page of preface

For a full account of the responses and counter-responses, see this article on Wikipedia.

In 1894, William Dean Howells returned the genre to its satirical roots in A Traveler from Altruria. Like More, Howells derives his fictional society’s name from a particular term, altruism, which means “unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others” (source).

A Traveler from Altruria, William Dean Howells, front cover

Crowley Collection PS2025 .T7 1894

In this novel, modern Americans interact with Mr. Homos, from the utopian society of Altruria, and find their society wanting. The work was a comment on Gilded Age capitalism.

Utopian fiction has a long history. The University Libraries hold many of these works, as well as secondary sources that discuss them. In Scout, search by the subject utopias to find both.

Recent Acquisitions, Spring-Summer 2015

What’s been going on since Amy Chen said goodbye? For one, you have two new blog managers: Chris Sawula and Kate Matheny.

Chris is Director of Research & Academic Programs for the A. S. Williams III Americana Collection. Among other things, he’s in charge of outreach and instruction for the Williams Collection, located at Gorgas Library on the 3rd floor. Kate is Reference Services & Outreach Coordinator for Special Collections. She’s holding down Amy’s old fort at Hoole Library.

While both of us are new to our positions, we’re not new to UA Libraries or to the collections we’re working with. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions about these collections or to schedule instruction sessions.

Thing number two: We have some really cool recent acquisitions we’d like to share! All of these are housed at Hoole. Stay tuned for similar updates from the Williams Collection.

Thelma O’Brien photographs and letter (MSS.4144)

The collection contains photographs, snapshots, and one letter from the estate of Thelma O’Brien of Boston, Massachusetts.  Many of the photographs and snapshots are identified and include her family members.  One of the snapshots is of Ms. O’Brien with two other women, one of whom she identifies as her lip reading teacher.  The letter is from the assistant principal at the Horace Mann School for the Deaf recomending that Ms. O’Brien think about applying for a position at the John Tracy Clinic in Los Angeles, California.
Online finding aid

Thomas Harvey (T. H.) Houston papers (MSS.4145)

Collection of photographs and papers of this Alabama Methodist clergyman. Thomas Harvey Houston (1895-1967) served as pastor of serval churches across Alabama, including: Saint Paul Church in Montgomery; Sweet Home in Gadsden; Brownsville in Birmingham; and Lakeside in Huntsville.
Online finding aid

Different bands of Comanches and their probable location and population: manuscript (MSS.4147)

The collection contains the nine page manuscript by Lieutenant J. S. Stewart (CSA), describing the various bands of Comanches, indicating the tribe numbers and probable locations in Arkansas and Texas. The document most likely was written with a view to recruiting the Indians to the Confederate cause.
Online finding aid

Chauncey Leonard letter (MSS.4148)

The collection contains a letter from Chauncey Leonard, an African American U. S. Army chaplain during the Civil War, to the father of one of the soldiers at the hospital in Alexandria, Virginia.
Online finding aid

Five certificates attesting to the service of African American sailors during the Civil War (MSS.4149)

The collection contains affidavits which confirm the service of African American sailors during the Civil War.  In them, white citizens of Massachusetts in good standing, swore under oath that the black person named in the document served aboard the U.S. ship listed in the capacity stated.
Online finding aid

Robert Court Fletcher World War I correspondence and dog tags (MSS.4151)

The collection contains sixteen postcards and letters from Robert C. Fletcher of Birmingham, Alabama, to his sister Fay. Fletcher’s dog tags are also included.
Online finding aid

Melton’s Bluff receipts (MSS.4150)

The collection contains six receipts concerning Andrew Jackson’s farm, Melton’s Bluff, on the Tennessee River in Alabama.
Online finding aid 

Page Windham constable appointment document (MSS.4152)

The collection contains an 1818 document signed by Alabama territorial governor William W. Bibb appointing Page Windham a constable for Monroe County.
Online finding aid

Goodbye from Amy Chen, second editor of Cool@Hoole

By: Amy Chen, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow

Dear Readers,

IMG_2606As it is the end of my postdoctoral fellowship, I’ve accepted an offer to become a Special Collections Librarian in charge of the instruction program at the University of Iowa, my alma mater, beginning in June 2015. I’ve very much appreciated my time at the University of Alabama Division of Special Collections. I could not be more thankful for my time with my colleagues in the W.S. Hoole Library and the A.S. Williams III Americana Collection, the faculty and students I’ve worked with during my time at UA, and the community members I’ve met while living in Tuscaloosa.

