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Hughes family papers

Identifier: MSS-3748

Scope and Contents

The Hughes family papers consist of three series: Arley Hughes Sr.; Eli Hughes; and Artifacts and Photographs.

The Arley Hughes Sr. series includes sixty-four letters that he wrote while serving in the Army during World War I. The letters are written to various family members in Kennedy, Alabama. The letters are arranged chronologically and have photocopies in separate folders. Several letters are fairly fragile and have been interleaved for their protection.

The Eli Hughes series includes letters that he wrote from France, 1918-1919. This series also includes Eli's WWI uniform (two blouses and one pair of pants). The letter dated 24 September 1918 (box 3748.001, folder 1) includes a picture of Eli in his World War I uniform.

The Artifacts and Photographs series contains a coverlet made before 1889 by Louisa Thornton Hughes (she spun the wool, dyed it, and wove the coverlet before she married); a half slip she made to wear for her wedding on 12 December 1889; one wax doll; one china doll; and a furniture salesman's sample bed with linens (mattress, two pillows, sheet, pillowcases, and coverlet made by Louise Thornton Hughes) that was used as a doll bed. The dolls were given to Margaret Hughes by Miss Nannie Gregg, who lived next door to the business where Margaret's father worked.

There are also a few photographs (none original). There are two printouts of a scanned photograph of Arley Hughes, and one photograph of James Harvey and Louisa Thornton Hughes with six of their twelve children taken in front of the coverlet. The children are: (top row, L to R) Eli, Ethma, and Arley; and (bottom row, L to R) Naoma, Lela, and Floy.


  • 1885-1919


Biographical / Historical

James Harvey Hughes, son of James Thompson and Mary Jane Mitchell Hughes, was born on August 10, 1867, in Pickens County, Alabama. On December 12, 1889, he married Louisa Emerline Thornton (born January 17, 1868, also in Pickens County, Alabama). The couple had twelve children: (1) Arley Ezra; (2) Eli Thomas; (3) Mary Ethma; (4) Lela E.; (5) Naoma M.; (6) Floy; (7) James V.; (8) Pluma E.; (9) Annie Mae; (10) Charles G.; (11) Eunice D.; and (12) Auvin. James Harvey Hughes died on March 20, 1957, in Columbus, Mississippi. Louisa Hughes died on September 8, 1966, also in Columbus, Mississippi.

Arley Hughes was born on January 9, 1891. He received his law degree from the University of Alabama in May 1917, and was admitted to the Alabama State Bar in Montgomery, Alabama, on 44 June 1917. He married Virginia Ellen Doughty on 15 August 1917. Hughes was inducted into the U. S. Army on 2 April 1918, and served in Sanitary Squad No. 59 of the Army's 81st Infantry ("Wildcat") Division. He joined the American Expeditionary Forces in France from August 1918 until his discharge in late June 1919. He and Virginia had four children: Harvey; Louise; Herbert; and Bill. He died on March 22, 1969, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Eli Thomas Hughes was born on April 27, 1892, in Alabama. He also served in the 81st Infantry Division in World War I. He married Daisy Lee Skinner; the couple had one daughter, Margaret. According to the 1929 and 1932 City Directories, Eli was a grocer in Tuscaloosa. He died on March 14, 1978, in Tuscaloosa.


7 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Letters written by brothers Arley and Eli Hughes while serving in the Army during World War I and late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century artifacts of this large, rural Alabama family.


Gift of Arley E. Hughes Jr., 2012, and Margaret Hughes Williams, 2013

Processed by

Originally processed by Martha Bace in 2013; revised and combined with another collection by Donnelly Walton, 2014



Guide to the Hughes family papers
November 2013
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