A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock ‘n’ Roll

When you collect Americana, you can’t help but end up with music — and books on music. In the case of Wade Hall, who focused his collecting on the South, that means a lot of country and western, jazz, blues, and rock ‘n’ roll.

Covers of autobiographies Coal Miner's Daughter and Lady Sings the BluesYou’re just as likely to find Loretta Lynn as Billie Holiday, both of whom featured in popular biopics in the ’70s and ’80s.

  • Holiday, Billie, and William Duffy. Lady Sings the Blues. New York: Lancer, 1972. Call Number: Wade Hall ML420.H58 A3 1972ax
  • Lynn, Loretta, and George Vecsey. Coal Miner’s Daughter. New York: Warner, 1980. Call Number: Wade Hall ML420.L947 A3 1980x

Looking for companion pieces? Try Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday at Newport, from the Wade Hall Sound Recording collection, LP 9652; or Coal Miner’s Daughter, from the Wade Hall Sound Recording collection, LP 12626.

Cover of Movin' on UpMusical biographies and autobiographies abound, like these on Mahalia Jackson, one by Jackson herself and another by someone else, written after her death.

  • Jackson, Mahalia, and Evan McLeod Wylie. Movin’ on Up. New York: Avon, 1969. Call Number: Wade Hall ML420.J17 A3 1969x
  • Goreau, Laurraine. Just Mahalia, Baby. Waco, TX: Word Books, 1975. Call Number: Wade Hall ML420.J17 G67

For a bit of Jackson’s music, try Mahalia! Sings the Gospel Right out of the Church, from the Wade Hall Sound Recordings collection, LP 120.

Early Jazz Greats, though mixed in with the books, is actually a set of trading cards. Each features an artist’s rendering and a short biography. (Call Number: Wade Hall ML87 .E37 1982x)

Louis Armstrong is featured in New Orleans to New York, a jazz album from the Wade Hall Sound Recordings collection, LP 12471.

Feel Like Going Home provides portraits, literal and figurative, of blues and rock ‘n’ roll pioneers. (Call Number: Wade Hall ML385.G95 1981)

For a blues record, give The Bessie Smith Story a try (Wade Hall Sound Recordings, LP 11894.)

Do you need a guide to what was hot in country music, circa 1993? (Country: The Essential CD Guide, Call Number: Wade Hall ML102.C7 H38 1993)

The Wade Hall Sound Recordings collection has CD’s, too, including Garth Brooks’s Double Live (CD 98) and Reba McEntire’s Rumor Has It (CD 64).

How about a pictorial history of the Mother Church of Country Music, up through the early 1960s? (Official WSM Grand Ole Opry History-Picture Book, Call Number: Wade Hall ML385.O4x v.2 no.2 1961)

All joking aside, the dated nature of some of these items is exactly why they’re good to collect: they capture a period in time that is receding from us, showcasing important figures that otherwise might disappear from the historical record.

They’re also just interesting, period. Honky-Tonk Heroes (Call Number: Wade Hall ML87 .R8 1975) presents portraits of major country stars in the 1970s. For example, it captures this moment with married superstars Tammy Wynette and George Jones — who were likely divorced by the time the book was published.

Image of Tammy Wynette and George Jones with small girl, 1975

The book covers a range of “honky tonk” stars, from Outlaws like Waylon Jennings to oddball Buck Owens, pioneer of the Bakersfield sound, to the inimitable Dolly Parton.

The book was named for an album by Loretta Lynn and frequent duet partner Conway Twitty. You can find their Honky Tonk Heroes in the Wade Hall Sound Recordings collection, LP 9647. If you prefer, look up George and Tammy’s duet album We Go Together, LP 12927.


Fleeting Sounds

Usually when we think of ephemera — items that were originally meant to be discarded after use but have since become collectibles [source] — we think of documents. Paper is the medium of choice for these transitory items, from ticket stubs and playbills to flyers and menus to… phonograph records?

Recently, our audio guru Corinne digitized three “cardboard” records. These are playable but not particularly long lasting records made of paste paper coated in a thin layer or vinyl or acetate. Such records often served as promotional items or, in the case of the Recordio specimens in our collection, audio recordings created by the average person in a public booth.

These particular records captured the voices of two African-American children as they were shopping in 1946. Click on the record sleeves below to go to the items in Acumen.

Rozmon Kennon (10 years old)
recording of the voice of Rozmon Kennon, 1946, Birmingham, Alabama

Dannetta Kennon (8 years old)
recording of the voice of Dannetta Kennon, 1946, Birmingham, Alabama

Not only were these fascinating to listen to, but digitizing them was vital — we needed to more permanently capture these voices before the fragile medium they were recorded on broke down. There was no special equipment required, just an abundance of caution!

For more on various odd record types, including the Recordio, check out this website devoted to the subject: The Internet Museum of Flexi/Cardboard/Oddity Records.

The Bad, Bad Girls of Pulp Art

Not a lot of rare book collections boast as many paperbacks as we have. That’s mostly for good reasons — they’re not collectible editions, and they’re much more fragile than hardback volumes. But those collections don’t know what they’re missing. Paperback books can also tell the story of the culture that produced them, and it’s often a different story than their more built-to-last brethren.

Today, we’re going to take a look at the sexed-up art that began to invade paperbacks in the 1930s. Taking their cues from the covers of pulp magazines — those cheap vehicles of sensational mystery, horror, and sci-fi stories — they used dramatic descriptions and attention-grabbing images, often of scantily clad women, to sell novels in a variety of genres. These examples range from 1947 to 1961, the height of the pulp epidemic.

Click on any image below to see a larger version.

Mystery and Detective Fiction

Since a lot of mystery and hard-boiled detective fiction writers wrote for pulp magazines, and some of their novels actually began their lives as short stories in those publications, dangerous women make a really reasonable choice for cover art.

Chandler, Raymond. Pick-up on Noon Street. New York: Pocket Books, 1952. [First published as collection, including the title story, “Smart-Alec Kill,” “Guns at Cyrano,” and “Nevada Gas.”] Call number: PS3505.H3224 P5 1952.

Gardner, Erle Stanley. The Case of the Baited Hook. New York: Pocket Books, 1947. [First published 1940.] Call number: PS3513.A6322 C19 1947.

Cain, James M. Shameless. New York: Avon, 1951. [First published 1951, as The Root of His Evil.] Call number: PS3505.A3113 S4 1951x.


Stories of crime and suspense also made a natural partnership with pulp art.

Cohen, Octavus Roy. Love Has No Alibi. New York: Popular Library, 1948. [First published 1946.] Call number: PS3505.O2455 L6 1945b.

Deal, Borden. Killer in the House. New York: New American Library, 1957. Call number: PS3554.E13 K4.

Clayton, John Bell. Six Angels at My Back. New York: Popular Library, 1953. [First published 1952.] Call number: PS3553.L386 S59 1953.

Bad Girls

It’s not entirely clear what genre these books are, which apparently isn’t the point. The point is, they’re scandalous!

Glendinning, Richard. Too Fast We Live. New York, Popular Library 1954. Call number: PS3557.L445 T66 1954x.

Willingham, Calder. The Girl in the Dogwood Cabin. New York: New American Library, 1961. [First published 1955, as To Eat a Peach.] Call number: PS3573.I4565 G5 1956x.

Gwaltney, Francis Irby. The Whole Town Knew. New York: Popular Library, 1956. [First published 1954, as The Yeller-Headed Summer.] Call number: PS3557.W3 W4 1955x.

The Scandalous South

The South proved a very fertile ground for stories of passion and scandal.

Slaughter, Frank G. Storm Haven. New York: Permabooks, 1955. [First published 1953.] Call number: PS3537.L38 S7 1955x.

Basso, Hamilton. Sun in Capricorn. New York: Popular Library, 1961. [First published 1942.] Call number: PS3503.A8423 S96 1942x.

Caldwell, Erskine. God’s Little Acre. New York: New American Library, 1961. [First published 1933.] Call number: PS3505.A322 G6 1961x.

Southern Literature in Disguise

Literary fiction was not immune. Comparatively speaking, these covers are tame, but they still exaggerate the tone of these novels. The only one that deals with sex, Sanctuary, is less salacious than simply disturbing.

Warren, Robert Penn. At Heaven’s Gate. New York: New American Library, 1949. [First published 1943.] Call number: PS3545.A748 A8 1949bx.

Faulkner, William. Sanctuary. New York: New American Library, 1951. [First published 1931.] Call number: PS3511.A86 S3 1931bx. [synopsis]

O’Connor, Flannery. Wise Blood. New York: New American Library, 1953. [First published 1952.] Call number: PS3565.C57 W5 1953x.

