Huntsville History Collection

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The Huntsville History Collection: A Portal to Huntsville's Past

Published in Cooperation with the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library
The Huntsville History Collection is an internet portal that provides information about the history and historic architecture of Huntsville and Madison County. It is a work in progress and is expected to grow over the next few years. Some of that growth will come from planned additions by the Huntsville Madision County Public Library, the Collection Webmaster and other contributors of materials. Hopefully, those contributors will include people like you who add their personal stories and pictures.

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Introducing The Huntsville History Tour,
A Digital Guided Tour of Historic Huntsville, Alabama

Thanks to the cooperative efforts of the Huntsville Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Huntsville History Collection, you can use your mobile device to explore historic downtown Huntsville with narration by Jackie Reeves, Nancy Rohr and John Malone. The tour is an approved Healthy Huntsville activity! To access the tour simply type HuntsvilleHistoryTours.org into an internet browser or scan the QR Code on the image to the right.

What's New

The Huntsville History Collection continues to grow. Recent additions include:

Key Components of the Huntsville History Collection

1818 Erskine House at 527 Franklin Street SE. Drawing by Lee Harless
  • People of Huntsville - A list of people, past & present, who have shaped Huntsville and the World. The entries include photographs, basic facts (birth, death, burial), genealogical information, biographical notes, external links to web-based information, and internal links to homes, stories, and other people. The best way to access the People is through the Find Person list.
  • Stories - Some of the stories already exist in the form of articles from local history publications or bits of information available on the internet. We hope to grow this section significantly over the next year or two as we add more articles from journals and other sources. Our hope is that visitors to the Collection will add stories of their own and link them to the people and the places.

Collections within the Collection

The Huntsville History Collection is really a collection of collections. This information is from a variety of sources including:

  • Harvie Jones Architectural Collection - Harvie Jones played a critical role in the preservation of historic homes and buildings in Huntsville. He served as the architect for the restoration of many historic buildings and was a key player in the creation of Alabama Constitution Village and the Twickenham Historic Preservation District. His papers are preserved in the Harvie Jones Architectural Collection at the University of Alabama Huntsville's Salmon Library. The Huntsville History Collection highlights information from that collection, including photographs, architectural notes and historical maps.
  • The Art of the Twickenham Cookbooks - The Twickenham Historic Preservation District Association has published two cookbooks which contain descriptions and images of Huntsville's historic houses, drawn by local artists. The art and stories can be accessed via the Places list or as complete collections at the following two links:
  • The Southpaw Postcard Collection - George (Buzz) & Peg Heeschen have allowed us to include their collection of about 500 Huntsville and Madision County postcards, including scenes of buildings, streets, homes, Big Spring, Monte Sano, Marshall Space Flight Center and many others.
  • Glimpses of Old Huntsville - A series of brief audio recordings by Nancy Rohr, a local historian, author and storyteller who's familiar voice tells stories about life in early Huntsville, the residents of historic homes and local heroines of the Civil War.
  • Madison Memories Collection - An extensive collection of materials by John P. Rankin, who has been researching the history of Madison County for 20 years. It includes:
    • Cemeteries of Redstone Arsenal - A series of summary reports documenting the approximately 50 cemeteries located on Redstone Arsenal.
    • Oral History Series - A series of oral histories of Madison residents that John collected, 2004-2006.
    • Pioneer Family Folders - The Madison pioneer family research papers of John Rankin organized by family in a series of computer directories that are now accessable on the internet.
    • Vintage Vignettes - A series of short stories by John about the people and history of Madison and Madison County, originally published in The Huntsville Times.
  • Did You Know? - A series of reprinted stories from The Merrimack Mill Village Newsletter provided by Jim Marek.
  • Resources - A list of history and preservation related resources, including archives, museums, publications, website and organizations.
  • AlabamaMosaic - This cooperative venture by several organizations within the State, provides a large collection of historical photographs. Many of the photographs from the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library are available at this site.
  • Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) - This government funded project by the National Park Service was started in 1933 to document significant houses in America. This documentation includes photographs, drawings and written descriptions that are now housed at the Library of Congress.
  • Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) - This sister program to HABS documents engineering facilities of historical significance, including several at Marshall Space Flight Center. It includes photographs, drawings and written descriptions that are now housed at the Library of Congress. Five of these facilities are listed as National Historic Landmarks.
  • Maple Hill Cemetery Stroll Map, 2012 Pictures & 2011 Pictures - The Maple Hill Cemetery Stroll is an annual event by the Huntsville Pilgrimage Association in which local citizens dress up as residents of Maple Hill Cemetery who tell their personal stories. It is an entertaining and educational event that is well worth a few hours on a Sunday in October. These pictures are from the 2011 Stroll. The Pilgrimage Association has recently expanded their offerings with the 2014 History & Mystery Tour where costumed interpreters portray historic Huntsville residents in front of their Twickenham homes.
  • Huntsville Rewound - Metro Huntsville's First Retro Website. Pictures and memories from the Huntsville AL TV market including Huntsville, Decatur, Athens, Madison, The Shoals, Sand Mountain, South TN border counties and all points in-between.
  • Huntsville History Bookshelf - An amazing number of books have been written about Huntsville and its History. This section contains brief descriptions for some of these books. Links are provided to scanned images of the covers, title pages and table of contents, so you can decide if you want to acquire a copy.