Cool@Hoole was a tradition at the Capstone before I came to UA. The first iteration of Cool@Hoole came under the editorship of its founder, Jessica Lacher-Feldman, currently the head of the Department of Special Collections at Louisiana State University. Lacher-Feldman ran the blog between October 2007 and March 2013.

Serving as the second editor of Cool@Hoole has been an honor. During the time I’ve run Cool@Hoole, between October 2013 and May 2014, the blog posted 140 entries by 49 contributors, including 11 undergraduate and 11 graduate students, 15 librarians, 6 faculty members, and 6 community members from both within and outside of the Tuscaloosa area. Ellie Campbell and Ashley Bond, my graduate assistants from the School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS), assisted with this output.

Among the topics Cool@Hoole discussed was the pedagogy inspired by the Division’s holdings. During the past two years, we’ve chatted with professors Jessica Kidd, Lauren Cardon, Stacy Morgan, and Brooke ChampagneRachel Deale, Melissa Young, and Lindsay Smith, three doctoral students from the history department, shared what it was like to be the first graduate student curators on the Division of Special Collection’s newly-launched public history initiative that provides curation experiences for burgeoning subject specialists.

As exhibitions are a venue to promote UA’s unique and rare materials, Cool@Hoole also covered the shows mounted during this period. Topics for our exhibitions included of strengths in Southern photography, World War I, and Confederate print culture and sheet music.

While exhibitions cover significant subject areas found in our Special Collections, Cool@Hoole also provided overviews of particularly significant items and collections. We posted descriptions of Enoch Arden‘s fore-edge painting, a map of Tuscaloosa when the city was still called Newtown, and even what we found in between the pages of the South’s first anthology dedicated to women’s writing and our early modern manuscript! Plus, we gave an inside scoop to the items our staff members count among their favorites.

But what makes special collections great is not just our materials; our Division is made up of the people who bring their expertise to Williams and Hoole every day to help students and researchers. We’ve interviewed six SLIS graduate students who worked at either Williams or Hoole — Alex Goolsby, Ashley Bond, Ellie Campbell, Haley AaronKatie Howard, Mary Haney — and provided features by many of the permanent staff who work in the Division, including Associate Dean Mary Bess Paluzzi, rare book cataloger Allyson Holliday, archivist Martha Bace, archivist April Burnett, postdoctoral fellows Chris Sawula and Christa Vogelius, archival coordinator Donnelly Walton, institutional records analyst and reference librarian Kevin Ray, Williams curator Nancy DuPree, archival technician Patrick Adcock, and former institutional records analyst Tom Land. We also remembered Joyce Lamont, our founding mother. Together, we have you covered, whether you want to book a class, trace your ancestrycreate a digital humanities project, or learn how to curate an exhibition.

I leave my best wishes to my successor, who will continue the tradition set by Jessica Lacher-Feldman. Please keep reading to learn more about the courses, exhibitions, holdings, and people of the University of Alabama’s Division of Special Collections. I know I’ll be sure to keep visiting too to hear what’s coming up next!


Amy Hildreth Chen

Interview with Ashley Bond, Division of Special Collections graduate assistant

By: Ashley Bond, SLIS graduate student

Editor’s Note: This post is part of an ongoing series profiling the graduate students who work in the Division of Special Collections. Haley AaronAlex Goolsby, Ellie Campbell, Mary Haney, and Katie Howard have also been featured.

Hoole Interview picHi, Ashley! Thank you for taking the time to talk to us today. First, can you tell us a bit about what made you decide to pursue a career in libraries?

