Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Spring Semester has Sprung! Classroom visits and Photographs of Photographs!

The spring semester at The University of Alabama begins today, and it is a good of a day as any to mention the very cool experience of bringing students to Special Collections!

Featured above are two photographs by UA student Samantha Hernandez. Samantha, a student of photography and a truly excellent photographer, took these photographs during a classroom visit last year for a course on the history of photography.

The W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library houses a growing and diverse collection of historic and contemporary photographs. Included are photographs of individuals, structures, and scenes from around Alabama, as well as of people, buildings, and events at The University of Alabama. The earliest photographic image of the University dates to 1859. The Hoole Library is home to an impressive collection of photographs of nearly every format and type including salted paper print; matte collodion; daguerreotype; tintype; cyanotype; ambrotype; and albumen.

One of our most prominent photograph collections is the Wade Hall Photography Collection. A continuing gift of Union Springs, Alabama native Dr. Wade Hall, this collection is a truly international in scope, and provides a unique view of American life and experiences around the world, including Europe, South and Central America, Asia, the South Pacific, North Africa, and the Middle East. The collection of more than 24,000 images includes photographs taken by families on vacation trips in both the 19th and 20thcenturies, portraits of floods, fires, and other catastrophes. The collection comprises a broad scope of subject matter ranging from images of farm life in rural America to images of historic events and locations, including the American liberation of a Nazi concentration camp and the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893. Photographs of African-Americans make up a significant part of the collection. The collection contains examples of almost every type of popular 19th and 20th century photographic process.

As part of the University Archives, photographs from The University of Alabama are also a significant component of our collections. These include a vast collection relating to the history of The University of Alabama and members of the university community as well as historic photographs of the city of the Tuscaloosa area. Other important collections include a group of photographs of Alabama steamboat and river traffic, and glass plate negatives by the Alabama
Geological Survey.

As part of our Digital Program, photographs from our collections like this one (featuring a festive New Years feast!) from the Perkins Family Papers are accessible online.

Faculty members who would like to discuss a classroom visit should contact me at to initiate arrangements with as much notice as possible! Please note that we do not have a classroom, so class visits are limited by size and available times. Welcome back everyone, and a very happy new year!

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