This semester, Kisha Emmanuel and Charles Thomason, are interning at Hoole Special Collections Library here on The University of Alabama’s campus. They have the following to say about their experiences so far:
For this internship, we are primarily working with the Jennie B. Scott Family Papers which are housed in the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library. This collection contains an impressively consistent set of journals maintained by Mrs.Scott and various scrapbooks, books, and photos. Furthermore, there are materials from her sister, Rosa Lee, with whom she lived in Tuskegee after they were both widowed, and from her daughter Ruth. Mrs. Scott was a retired African-American teacher living in the South from the late-19th century through the mid-1960s. Her collection gives insight into middle-class African-American life and culture in the Jim Crow era. We have been tasked with exploring this collection and finding an aspect of it which we wish to highlight within an exhibit of our creation. Throughout our research, we noticed how her life, and the life of those around her, was shaped profoundly during the 1918 influenza pandemic. As a result, we have decided to focus on healthcare disparities in the African-American community during the Jim Crow era.
This semester I have been working at Hoole Special Collections with a team doing research on the Jennie B. Scott Family Papers, which includes items from an African-American Alabama family from the late-18th century to the mid-1960s. I’ve found looking at her diary entries to be particularly interesting because she wrote prolifically on a daily basis throughout her life and often on similar themes. You can compare what she found important during her early life with that of her later life. Later this semester our team will be using these sources to put together a display highlighting a particular facet of the Jim Crow South.
This semester, Lindsey Glick, one of the Department of History’s undergraduate majors, is interning at the Gorgas House, here on The University of Alabama’s campus, and had the following to say about her experience so far:
This year marks the 125th anniversary of Women’s admission at the University of Alabama. The admittance of women marked an important shift in the University’s history and its culture. The Gorgas House is in the midst of preparing an exhibition that commemorates and celebrates the impact of women on the University. Through an internship at the Gorgas House this semester I have been researching women’s sports at the University of Alabama and its role on campus from a historical perspective to be included in the exhibition. To research women’s sports at the University of Alabama I first began by looking at multiple sources from the Bryant Museum. Next, I examined a thesis written by a past graduate student addressing the integration of SEC sports to garner an understanding of the impact of integration on women’s athletics at the University. Finally, I have scoured online sources to locate photos and videos of past and present University of Alabama female athletes. Later this semester, we will be working on getting interviews with current and possibly past female athletes and coaches who have had a profound influence on women’s sports at the University. Through this research we will create an exhibit as well as a digital exhibit dedicated to the historical significance of women’s athletics at the University, which will be displayed in Gorgas House in conjunction with the exhibition of the effects of Women on campus in general. The exhibition, including my exhibit on women’s athletics, will be open to the public. On a personal note, this experience so far has been extremely beneficial and enjoyable, allowing me to gain an understanding of what type of work is done as a public historian. This internship has strengthened my love for history, provided valuable experience with conducting in depth research, and peaked my interest in trying my hand at being a public historian.
This semester, Caroline Gray, one of the Department of History’s MA students, is interning at the Gorgas House here on The University of Alabama’s campus. She has had the following to say about her experience so far:
“I am currently researching the history of African American women at The University of Alabama as a part of the upcoming Women at the Capstone Exhibit. As we remember 125 years of female enrollment at the university, it is important to remember the women who have long had a presence at UA, but have only recently enrolled as students. My primary research so far has focused on the last sixty years, examining the long process of integration from Autherine Lucy to sorority integration in 2013. One of the most useful documents I have come across is Dr. Samory Pruitt’s extensive dissertation that contains interviews of notable African American students, including Autherine Lucy, Vivian Malone, Edna Miller-Gardner, Terry Points, and Brenda McCampbell. These interviews are incredibly useful for this project because they bring these women to life, offering a glimpse not only of their experiences, but also their personalities. I am looking forward to getting to know these and other remarkable women as I continue to research this semester.”
The Frances S. Summersell Center for the Study of the South at the University of Alabama continues to receive nominations for the 2018 Deep South Book Prize. Nominations will close on March 1, however.
The prize is awarded biennially for the best book on the history or culture of the Deep South, and the author of the prizewinner will receive a cash award of $500.
