This Week in Alabama History Feb 27 – Mar 5

This Week in Alabama History Feb 20 – Feb 26
February 20, 2017
This Week in Alabama History Mar 6 – Mar 12
March 6, 2017

This Week in Alabama History Feb 27 – Mar 5

Every day of the year, something exciting, notable, or just downright strange has happened in Alabama history.

Scroll down and check out what happened THIS week.

Alabama Department of Archives and History. (Photograph by Donnie Shackleford, Encyclopedia of Alabama.)

February 27, 1901

The state legislature created the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH), the nation’s first publicly-funded state archives agency. Founded to foster an interest in Alabama history and to preserve and make historical records and artifacts accessible, the department initially displayed its collections in the Senate chamber before moving to its permanent location in 1940. The agency maintains more than 50,000 cubic feet of archival materials and over 1 million artifacts. In 2014, ADAH opened Alabama Voices, the centerpiece exhibition in the Museum of Alabama, which tells the story of Alabama from prehistory to present.

Thomas Monroe Campbell. (Auburn University Libraries, Encyclopedia of Alabama.)

February 28, 1953

The nation’s first black agriculture extension agent, Thomas Monroe Campbell, retired from the USDA after forty-seven years of service. A student of George Washington Carver at the Tuskegee Institute, Campbell managed projects such as Tuskegee’s Movable School of Agriculture to improve the economic conditions of black farmers throughout the South. Campbell worked through both world wars and the Great Depression, often rejecting college administrative positions and fellowships to stay with the extension service. In 1930, Campbell won the first and only Harmon Award presented for distinguished achievement in the field of farming and rural life.

President Lyndon B. Johnson meets with Martin Luther King Jr. at the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. (Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, Yoichi Okamoto, Wikimedia.)

March 1, 1948

The Voters and Veterans Association of Mobile sued in federal court on behalf of ten African American plaintiffs against the Boswell Amendment to the Alabama Constitution. Designed to prevent blacks from voting, the amendment required all potential voters to understand and explain any part of the US Constitution to the satisfaction of local registrars before registering to vote. A panel of three US District Court judges heard the suit, known as Davis v. Schnell, and in January 1949, declared the Boswell Amendment unconstitutional. In 1951, however, the Alabama legislature adopted new voter qualification laws that stood until the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

Clifford Durr. (Wikimedia.)

March 2, 1899

Attorney Clifford Durr was born in Montgomery. Best known for his work defending clients accused of breaking the federal loyalty oath program during the McCarthy Era, Durr became entangled in conflicts related to the “Red Scare” with his wife, activist Virginia Foster Durr, while living in Washington, DC. After losing the majority of his white clients due to the negative publicity related to the conflicts, Durr focused the remainder of his career on representing clients in civil rights cases. In 1955, Durr assisted attorney Fred Gray in representing Rosa Parks as she challenged the city’s segregated bus seating.

Map of the state of Mississippi and the Alabama territory. (Francis Shallus, Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.)

March 3, 1817

Congress created the Alabama Territory from the eastern half of the Mississippi Territory in an effort to appease southern legislators wanting to create two new slave states instead of one. Passed two days after allowing Mississippi to form its own government, the act gave Alabama the authority to create a legislature and court in the capital of St. Stephens and allowed President James Monroe to appoint a governor, a position soon given to William Wyatt Bibb from Georgia. The act did not become official, however, until Mississippi adopted a constitution and government, which occurred on August 15, 1817.

T. S. Stribling in picture taken prior to 1907.(University Archives, Collier Library, University of North Alabama, Wikimedia.)

March 4, 1881

Author T. S. Stribling was born in Tennessee. Although raised in Tennessee, Stribling spent many of his boyhood summers in Lauderdale County and attended the University of North Alabama in Florence. The author of sixteen novels, Stribling is best known for his Vaiden Trilogy set in antebellum Florence, and earned international praise for his portrayal of racial relations in the South, including the 1930 Pulitzer Prize for The Store. Residents of Florence, however, reacted less favorably—banning his books from local libraries and considering filing a lawsuit for libel. Stribling was posthumously inducted into the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame in 2016.

Samuel Peck. (Birmingham Public Library Archives, Encyclopedia of Alabama.)

March 5, 1931

The state legislature confirmed Samuel Minturn Peck as Alabama’s first poet laureate. A native of Tuscaloosa, Peck studied languages and literature at Columbia University and published his first volume of poetry, Caps and Bells, to great success in 1886. Known for simple, easy-to-understand poems in the style of vers de société, Peck published seven volumes of poetry, but never received critical acclaim. Many of Peck’s poems, including “The Grapevine Swing,” were set to music by various composers. Nominated for the position of poet laureate by the Alabama Writers Conclave, Peck served until his death in 1938.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *