Primary Sources: The Birmingham Public Library’s Digital Collections

The Department of Archives and Manuscripts of the Birmingham Public Library serves as the archives for the city of Birmingham, Alabama, and for the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama and numerous organizations and other institutions. Their collection includes government records, business records, maps, photographs, letters, diaries, scrapbooks, and other primary source materials.

The Library’s Digital Archives provides access to an increasing number of those materials. The collections can be browsed by subject, by type, or searched.

Just a few items of interest from the collection:

  • A scrapbook of articles published from 1913-1967 about the Ku Klux Klan, most of which are from the 1950s and 60s.
  • Jemison Magazine, a publication of the Jemison Real Estate and Insurance Company, which developed the cities of Fairfield (Corey) and Mountain Brook as well as building several structures in Birmingham. . The company also built several neighborhoods, hotels, apartments, and office buildings in Birmingham. The serial covers the years 1910-1914 and 1926-1930 and includes photographs, architectural plans, biographies, and articles.
  • Early Birmingham newspapers, including Birmingham Iron Age (1874-1885), Weekly Iron Age (1884-1887), Weekly Age (1888-1899), and Pratt City Herald (1899-1901).
  • An online exhibit and accompanying book and newspaper articles describing the 1902 tragedy at Shiloh Baptist Church where Booker T. Washington came to speak to the National Baptist Convention. An overcrowded building and panic over suspected fire led to the deaths of 120 people. 
  • A cartography collection that contains regional and historical maps and atlases from the 16th through 20th centuries.