Books nominated for the next awarded prize must have been published between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2017. Three copies of each nominated book should be mailed by March 1, 2018 to:
Deep South Book Prize
Frances S. Summersell Center for the Study of the South
237 ten Hoor Hall
University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
Questions or requests for additional information may be addressed to the Summersell Center at email@example.com or at 205.348.1859.
Students in Dr. Giggie’s HY 400 – Southern Memory: Lynching in Alabama course visited the Equal Justice Institute in Montgomery, Alabama on October 18th as part of their work to better understand and encourage awareness of racial violence during the post-Reconstruction era in Alabama.
The students, who are researching ten African-Americans lynched in Pickens County between 1883 and 1933, presented their findings to the officials at EJI. The students have been working in a variety of sources – newspapers, journals, census, wills, deeds, birth and death records – to recover the lives of the victims.
They are also building a digital humanities website meant to educate the public about these events and to serve as a database for other researchers. The students have previously worked with EJI to erect a memorial to these lynching victims in Tuscaloosa County, which was unveiled last year.
This article appeared originally on The University of Alabama’s Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility’s website.
by Erin Mosley and Jamon Smith
Dr. John Giggie describes the eras most Americans refer to as Reconstruction, the Gilded Age and the Roaring Twenties as periods of racial terror for a significant portion of the country’s population. “At a time when the United States was in fact growing and prospering, many African-Americans feared for their lives,” says Giggie, associate professor of history and African American studies at The University of Alabama and director of the Summersell Center for the Study of the South.
More than 4,000 black people in 12 Southern states were lynched between 1877 and 1950, according to the Equal Justice Initiative, a Montgomery, Ala.-based nonprofit human rights law firm whose mission includes challenging racial and economic injustice. And these are just the cases EJI has documented. At least 360 lynchings took place in Alabama, and at least 10 Tuscaloosa County men were murdered in this way.
Giggie took the Equal Justice Initiative’s baseline data on lynchings in Tuscaloosa County and asked his students to delve deeper. After exploring the history of lynching in America, students learn the research skills they need to find important documents and share them through a digital humanities website.
Fifteen UA students enrolled in HY 300/AAST 395 Southern Memory: Lynching in the South collectively spent more than 1,000 hours documenting the lives and circumstances surrounding the deaths of 10 Tuscaloosa County residents who were lynched between 1884 and 1933. They created a digital humanities website to share their findings with the public and serve as a database for lynchings in the South.
Students also worked in partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative to advocate for a historical marker commemorating victims. On March 6, 2017, the marker was erected in front of the old Tuscaloosa County Jail. After the unveiling, more than 1,000 people attended a ceremony hosted by UA students, EJI representatives and community members at First African Baptist Church to honor the victims. Students Maruka Walker and Ellie Bowers were among the speakers, and discussed their research.
To continue reading this story, visit the Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility’s website.
The Dixie’s Great War symposium, hosted by the Summersell Center for the Study of the South, “is considered to be the largest conference in the country on World War I and the South,” says John Giggie, Associate Professor and Director of the Summersell Center for the Study of the South at The University of Alabama.
This program, cohosted by Professor John Giggie and Professor Andrew Huebner, will feature internationally renowned scholars of the First World War from around the country:
Panels will focus on the war’s political, social and cultural impact on the South in general as well as Alabama in particular.
The symposium is free and open to the public, though registration is required. A reception will follow the closing of the last session, and books by the participating scholars will be available for purchase.
The 1918 campus of the University of Alabama would be a strange sight for the modern observer. Familiar classroom buildings such as Morgan and Smith Halls would be present; however, the students filing out of them would be wearing strange, round brimmed caps and earth toned uniforms. The quad that now serves as a field of festivity and recreation was instead witness to the precision of military cadence and the spectacle of bayonet drills.
The University of Alabama Reserve Officers’ Training Corps was established by War Department Bulletin on 4 December 1916 to train Officers in anticipation of American involvement in what was at the time referred to as “The Great European War.”1 On 6 April 1917, the war became an American conflict. The War Department’s scramble to raise a military force of over four million men and women defined the following months. The University began to produce military officers for the new army, and many of her alumni were commissioned as officers.
