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he's been laura leslie is the incredible voyage collections fit together and as the whole whole story it is beyond the capacity of women she has to open every box has a story as the wives because it's just going to see all of that and it's richard simmons to what the basically it's a piece of high quality and to know we have a feeling that it will be there for others in decades and hopefully generations it
if you love history you really enjoyed being through thousands of documents artifacts and photographs that reflect the diversity and richness of our state's history and culture a row the state archivist to preserve to hold on to their history but also to explain to us as you're about to see history fascinating history often reveals itself in unusual ways the records of who has been in two years an oakland hospital's elemental soldiers in richmond and the records are really phenomenal i think the most interesting the most remarkable bar you'll hear from me is the producer of all the soldiers from alabama who died there in those hospitals malaysia
he was doing when we first opened this book the process of a few years ago ali these four of these packets fellow soldiers who died this one with service description of jackson a champion high calorie diet and on december third nineteen sixty two in one of the hospitals in the region and the hair wrapped in this is an obviously what the hospital attending to do was to put a lot of air from its own rapid and for some reason only the hair of four of those soldiers
remained in the book hundred thirty five years later when we open this process one the finest examples of significant materials and the collection is this like hear this is the flagship alabama battalion it was captured and pickett started gettysburg pennsylvania july thirty eight and sixty three he was captured at a stone wall what's called a high tide without the sixth we have a really nice selection of world war one german american helmets and this tradition continued right up the desert storm we've received a helmet on that was there on other also mentioned dr barnes collection that we have here at the department there were on military small arms but as well there were civilian firearms a good example of our civilian firearms is this we hear this on to when you might get it was alabama's second governor and it's one of a set of dueling pistols and she can say isn't very very fine condition weapons helmets uniforms that many of the prominent
artifacts and documents at the state archives see military related it's for good reason it's part of the story of the birth of the first state department of archives and history in the country the late at night he's was a time of great sentiments of the civil war the eighteen veterans were being honored in a number of ways as the state entered the twentieth century thomas on who had received archival experience in washington is that enthusiasm to generate interest in preserving alabama artifacts oh one a graduate of the university of alabama law school also sought to improve an understanding of alabama result of his persuasive powers was the formation of an archival agency in nineteen oh one with all one as the first director in the early years as many as eight thousand people annually flocked to see or was museum located within the state capital he made an effort to collect portraits of the same sound than in he began began to assemble a history museum he saw that as serving useful purpose but if you look
in his annual reports that he gave to the board of trustees' he always made a point of saying our first and foremost our primary purpose of preserving the records of state and local governments it's if we don't do it no one else will they help the ones cause any married marie bankhead his brothers became prominent members of congress after all one died in nineteen twenty she would run the archive for the next thirty five years in the late nineteen thirties this is all unsecured federal funds to build an impressive new building across the street from the capitol to house the archive a museum is but if it's said that a confederate veteran who was not able to finish school because of the war soon be some surprises are lots of a gift
shop in nineteen forty nine now this is the original nineteen oh one constitution it's the current constitution that we operate under our however since it was passed in nineteen oh one audits undergone numerous amendments in fact someone accessible over six hundred minutes at this point five and this is the constitution it's carly in the news for people periodically talk about having to revise the table read you know rendered constitutional convention this is a part of the collection we have a fairly extensive collection portraits in the art collection they range an
artistic quality from very poor to very fine art we have a range in age from fairly recent portraits this month governor wallace is to some very early portrayals that range as well condition this one as an example of a problem paging we have fighting going on in the face of this and down here it is in need of conservation treatment designed these racks to accommodate part of the collection the house to remain in storage really have exhibit space for about a hundred fifty portraits in one time he'll be selling a doctor and she's been a mother and daughter
your deal these are samples of the over twenty thousand images contained in the archives for the record collections there is a following the archive most likely francis raucous scene the historian who's writing a book on the history of photography and alabama she says two images discovered at the archive hold a special place in history in nineteen thirty nine and february photography was invented and by that winter to me in tuscaloosa professor parker bar of the university of alabama and dr harrington a medical doctor were taking their first photographs we know they opened a studio in tuscaloosa nineteen forty one but we would never have had any idea of photographs survived from eighteen forty year after photography was invented if it weren't for this wonderful discovery at the archives
what you see is a man at the top and down below his wife the man is joshua lanier martin who had just moved to tuscaloosa after serving as a us congressman and his wife sarah and mason martin these pictures are identified on the backs there's a tree somewhere in his family and i believe it was mrs martin was a natural historian on the back is an inscription that says mrs sarah mae martin taken in tuscaloosa alabama and the year at forty by dr harrington and professor barnard of the university of alabama and the first to gareth time ever taken in tuscaloosa since jails diamond backed the idea that someone would understand how important it was to document these pictures they don't live without words and they have these words really brings us back to a time when looking
