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A.S. Williams III Americana Collection: Genealogy and Local History

Overview

The Williams Collection is very useful for research in some specific areas of genealogy and local history, particularly for researching Confederate soldiers and life in the Civil War period. It also includes useful resources for research on Alabama history, including the history of small places that may not be well-known. The Collection includes some early maps, pamphlets, and photographs related to the early history of the state.

Civil War Reference

The “Civil War Reference” collection, shelved on open stacks in the reading room, includes historical records and other general information:

  • A complete set of the first edition of The War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, and its supplemental sets Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies and Supplemental Records, with several less well-known sets of materials.

Military Rosters

The Williams Collection owns a number of rosters of Confederate soldiers;

 The Roster of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865. 16 volumes. (CWR 0602-0617).  This is a monumental work, compiling lists and records from many sources. It provides an alphabetical list of soldiers, identifying the state and unit in which each man served.   The set begins with a history of Confederate records that describes the efforts made over the years to make these records available.

Individual rosters of soldiers for most of the states of the Confederacy are included in the Williams Collection:

  • The Roster of Confederate Soldiers of Georgia, 1861-65. (CWR 161-67). Organized by unit, with complete roster of unit.  Some details on individual soldiers (promotions, transfers, discharges). Last volume is a complete index of names.  
  • Records of Louisiana Soldiers and Commands (CWR 252-254). Alphabetical list of units; list of battles and campaigns in Louisiana; alphabetical roster of individual soldiers.
  • Marylanders in the Confederacy (CWR 618). Historical introduction; complete roster of troops; list of references and sources used, cross-referenced in individual entries.
  • For Dixie Land I’ll Take My Stand: A Master Listing of All Known Mississippi Confederate Soldiers and Marines (CWR 622-625). Lists military units by county; individual soldiers in one list, with name, rank, unit. Includes information on using the actual “compiled service records.” Vol. 4 is a collection of images.
  • North Carolina Troops. 15 vols. (CWR 1305-1319). Vol. 1 Artillery Units; Vol. II Cavalry; Vols. III-XV Infantry.  Rosters listed by unit; detailed information on some soldiers. Vols. Have individual indexes.
  • South Carolina Troops in Confederate Service (CWR 169). Organized by units, with a narrative history of the unit and a complete roster of officers and men. Williams has only volume 1; complete work has three volumes.
  • Tennesseans in the Civil War (CWR 298-99). Vol. I organized by units; narrative history of each unit, with a roster of officers. Vol. II a roster of individual soldiers, with name, unit, rank.

Unit Histories

The Williams Collection includes hundreds of “unit histories,” accounts of particular military units, from both the Union and Confederate armies.  Mr. A. S. Williams, who put together this collection, aimed for coverage of both sides, so the Collection has both Union and Confederate histories. Unit histories often provide information on individual soldiers by name, and always narrate the daily history of the unit as a whole. The history of his unit can provide information on a soldier even when he is not mentioned by name.

Some unit history series are found in the CWR section:

The South Carolina Regimental-Roster Set (CWR  ) includes several histories of South Carolina units, including detailed narrative histories, complete rosters of soldiers, and bibliographies.

The Virginia Regimental Histories Series (CWR 441-578) is a set of histories of Confederate units from Virginia. Each history includes maps, pictures, and service records of individual soldiers as well as a narrative history.

Most of the individual unit histories are housed in the Civil War Collections in the glass enclosure.  Many of them were published in the years after the War ended, by individuals who had served in the unit. 

To search for a particular history (if you don’t have an author or title), go to the online catalog and search by subject heading, using these models:

For Union units use:

United States. Army. Ohio Infantry Regiment, 90th (1862-1865).

For Confederate units:

Confederate States of America. Alabama. Infantry Regiment, 28th.

Confederate Veterans Organizations

Confederate veterans organizations were very active in the years following the war; they met often and published programs and minutes that included many names of veterans, lists of officers and committee members, and so on.

  • Confederate Veteran, a periodical on anything of interest to these veterans, was published from 1893 to 1932.  Hundreds of veterans are mentioned in the magazine, and the Williams Collection has most issues (SER 0001-SER 0647), as well as a complete index of the names of veterans, units, and related topics mentioned in the Veteran (CWR 1075-1077).
  • The Collection holds manuscript material from Camp Hardee, the Confederate Veterans organization in Birmingham:  its minute book for 1914-15 (W0048.02) and a manuscript collection of the War Reminiscences of its members, recorded in 1912-17 (W0048.01).
  • A number of flyers, programs, and minutes of the meetings and reunions of veterans groups are included in the Williams Pamphlet Collection. These materials often include detailed rosters of the organization’s officers and committee members, and names of all veteran attendees as the years passed and attendance grew smaller. Since many of these pamphlets are not yet processed, please ask the Williams staff for help.

Alabama Reference Works

The Williams Collection includes several sets of older or rare reference works which contain biographical material on prominent Alabama citizens. These are useful for research on Alabamians who may not be included in better-known sources.

  • DuBose, Joel C., ed. Notable Men of Alabama: Personal and Genealogical, with Portraits. Atlanta: Southern Historical Association, 1904. (SH 952-955).
  • Marks, Henry S.Who Was Who in Alabama. Huntsville: Strode, 1972. (READ 0378).
  • Owen, Thomas McAdory. History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1921. (SH 2411-14).
  • Society of Pioneers of Montgomery. Pioneers Past and Present, 1855-2001. Montgomery: Society of Pioneers, 2001. (CWR 1074).

County Histories

The Williams Collection also includes over a collection of eight hundred “county histories,” most of them from towns, counties, and other local areas in Alabama, as well as a few from other Southern states.  These vary widely, from richly illustrated hardcover books to small privately printed brochures.  Some include genealogical sections; some feature early photographs; all of them provide details on people, life and institutions  in specific times and places. Most of the county histories are found in the “County History” section, with some in the “Southern History” collection.

To search for a local history, go into the online catalog and search under “subject heading” following these models:

Hale County (Ala.)—History

Tuscaloosa (Ala.)—History

Pamphlets on Locales

The collection holds a large group of pamphlets and brochures, many advertising business opportunities and tourism in specific parts of the state.  Some have many illustrations. This collection is still in the process of being cataloged, so ask a staff member for help in finding them.

Databases

The University Libraries offer access to several databases useful for genealogy and local history research. University faculty and students have access from their own computers. Outside users may access these databases from within the Collection. Collection staff  are familiar with them and will help you with your search.

  • Ancestry Library Edition provides access to Ancestry.com, with the exception of personally-entered family trees.  Ancestry.com includes census records, social security records, military records, and many other resources.  (Note:  the Williams Collection does not include separate census records in print.  This database is its only access to the census.)
  • America’s Historical Newspapers includes the full text of many papers of the early twentieth century and before.
  • Archives Unbound includes the text of many city and business directories from Alabama (1837-1929), and several other states.