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.
Earlier in 2014, Ms. Holley met Walter E. Dockery, of the Tuscaloosa chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Dockery contacted Holley to ask for permission to put a plaque on General Johnston’s grave in order to commemorate his service. Eventually, the Sons of Confederate Veterans intended to place a plaque at the grave sites of each of the five Confederate generals who were buried in Tuscaloosa.
This request, which Ms. Holley approved, led to a discussion between Holley and her cousin, Elizabeth Lipscomb, who told her that she had General Johnston’s manuscripts in a box in her closet. Ms. Lipscomb had owned them for the past twenty years since their uncle, G. Burke Johnston, died.
G. Burke Johnston had been a Dean at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. He also had owned the papers relating to UA’s own Julia Tutwiler. Those interested in Julia Tutwiler, the namesake of Tutwiler Hall, can read more about her life and legacy in Anne Pannell and Dorothea E. Wyatt’s Julia S. Tutwiler and Social Progress In Alabama (2004).
Ms. Lipscomb decided to send General Johnston’s papers to Ms. Holley. Holley then secured the permission of her family to donate them the University of Alabama, where she felt they could be appreciated by students and scholars. Ms. Holley noted that Johnston would have wanted the papers to reside at UA because he was the commandant of the cadets here.
Associate Dean Mary Bess Paluzzi was thrilled to accept these papers on behalf of the University of Alabama due to their immense historical and research value. It just goes to show that the shoe box in your family’s closet might have materials in it that could be of interest and value to our institution!