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Primary Source Research
The W.S. Hoole Library
Hoole Library is The University of Alabama's Special Collections Library and Archive. The collections include rare books, Alabamiana, manuscripts, newspapers, maps, photographs, book arts, and artifacts and information on these collections is available on this site.
The Williams Collection is filled with things that represent the history and culture of the United States. It is housed on the third floor of Gorgas Library, and you are welcome to visit it! The collection includes Southern Fiction, Civil War books and periodicals, Southern History books, US Presidents books and ephemera, photography, maps, and manuscripts, as well as many other things. You will always be surprised when you visit the Williams Collection.
Acumen is The University of Alabama's database. Through Acumen, you can access some of the many unique items that UA Libraries has digitized. If you need help using Acumen, watch the YouTube video in the right hand column of this page, or ask a librarian for help!
Tuscaloosa Area Virtual Museum
The Tuscaloosa Historical Society, Tuscaloosa Public Library, and The University of Alabama have partnered to gather and preserve digitized materials about Tuscaloosa Local History. Materials are donated from personal collections of photographs, papers, and other records, which means that the collection is not comprehensive. Nevertheless, this is a rich resource for exploring major sites and well known families in the Tuscaloosa area.
Much like the Tuscaloosa Area Virtual Museum, the Alabama Mosaic project is digitized and preserved local history materials. Organizations such as public libraries, university special collections, the state archive, and historical societies from around the state have submitted content to this repository.
Flickr is a social platform that allows you to upload, organize, and share images. It's a great place to find photographs that other people have uploaded-- many archives and historic societies (even the Library of Congress) have Flickr accounts. Flickr allows you to link and embed photos in a way that respects copyright and intellectual rights. Content can be accessed through keyword searching, tag searching, and browsing.
US National Archives (Flickr)
Only a small sampling of our photographs can be found on Flickr at this time. For the pilot project, we will post a selection of photographs from the Women's Bureau, the Environmental Protection Agency, and a few favorites. The photos you see here are only a sample of the more than 25 million photographs and 20,000 graphic images (posters and some original artwork) held in roughly 2,500 series at the U.S. National Archives in the Washington, D.C., area, our regional archives facilities from coast to coast, and from the twelve Presidential Libraries under U.S. National Archives administration. These photographs, most taken by agents of Federal agencies over the years, cover a wide range of subjects and themes documented in the work of the United States government. Higher resolution versions of many of these images can be obtained from the U.S. National Archives by following the links located below each image.
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (Flickr)
These official NASA photographs are being made available for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photographs. The photographs may not be used in materials, advertisements, products, or promotions that in any way suggest approval or endorsement by NASA.
Jack Rabin collection on Alabama civil rights and southern activists (Flickr)
The collection is a compact but highly complex, multi-layered compilation of documents, sound recordings, and visual images. It includes records of the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) (1955-1974); photographs and surveillance tapes of Martin Luther King, Ralph Abernathy, and many others involved in sit-ins (early 1960s), the MIA (1963), the Selma March (1965), and the Poor People's Campaign (1968); oral histories of the white activists Clifford and Virginia Durr, John Beecher, and Myles Horton (late 1960s - 1975); and films of the African-American activists Luther Henderson (in Savannah, Georgia, 1964) and Stokely Carmichael (in Montgomery, Alabama, circa 1972).
Sometimes you need to be able to find information about your subject that isn't necessarily found in a library collection. For example, you are writing a profile about someone and as you learn about them, you find out they volunteer at the local humane society. Or perhaps they participate in Big Brothers and Big Sisters program. Perhaps you want to find more out about where this person grew up?
Information about these kinds of things can usually be found on the internet. Here are some tips for searching for reliable information for a project such as a nonfiction essay or a profile piece about a person or place that you are researching:
- Find the local visitor's guide website for the location (the home town of the person you are writing about, or the location you are writing about)
- Do a specific search for organizations that might be relevant to your subject
- Limit your search to specific websites or specific domains by using this Google "hack":
- site:.org [limits to only sites that end in the ".org" domain]
- site:http://bbbswestal.org/ [limits search to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Alabama website]
Digital Archive Search Tips
Acumen defaults to looking for all of the keywords in the search box
To find either keyword, use OR between them
To filter out certain keywords, use NOT before the one you don't want
Acumen defaults to looking for all types of resources
To find a particular type of resource, choose a format from the dropdown menu
Acumen defaults to looking for your keyword(s) in all fields
To find your keyword(s) in a particular field, use the format field:keyword or field:(keyword AND keyword) in the search box