Traveling postcards exhibits to showcase Alabama’s historic streets, buildings

This postcard, depicting a nighttime view of Gadsden's Broad Street, is one of several historic postcards from the Wade Hall Collection.

This postcard, depicting a nighttime view of Gadsden's Broad Street, is one of several historic postcards from the Wade Hall Collection.

Beginning in October, Troy University Libraries will present a pair of traveling exhibits created by faculty members of historical postcards showcasing cities and towns from around Alabama as a part of the lead-up to Alabama’s bicentennial celebration.

The exhibits will feature postcards, ranging from the early 1900s to the 1960s, from the Wade Hall Collection at the Troy University Archives and will coincide with the 2017 theme of the Alabama Bicentennial Commission “Discovering Our Places.” The Alabama Humanities Foundation, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, co-sponsors this project.

“The Wade Hall Postcard Collection is one of the Troy University Archives greatest treasures and an extensive sampling of a fascinating form of Americana,” said Dr. Christopher Shaffer, dean of library services. “The entire collection consists of 25,000 postcards, and we are remarkably grateful that through the generosity of the Alabama Humanities Foundation we will be able to share a portion of this collection via these traveling exhibits throughout the state on the eve of Alabama’s 200th birthday.”

The exhibits will first be unveiled on the Troy Campus during the University’s Homecoming Week celebration, Oct. 10-15. In addition to showings at each of the University’s four Alabama campuses, the exhibits will travel to locations throughout the state.

The first exhibit will depict bustling city streets such as 20th Street in Birmingham, historic streets such as Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue and small town streets such as Front Street in Carbon Hill. The second exhibit will showcase Alabama historical and government buildings, including courthouses, post offices, schools and churches.

The project’s humanities scholar is Dr. Martin Olliff, associate professor of history and director of the Wiregrass Archives at Troy University’s Dothan Campus. Jerry Johnson, a professor in the University’s Department of Art and Design, is overseeing the design of the display panels. Three librarians from the Troy University Library — Ruth Elder, Jana Slay and Lisa Vardaman — are spearheading this project.

In addition to the traveling exhibits, TROY Libraries will work cooperatively with the Department of Art and Design to develop a web-based, interactive exhibit of the historic collection.

An alumnus of Troy State Teachers College, Dr. Hall, who died in 2015, grew up near Union Springs. After serving as a teacher in Opp and a stint in the U.S. Army, Hall earned a master’s degree from the University of Alabama and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. He taught English at the University of Florida, Kentucky Southern College and Bellarmine University.