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