Library wins grant for community history project

  • Posted on: 24 January 2020
  • By: Heather Adkins

In Spring 2020, the Special Collections Department will begin a new community digitization project, and we need your help!

The project, “Huntsville in Retrospect,” focuses on scanning and photographing family records and other items of historical value. However, instead of you coming to us, we are going to you. We plan to schedule six locations around Madison County – at community centers, churches, libraries, and anywhere else we can find – where you can bring in personal family records for us to digitally copy for the archive. The best part? You get to keep your family records!

The first scanning day will be held at the Historic Huntsville Depot on March 3 and 4, 2020. 

We are always trying to find “new old” records to add to our archive; however, we recognize that records like letters, diaries, photographs, and other artifacts can be very personal in nature and therefore difficult to part with. “Huntsville in Retrospect” seeks to strike that delicate balance between sharing historical records with the community and keeping your family records close to home. At the scheduled scanning locations, you can bring in your grandparents’ war letters, your great-grandmother’s diary, and that picture of you the day we went to the moon; we will scan or photograph the records for our digital archive, and you can take everything you brought back home with you.

“Huntsville in Retrospect” stems from the idea that we all have something to share. Whether you know it or not, the letters your grandparents exchanged during the war are significant, not only to you, but to the wider community.

Letters such as these contain details about what life was truly like “back then”: How did they survive the war front and home front? How much did eggs and bread cost? How did they feel about being separated? Did they make plans for the future, and what did the future look like to them? These are questions that undoubtedly every Madison County citizen asked at the time, and with those details, we discover more information about Madison County overall. With your help, collaboration, and contribution, we can greatly expand our community’s understanding of local history.

This project is made possible with a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant from the Alabama Public Library Service. The grant not only allows us to travel around Madison County and reach out to local citizens, it also allows us to purchase brand new scanners and photography equipment with which to safely and quickly digitize records and artifacts. The equipment helps us add citizens’ records to our digital archive (

Let us know if you would like to volunteer with the project or if you would like a scanning location close to your community by contacting the Special Collections Department at or 256-532-5969.

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