I did my undergraduate studies at the University of Georgia in studio art with a concentration in painting and had intended to get my Master of Fine Arts when I originally started looking at Alabama.

I’ve always enjoyed trips to the library growing up, and I more or less rediscovered that after college. Once I graduated, reading became less about academics and more about fun again. I began visiting the library more frequently, found myself browsing library jobs online that interested me, and over time it became pretty clear that’s where I wanted to be. The great thing is, I can always incorporate my art background into what I do, whether that means a career in art libraries, helping with special collections exhibitions, or planning activities in a children’s department. And of course I still draw and paint in my free time when I can!

As far as choosing the University of Alabama, my mother has been a fan of the school her entire life and also now works for the university. I can credit her since she took me to a football game while I was still an undergrad. It only took that one campus visit for me to know this was absolutely where I wanted to spend my graduate career.

gordon johnson cereal

Cereal and sugar-coated (i)deology (Book Arts N7433.4.S42 C47 1995)

What responsibilities do you have at Hoole?

Initially, most of my time at Hoole was spent researching individual pieces in the collection and writing blog posts to highlight them. Around the second half of fall semester, I began working on an analytics project for the library’s social media accounts, primarily Facebook and Twitter. We really looked at what special collections libraries at other schools around the country were doing on social media and then diagnosed how we could improve our own outreach. This evaluation was how the Hashtag Project, which started around December of last year, was born. We wanted to sprinkle in fun and academic posts on a daily basis to supplement what we’re already posting and use hashtags in each tweet and status to reach a wider audience. I think it was a good start to really getting our posts out there so people can see our collection, and I’m excited to see how Hoole’s social media presence continues to grow in the future. So far, the first three months of the hashtag project have gone wonderfully.

Another duty I actually really enjoyed was helping mount items for display in curated shows throughout both semesters. The biggest project I helped with involved the two Confederate imprint exhibitions that just went on display this month in Gorgas and Hoole, Making Confederates: Building Nationalism through Print and When this Cruel War is Over: Sheet Music of the Confederacy respectively. Because of the nature of the items and how fragile they are, we needed to make duplicates of every item shown for part of the display time. Amy did all of the scanning, then I went into Photoshop for most of the images to adjust the color balance and keep the print color as true to the original imprints as possible. From there, I used photo-quality adhesive, mounted the printed images to foam board, and cropped the pieces accordingly. I thought the irregular edges of some of the imprints would pose a problem in the mat cutting, but it ended up being kind of fun getting out the X-Acto knife and carving out the details in the edges. It felt a lot like being back in the art studio from undergrad, which I loved!

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Staff Favorites: Amy Chen

By: Amy Chen, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow

Cool@Hoole thought it’d be fun to feature our staff’s favorites from among our collections. After all, closed stacks collections mean that users rely on us to know our materials in and out so that we can share the best resources for their classes or research. Along the way, we’ve not only become experts on our holdings, but also found items that we are particularly drawn to ourselves.

So, just as bookstores have “staff favorites” or “staff recommendation” shelves, we’ll have occasional blog posts showing our best picks from Hoole. Read about April Burnett Ashley Bond, Allyson Holliday, and Kevin Ray‘s favorites in previous posts. 

CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow Amy Chen’s favorite item is Higinii, hystorigraphi et phylosophi argutissimi libri quattuor non solum poeticas & hystoricas verum et astronomicas (Rare Books QB41 .H9 1517). Amy found this book by accident when pulling resources for a student interested in the history of astronomy. While the student did not request this particular book, she couldn’t resist opening it up when she was looking due to the beauty of the binding. She is captivated by the book’s age and its gorgeous illustrations of constellations.

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Pedagogy Series 5.4: Mosquito

By: Colson Domergue, UA undergraduate

This poem is the final post belonging to our fifth pedagogy series. You can also read student Jasmine Flowers and student Tori Linville‘s pieces from earlier posts or see instructor Jessica Kidd‘s commentary on this creative writing class project.  


