The University of Alabama at Birmingham | UAB has libraries and archives with helpful collections for family history research including US Civil War and Historic Medical collections.


Some items from their Digital Collections include:

  • Civil War Items from UAB Libraries — This collection on the American Civil War includes material held by the Mervyn H. Sterne Library, the Reynolds-Finley Historical Library, the Alabama Museum of the Health Sciences, and the UAB Archives. Items found in this collection include surgical instruments and medical equipment, diaries, photographs, correspondence, digitized books, and other original material.

  • Birmingham Medical College Collection — The Birmingham Medical College Collection highlights Birmingham’s first medical school, which operated between 1894 and 1915. This school provides an interesting glimpse of early medical education in the South. Items from the UAB Archives include photographs, diplomas, correspondence, and printed material such as programs, invitations, and matriculation cards.

  • Instruments, Equipment, and Devices — Dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, these catalogs feature a variety of instruments, tools, and supplies that were available to medical practitioners during this time period. Each catalog contains black and white drawings of the equipment being sold, alongside descriptions and prices. Some also contain photos or color drawings, and testimonials or instructions in using the equipment and performing new procedures are sometimes included. The catalogs are housed at the Reynolds-Finley Historical Library, and some of the objects can be found in the Alabama Museum of the Health Sciences.

  • Oral History Collection — The University of Alabama at Birmingham Oral History Collection contains interviews on Alabama political and civic leaders, civil rights in Alabama, ethnic history of Alabama, folk history of Alabama, labor history of Alabama, history of Alabama women, historic Alabama communities, Alabama refugee experiences, and history of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The interviews in this collection were recorded between 1975 and 1984 under the direction of an oral history office in the UAB history department.

  • Florence Nightingale Letters — The Florence Nightingale Collection of the Reynolds-Finley Historical Library includes 50 personal letters by Nightingale, dated 1853 to 1893, covering military and civil hospitals, nursing, sanitary affairs in India, and various charitable contributions.

  • Marcel Proust Collection — In the late 1970s, Professor William Stewart Bell (1921-1980), a Birmingham native and Proust scholar, donated a collection of Marcel Proust books to Sterne Library. Professor Bell was in Paris after World War II and was able to purchase many of these unique volumes. Following a 1988 conference, Marcel Proust at UAB, Sterne Library collected additional works by and about Marcel Proust (1871-1922). The Proust collection at UAB is one of the largest in the US.

  • Lawrence Reynolds WWI Photographs — In 1917 Dr. Lawrence Reynolds (1889-1961), an Alabama native, sailed from New York for France to begin work as a radiologist at an American-supported hospital in Paris. The photographs in this collection document his tenure in the American Military Hospital No. 1, the hospital’s staff and patients, and the hospital’s annex in the village of Juilly. The images also document the trenches along the front, shell-damaged villages, military officials and soldiers, tourist sites in Paris and the French countryside, and various friends and associates photographed in leisure activities. Upon his discharge in 1919, Dr. Reynolds returned to the U.S. The Reynolds photographs are housed in the UAB Archives.

  • Pellagra in Alabama — In the U.S. the nutritional deficiency disease pellagra became epidemic in the South. It had its beginning and end in Alabama, being first recognized in epidemic proportions by Alabama physician Dr. George H. Searcy in 1906, and ending with Dr. Tom D. Spies’ nutritional treatment clinic in Birmingham, which operated from 1937 to 1960. In 1914 Dr. Carl A. Grote, Walker County public health officer, was the first to conduct field work to determine the etiology of the disease in an actual community setting. He conducted this work prior to and independent of Dr. Joseph Goldberger who is righty credited for discovering the nature of pellagra but who at Grote’s writing had only studied the disease in controlled environments.

    This collection chronicles Alabama’s valiant campaign against pellagra. For more information on this topic, visit our web exhibit, Pellagra in Alabama: A Valiant Struggle Against ‘The Red Death.’

  • Mervyn Hayden Sterne Collection — Mervyn Hayden Sterne (1892-1973), a local businessman and philanthropist, was an early supporter of UAB. On October 23, 1974, the new University College Library at UAB was dedicated in memory of Mervyn Hayden Sterne. The Sterne collection, which contains many of Mr. Sterne’s personal items including awards, degrees, letters, and photographs, is housed in the UAB Archives.

  • StoryCorps — StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 30,000 interviews from more than 60,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

  • Transactions of the Southern Surgical Association — Founded in 1887 in Birmingham, Alabama, the Southern Surgical & Gynecological Association was renamed the Southern Surgical Association (SSA) in 1916. Since the association’s first annual meeting on December 4-6, 1888, the publication of annual transactions has followed. Under the auspices of the Southern Surgical Association, the archival copies of the transactions held in the Reynolds-Finley Historical Library are made available in this digital collection.

  • Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts — The Reynolds-Finley Historical Library holds seven medieval and Renaissance manuscripts dating from the mid-14th through the 16th centuries. These works are mostly medical and scientific tracts, including ones by leading thinkers of the period such as Arnold of Villanova, Petrus Peregrinus, and al-Razi (Rhazes). Learn more about these manuscripts.

  • UAB Historical Collection — This collection contains miscellaneous items from the three components of the Historical Collections area of the UAB Libraries: the Alabama Museum of the Health Sciences, Reynolds-Finley Historical Library, and UAB Archives. Also included are digitized books from the Sterne Library Rare Book Collection.

  • UAB Portrait Collection — A project to photograph and document the portraits in UAB buildings.

  • UAB Publications — A collection of publications by and for the UAB community.

  • UAB Faculty Works — Scholarship submitted by UAB Faculty.



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