‘Sweet Home: Alabama’s History in Maps’ exhibit coming to Birmingham Public Library

‘Sweet Home: Alabama’s History in Maps’ exhibit coming to Birmingham Public Library
More than 50 maps explore history of Alabama at the upcoming exhibit at the Birmingham Public Library. (contributed)

The Birmingham Public Library’s downtown location is preparing to host a new exhibit that will whet the appetites of Alabama history buffs and map lovers. “Sweet Home: Alabama’s History in Maps” opens in the Fourth Floor Gallery of the Central Library, 2100 Park Place, on Wednesday, March 1 and runs through Sunday, April 30, 2017.

The public is invited to attend the opening reception on Sunday, March 5 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Fourth Floor Gallery. The exhibit is also available online at www.bplonline.org/ALmaps.

Timed to coincide with Alabama’s upcoming bicentennial, this exhibit tells the history of our state by introducing patrons to maps that depict the state’s development from the earliest days of exploration through the present day. Funded partly by a grant from the Alabama Humanities Foundation, the exhibit explores 450 years of Alabama history. It includes over 50 maps that have been carefully selected from the library’s world class cartography collection.

Jay Lamar, head of the Alabama Bicentennial Commission, called “Sweet Home: Alabama’s History in Maps,” “one of the most exciting, beautiful, and stimulating exhibitions I have ever seen. People will discover things about Alabama that they never knew or imagined by experiencing these lovely, remarkable maps.”

The library has received several large collections of rare, valuable and exquisitely drawn maps. These donations were made by Rucker Agee, Dr. Charles Ochs, John C. Henley III and Joseph H. Woodward II.

“Birmingham is incredibly fortunate to have such a large collection of beautiful maps,” said Mary Beth Newbill, head of the library’s Southern History Department, which houses the map collection. Newbill hopes the exhibit will be exciting to “map lovers, genealogists and anyone interested in Alabama history.”

The library will host two lectures from visiting scholars during the course of the exhibit, Newbill said. Dr. Martin Olliff of Troy University, Dothan will speak about the development of Alabama roads and highways. His lecture, “Roads That Start Somewhere and End Somewhere: How Alabama and the Nation Got its First Highways,” will be at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 25.

Professor and author Dr. Melinda Kashuba will speak at 10 a.m. on April 8. Her program, “Making Your Sweet Home among Maps: How to Read and Interpret Maps of the Southeastern United States for Genealogists, Historians, Teachers and Map Lovers,” will be a hands-on workshop that explores the symbols and mapping conventions used on 19th and early 20th century maps to tell the story of the development of the Southeast. Students will learn how to interpret and analyze information contained on old maps.

Both lectures are in the Central Library’s Arrington Auditorium. For more information, call the Birmingham Public Library’s Southern History Department at 205-226-3665 or email [email protected].

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