Tuesday, September 18, 2012

BPL Exhibit Travels to Montgomery

Earlier this month the exhibit Alabama Illustrated: Engravings from 19th-Century Newspapers opened at Old Alabama Town in Montgomery and will be on display there until October 20. Created by the staff of the Birmingham Public Library Archives, Alabama Illustrated exhibits 40 engraved images of Alabama—rural scenes, steamboats, the streets of Mobile and Montgomery, Civil War battles, and Birmingham blast furnaces. The images were originally published in the 1800s in national illustrated newspapers like Harper’s Weekly and Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper (both from New York), Ballou’s Pictorial and Gleason’s Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion (both from Boston), and The Illustrated London News (a British publication).

In the 19th century many Americans received news and learned about the world beyond their own home towns by reading illustrated newspapers. Prior to the 1890s, the technology did not exist to economically publish photographs in newspapers, so many publishers employed artists to draw and engrave images of people, places, and events. Many of these engraved illustrations, which accompanied news stories, poems, and short fiction are impressive for their detail and artistic quality. From the 1850s to the 1890s, more than 250 engraved images of Alabama were published in national and international newspapers and many of these images are now preserved in the BPL Archives. This exhibit is drawn from the Archives’ collection.

Before traveling to Old Alabama Town, Alabama Illustrated was exhibited at the University of West Alabama in Livingston (January to February 2009), Troy University at Dothan (February to March 2009), the Birmingham Public Library (February to March 2010), and the Heflin Community Arts Center (May to June 2010).

Alabama Illustrated is available for loan to libraries, museums, historic sites, and other locations with an appropriate exhibit space. For more information about borrowing BPL exhibits, contact Archivist Jim Baggett (jbaggett@Bham.lib.al.us) or Assistant Archivist Kelsey Bates (kbates@bham.lib.al.us).

The accompanying book, also titled Alabama Illustrated, is available for check out.

The Montgomery Advertiser article: Alabama Illustrated exhibition now at Old Alabama Town

Jim Baggett
Archives Department
Central Library

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