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.

Continue reading

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.

Pedagogy Series 5.1: EN 408 Creative Writing

By: Jessica Kidd, Associate Director of First-Year Writing and Clinical Professor of English

This is our fifth pedagogy series on Cool@Hoole. Check out previous pedagogy posts from series one, two, three, and four

jkiddEN 408 is a senior-level creative writing class, and each section of the course has a different focus. My particular section is focused around the theme of “Writer in a Wide World,” and the class has been devoted to exploring different sources of inspiration that help writers expand from their default modes of writing. We’ve visited the Sarah Moody art gallery and scientific collections. We’ve used chance operations, pop culture, articles on scientific discoveries, and ethnopoetics to inform and inspire our writing practice this semester.

The most involved project of the semester has been the archival research project using collections from the Hoole Special Collections library. Amy Chen, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow, preselected collections that my students were able to explore and then choose among. We chose to use preselected collections so that students had the challenge of working with personalities and backgrounds that they may not have otherwise chosen on their own. This challenge continued the class theme of working outside a writer’s normal modes and predilections.

Once students had the chance simply to enjoy immersing themselves in primary documents and the intimate view of history they afford, students started the work of crafting a creative piece inspired by their particular collections. Students had complete creative license to transform their initial material into poetry, fiction, or a hybrid form. They used the archival material as a springboard to engage with people and historical periods that might not have otherwise made it into their writing, but the end projects also reflected the interests and strengths of the individual authors. Resulting creative pieces ranged from historical fiction to science fiction to lyrical poetry.

While students were able to transform the archival material as they saw fit, they were asked to make deliberate decisions about their writing choices. Anachronism, fictionalization of historic figures, addition of speculative elements, etc. were all carefully considered moves made in the interest of artistry. Peer workshops gave students the chance to both explain their creative choices and to critique and help refine the choices of their peers.

I’m excited to be able to share a selection of the work that emerged from this archival research project.

Staff Favorites: Kevin Ray

By: Kevin Ray, Institutional Records Analyst

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, and Allyson Holliday‘s favorites in previous posts. 

Institutional Records Analyst Kevin Ray’s favorite item is the Ellsworth Hults diary (MSS 3735). Hults was on a Union warship at the Battle of Mobile Bay.  His diary provides his firsthand account of the battle and it includes hand drawn maps of the bay entrance showing points of importance to the battle.  He also has a drawing of the battle line of Union ships.


Ellsworth Hults diary, cover


Ellsworth Hults diary, one side of the map double page spread


Map of the Battle of Mobile Bay

When this Cruel War is Over

By: Rachel K. Deale, History PhD student

CruelWar-StraightThroughout the nineteenth century music played a vital role in American life. Music could be heard everywhere from parlor pianos, to soldiers marching on the battlefield, to church congregations, and to slaves laboring in the fields. Although music played an important role in in the antebellum south, the war escalated the cultural significance music had on southern society. Music was no longer just a form of entertainment. Music became a social outlet for southern soldiers and civilians to express their innermost thoughts, feelings, and concerns during the conflict.

Once the southern states decided to secede from the Union in 1860 and 1861, they could no longer depend upon Northern presses to produce sheet music. As a result, southerners established their own publishing houses throughout the Confederacy. In 1860, brothers and former music teachers Armand Edward and Henry Blackmar established what would become the most prolific and successful music publishing company in New Orleans, Louisiana. Upon the Union capture of New Orleans in April 1862, Henry moved their business to Augusta, Georgia. John C. Schreiner began another prominent publishing house in 1860 called John C. Schreiner & Son in Macon, Georgia. In 1863, George Dunn quickly rose in notability when he joined the music publishing business by opening George Dunn & Company in Richmond, Virginia.

