Archives Programs and Outreach

Each year the Archives staff present dozens of talks on a variety of topics to clubs, civic groups and other organizations in Birmingham and around the state. These talks generally last 20 to 30 minutes.

The talks are offered free of charge but donations to the Archives are welcome.

Some talks require a laptop, projector, and screen for PowerPoint presentations.

For more information or to schedule a program contact Catherine Champion, (205-226-3634).

The Speaker

Catherine Champion is Assistant Archivist in the Department of Archives and Manuscripts at the Birmingham Public Library. She founded the student chapter of Society of American Archivists at the University of Alabama. Catherine has lectured throughout the Birmingham area and around the state. When not preserving the history of this great city, Catherine can be seen on stage and behind the scenes of several local community theatres. Catherine lives with her husband and their menagerie of pets in the Crestwood area.



All's Fair...

The end of that idiom is the framework for this presentation. Using love letters sent between a young World War II soldier and his sweetheart at home in Birmingham, we journey through a relationship torn apart by distance and war. (Catherine Champion)

Common Bonds: Birmingham Snapshot Photography, 1900-1950

For more than a century the people of Birmingham have documented their lives with snapshots. From mothers chronicling their children’s growth to families playing in snow, this talk explores how snapshots reveal the common interests of all types of Alabamians. (Catherine Champion; PowerPoint presentation)  

Every House Has a History: Researching Birmingham Area Houses, Buildings and Churches

Jefferson County enjoys a rich architectural heritage. This talk will introduce you to sources available at the Birmingham Public Library Archives to help you locate vintage photos of your house, building or church; determine the age of the structure and learn who has lived or worked there. (Catherine Champion; PowerPoint presentation)  

Handle with Care: Preserving Your Family Papers and Photographs

There are many basic and inexpensive things you can do to ensure that your family letters, scrapbooks and photographs are preserved for the future. This talk introduces the fundamentals of home archiving. (Jim Baggett or Catherine Champion)  

Miss Fancy, Queen of the Avondale Zoo

In early 20th century Birmingham, children and adults spent many happy Sunday afternoons feeding and riding Miss Fancy, the gentle elephant who lived at the old Birmingham Zoo in Avondale Park. Remembered for her habit of sneaking away from the zoo and wandering the surrounding neighborhoods, and her taste for alcohol, Miss Fancy is now the mascot for a Birmingham brewery and a beloved local character. This talk explores the life and legend of Birmingham’s most famous elephant. (Catherine Champion; PowerPoint presentation) 

A 19th-Century Murder Mystery: The Hawes Murders and Riot

In December 1888, a mob of several hundred men attacked the Jefferson County jail in an attempt to lynch Robert Hawes, suspected of murdering his wife and two daughters. Sheriff’s deputies fired on the mob, killing several men. This talk explores the events surrounding one of Birmingham’s most infamous murder mysteries. (Catherine Champion; PowerPoint presentation or can be presented without PowerPoint)

Old School Scrapbooking

From Victorian era school girls to a county coroner with an interest in grisly murders, Birminghamians often saved mementos in scrapbooks. Many of these late 19th- and early 20th-century scrapbooks are preserved in the Library’s Archives. This talk explores scrapbook keeping and keepsakes--visiting cards, photographs, letters, poems, theater programs, paper dolls, newspaper clippings--that people treasured and saved. (Catherine Champion; PowerPoint presentation)

Organizing and Preserving Your Church or Temple Archives

Every church or temple has a unique history that should be preserved. Learn the basics of organizing and preserving the historic documents of your congregation. Topics covered include what to collect, simple and inexpensive methods for preserving your archives and sources for archival supplies. (Catherine Champion)

Southern Belles in the Big Apple

Using travel diaries preserved in the Birmingham Public Library Archives, this presentation recounts the experiences of three Birmingham women who visited New York City in the 1890s, the 1930s, and the 2000s. (Catherine Champion; PowerPoint presentation)   

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