The Wiregrass Common Heritage Project

In January 2016, the National Endowment for the Humanities funded the Wiregrass Common Heritage Project (WCHP), a joint venture of the Wiregrass Archives and the Troy University Dothan Campus History Department.

The WCHP hosted two workshops, two community scanning days, and a follow up meeting.

The first workshop, held on May 21 at the Dothan Public Library downtown

Frazine Taylor
branch, was Frazine Taylor’s “African American Genealogical Research in Alabama.” Taylor spent her career as a 1603060448reference archivist at the Alabama Department of Archives and History and is the chair of Alabama’s Black Heritage Council.  Additionally, she authored Researching African American Genealogy in Alabama: A Resource Guide (NewSouth Books, 2008).

The second workshop took place on June 4 at Landmark Park in Dothan.  Dana Chandler, director of the Tuskegee University Archives, presented “Preserving Your Family Treasures.  He

Dana Chandler
explained the physical and environmental threats to papers, photographs, and artifacts, then worked with attendees to properly preserve and record identification information about photographs they provided.

Two Community Scanning Days followed on June 11 and June 25, when community members chose 12 images from their collections to be digitized and added to the collections of the Wiregrass Archives. Participants received a thumbdrive with copies of their scans and archival quality enclosures for their original photographs and documents.  Six donors provided over 130 images, and one donor provided a highschool yearbook and over 200 African American funeral programs.

Scanning Days Scenes:

Scanning Teams, June 11, 2016, Dothan Library

Scanning Team Working with Donor, June 25, 2016, Landmark Park

Scanning Team working with Donors, June 25, 2016, Landmark Park
Finally, on the stormy night of December 5, Project Directors Dr. Marty Olliff and Dr. Robert Saunders met with donors and community members at the Dothan Public Library to summarize the project, point toward future project directions, and share a video made from a number of contributed slides, shown here:

WCHP from Robert Saunders on Vimeo.

Thanks to our funders and partners.


“Charles Brooks: Four Decades of Political Cartooning” on Display


As we approach Election Day 2016 and the atmosphere is fraught with charges, counter-charges, debates, and Twitter, The Wiregrass Archives hosts a display of works by Alabama’s master editorial cartoonist Charles Brooks that cover presidential elections from 1960 through 1984.

Brooks became the Birmingham News’s first editorial cartoonist in 1948 after attending Birmingham-Southern College and the Chicagojfk-nixon-al-visit-1960-charles-brooks Academy of Fine Arts, serving in World War II, and drawing gag cartoons for a Chicago ad agency.  He retired from the News in 1985, and in 1998 donated four thousand original drawings to the Birmingham Public Library.

The BPL Department of Archives and Manuscripts chose 42 images for a free traveling display, thanks to the generosity of Tom Sketritt and The Birmingham News.  This sample image shows JFK nervous over Richard Nixon’s visit to Alabama in search of votes in the neck-and-neck 1960 campaign.  Nixon lost, but ran again in 1968 and 1972, when he broke “The Solid South” by winning more than 72 percent of Alabama’s votes.

The cartoons and their explanatory panels will remain on display until November 11, 2016, in the Gallery of Everett Hall on the Troy Dothan Campus.  The exhibition is FREE and OPEN to the public.   Thanks to Jim Baggett and the staff of the Department of Archives and Manuscripts at the Birmingham Public Archives for making this available, and to Dean Christopher Shaffer of the Troy University Libraries for facilitating its transport to Dothan.

Selection of Brooks cartoons for the 1980 and 1984 elections.


“J. Marion Sims: Carolina Lineage, Alabama Fame”

Dr. Horton

On September 13, 2016, Dr. Tom Horton of Charleston, South Carolina will make a presentation on the role J. Marion Sims and other Carolinians in the settlement of Alabama.


Date:  Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Time:  7 – 8 pm CDT
Place:  Harrison Room, Malone Hall, Troy University Dothan Campus


Dr. Horton says this about Dr. Sims

J. Marion Sims

Long before the state of Alabama was famous for its two-legged exports such as Percy Sledge, Mia Hamm, and Kenny, the Snake, Stabler,  a 35 year-old fellow, slight of build and strikingly handsome, traveled from antebellum Montgomery to New York, and from there to Paris. When he returned briefly 20 years later to visit his many friends, this amazing man was one of the most renown doctors in the world.

James Marion Sims, originally from Heath Springs, South Carolina, grew up in a log cabin with his Scots-Irish parents and grandparents. His birthplace was an easy morning’s horseback ride to the Old Waxhaws region where Andrew Jackson had been born just a half century earlier.

Sims completed his surgical training at Jefferson Medical School in Philadelphia and practiced briefly in Lancaster, S.C. His first two patients died and the distraught young practitioner uprooted and moved west where so many of his kin had already gone due to family squabbles and depleted soil. Settling in Mount Meigs, Sims quickly established himself as somewhat of a miracle worker with the life-saving surgeries that he performed.

Sims pioneered numerous operating techniques, instruments, and medical protocols. He devised successful ways to treat cleft palate, ruptures in males, and vaginal fistulas that sometimes accompany difficult, prolonged labor in pregnancy. Hundreds of scientific articles, countless demonstrations and speeches, and at least one textbook made Sims a name known across the Western World.

J. Marion Sims, M.D., as he was professionally known, has been labeled as “the father of Gynecology,” and his creation, The Woman’s Hospital of New York has been copied around the globe. As surgeon to Queen Victoria and Czar Nicholas’s consort, Alexandra, Sims’ place in history is firmly established.

Alabama gave him is professional start.