War was the status quo for the University for the next year. Herbert Hoover called University President George H. Denny away to Washington D.C. and appointed him as head of the Cotton and Seed Department of the U.S. Food Administration. As the importance of the R.O.T.C. increased and the national emergency began to expand, commandant of cadets Captain Fitzhugh Lee Minnigerode was reassigned and the higher-ranking Colonel George LeRoy Brown was called from retirement to command Alabama’s cadets, which now made up 75% of the men on campus.2
In the spring of 1918, the War Department called upon universities to launch special programs to train enlisted men in the “various mechanical arts.”3 Alabama saw itself as the perfect fit for the new program, citing ample engineering equipment and laboratories, and the recent establishment of the school of vocational education. A pair of military inspections of the campus declared Alabama’s facilities “excellent,” and, as such, one of the nation’s first Student Army Training Corps, or S.A.T.C. units, was established.4 On the morning of 16 May, 200 enlisted men reported to the campus to begin instruction in automobile mechanics using a pair of specially constructed garages in Comer Hall. The gymnasium was converted into a barracks.5 The troops took their meal in the normal mess hall, and the government and several private citizens in Tuscaloosa provided automobiles and trucks for student mechanics.6 The President’s report made very clear that the presence of the S.A.T.C. would not interfere with the normal operations of higher education at the University. Their commander had different ideas.
Sometime around the establishment of the S.A.T.C. in 1918, a mysterious name appeared on the campus. Referred to in the Crimson White and Corolla only as “Major Ord,” this figure would soon find himself in University memory only as a vilified ghost. A search of congressional records on the promotion of officers identified “Major Ord” as Major Edward Otho Cresap Ord, II, U.S.A. Ord came from a family of military tradition, his father being the famed Major General Edward Ord, commander of the Army of the James during the Civil War and namesake of Fort Ord, California. His brother was First Lieutenant Jules Ord, credited with starting the “spontaneous” charge of the Buffalo Soldiers up San Jaun Hill during the Spanish-American War.7 Major Ord’s son was Major General James Garesche “Garry” Ord, commander of the 28th Infantry Division and Chairman of the Joint Brazil-U.S. Defense Commission during WWII.
Major Ord himself had extensive military experience with the 22nd Infantry Regiment and Seminole Indian Scouts during the Indian Campaign in Texas in 1880 and the Ghost Dancer revolts of 1891-1892. He contracted yellow fever in Cuba during the Spanish American War and participated in the Philippine Insurrections against the Moros. Medical complications forced his retirement from active service in 19038, although he would serve as a special police officer in San Francisco to assist with the recovery from the 18 April 1906 earthquake. In 1908, he took a position as a professor of military science at St. Matthew’s school in San Mateo, California. In 1915, he served as a military aide to the governor of Arizona. There he saw some degree of border service, preventing incursions by Pancho Villa and his banditos into Arizona. Ord once again slipped into retirement until the United States entered the Great War in 1917.
The endorsements presented to the Senate in his promotion report point to Ord being a model military officer, a seasoned commander, and a son of military aristocracy. This is the exact type of figure that the University of Alabama would like to remember when commemorating her service to the nation in the First World War. However, in this case, the opposite is true. No available official University record mentions him, and he is notably absent from the portraits of military officers on campus in both the University R.O.T.C.’s Duco Library and Corolla issues from the era. In fact, the only mentions of Ord are negative, and he apparently gave birth to a neologism, “Ordism,” to describe his administration on campus, where he seemed to frequently overstep his authority.
Unfortunately, the sources on the details of Ord’s rise to power are scarce. Nonetheless, by the early fall of 1918, Major Ord had managed to instill a sort of martial law over the University. Intercollegiate athletics – including the football program – were cancelled, much to the outrage of the student body. Compulsory study hours set forth by Ord to all students, military and civilian, led to the death of many clubs and societies on the campus.9 The non-S.A.T.C. men remaining on the campus were forced into menial labor. In one example, university officials assembled them in the middle of a class day, marched them to the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house, and made them empty ankle-height sewage from the basement using buckets.10 A dispute emerged between the University Supply Store, predecessor of the modern Supe Store, and the Major when he wished to seize the store’s property to set up a sort of Post Exchange or canteen for his men. The Supply Store and faculty pushed back, resulting in a lengthy dispute that did not appear to be settled by the war’s conclusion on 11 November 1918. Reportedly, during the dispute, the editors of the Crimson White are said to have drafted an open letter to Major Ord, reminding him that he was “Not the Kaiser.” This earned the editors a stay in the Barnard Hall stockade, courtesy of the Major.11
In response to Ord’s assault on campus life, the non-S.A.T.C. students filed a formal petition to the University administration, protesting to the forced labor, compulsory study and hygiene regulations, and inferior quality food compared to what was being served to the troops on campus. The students cited that they were in no way associated with the Military, and paid for tuition, room, and board, therefore believing themselves exempt from military discipline.12 It would seem the president’s promise that the military would not interfere with the normal operations of the institution was not kept. The question regarding Ord’s rise to power leaves more puzzles than answers. During his time here, it would appear that Colonel Brown was still present and in command of the R.O.T.C. cadets. Though Colonel Brown would not have direct authority over Major Ord despite outranking him, Brown could have brought Ord’s overextensions to his chain of command, potentially assuaging some of the suffering of the University’s remaining civilians. There also seemed to be no action from the University administration on the matter. The void of records regarding him is remarkable, and raises the question as to whether there may be some nefarious cause. For a man that had such influence on the campus, it would seem logical that there would be at least some official mention of him in the institutional memory of the University. Yet aside from Crimson White articles, the only references uncovered are poems written in jest, found in the 1919 Corolla.
