HANCEVILLE, ALA. – Wallace State’s extensive Genealogy and Family and Regional History Collection will feature some new additions in the upcoming months.
Wallace State’s Robert Davis, a long-time history and genealogy professor, said the college is set to receive a collection of Civil War spy reports from the Union, federal court cases dating back to the 1870’s from Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee and a collection of German parish records.
Computers in the library and genealogy collection room will also have new computer databases soon, which will allow individuals to rapidly search newspapers. A new microfilm collection is also planned.
“I’m excited about these additions. These computer databases are monsters and we’ll be the only outfit in Alabama that will have them. It will allow you to search millions of pages of newspapers at the speed of light. The microfilm we are getting is also fabulous,” said Davis, who is approaching his 26th year at Wallace State. “The Civil War spy reports are records of Southerners who were spying for the Union. As far as I know, we are going to be the only library in Alabama to have them. The federal court cases are Justice Department investigation reports from the federal courts in the South. You’ll be able to read what your descendant was into in the 1870’s.
“We’ve also always had a strong German collection because Cullman County was founded by German families. We are getting a new collection of German parish records by province.”
Wallace State’s Genealogy Collection, located in the basement of the library, continues to draw frequent visitors. Some individuals visit the collection with a specific goal in mind, while others drop by without any prior knowledge about their ancestry.
“We have a lot of local people who stop by to research their family tree. The amazing thing isn’t people coming here to look for something they knew or heard about, but it’s when they come here and discover all sorts of things they didn’t know we had or they didn’t know certain things existed about their families. It’s a great feeling to help people discover something they didn’t know before they walked in the door,” Davis said. “We have one of the best collections for Southern genealogy. If you come to live here and want to research your family history, you couldn’t be in a better place.”
Wallace State’s Genealogy Collection room operates the same hours as the library. It’s open Monday-Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., on Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Individuals have multiple resources at their disposal inside the Genealogy and Family and Regional History Collection, ranging from multiple handouts, books, computer programs, periodicals, microfilm, microfiche, CD-ROM disks and family folders, among other items. The collection is centered on Alabama history, neighboring states, the Old South, Kentucky, the Civil War and Cherokee Indians.
Visitors to the collection can research relatives, view census records, microfilm of Alabama death certificates, research old handwritings, immigration records and many other historical accounts.
Davis continues to be impressed with the distances people travel to visit the collection.
“We’ve had people visit from as far away as Norway and Australia. One of the collection’s best friends lives in Hastings, England. She was the child of an American pilot in World War II whose mother was from England. She came to Alabama to find her family, which she did. She is still in touch with her family and comes back for reunions. We still get Christmas cards from all over the world from people who have visited us,” Davis said. “We have people visit from all over, particularly from all over the United States. There are a lot of people who have roots in Alabama and roots in the South. Hardly a week goes by during the summer where we don’t have somebody come from a place we can barely picture in our heads on a map. They come by to look at their Alabama roots, Southern roots or sometimes their Cullman County roots.”
Davis, who has been published more than 1,000 times, including in more than 40 books, teaches multiple history classes at Wallace State each semester, including an online genealogy video class.
Davis also leads the well-attended Continuing Education genealogy classes planned each semester. Non-credit genealogy classes planned during the fall semester are Introduction to Genealogy, Southern Genealogy, Genealogy and the Computer, Advanced Genealogy and Civil War Era Genealogy. Registration for each class is $25. They are scheduled throughout August, September and October. Individuals can register for the Continuing Education classes at wallacestate.edu/ce or by calling 256.352.8172.
“These classes are very popular and seem to draw people from a lot of different places,” Davis said. “Overall, this genealogy collection has brought a lot of attention to Wallace State. Otherwise people might have never heard of us. It’s been a great asset for the college and the local economy.”
For more information about Wallace State, visit wallacestate.edu.
Wallace State Community College
P.O. Box 2000, Hanceville, AL 35077
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Wallace State Community College
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Office: 256.352.8118 | Cell: 256.339.2519 | Toll Free: 866.350.9722