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Woodward Family Papers

Identifier: MSS-1577

Scope and Contents note

The papers span four generations and have been divided into six series: S.H. Woodward, J.H. Woodward, A.H. Woodward, and J.H. Woodward II. Four of the series have a similar arrangement: diaries (if available), correspondence, business, legal and financial papers, and miscellany. The Fifth and sixth series, Photographs and Artifacts, span generations and are thus self-contained.

S.H. Woodward Series includes five subseries: Diaries, Personal Correspondence, Business Correspondence, Business and Legal Papers, and Miscellaneous. The five subseries cover both private and public interests of S.H. Woodward.

J.H. Woodward Series reflects multiple personal and business interests. There are six subseries within this series: Diaries, Personal Correspondence, Business Correspondence, Business and Legal Papers, Miscellaneous, and Martha Woodward.

A.H. Woodward Series is the most extensive and diverse of the subgroups due to his wide range of interests and involvement. There are six subseries: Diaries, Personal Correspondence, Business Correspondence, Business and Legal Papers, and Miscellaneous.

J.H. Woodward II Series is the smallest of the six series. Three subseries exist here: Correspondence, Business, and Legal papers and Miscellaneous.

Photographs Series includes family photographs, as well as business-related promotional pieces. These photographs cover the lifespan of J.H. Woodward I to J.H. Woodward II and include hunting photographs from A.H. Woodward and different stages of the development of Woodward Iron Company.

Artifacts Series includes sporting memorabilia, gifts, and personal items, such as combs, glasses, and wallets.


  • 1829 - 1958
  • Majority of material found within 1866 - 1950


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or stateright to privacy laws and regulations. Due to the nature of certain archival formats, including digital and audio-visual materials, access to certain materials may require additional advance notice.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers are responsible for using the materials in conformance with United States copyright law as well as any donor restrictions accompanying the materials. The user assumes all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any copyright claimants in collection materials. Copyright for official University records is held by The University of Alabama. The library claims only physical ownership of many manuscript collections. Anyone wishing to broadcast or publish this material must assume allresponsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants of literary property rights or copyrights. Please contact Special Collections ( with questions regarding specific manuscript collections.For more information about copyright policy, please visit: Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals without the consent of those individuals may have legal implications, for which the University of Alabama assumes no responsibility.

Biographical/Historical note

Stimpson Harvey (S.H.) Woodward, a native of Massachusetts, moved from Pittsburgh to Wheeling, West Virginia in 1852. With twenty associates, he founded Bailey, Woodward and Company, and served as president. Over the next several years, he bought out his partners, becoming sole owner of the company. In addition, he founded LaBelle Iron Works at Wheeling, West Virginia. In 1869, he visited Alabama, investigating reports by Army veterans of rich coal and iron deposits. Within a month he had purchased 550 acres of land on Red Mountain. Later that same year, he purchased 2000 acres near Woodstock, Alabama. These properties were to become the nucleus of the Woodward Iron Company.

In 1836, he married Margaret Glass, with whom he had four sons and four daughters. In the 1870s, two of these sons, Joseph H. Woodward (J.H.) and William H. Woodward (W.H.), investigated the possibility of using the coking process at the Alabama lands. Agreeing the process would be possible, the two sons founded the Woodward Iron Company following their father's death in 1881. W.H. served as president, while J.H. served as secretary-treasurer. Construction began almost immediately on the site's first blast furnace, 12 miles southeast of Birmingham, and was completed in 1883. The site was ideal. Placed between coal and iron mines, the plant was able to produce pig iron more cheaply and efficiently than competitors because of this close proximity to raw materials. In 1886, J.H. Woodward became the president of Woodward Iron Company.

J.H. Woodward (1843-1917) had served in the Civil War for three years before moving to Texas to try his hand at ranching. The venture did not prove lucrative, and J.H. returned to West Virginia to work at LaBelle Iron Works. He served as president of Woodward Iron Company from 1886 until his retirement in 1910. During this tenure, the company built two more furnaces and became recognized for its quality pig iron. J.H. Woodward also served as president of the First National Bank of Birmingham and of LaBelle Iron Works. In 1869, he married Martha ("Mattie") B. Metcalf, with whom he had three children. Upon his retirement in 1910, he handed the reins of the organization over to his only son, Allan H. Woodward. J.H. and Martha moved to Florida for a brief time, but ill health kept him in and out of hospitals until his death on December 15, 1917, the day before his birthday. After attending school at the University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee, and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, A.H. Woodward (1876-1950) moved back home to Woodward, Alabama, where he began working for the family company. Beginning as general superintendent in 1899, he became vice president by 1905 and president in 1910. By 1917, he became chairman of the Board of Directors of Woodward Iron Company. A.H., or "Rick," also held directorships at Wheeling Steel Corporation, First National Bank of Birmingham, Seaboard Air Line Railroad, the Atlanta, Birmingham and Atlantic Railroad and the Children's Hospital of Birmingham. He also served as vice president of the Industrial Savings Bank.

A.H. developed an interest in baseball while at college, and in 1909 he bought the Birmingham Barons. Rickwood Field, home of the Barons, is named for him. He also served as vice-president of the Southern Association of Baseball Clubs. A.H.'s interest in railroads led him to retain an active license as an engineer with the Atlanta, Birmingham and Atlantic Railroad well into his later years. Rick, an Episcopalian like his father and grandfather, also had an avid interest in hunting. In 1904, he married Annie Jemison, daughter of Robert Jemison Jr., the Birmingham developer. They had five children.

Their oldest child was J.H. Woodward II (1912-1965). J.H. II attended school at Phillips Academy and Yale and later served in World War II. During the war, he married Mary Massebeau and afterwards returned to work at Woodward Iron Company, serving as the company's forestry engineer. He also authored Alabama Blast Furnaces (1940), which traced the history of iron production in Alabama, and several works of fiction. J.H. II worked as attorney in fact for his father until A.H.'s death in November 1950. He then served on Woodward Iron Company's Board of Directors, as well as the Board of Directors of First National Bank of Birmingham, Allied Life Insurance (Birmingham), and the Jefferson County Community Chest. J.H. II and his wife Mary had two children (Mary C. and Anne J.). He died in June 1965.


34.6 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



An extensive collection, including business and personal correspondence, financial records, photographs, and other materials of this Birmingham, Alabama, family, which owned and operated the Woodward Iron Company.

Physical Location

These materials are stored at our off-site Archival Facility (AF) and may require up to two business days for retrieval and delivery for use in our Hoole Library reading room. Please email or call 205-348-0500 for more information.


Gift of the Woodward Family, 1969

Processing Information

Various staff members. Photographs arranged and processed by Marina Klaric. Collection updated by Donnelly Walton, 2013
Guide to the Woodward Family Papers
Donnelly Walton
April 2009
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