Local Artists, Authors, Storytellers and Musicians

Huntsville has been blessed with a number of artists who have captured the images of Huntsville in their drawings, paintings, photography, music and storytelling. Their art is often seen in homes, local restaurants, local art gallerys, on association invitations and in publications such as the cookbooks listed above.

  • Nancy Rohr - Nancy is the author of three books on local history and has recorded a series of audio histories for many of the historic Twickenham houses in this collection.
  • Sarah Huff Fisk - Sarah was a prolific local historian, author and artist. Her writings and drawings provide unique insight into life in early Huntsville and Madison County.
  • Jacquelyn Reeves - Jacque has authored a number of books on history and true crime, served as the editor of several local historical publications and co-founded two local tour companies.
  • Lee Harless, Jr - Lee grew up in Huntsville and has been recording Huntsville scenes for most of his life. One of his specialities has been drawings of Twickenham houses.
  • L. Trice Hinds - Trice's paintings grace homes throughout the state and many homes here in Huntsville
  • Albert Lane - Artist Albert Lane is best known for his pen and ink studies of Huntsville's historic landmarks.
  • Jerry Brown - Jerry is a painter who has created images of several Huntsville houses and buildings.
  • Yuri Ozaki - Yuri has created scenes of many downtown Huntsville buildings. She also has an extensive series on Maple Hill Cemetery.
  • Maggie Little - Maggie contributed a drawing for Twickenham Tables.
  • Susan Clanton - Susan contributed drawings for Twickenham Tables.
  • Susan McCrary - Susan contributed drawings for Twickenham Receipts and Sketches.
  • Teresia Reid - Teresia is known for her paintings of private homes, old buildings and historic landmarks.
  • Dustin Timbrook - Dustin has created a distinctive array of five panels of Big Spring International Park which reflect his unique style and wit.
  • Katherine Purves - Katherine's drawing ability and knowledge of glass painting allows her to immortalize the image of houses on sheets of glass, which she can incorporate into stained glass windows.
  • Sam Tumminello - Sam, who has gained notoriety for his photography, has contributed some of the early photographs he collected during his life in Huntsville.
  • Ashley Brody Vaughn - Ashley's photograph is art! She has hundreds of Huntsville-related photographs posted on Flickr.
  • Bruce Walker, Storyteller - Bruce draws from his experiences a a minister, businessman, husband and father to tell stories about the history of Huntsville and growing up in northern Alabama.
  • Olde Towne Brass - Huntsville's Olde Towne Brass performs in the manner of Early American and Civil War bands, playing original Civil War Music on actual Civil War Over-The-Shoulder (OTS) Brass Horns.
  • Gray's Watercolors - The scenes from Gray's Watercolors are local, although the artists are not.
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