The W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library collection of Confederate sheet music published by Blackmar and Company, John C. Schreiner & Son, and George Dunn & Company illustrates four themes: sentimental, instrumental, religious, and nationalistic songs. Southerners used sheet music to help encourage a sense of Confederate nationalism throughout the war. Songs such as “Hurrah for Our Flag” celebrated the Confederate flag as their “standard of hope and of trust.” As Confederates struggled to produce a national anthem they decided to write new words to be sung to the tune of the French “Marseillaise” because the song elicited strong emotion, loyalty, and was not originally produced in the north. This initiative led to the publication of A.E. Blackmar’s popular “The Southern Marseillaise.” But as the war continued, Confederates grew dissatisfied with sharing their national anthem with France and were even more discouraged upon learning of the song’s northern popularity. In addition to promoting Confederate nationalism, sheet music also fostered a sense of state pride. Songs such as “The Alabama” eulogized the brave service of the south’s most successful commerce raider the CSS Alabama.

Although many soldiers enjoyed mother songs like “Rock Me to Sleep, Mother,” “Call Me Not Back from the Echoless Shore,” and “Mother is the Battle Over,” mother songs were really written for women on the home front. The songs romanticized soldiers by suggesting that their love for family and country took priority over their thoughts, conditions, and feelings on the eve of battle. This sentiment was encouraging to those at home because it presented their sons as strong and selfless individuals. “When This Cruel War is Over” became a popular song both at home and on the battlefield because it encouraged an end to the war and the soldiers’ return home. Instrumental songs were also well liked on the home front. Publishers increased sales of instrumental and dance music by naming the music after famous confederate generals even if the composition shared little to no relation to the general whose name was on the cover. Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard appeared on more music than any other Civil War officer having numerous Quicksteps and Grand Marches named in his honor.

Music also was a morale booster and patriotic outlet for Confederate soldiers. “The Volunteer” or “It is My Country’s Call” became a popular song among soldiers that also helped encourage many to enlist early in the war. The songs sung in camp or while marching often referred to Confederate victories such as Manassas, Chancellorsville, and Chickamauga. While most soldiers learned songs by word of mouth, they also frequently requested their family to send them songbooks to enjoy on the battlefield. Receiving music from home provided soldiers with another way to connect with their families.

Want to learn more about the exhibition? Read our “Curating the Confederacy” five-part series, read the curatorial essay for Making Confederates, and/or come to our Curator’s talk today, April 21, 2015, at 3:30 PM in the A.S. Williams III reading room, level three, Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library. 

Making Confederates

By: Lindsay Rae Smith and Melissa Farah Young, History PhD students

PrintingPressThe formation of the Confederate States in early 1861 threw many southern printers and publishers into turmoil. While many southern intellectuals were pushing for an independent print culture prior to secession, independence and the threat of war made the creation of a new and unique body of Confederate literature a necessity. For many Confederates, the new nation was not only delineated by a separate territory, military, and government, but also by the unique character of its people. They believed that the South’s complete intellectual and cultural separation from the North was as important to the Confederacy’s survival as any military or political victory.

The documents published by southern printers between December 1860 and April 1865—known today as Confederate imprints—sought to legitimize southern nationhood in the eyes of foreign governments and create a culture that would strengthen a sense of unity among the general population. Confederate imprints are divided into two categories. Official publications include military and government documents such as the newly drafted Constitution, and official military decrees. These texts circulated information essential to the nation’s survival.

Unofficial documents, however, were published for the private sector. Many books and journals contained strong pro-Confederate sentiment. Popular novels were reprinted with prefaces centering them within the southern struggle. Textbooks played an important role in educating a new generation of Confederates for service to their country, and history books worked to cast them as the true inheritors of American democracy.

Since the Confederacy lacked a publishing infrastructure that could compete with the North, southern printers were keenly aware of their disadvantages. The Union blockade of southern ports made it difficult for publishers to obtain adequate supplies. To overcome paper shortages, printers advertised for donations of old rags, which could be pulped and boiled to make new paper. Pages from old journals, ledger books, and reams of unused wallpaper were also used in the printing and binding processes. Fig and pomegranate juice were substituted for ink, and seldom-used typesetting blocks were flipped to replace those that became worn. Perhaps the most challenging obstacle was the absence of trained printers and engravers. Presses and supplies could be smuggled or improvised, but skilled tradesmen often demonstrated their own passionate devotion to the Confederacy. They often enlisted in the Confederate Army even though they were exempt from military service.

