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History: Archives

Welcome to the library guide for history research at the University of Alabama.

A.S. Williams III Americana Collection

Visit the A.S. Williams III Americana Collection on the third floor of Gorgas Library to find exhibits of books, photographs, music, and artifacts.

Guides to Archives

Even in today's highly wired world, many primary sources are only available in print.  Use some of these guides to help you locate archives on your topic:

Archive Finder--searches archival holdings in the US and UK.  Combines ArchivesUSA and NIDS UK/Ireland.

ArchiveGrid--provides descriptions of over a million archival collections around the world.

National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections--another guide to archives in the United States.

State Archives Collections Online-a directory of digital collections by state.

WorldCat--searches the catalogs of thousands of libraries as well as many archives across the United States.

Special Tip: Please contact an archives before you travel to them to verify that they own a particular item, and ask them how you can prepare for the visit.  The National Archives, for example, has a "Planning Your Visit" page, and many other archives do too.  Some archivists will even start looking for sources if you let them know of your topic before you arrive!

Quick Links to Archives

W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library--located on the UA campus.

Alabama Department of Archives and History --search the online catalog and find out about hours and services of the state archives in Montgomery.

National Archives--the official site of the National Archives in Washington DC.

Public Records Office--the national archives of the United Kingdom.

In Alabama many historical societies exist that have their own archives, or can point you to local archives. The Alabama Historical Association offers a list of historical societies on its web site.

Many public libraries in the state also have their own archives.  The Alabama Public Library Service offers a directory of public libraries on its web site

Most other states have similar directories of historical societies and public libraries.

Digital Collections

State Archives Collections Online offers a directory of digital collections state-by-state.

Please check out the video below to learn about Acumen, a search engine that mines the digital collections of UA's archives.

New Resource: Archives Unbound

Archives Unbound--City and Business Directories: Alabama, 1837-1929; Confederate Papers: A Collection from Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and Alabama; James Meredith, J. Edgar Hoover, and the Integration of the University of Mississippi; City and Business Directories: Mississippi, 1860-1929 Digital Archive; City and Business Directories: North Carolina, 1886-1929 Digital Archive; City and Business Directories: Tennessee, 1849-1929 Digital Archive; City and Business Directories: Virginia, 1801-1929 Digital Archive.

University of Alabama Archives

photo of stained glass window in Hoole Special Collections

This Tiffany stained glass window in the W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library commemorates the UA students who died in the Civil War. 

W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library--"rare books, Alabamiana, manuscripts, newspapers, maps, photographs, book arts, and artifacts."

A.S. Williams III Americana Collection--"a rich collection of Americana assembled over some forty years by insurance executive and bibliophile A. S. Williams III of Birmingham, Alabama."

The National Archives in Georgia...


The National Archives was established in 1934 in Washington DC. The National Archives also maintains several branches throughout the country, including one in Atlanta, giving historical researchers easier access to its rich collections.