Cool as a Plate Glass Negative: Selections from the Eugene Allen Smith Collection

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The Eugene Allen Smith Collection spans more than four decades from the late nineteenth century to early twentieth century. The collection depicts Smith’s field work and travels. E.A. Smith was a professor of Chemistry and Mineralogy at The University of Alabama from 1871-1913, and served as Alabama State Geologist from 1873-1913. We have 209 images from from his collection of plate glass negatives accessible through the UA Libraries Digital Collections.
The photographs featured here illustrate the broad spectrum of subjects — from industry, to natural history, to The University of Alabama’s history, to travel photographs.

A native of Autauga County, Alabama and was born in 1841. Smith entered The University of Alabama at the age of nineteen and graduated with an A.B. degree in 1862. In his long and successful career as Alabama State Geologist he was instrumental in documenting, mapping, discovering and publicizing the abundant resources in the State.

Smith was responsible for creating the first comprehensive Alabama geological survey as well as documenting these findings to fellow scientists and to the press, bringing to public view each new discovery of coal, iron, or other minerals. It was Dr. Smith who also first realized the historical value of Moundville and its artifacts, and actively focused public interest on this important archaeological site. His impact as an advocate for the state of Alabama is still felt to this day. The extensive Mineralogy collection stated by Smith in the 1870s is housed at the Alabama Museum of Natural History, located in E.A. Smith Hall also on the UA campus.

View of unidentified temple in China, undated

The purpose of the UA Libraries Digital Program at the University Libraries is to develop accessible digital collections of materials that support the teaching and research of UA faculty and students, and that, in turn, further the mission of The University of Alabama.

The Digital Program coordinates major digitization projects, actively develops policy and procedure relating to digital project and program development, and is active in soliciting digital project proposals and ideas for proposals, regardless of size, format, or technological medium. The program works with idea submitters to develop ideas into potentially viable projects, evaluating each individual digital project proposal. The Digital Program’s role is to assess and seek out potential digital projects, and in turn make recommendations about implementation and development of these potential projects to the Dean of University Libraries.

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