UA Libraries to Unveil Williams Americana Collection Nov. 9
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The A.S. Williams III Americana Collection will open officially for public viewing during a ceremony at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9, in Room 301 of Gorgas Library, part of The University of Alabama Libraries.
The collection, which UA formally acquired in June and is valued at over $12 million, contains more than 20,000 books and 12,000 photographs, and it represents a lifetime’s effort by Williams, former executive vice president and treasurer of Protective Life Corp. in Birmingham.
For more than 40 years, Williams, a Eufaula native and UA alumnus, amassed rare examples of Americana — primarily books, manuscripts and photographs relating to the history of the United States, Alabama and the South.
“The Williams Collection is extraordinary in its breadth and scope and will afford serious research opportunities to the campus, state and beyond,” says Dr. Louis Pitschmann, dean of UA Libraries.
Williams and members of his family will attend the opening ceremony. Expected to speak are: Dr. Judy Bonner, executive vice president and provost; Dr. George Rable, Charles G. Summersell professor of southern history; and Pitschmann.
The companion website to the collection, www.lib.ua.edu/williamscollection, is available for browsing.
The Williams Collection is housed on the third floor of Gorgas Library in the Williams Room, a recently renovated 5,271-square-foot room that overlooks the Quadrangle. Scholars will have access to the collection in the Williams Room. UA Libraries will offer pieces of the collection in revolving displays in Gorgas Library. Visitors may see displays in the Williams Room, as well as the Pearce Foyer on the second floor.
The first exhibit features samples from the collection. Items displayed include a a 1793 document signed by Thomas Jefferson, just one example from the Presidential Collection, which includes signed items by every U.S. president from George Washington to George W. Bush.
Other items illustrate the history of photography up to 1910. Among the rarest items are books and documents printed in the Confederate States of America that bear a CSA imprint. A few of those works are part of the exhibition; they’ll give onlookers a glimpse of everyday reading life during the Civil War.
“The number of unique and uncommon items pertaining to the United States broadly and the South specifically is extraordinary,” Pitschmann says. “Because so much of the content has not been seen by researchers, the collection offers UA faculty and students a broad array of research opportunities.”
The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.