The manuscript and archival collections housed in Special Collections & Archives reflect a strong focus on the history of Auburn University, which includes an institutional responsibility for the proper management of public records created by university officials. The department’s manuscript and archival collections also reflect an emphasis on Alabama history as it has intersected the university’s development and the accomplishments of Auburn alumni and faculty. Consequently, the department’s holdings strengths include material related to Alabama agriculture and rural life, Alabama architecture, twentieth century Alabama politics, and Alabama writers. Finally, subject strengths in manuscripts and archives include holdings related to the Civil War and the history of flight.
The History of Auburn University
Manuscript and archival collections related to the history of Auburn University date from the origins of the school in 1856 until the present. They include official records of Auburn University that have been designated for permanent retention by the Alabama State Records Commission. They also include privately created manuscript and archival collections documenting the history of the school. The types of records documenting Auburn’s history include correspondence, reports, still pictures, motion pictures, sound recordings, and minutes of meetings.
Agriculture and Rural Life in Alabama
As a land-grant university, Auburn has developed ties with a variety of individuals and organizations concerned with agriculture and rural life in Alabama. These relationships have been cultivated by individual faculty members and campus-based units such as the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Consequently, Auburn provides an archival home for records of such groups as the former Alabama Farm Bureau Federation; the Alabama Forestry Association; and the Stewards of Family Farms. These records include still pictures, correspondence, minutes of meetings, and sound recordings.
Auburn University supports academic programs in aviation engineering, aviation management, and the history of technology, particularly the history of flight. Consequently, Special Collections & Archives has developed manuscript and archival holdings related to aviation and aerospace. These include materials on the history of both military and commercial aviation, such as papers of Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, a World War I ace who later served as president of Eastern Airlines. The aviation and aerospace collection includes correspondence, still pictures, and some motion pictures.
The Civil War
Auburn University has a longstanding tradition of course offerings, faculty research, and graduate study related to the Civil War. Special Collections & Archives supports these programs through manuscript holdings related to the Civil War. These materials include private correspondence to and from both United States and Confederate States soldiers; diaries kept by soldiers from both armies; and some soldiers’ photographs. The collection includes the papers of General James Henry Lane, who commanded a North Carolina brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia and later served as a faculty member at what became Auburn University.
Twentieth Century Alabama Politics
Special Collections & Archives holds several archival and manuscript collections related to twentieth-century Alabama politics, many of which have been donated through Auburn faculty members and alumni. These include records of the League of Women Voters of Alabama and the Alabama Republican Party. The department also serves as home for several congressional collections, including the papers of Congressmen Henry B. Steagall, George Andrews, William F. Nichols, and Spencer Bachus. Finally, the department’s political collections include the office records of United States Senator Jeremiah A. Denton, Jr. The department’s political collections include correspondence, newspaper clippings related to elected officials, reports, still pictures, and some motion pictures.
The department also holds several archival and manuscript collections related to Alabama architecture, many of which have been donated through faculty members and alumni of the College of Architecture, Design, and Construction. These include records of the Alabama Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, Alabama-related materials generated by the Historic American Buildings Survey, and the papers of Dr. Walter Burkhardt, the Auburn faculty member who directed the Historic American Buildings Survey in Alabama. The types of records found in the manuscript and archival collections related to Alabama architecture include photographs, measured drawings, reports, and correspondence.
Special Collections & Archives holds several manuscript collections generated by writers whose works depict the history and culture of Alabama and the South in fictional form. Generally, these donations have come from members of the Auburn family, either alumni or others with some relationship to the school. They include Anne Rivers Siddons, Mary Ward Brown, Kathryn Tucker Windham, Paul Hemphill, and Catherine Rodgers McLain. The papers of Alabama writers include drafts of various works, editorial correspondence, and reviews.
Current Collecting Policy
Special Collections & Archives builds its archival and manuscript holdings upon a combination of elements: the strengths of its existing holdings; the teaching, research, and outreach missions of Auburn University; and the resources available for the collection, arrangement, description, and housing of archival and manuscript holdings.
The department collects as comprehensively as possible the official records of Auburn University designated for permanent retention by the Alabama State Records Commission. On a selective basis, the department collects other material related to the history of the school, including documentation of faculty and alumni achievements. The department also collects on a selective basis other materials related to its holdings strengths in the subject areas mentioned above.
Those interested in more information regarding the department’s holdings in manuscripts and archival collections should contact Dwayne Cox, Head, Special Collections & Archives, Draughon Library, Auburn University, AL 36849, firstname.lastname@example.org, 334-844-1707.