at a photograph was something very new and very few people have experienced of it all there's a pitcher's hand his early think characterizes their call when you are handling the shift iran they pick up the line and bounce it off because they're basically photographs and silver coated copper like this over tribe and in order to make the image visible the viewer has to shift there we're in their hand and tell their reflections are ongoing and the only thing that's left is that image this way the viewer actually participates in making the picture come to life and that must have added another note for people at forty me the pictures were science photographs were scientific that they speak about them as if they were a kind of magic as barry the archive is a public
place with exhibits into words about a variety of historical topics it's this role as a space museum that bridges would like to see improved we still think that they the museum function should they hear now it's been grossly underfunded for the last sixty years and and frankly i'm embarrassed when i go to other state history museums mostly the quality of the exhibits that they have and i come back in a sleeve that we've got wonderful things but we don't do a good job an interpreter and we don't do a good job in pursuing the people come here we don't tell the story as many as fourteen thousand people use the archive research facilities and you can delve into state government records dating as far back as alabama's territorial assembling an eighteen eighteen researchers like tuskegee associate professor james mcswain was writing a paper about an eighteen fifty murder often find the archive to be a goldmine of information while some are seeking information from publication
for grabs researching the documentary many others are here on a personal mission people like garrett told her down from farmington michigan right now i'm looking at you agricultural sciences for barbara county alabama i happened to be looking in clayton district when you get property records or tax records or all or education record you get a inclusive kinds of records and so that's one of the nice things you can go into the er for the research room and see people from all different backgrounds and doing research and finding information on their family that's
right well it's really interesting because that besides talking about how many acres it they actually worked it tells how many acres work or not work that were maybe forest or just done an improved periods anything we can ascertain how many acres they have their theory goes down it talks about how many new laws they end how many courses on how many chickens and how many dozen eggs they produce for the un's something that i never would've imagined that they would have had here well i started hanging out at the archives despite family research started when my nephews that have reported its goal of other things and sisters doing nothing we didn't only thing passed our grandparents that was rather embarrassing so i started digging that was back in the early eighties and since then i can as i did the research for
other people now and i love it and i think i would continue doing it and had it and it's a fascinating place each time i do research or someone else even though they're not my family they become and as i learn about those people and i'm about the history involved in those people and what they went through their struggles it's b it is you did and bounded off that someone they holler with this plan to use that this year the scheme to thank because after america's can of harvard at the us because of the way in which things happen in history the eighties of the hobbits just have to know when to
reconcile it they find that they have systems in the nineteen twenty nine making tea in nineteen hundred at work back to fall after america's were affected and seventy four other people objected to the night tonight in two instances once it gets to that area of planned out what they would be making at the aftermath of the nineteen eighty eight and seventy odd than they will need to look at the people around that area people living next door in and i am absolutely the education to white people so that it some determine who might have been slave well and was that it's determined they are you know some people are you know and tell us if they can it's about the slave owning in that period and then things started to get the slave owners ancestors and that's where you
and bill sales in windows talking with senator deeds and wheels all that list the first name of the person well what i do is for the last three years i've been producing a family newsletter and you know specific you are my relative of my top of my year anniversary of like a kids' graduations and things like that but also in the newsletter i will talk about art and incest or you know from the eighteen hundreds or the early nineteen hundreds and talk about on maybe when for instance when i had this deep records gives a description of the property that the newsletters that he only ended this is where was this is what it looks like the base of the go to those kinds of things
that given the fact that we have one man pours and twenty some odd years of material that we have in some cases were way in this building all the time and usually dependent on the planet our requests we get the material it's not so much a matter of finding a last minute ads our finding material in records that we knew about and we don't realize that record you know sort of kids that courtroom looking say the governor's records every year and almost any issue that deals with alabama if you can nail it down narrow down to a period of time from governors first and somehow the governor's office and neither dealt with it or at least at the correspondence between fifth feel actually gov wheels in motion of the art to pass by
as james administration leaves the cabinet archive staff work with his aides to determine what the record should be box or storage in filing for the archive the richest gubernatorial records are hundreds of boxes down several islands spanning twenty five years of alabama history they contained photos letters and documents from four term governor george wallace's administrations in nineteen ninety five was paid an unusual visit to a part of the archives view of scene you can see the clothing he wore at a maryland rally in nineteen seventy two where he was shot three times and crippled for a lifetime you know we all thought about well he has to sing these clothes a long time and in a wonder how it would affect him and i'd i'd i don't think they did they came home anymore then when we were going through the clothes and he was in good humor
about most and it always seemed to be in good humor but i think it really hit us when we all took options to show an issue and at that moment i think myself and everyone else who was in the room realise that the last time the men walked he was wearing a pair of shoes and when i showed him which is he looked at them and he looked up at me turn to look at the time it was in the cabinet also and said well it sure was a wide tie and they were back and the shoes and i think he said something about i can't believe i wore shoes with bottles or something like that but you sort of are broke the ice so to speak animated little easier on us obviously the shoes he was wearing that day and these are some of the contents of his party it was bleak these artists lots of time was wearing and some materials that were also in his pocket or given to an individual that was there in the ground that day
