Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Three Generations in One Library

Being a librarian with an interest in history, I guess I notice these kind of things. We seem to have an "interest in history gene" that runs in some of the family. My dad had it, my brother and I have it, my son and daughter have it, one of my nephews has it.

Although dad--Amos J. Wright, Jr.--worked for many years for the U.S. Army at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, mom tells me he once wanted to be a history professor. He ended up in civilian computer system work; he figured teaching college might not support a family the way he wanted. 

But he gave in to that history gene by many years of walking cotton rows in north Alabama and southern Tennessee looking for artifacts [often accompanied by mom, my brother Richard and I--a story for another day] and membership in the Alabama Archaeological Society. That participation led to a couple of terms as AAS President and long stints as assistant editor and editor of the society's Stones and Bones newsletter. 

He eventually started collecting material for a book on Alabama Indian towns, which was published by the University of Alabama Press in 2003 just prior to his death. In the process of gathering all that material he amassed information on other topics, including traders in the Southeast before the Native American removal on the Trail of Tears. A book on some of those traders was published in 2001 by New South Books in Montgomery.

The McGillivray and McIntosh traders on the old Southwest frontier, 1716-1815
New South Books, 2001

Historic Indian towns in Alabama, 1540-1838
University of Alabama Press, 2003

Recently I noticed that three generations--my dad, my son and I--are represented by materials in UAB's Sterne Library. My son Amos IV finished his M.A. in creative writing at UAB in 2011 and a copy of his thesis, a collection of three short stories, is held at Sterne along with all theses and dissertations done at the university. The library's catalog record for "Nobody Knows How It Got This Good" can be found here. Maybe one day Sterne will be able to buy a more formally published version.

Finally, we come to my contribution to Sterne's collections. In a previous life cycle I did a bit of research and writing on crime in Alabama and the Southeast before 1930. One result of that effort was a book published by Greenwood Press in 1989. 

Criminal activity in the deep South, 1700-1930 : an annotated bibliography
Greenwood Press, 1989

Perhaps I'll tap some of that material for future posts. Lots of fascinating--not to mention horrible--crime running around in Alabama's past. Train and post office robbers, ax murderers, counterfeiters, wife killers, husband killers--just the usual people stuff.  

Now about that library gene...I'm a librarian, one of my maternal aunts and another relative on that side in California are librarians, even my wife is a librarian...weird.

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