Find Out More

All the books seen above can be found at Hoole Library (in Scout, limit by Location), specifically within the Wade Hall Collection. Dr. Hall’s interest in the South, coupled with his tendency to collect on the basis of popular culture as much as academic value, make his collection a treasure trove of paperbacks of all sorts and their often curious art. Most of the examples above come from the New American Library or Popular Library (in Scout, limit by Publisher).

If you’d like to know more about any of these authors, they have profiles in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, a database available to UA students, faculty, and staff via the Libraries website.

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.

Becoming Kappa

1928 image of the Gamma Pi chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma, with individual photos of 19 girlsWhen we say goodbye to buildings, we often say hello to interesting things that finally come out of them as their inhabitants prepare for demolition. Over the summer, we got to digitize one such discovery: a scrapbook of chartering documents from the UA chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma.

There are two common paths to creating a chapter of a national Greek organization. One is to do so directly, working with the organization to establish a colony, a probationary form of chapter. The other is to establish a strong local fraternity or sorority and subsequently seek chapter status from the national.

In 1926, the “local” Alpha Pi took that second path, petitioning Kappa Kappa Gamma national women’s fraternity to be brought in as a chapter. Part of that petition involved recommendations from peers, which they later gathered in a scrapbook.

From Fellow Kappas

The first materials in the book are from Kappa Kappa Gamma actives and alumnae who were near enough geographically to visit…and to have a vested interest in seeing the group spread further in the South.

Typed copy of letter from Lucy Sharpe, Beta Chi, 1925, undated

Letter from Lucy Sharpe, undated

For example, Elizabeth Van der Veer, of the Beta Omicron chapter (Tulane), writes to the national that she visited the girls at their request and “came away very much ‘sold’ on them.” They were “bright, energetic, enthusiastic, and attractive.” She adds, “We southern Kappas are few and far between, and we are anxious to have more chapters down our way.”

Lucy Sharpe, of the Beta Chi chapter (University of Kentucky), agrees, saying, “Kappa needs to come into the South. The best of Alabama’s young girls attend the University. There is no large national fraternity on the campus. Why can’t Kappa step in and take her place at this opportune time? The University wants and needs us.”

Letters were also sent from local alumnae originating in chapters at the University of Oklahoma, University of Cincinnati, and The Ohio State University.

From Fraternities

Men’s fraternities on campus were important witnesses to the character of the local. Letters went out from UA chapters of 12 fraternities: Alpha Tau Omega, Sigma Chi, Delta Tau Delta, Delta Kappa Epsilon, Kappa Alpha, Phi Delta Theta, Phi Kappa Alpha, Lambda Chi Alpha, Pi Kappa Alpha, Phi Gamma Delta, Sigma Nu, and Pi Kappa Phi.

Handwritten letter from Julien Smith, Jr., on behalf of the UA chapter of Phi Delta Theta, July 9, 1926

Letter on behalf of the UA chapter of Phi Delta Theta, July 9, 1926

According to Pi Kappa Alpha’s letter, “It would be difficult indeed to select a group of higher character and of greater promise than this particular group.” The Delta Tau Delta letter says, “if you should see fit to grant them a charter, we think you will always be glad of having done so.”

The Alpha Tau Omega letter reminds us that this is about the reputation of the national organization as much as the petitioning group: “Surely Kappa Kappa Gamma is desirous of having chapters in such institutions as Alabama not only promises to be, but as Alabama is today. …it is an ideal opportunity and one that in our estimation is very rare which should not be passed on lightly.”

The letter from Delta Kappa Epsilon provides some concrete background to situation. By their count, there were 500 female students and only 8 sororities. They find that “the limited number of Sororities is woefully inadequate as compared with the large number of girl students.”

From Other Sororities

There were, indeed, few women’s groups on campus at that time, but they all wrote to the Kappa Kappa Gamma national, perhaps with an eye to raising the overall profile of the campus. Letters were sent from the UA chapters of all 7 current sororities: Delta Delta Delta, Chi Omega, Alpha Gamma Delta, Alpha Chi Omega, Kappa Delta, Delta Zeta, and Zeta Tau Alpha.