and finally this is the sheriff and he was wearing when he was shot the shirt was cut away from him in the hospital and then placed in this hospital towel or eighty six point seven percent the archivist and curators here are consumed with the challenge of both preserving archive and using it to tell the story of alabama far from being boring this safely love history there is no better job and twenty two are the archive as a boy scout in nineteen sixty four bob bradley found his calling and i looked around all over the building course i was i'm a typical boy back then i was sent to a military planes enormous things in the civil war centennial was going on so i was really enamored of place my dad was when he was an assistant scoutmaster there's a statue of the spanish american war soldier in the lobby and i distinctly remember putting my hand on the foot of that status has fallen after
admitting it work in a place like this and is one of those those points in your life you remember he said well said that if you don't want to hear that i got i try to pass by a soldier every day is if that bridges was an inch taller he probably had five another line of work which is in a stat spend much of their time sorting cataloguing employee from nine low ceiling floors of archival documents and cheerios bridges is just the fifth director of archives and history since nineteen oh one and this analyst and sound crazy but i think most of us feel are a reconnaissance mission recently calling about him it almost a religious kind of terms it's more than just a job so many of the problem and
problems that us we pay out and working together i think can be overcome and we can get about understanding the history that we share and that that we are in so many ways the problems of conflicts and issues that existed in the past that if we understand those better we can we can work out a lot of those issues much more effectively today rapping our creation of the archive staff has one constant mission is to maintain this rich resource well into the next generation to not lose anything on their watch what other battles is with the human alabama climate and for about the last nine years we restrain same old girl from may through october and it begins like this it starts with little white splotches and it generally effects the outsides of audience this year we've had more of problems it's been attacking actual storage boxes and collections inside boxes and that's the first time we've ever had to go to that extreme
as it goes into a second stage of agreeing and eventually comes into this purple color and by that time it is starting the cellulose in the paper and started destroying the paper the final stage than it is black and by that time you say paper become so soft that you can take an hour we aren't going to have calls within air conditioning system is not operating the way it was designed in the equipment is getting old so we feel that it is going to be in a reoccurring thing until we can get in a new system or get rid of the densest renovated yes i think that voice so it's frustrating now because we keep having to do this summer after summer when you talk about the future with the staff digital is the march are you here the archive already handles over a thousand electronic mail requests annually from their internet website they would like to create a searchable database for the most frequently use materials
allowing access to their web site beware the digital world becomes most complex is when the archive deals with state records it's a huge huge challenge for nineteen years in the english speaking world we have a standard way of keeping records on parchment paper records are silent witness to when you record your dude and they'll call much of that is being done on a computer file so up to this kid standing to it's a system that in the conditions the practices of nine hundred years taught us a lot that we need to preserve and protect and and one of the really big challenges is how we protect what we've learned that's good over those past nine centuries into this entirely new technology that worked in intelligence well the technical challenges of the future are daunting look for the archive to become even more of a prominent part of the downtown montgomery landscape state as authorized the
sale of bonds to build a twelve million dollar west wing to the archives when will air temperature and humidity controlled storage them expand the capabilities of the archives serve as the state's history museum new exhibit gallery space are expected to improve the way the archive interprets and presents their impressive collections as they strive to tell the story of alabama video tape copies of this program or available by calling one eight hundred four six
three eighty eight to five learn more about this and other programming from the alabama experience on the web at w w w dot alabama tv dot org
The Alabama Experience
Holding onto History: Alabama's Archive
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University of Alabama Center for Public Television and Radio
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University of Alabama Center for Public Television and Radio (CPT&R) (Tuscaloosa, Alabama)
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Episode Description
The Alabama State Archive in Montgomery, Alabama holds onto history and explains it. Highlights parts of the military focused collection including confederate flags, firearms (both military and civilian), death registry of soliders, original Alabama constituion, a portrait collection, and more. Also includes information on the history of the archive, the partnering museum and research facilities, and more.
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Producing Organization: University of Alabama Center for Public Television and Radio
Videographer: Taylor, Frazine
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University of Alabama Center for Public Television
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Duration: 0:30:13
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Chicago: “The Alabama Experience; Holding onto History: Alabama's Archive,” 1999-02-25, University of Alabama Center for Public Television and Radio (CPT&R), American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 25, 2024,
MLA: “The Alabama Experience; Holding onto History: Alabama's Archive.” 1999-02-25. University of Alabama Center for Public Television and Radio (CPT&R), American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 25, 2024. <>.
APA: The Alabama Experience; Holding onto History: Alabama's Archive. Boston, MA: University of Alabama Center for Public Television and Radio (CPT&R), American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from