Despite Major Ord’s iron fist, the resilience and patriotism of the University’s students cannot be ignored. While it would be understandable for some students to harbor negative feelings towards the military, what happened instead is remarkable. Nested in the Crimson White columns, in between the various stories of forced labor and disputes brought about by Major Ord, is a call for the “Alabama Spirit Once More,” asking for donations to support the needs of the troops in camps across the country and fighting overseas with the American Expeditionary Forces.13 2,254 students and alumni served in the Great War, and twenty-six men and women from the University gave their lives, a staggering 3% of the student body during the period. The memory of the war, though long forgotten by the average student moving about the campus, is omnipresent. As University Boulevard cuts through the heart of campus, it is lined by oak trees. A small, oft ignored marker just west of Denny Chimes bears forty-five names, one for each tree, memorializing the residents of Tuscaloosa who died or were killed during the war. Jones Hall, Foster Auditorium, and the Gorgas House bear the names of veterans of the conflict.
Stone and bronze markers stand silent testament to the sacrifice and triumph of the era. However, it is hoped that the current World War I Centennial Commemoration projects on campus will serve to connect the University of today to the one of a century ago. The Veteran and Military Affairs Office on the third floor of Houser Hall is currently presenting “Lafayette, We Are Here: America Enters the First World War” in their lounge, an exhibition partnership with UA Museums produced by interns from the Department of History. UA Museums is also presenting “William C. Gorgas and the Great War” on the first floor of the Gorgas House Museum. UA Libraries currently has a WWI centennial display in the foyer of Gorgas Library, and a display of sheet music from the era in the lobby of the W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library in Mary Harmon Bryant Hall. The Veteran and Military Affairs Office is also publishing a monthly blog on social media, written by the author, following the war and University month-by-month until the end of the centennial period on 11 November 2018. Hopefully, more exhibits and articles are to come, and this pivotal period in University and world history will continue to capture the imagination of modern students and visitors.
1. Order of Battle of the United States Land Forces in the World War: Zone of the Interior, CMH Publication 23-4, United States Army; Crimson White dated 12 Oct 1916 mentions arrival of Captain Minnegerode and commencement of organization.
2. President’s Report, Minutes of the University of Alabama Board of Trustees, 27 May 1918.
5. The “Gymnasium” referred to is most likely present-day Little Hall.
7. Jules was killed in the charge and replaced by Lieutenant John J. Pershing, sparking the events that earn Pershing the nickname “Blackjack.”
8. Senate Report No. 2423, 23 April 1904.
9. “Societies Killed by Authorities” Crimson White, 6 November 1918.
10. “Non-SALC [sic] Men Forced to Perform Menial Tasks, Clean Basements of Houses” Crimson White, 6 November 1918.
11. Suzanne Rau Wolfe, The University of Alabama, a Pictorial History, University of Alabama Press, 1983, pg. 139; Wolfe does not list her source for this account, and a search did not produce the letter from the Crimson White or any evidence of the incident. Nonetheless, it is believable that it occurred. If it did not, the account further reinforces the negative perception of the Major in the University’s memory.
12. “Non-S.A.T.C. Men Protest Strongly” Crimson White, 6 November 1918.
13. Crimson White, 6 November 1918.