Handwritten letter from Margaret Brown, on behalf of herself and the Nu Beta chapter of Chi Omega, July 12, 1926

Letter on behalf of the Nu Beta chapter of Chi Omega, July 12, 1926

Kappa Delta argues that given how women’s enrollment had “practically doubled itself in the part four years,” Kappa Kappa Gamma was needed. They assure the organization that they will find an easy path at UA: “The policy of the University official has always been one of welcome and aid to sororities and fraternities. This feature has helped to make the institution a stronghold for the Greek world.”

Alpha Chi Omega praises the group’s character, their leadership and “fineness of Southern womanhood.” The Alpha Gamma Delta province president notes their ability to maintain these high standards over several years and declares, “I feel sure that they would measure up to the responsibilities placed upon them.” Delta Zeta proclaims that the organization “will be well repaid” if it admits them.

Finally, Delta Delta Delta writes that the group is “worthy,”  and it is “looking forward to welcoming another member of the ‘Big Four’ to campus.”

It did welcome that group in 1927, when Pi Alpha became the Gamma Pi chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma, still active today. A more detailed account of the chapter’s formation and history can be found on the Kappapedia.

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

Images from the CSS Alabama

The Confederate cruiser CSS Alabama has quite a history. Our sister blog, Cool at Hoole, has a series of posts telling the ship’s story, which — if you’ll believe it — starts with construction in secrecy in England and ends in defeat in France.

But when those posts were written, a really cool resource about the CSS Alabama wasn’t yet digitized: a photo album of the ship and crew. The album, given by friends to crewmember Edwin Maffitt Anderson, was assembled in Liverpool, England, in 1864.

This is the ship at sea, probably a drawing.

Image of CSS Alabama

Here is her captain.

CSS Alabama Captain Raphael Semmes

Among the many portraits of crewmembers, you’ll find placeholders for those who died in service.

Placeholder in memory of William Robertson, Third Assistant Engineer

You’ll also find images of non-crewmembers like this unidentified woman, perhaps one of Anderson’s friends.

Unidentified woman

And there were, as expected, several images of Edwin Maffitt Anderson — and a man with a similar name, Eugene Anderson Maffitt. This photo of them together (on left and right, but no idea which is which!) seems to prove the similar names on the roll were not a mistake or mixup.

Edwin Anderson Maffitt, Thomas C. Cuddy, and Eugene Anderson Maffitt

You’ll notice that the photo has been artificially colored in, a not-uncommon occurrence in early photography. Check out the rest of the album online, to see what else you can learn about the Alabama or the cartes de visite photograph format.

According to the collection Finding Aid, “Edwin Maffitt Anderson, a native of Georgia, was midshipman on the CSS Alabama during the Civil War. He joined the crew of the Alabama in 1862 and remained with them until June 19, 1864, when the USS Kearsarge sunk the ship off the coast of France. Anderson was wounded in the battle. After he recovered, he joined the crew of the blockade runner Owl, and he was later promoted to lieutenant. He died in Georgia in 1923.”

The Mystic Order of the Nonsense Club

Among the Corolla yearbooks digitized and available in Acumen are the first ten volumes, covering 1893-1902. This was an eventful decade at UA: the last ten years of the campus run under military order and the first ten years as a co-ed institution.

Looking through the pages of these early books tells one a lot about student culture at UA. In particular, the smaller enrollments in those days (175 in 1891 to 400 in 1901) meant the yearbooks were a lot more reflective of individual student experiences. They often included things like personal statements and group in-jokes, as well as local songs or cheers and student creative writing and drawings. Also included: pages for what appear to be joke organizations or clubs.

Perhaps they reflected actual groups of friends who decided to codify their clique by giving it a ridiculous name or gathering it around a silly concept. Often spoofing the ceremonial trappings of real-life fraternal organizations like the Freemasons or the Knights of Pythias, these “club” pages in the Corolla left a legacy of playfulness one doesn’t always expect from a turn-of-the-century military institution.

Of course, the military order at UA may be exactly why they needed an outlet for lighthearted creativity and individualism. They were college students, after all.













1899; Their name, a simple translation of Latin letters into Greek: EGGNOG CHAPTER OF SKRAPPERS

1899; Their name, a simple translation of Latin letters into Greek: EGGNOG CHAPTER OF SKRAPPERS







“Beware of Confidential Friends” — they might give you a silly title in a club with an even sillier name.