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Collection of Alabama governors materials

Identifier: W-0054

Scope and Contents

This collection includes correspondence, certificates, programs, and other documents signed by Alabama governors. There are materials signed by twenty-six Alabama governors serving between 1820 and 1970. Most of the individuals included in this collection are represented by a single document.


  • 1820-1970


Conditions Governing Access


Biographical / Historical

Brief biographies of the twenty-six individuals featured in this collection are listed below.

The first governor of Alabama, William Wyatt Bibb was born in 1781 in Amelia City, Virginia. In 1817, he was named governor of the Alabama Territory. Bibb died on July 10, 1820.

After the death of his brother, president of the Senate Thomas Bibb became the second governor of Alabama, serving from 1820-1821.

Born on January 30, 1780, Israel Pickens was the third governor of Alabama. Pickens served two terms from 1821-1825. He died on April 24, 1827.

Gabriel Moore was the state's fifth governor, serving from 1829-1831.

Born in Halifax County, Virginia, in 1789, Clement Comer Clay was the eighth governor of Alabama, serving from 1835-1837. Clay also served as the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court from 1820-1823 and was elected to represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate in 1829-1835 and 1837-1841.

The state's ninth governor, Hugh McVay, temporarily served as governor after Clay vacated the position to take his Congressional seat. McVay served as governor between July 1837 and November 1837. McVay also served in the Alabama House of Representatives from 1820-1825 and the state Senate from 1825-1844.

Born in 1794, Arthur Pendleton Bagby was the tenth governor of Alabama, serving two terms from 1837-1839 and 1839-1841. Bagby served in the U.S. Senate from 1841-1848.

The state's eleventh governor was Benjamin Fitzpatrick, who served two terms from 1841-1845. Fitzpatrick was born on June 30, 1802, in Greene County, Georgia, and died on November 25, 1869, at his home in Autauga County.

Reuben Chapman was Alabama's thirteenth governor, serving from 1847-1849. Chapman also held a seat in the U.S. Congress from 1835-1837. Chapman died on May 16, 1882.

The twenty-first governor of Alabama and the state's first Republican governor, William Hugh Smith (1826-1899) served in the post from 1868-1870. After a failed bid for reelection, Smith was appointed a circuit court judge and served as a district court judge from 1881-1885.

George Smith Houston (1811-1879) was the twenty-fourth governor of Alabama. Houston served two terms as governor, holding the post between 1874-1878, supporting home rule and other Redeemer policies.

Alabama's twenty-fifth governor was Rufus Wills Cobb (1829-1913) who served two terms from 1878-1882. Cobb also served as the probate judge of Shelby County and the president of Helena's Central Iron Works.

Serving two terms from 1882-1886, Edward Asbury O'Neal (1818-1890) was the state's twenty-sixth governor. During his term, O'Neal focused on prison reform and education.

Thomas Goode Jones (1844-1914) was the twenty-eighth governor of Alabama, serving from 1890-1894. Before serving as governor, Jones had a notable military career, fighting under the command of Stonewall Jackson during the Civil War and serving as a colonel of the Alabama State Troops Second Regiment from 1880-1980. After his tenure as governor, Jones served as a district court judge.

William Calvin Oates (1835-1910) was the state's twenty-ninth governor, serving from 1894-1896. After his tenure as governor, Oates was an influential member of Alabama's 1901 constitutional convention, involved in the committee on the legislative department and the committee on suffrage and elections.

Alabama's thirtieth governor, Joseph Forney Johnston (1843-1913) served two terms from 1896-1900. During his tenure as governor, Johnston supported education and industrial improvements. Although he initially supported state constitutional reform, in 1901 Johnston opposed ratification of the new constitution.

The son of governor Edward Asbury O'Neal, Emmet O'Neal (1853-1922) became Alabama's thirty-fourth governor in 1911 and served until 1915. Before his tenure as governor, O'Neal served as the president of the Alabama Bar Association and a delegate of the state constitutional convention. After leaving office, O'Neal practiced law in Birmingham.

Thomas Erby Kilby (1865-1943) was the state's thirty-sixth governor, serving between 1919-1923. A successful businessman, as governor Kilby supported industrial legislation and improvements to state infrastructure.

Alabama's thirty-seventh governor was William Woodward Brandon (1868-1934) who served from 1923-1927. In addition to his term as governor, Brandon also served as a state legislator from 1896-1901 and the probate judge of Tuscaloosa County.

Bibb Graves (1873-1942) was Alabama's thirty-eighth governor, serving two terms from 1927-1931 and 1935-1939. Graves supported a number of progressive reforms, supporting education, infrastructural improvements, and the abolition of the convict lease system.

Benjamin Meek Miller (1864-1944), the state's thirty-ninth governor, served from 1931-1935. Elected at the height of the Great Depression, Miller sought to reduce state debt.

Frank Murray Dixon (1892-1965) became the fortieth governor of Alabama in 1939 and held the seat until 1943. Dixon supported judicial reforms and education, establishing teacher retirement and creating the Pardon and Parole Board.

The state's forty-third governor was Gordon Persons (1902-1965), who served from 1951-1955. Before his tenure as governor, Persons was a radio broadcaster who operated WSFA, one of the state's earliest radio stations.

The wife of Governor George Wallace, Lurleen Burns Wallace (1926-1968) was the forty-sixth governor of Alabama, serving from 1967-1968. After a long battle with cancer, Wallace died on May 7, 1968.

After Lurleen Wallace's death, Lieutenant Governor Albert Preston Brewer became the forty-seventh governor of Alabama, serving from 1968-1971. Brewer increased funding to public schools and created the Alabama Commission on Higher Education.

Source: “Alabama Governors,” Alabama Department of Archives and History,


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Language of Materials



Correspondence, certificates, programs, and other documents signed by twenty-six Alabama governors serving between 1820 and 1970.

Physical Location

The A. S. Williams III Americana Collection, Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library, The University of Alabama


Gift of A. S. Williams III, 2010

Related Materials

More information on Alabama governors can be found in the A. S. Williams III Americana Collection and the W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library. Please contact staff for assistance.


Title on phase box spine: Governors of Alabama - Autographs, Documents & Letters - 1819-1967

Processed by

Haley Aaron and Martha Bace, 2014



Guide to the Governors of Alabama: autographs, documents, and letters
February 2014
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