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Lister Hill papers

Identifier: MSS-0670

Scope and Contents

The Lister Hill papers document the political career and activities of Lister Hill as a member of the U. S. House of Representatives (1923-1938) and the U. S. Senate (1938-1969). He is best known for his advocacy of health-related issues. The collection includes political papers (1923-1968); congressional correspondence; senatorial correspondence; copies of legislative bills and reports; legislative hearings; Congress Vote Books; Court Case notes; speeches; correspondence to and from Lister Hill; bills and receipts; newspaper scrapbooks; subject files including health research files; personal files; and photographs.


  • 1921-1968


Conditions Governing Access


Biographical/Historical note

Joseph Lister Hill was born in Montgomery, Alabama, on December 29, 1894. His parents were Luther Leonidas Hill, a prominent surgeon, and Lilly Lyons Hill. He graduated from The University of Alabama in 1914 with an undergraduate degree in 1914 and with a law degree in 1915. While a student at Alabama, he helped found the Student Government Association (SGA) and was its first president. He was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity. He also attended the law schools at the University of Michigan and Columbia University.

After his admittance to the Alabama Bar in 1916, he began practicing law in Montgomery. He served in the Seventeenth and Seventy-first United States Infantry Regiments during World War I. After the war ended, he continued to practice law in Montgomery and serve as president of the Montgomery Board of Education.

He married Henrietta Fontaine McCormick of Eufaula in February 1928. They had two children: Henrietta and Luther Lister.

A member of the Democratic Party, he served as a member of the U. S. House of Representatives from 1923-1938. In 1938 he was elected to the U. S. Senate and served as a senator until January 1969. During his tenure as senator he served as chairman of the Committee on Expenditures in Executive Departments (Seventy-seventh through Seventy-ninth Congresses); chairman of the Committee on Labor and Public Welfare (Eighty-fourth through Ninetieth Congresses); and as chairman of the National Committee on Biological Research.

Always interested in healthcare issues, he co-sponsored the Hospital and Health Center Construction Act of 1946. Known as the Hill-Burton Act, this legislation helped states provide better health care and healthcare facilities for its citizens, especially in poor areas. Throughout his career he supported other initiatives to increase medical research and improve healthcare. The Lister Hill Center at the National Institutes of Health was named for him in 1968. The University of Alabama at Birmingham named the Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences after him in 1971.

In addition to healthcare advocacy, Hill supported education legislation. He and Carl Elliott, member of the House of Representatives from Alabama, sponsored the National Libraries Services Act of 1956 and the National Defense Education Act of 1958.

Senator Lister Hill retired from office in 1969 at the age of seventy-four. He died in died in Montgomery, Alabama on December 20, 1984.


801 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Subject files, correspondence, reports, and other materials by, to, and about this Alabama senator who served in the U. S. House of Representatives from 1923- 1938 and the U. S. Senate from 1938-1969.

Custodial History

Transferred from the W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library to the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1975 as part of an agreement between the two universities while UAB and the National Library of Medicine used the papers for a joint grant. The Lister Hill Papers returned to the W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library in 1983.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Lister Hill, 1968. Additions from the Hill family, 1985

Processing Information

Processed by Michael R. Kronenfeld and James A. Thompson, circa 1980. Revisions made in 2014


Guide to the Lister Hill papers
January 2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections Repository

Box 870266
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0266