Nevertheless, despite the challenges of wartime scarcity, southern publishers were dedicated to creating a distinct national literature. As a result of the nationalism inherent in many of the surviving texts, Confederate imprints continue to relay the beliefs and hopes of a people struggling to create a country in the midst of war.

Want to learn more about the exhibition? Read our “Curating the Confederacy” five-part series or come to our Curator’s talk tomorrow, April 21, 2015, at 3:30 PM in the A.S. Williams III reading room, level three, Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library. 

Curating the Confederacy: Curator’s Talk Tuesday, April 21 3:30-4:30 PM

By: Amy Chen, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow

hoole-poster_v02Please join the Division of Special Collections and the Department of History for a curator’s talk next Tuesday, April 21, from 3:30-4:40 PM in the A.S. Williams III Americana Collection reading room on the third floor of the Gorgas Library.

This curator’s talk is in honor of two new exhibitions in the University Libraries. Making Confederates, by Lindsay Smith and Melissa Young, is located in the reading room of the Williams Collection. When This Cruel War is Over, by Katie Deale, is mounted in the lobby of the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library on the second floor of Mary Harmon Bryant Hall.

williams-bannerLindsay, Melissa, and Katie are PhD students in History who worked closely with Special Collections staff over the past semester to develop their shows; you can read more about their process in their interview series, “Curating the Confederacy” which ran in a five-part series this week. You can also see selected items from their exhibitions through Cool@Hoole’s social media presence on Twitter and Facebook.

Making Confederates and When This Cruel War is Over will be on display in Williams and Hoole respectively through Fall 2015.

We look forward to seeing you next Tuesday!

Curating the Confederacy V

By: Lindsay Smith, Melissa Young, and Rachel K. Deale, History PhD students, and Amy Chen, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow

This post is the final entry in a five-part series titled “Curating the Confederacy: An Interview with the curators of Making Confederates and When this Cruel War is Over.” If you haven’t yet, please read the first, second, third, and fourth installments of this series.


Display case from Making Confederates, currently on display in the A.S. Williams III Americana Collection

What would you say to future students who might have the opportunity to create exhibitions within the library with special collections holdings? Do you have any advice to share?

Rachel: I would definitely recommend that they take advantage of the opportunity. When you are getting started I think that it is important to make sure you choose a topic that is not too narrow or too broad. Try to focus your exhibit on a simple, but well focused topic or theme. I also think that it is very important to always keep your display cases and space in mind as you are researching the collection. Imagining how you plan to display the items as you go along is makes it easier to decide how you will organize and present your argument.

Lindsay: First, I would highly encourage them to take the opportunity. It’s a lot of fun and a nice change of pace from academia history. The process of putting together an exhibit is very hands on and inherently creative, I think. I would, however, recommend that you are interested in the exhibit’s topic because you will know a lot about it when you are done.

Melissa: The only advice I might share is to manage your time wisely and utilize the fabulous librarians because they are huge sources of knowledge. Lindsay and I started working on the project early, in December, so that we could become familiar with the holdings before we had additional responsibilities. This allowed us to generated an argument and narrow our focus quite early. We worked around one another’s schedules and personal deadlines and kept communication lines open—one of us would dedicate more time to the exhibition if the other had to study or work on a paper. We also spoke to Jennifer Cabanero and Nancy DuPree at length many times. They pointed out some really great items and offered new perspectives on some of the ones we had already chosen, especially after they knew the direction we wanted to follow. Jennifer and Nancy were also incredibly supportive and shared in some of the excitement of our own finds. To prevent being overwhelmed, students should stick to a schedule and look to each other and the librarians for assistance and guidance. That way it will be much easier to relax and enjoy the project as much as we did.


Case from When this Cruel War is Over, currently on display in the W.S. Hoole Library

What sort of role would you like to see yourself in following your graduation from the University of Alabama?

Rachel: I hope to teach at a liberal arts college or university.  I would also enjoy working as an editor for an academic journal or press.

Lindsay: I am still very much interested in pursuing a career in academic history. However, I see myself working at a smaller liberal arts college that allows me the flexibility to teach a lot of different courses, pursue my research interests, and also to work closely with the libraries and local historical museums. I enjoy public history too much to give it up completely.