From Ellsworth Hult’s diary, MSS.3735


Our birth occurred in such a cold place,
In the stillness of the naval yards of Philadelphia.
Our mission was to head south – to the source of sustenance.
Winter turned into spring
And we grew steadily stronger –
Nurtured in the warmth of the Gulf of Mexico.
We then found the rest of our swarm.
“Onward” was our buzzing anthem.
We found our precious blood.
The Rebel flag over the fort drew our eyes,
Enticing us to come and take
Her sweet blood from her body.
We became famished over
The past four years. It became time
To dine.
The swarm was buzzing around.
It almost sounded as if
The iron and wood mosquitoes
Were all chanting the name:
“Fort Morgan.”
The scent of blood drew more
Of us to her brick skin.
Their attempts to swat us were
All in vain.
June turned into July,
July into August.
Our swarms’ buzzing
Became a famished symphony and
Grew louder than the cannons.
Their sweet nectar was ours.
The white flag appeared.
No more blood.
Our appetites had been fulfilled.
USS Galena slept well.

Pedagogy Series 5.3: The Confederacy’s First Lady

By: Tori Linville, UA undergraduate

This poem is part of our fifth pedagogy series. To see Jessica Kidd’s commentary on the class and project, please read the first post from the series or view classmate Jasmine Flowers’ poem.  

The Confederacy’s First Lady


Augusta Jane Evans Wilson quote book (MSS 1563)

I open the file to the information on who I’m to interview.

Augusta Evans Wilson. Author during the Civil War. Quinton is behind this assignment, I know it. He knows I hate the time period. Men bleeding for their warped beliefs. It’s insanity. The smell of gunpowder and sweat is overwhelming. I make a note to assign Quinton to the French Revolution for his next trip.

We discovered this plane of existence a few years after the The Wrinkler was patented after it started bringing the volunteers back in one piece. There were always suspicions about planes of existence parallel to ours, but The Wrinkler brought them to life. Literally.

The only objective is to interview passively, record, and return. Two weeks max to establish background information, locate the subject, and get out.

I am not to engage with the beings on this plane in any other active way. The mission is to pass unnoticed as a news reporter. It’s going to take at least three days to get the clothing right. Tailors in the 1800s are slower than snails.

The individuals within the plane I’m assigned to don’t know they’re not actually within our realm. As time passes, it ripples and some periods get stuck in a loop. Others change altogether. We don’t know why some planes are suspended in certain centuries, while others aren’t even inhabited by humans. We simply don’t have all the answers yet.

Which is where Quinton and I come in. We bring pieces of history back from our assigned planes through the interviews we conduct. The theorists take it from there.

If the mission is successful, I will have received a snapshot of the time period in a way that photographers never could.

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Pedagogy Series 5.2: Chahta-Ima (Like a Choctaw)

By: Jasmine Flowers, UA undergraduate

This poem is part of our fifth pedagogy series. To see Jessica Kidd’s commentary on the class and project, please read the first post from the series. 


 Chahta-Ima (Like a Choctaw)

“The whole of creation has a mystic sense, and breathes a divine language which is named poetry.”
– Adrien Rouquette

The Lord spoke out
“Let there be light.”
And it was so.

The smallest utterance
can bring about
a change
a truth
a life.

is poetry.
A child’s first step
is poetry.
A crow in a tree
is poetry.
A cough in the night
is poetry.
A cut that heals
is poetry.
A cry to the Lord
is poetry.

Why should I
not listen when
another man speaks?
Or when the river babbles?
Or when the wind whispers?

Who is to say what a word

Let the man speak out.
Let him speak and be heard,
so that he might stop and listen.
Let the earth praise
the Most High,
so that we might
learn from it.

I went to the forest
to speak His word
and to hear what
the Chahta
the Holy Spirit
had to say.

We are the Poet’s spoken word.
I will rejoice and be glad in it.




Adrien Rouquette. MSS.1212. W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library. Box 207.007. Folder Number 7.
Dagmar-Renshaw Lebreton. Chahta-Ima, the Life of Adrien-Emmanuel Rouquette. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1947.