These five images are from the Roland Harper Photographs Collection — photographs by Roland Harper of aftermath of the deadly tornado outbreak in the deep south on March 21 and 22, 1932. The destruction and loss of life was staggering, with the state of Alabama being the hardest hit.
The Roland Harper Photographs collection, 1878-1966 contains over 7500 photographs, as well as negatives and albums. Subject include botanical and geological subjects, as well as images of farms, people, houses and everyday scenes. The photographs cover thirty-one states, the bulk of the collection are from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, New York, California, Arkansas, and Maryland. These images are a powerful and essential resource in understanding the natural history of this region, providing accurate, precise, and well-documented snapshots of a time and place.
The papers of Roland Harper are also housed in the Hoole Library. Sixty three linear feet of materials from Harper, include his diaries, correspondence, research notes, writings, publications, personal and family materials, cemetery records, scrapbooks, as well as photographs, materials relating to race relations, and a substantial collection of transportation timetables and clippings. Some of the photographs and other materials from the collections are available online through ourDigital Collections.
These images can in no way allow us to understand the tragedy of those 1932 tornadoes, where 268 people in Alabama alone lost their lives.
The devastation from the April 27, 2011 tornado outbreak in Alabama is beyond comprehension. The University of Alabama, while in the center of the city of Tuscaloosa, was physically untouched. There are areas all around the campus that are damaged and destroyed. And we have lost members of our UA community to these storms.
These images from the 1932 tornadoes are a testament to the resilience of Alabamians — we will be back, with the help of countless supporters from all over the world, and we will be stronger and better than ever. Please continue to help in any way that you can.