Melissa: Although I would love to teach at the post-secondary level, I would also like to pursue a career in a history museum or in an organization that promotes historical awareness. I have interned at small rural house museums and large urban institutions like the Birmingham Museum of Art. Both experiences were wonderful in very different ways, so I could see myself working in either type of institution. My own research is also very important to me. Hopefully I can continue to incorporate Civil War history, gender studies, and language in some of what I do, but if I go in another direction, I am okay with that. I love learning new things and gaining additional knowledge, so I am open to other historical genres, especially local ones. I may have the opportunity to work with the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center this summer, for example, which is really exciting. I have also recently started studying Latin American history and am going to Brazil in August. I hope to eventually be able to share some of my knowledge and experience with future students or museum guests.

Amy: Thank you for sharing your knowledge, experience, and insights with us today on Cool@Hoole. We encourage our readers to come see Making Confederates in Williams and When this Cruel War is Over in Hoole between April and September 2015.

Please don’t hesitate to tweet us about #makingconfederates and #thiscruelwar @coolathoole! Follow @coolathoole on Facebook and Twitter to get sneak peeks of items on display for the two weeks following the opening of these exhibitions (April 13-May 1).

Additionally, to continue our promotion of these shows, next week on Cool@Hoole we will share the curatorial essays from each exhibition. That way, if you are not able to come to campus, you can still get a taste of the content Rachel, Lindsay, and Melissa developed.

Curating the Confederacy IV

By: Lindsay Smith, Melissa Young, and Rachel K. Deale, History PhD students, and Amy Chen, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow

This post is the fourth in a five-part series titled “Curating the Confederacy: An Interview with the curators of Making Confederates and When this Cruel War is Over.” If you haven’t yet, please read the first, second, and third installments of this series.

The topic of these shows, Confederate imprints, was selected before you all joined the project as curators. If you had the opportunity to create another show with the holdings in the Division of Special Collections at the University of Alabama, what topic would you want to portray and why?


Case from When This Cruel War is Over, currently on display in the W.S. Hoole Library lobby

Rachel: Gordon Wood once said that there are two types of historians:  hedgehogs and foxes. Hedgehogs focus on one big topic while foxes have diverse interests across multiple periods of history. I consider myself a hedgehog because I am most interested in the Civil War. Because Hoole has a large collection of Civil War sheet music published in the Confederacy, Border States, and North, I think I still would have focused my exhibit on music. But I definitely would have included music published in the Border States and the North.

Lindsay: I think it would be really fun to do a show on the University itself. It could use letters, photographs, old year books, and other material from the history of the University of Alabama to look at how student life has changed over the years. I really enjoy learning about the history of the places I know well. We are all acquainted with how campus looks now, but when you start thinking about the Gorgas house being the old cafeteria and the laundry facilities being located down at Mars Spring, it shifts your perspective of campus.

Melissa: I would absolutely love to do a show on some of the soldiers’ letters and manuscripts that are housed in the Williams Collection. I think they could be contextualized in particular contexts of the Civil War and be set apart by region and focus. I really enjoy examining the words of individual soldiers, and I feel the general public would be interested in the language the men used and what they discussed.

Another exciting exhibit would be one that featured the literature produced by various publishers, including S.H. Goetzel, a printer based in Mobile. This would allow us to focus upon both the literature and the publishing houses. We included several of Goetzel’s items in “Making Confederates,” which could be compared or contrasted with items printed by several other publishers across the South. We once spoke of creating a map featuring the locations of different southern printers, and I think that could be used as a main feature of such an exhibit. A similar thing could be done with Confederate authors. Both could demonstrate the widespread growth and influence of literature and publishing across the South.

Melissa Farah Young, curator of Making Confederates


What sort of collaborations would you like to imagine between the History department and the University Libraries in the future?

Rachel: I would like to see the History department and Library work more closely together. It is impossible for historians to do what we do without the help and expertise of librarians and archivists.  I hope that more history graduate students will have the same opportunity that I did to gain hands on experience with curating. I would love to see history graduate students taking classes on document preservation and archives.  But I would really like to see the History department and Library develop a program that would allow students to obtain both an MA in history and a MLIS degree at the same time. This would benefit both history and library students as many academic libraries require job candidates to have a second Master’s degree in addition to the MLIS degree.

