Portfolio of Cheylon K. Woods

Archive for November, 2011

Alabama Historical Association Pilgrimage to Tuskegee!!!!

The Alabama Historical Association’s annual Fall Pilgrimage was held on October 21-22, 2011.    This year the pilgrimage highlighted Tuskegee University and Booker T. Washington. This was a wonderful event, which consisted of a reception and a day of talks and activities. The reception to celebrate the pilgrimage was held at the Tuskegee Human and Civil Rights Multicultural Center, on October 21, 2011. This center, established in 1997, by Attorney Fred Gray as a memorial to the victims of the Tuskegee syphilis study that was spearheaded by Attorney Fred Grey. He and his family are deeply invested in the longevity of this initiative to preserve and document the history of Tuskegee and Macon County. At this reception I met other history enthusiasts and professionals, visited the museum and heard a wonderful discussion on the Tuskegee Airmen.

On October 22, 2011 I enjoyed a number of discussions hosted by Tuskegee University. The two main speakers, Dr. Mark Hersey (author of My Work is that of Conservation: An Environmental Biography of George Washington Carver)  and Ellen Weiss(author of Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee: An African American Architect Designs for Booker T. Washington),  talked about the architect who built Tuskegee Institute and George Washington Carver’s work as a biological conservator. 

I greatly enjoyed both of these presentations, but I was thoroughly captivated by the discussion on George Washington Carver!

This discussion was very insightful because it shed new light on Dr. Carver’s work and showed the present day application of many of his studies. Dr. Hersey took care to point out that Dr. Carver was much more than just the “peanut man.” I also took a wonderful tour of the university archives with Dana Chandler (University Archivist) and National Park Sites in Tuskegee (The Carver Museum, The Oaks, and Moton Field).  There is so much history and culture in this small town, and I applaud the work of local and national agencies in preserving and interpreting it! I encourage anyone in the area, residents and visitors, to take time and experience Tuskegee! 


For more information about the places I have discussed, please see following links:








Hello from Alabama!!!!

Sorry for the delay in updates…I have been very busy here! Here’s an update on what I have been doing thus far:

As you know, I am an IMLS Fellow, and I was placed at the Alabama Department of Archives and History in Montgomery, Alabama. As a recap, the Alabama Department of Archives and History is the nation’s oldest state repository and archive, beating the Mississippi Department of Archives and History by one year. The mission statement of this repository is to collect, protect and preserve the history of all Alabamians.  This repository has extensive collections of Civil War related materials, newspapers published in Alabama (the majority of which is on microfilm), a broad digital collection, military papers, etc. The great thing is a lot of it is online! Check out the link here: http://www.archives.alabama.gov/ .

While I have been here I have cataloged about sixteen records, which are available online, and they span different materials. I have worked with slave bills of sales, civil rights ephemera, plantation records, White Citizens papers and pamphlets, judicial papers and organizational papers, private collections… just to name a few! Every collection that I have cataloged taught me something new about the history of the state, the citizens who shaped it, and the preservation needs for the collections.

Of all of the collections that I have worked with thus far, the following two have stood out the most:

The William Stanley Pace collection: William Stanley Pace was a local member of the White Citizen’s council, which was a national white  segregationist organization,  in Selma, Alabama. In its doctrine, this organization was in favor of the preservation of segregation and separation of the races, but rejected the techniques employed by supremacist organizations, like the Ku Klux Klan. Instead, this organization turned to literature and voting to maintain the status quo in the South.  There are two very interesting things about this collection; the almost complete set of rhetoric pamphlets and the fact that the family held on and saw the importance in donating the papers to the state archive. While ideas that were popularized within this organization were commonplace during the early and mid 20th century, over time they fell out of favor and were shunned by the majority and the powers at be, and people tended to hide their affiliation to such groups. From a preservation standpoint, I had to think carefully about how the information could be used and the probability of the information being stolen from the repository, which dictates the kinds of restrictions on the collection. In the end, we decided to copy the pamphlets so we could keep the originals safe and still allow access to the information.

Photo from the Charles Dunn Family Collection from the Alabama Department of History and archives

The Charles Dunn Family Collection: This is a very exciting collection to me because it  documents the Black middle and upper-middle class in Montgomery, Alabama! Mr. Dunn was a graduate from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia and he coached at Alabama State University well into the mid-late 20th century. In this collection, there are different types of materials, including photographs  that  provide a glimpse into the life of a community that gets very little attention (in my opinion). Outside of moving things into book boxes and setting things aside to be scanned, this was a very easy collection to catalog, but the information it provides is immeasurable!!!

In addition to my cataloging adventures here at the archives, I have also been helping with the public programs hosted by the Archives, called ArchiTreats, presented at the Society of Alabama Archivists (SALA) on the benefits and purpose of oral history and oral history records in archives, participated in the Alabama Historical Association’s Fall pilgrimage to  Tuskegee and became an Archival Training Collaborative (ATC) trainer (which included two training sessions in Jackson, Mississippi. I am currently working on three public programs, one utilizing the Peppler/ Southern Courier collection, one on photo preservation, and a workshop on exhibit design, and I will keep every one posted on the progress of those programs!

Until next time!!!!

Cheylon Woods

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