Lindsay: I would love to see more projects like this. We have a wealth of graduate students with all sorts of interest who could contribute to exhibitions.  However, I also think that undergrads, particularly history majors, would appreciate having a little more interaction with the archives. Really, it’s not until you start interacting with special collections and the archivists who keep them that you really figure out what this history thing is all about.

Melissa: I think public history projects that collaborate with the University Libraries are incredibly useful to graduate and undergraduate students who wish to gain curating experience or explore new topics. I feel this experience has made me realize how valuable it is to work with others to present information. Projects that focus upon teamwork and team building present “win-win” situations for both the student and the library. The library benefits from the knowledge and excitement the students bring to new projects, and the students gain valuable experience and research opportunities.

I would like to see a greater connection between the libraries and our department in the future. Projects that created billboards, banners, or exhibitions that were generated from items in the archives could really be appealing to those who wish to pursue alt-ac or public history careers. I am not sure students know about these types of opportunities, though I believe many would be interested in participating. Exploring the archives and working with the librarians has been wonderful for me. It not only allowed me to discover materials I didn’t know the university held, it introduced me to sources that I desire to explore in the future and introduced me to some really great people.

Curating the Confederacy III

By: Lindsay Smith, Melissa Young, and Rachel K. Deale, History PhD students, and Amy Chen, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow

This post is the third in a five-part series titled “Curating the Confederacy: An Interview with the curators of Making Confederates and When this Cruel War is Over.” If you haven’t yet, please read the first and second installments of this series.


Detail from Uniform and Dress of the Army of the Confederate States

What was your favorite discovery while conducting research for these shows? “Discovery” can be a favorite item, a new piece of information, or even an insight into the era you represented in your exhibition.

Rachel: I really enjoyed learning about the Confederate publishers.  Before I began working on my exhibit I knew where most of the major Confederate publishers were located, but I did not know a lot about the individual publishing houses such as George Dunn & Company, Blackmar and Company, and John C. Schreiner & Son.  I was also fascinated in learning more about how songwriter Charles Carroll Sawyer became popular in both the North and South throughout the war.

Lindsay: Melissa and I found a letter written penciled onto the last page of a sermon. It was from a soldier to his mother, telling her that he’d heard the sermon given a few weeks prior and that he was now sending it home to her. He made sure to tell her that all was well and that he still had his health. There are things like that all over this material if you sit and look at it: an underlined verse the Bible, someone’s name scrawled onto the cover page of a favorite book, or pages that are folded down to a specific spot. Every time I came across something like that I was reminded that all these items belonged to someone, and even though I don’t know the individual owners or their story, these materials link us to them and their experiences in some way.

Melissa: We came across so many fabulous things, it is really difficult to chose just one! I really enjoyed looking at passages in the textbooks and the novels, which often drip so heavily with Confederate nationalism that the words are almost shocking. I also loved the colored plates in the Uniform and Dress of the Army of the Confederate States that librarian Jennifer Cabanero drew to our attention. Perhaps my favorite was the note we discovered in the back of J.J. Renfroe’s published sermon “The Battle is God’s,” which is featured in the “Soldier’s Life” case at the front of the show. The Confederate soldier appeared to have scratched a few quick lines to his mother in pencil, obviously desiring her to read a sermon he had heard and liked. It made the war and everything we were looking at eerily personal. Since it was one of the first things we came across that really made an impact, it set the tone for many of our other discoveries.


Melissa Young and Lindsay Smith work to create their exhibition, Making Confederates

What was the most difficult part of the process of creating your exhibition?

Rachel: The most difficult part of the process is choosing what to display in the exhibit. There were many pieces of sheet music that I could have displayed but did not have the space to do so.  

Lindsay: I think it would definitely be picking what made it into the exhibition and what was left out. There is just so much amazing stuff!

Melissa: For me, the most difficult part was meeting deadlines that coincided with much of the work I was doing on other papers and projects. It was definitely challenging to balance everything, but Lindsay was a great partner. We communicated well and were assisted and supported by the fabulous librarians at UA, including Jennifer Cabanero and Nancy DuPree.