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Lincoln Normal School Photographic Albums

Identifier: WP-2013001

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of two captioned photograph albums from the Lincoln Normal School, one of the early schools established for the education of freedmen in the South after the Civil War. The albums include images from 1909-1924, and were both likely kept by teachers at the school. They include several photographs of “Miss Phillips,” or Mary Elizabeth Phillips, the influential principal who transformed Lincoln Normal during her 31-year tenure at the school from 1896 to 1927, and document the school’s buildings, none of which are standing today. Images include both formal and informal pictures, offering researchers documentation of some of the prominent figures in the school’s history and snapshots of the everyday lives of students and instructors.


  • 1909 - 1924


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 state right 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 all responsibility 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

The Lincoln Normal School in Marion, AL was among the early schools established for the education of freedmen after the Civil War. Popular legend locates the school’s inspiration in a former Union soldier who began to teach local African-American children to read immediately following the war. The school was incorporated in 1867 by a group of nine African Americans in the community. By 1868, the founders had secured the financial and administrative support of the American Missionary Association, an auxiliary of the Congregational Church that help to establish over five hundred schools in the South during the Reconstruction era.

In the over one hundred years of its existence, the Lincoln Normal School operated under several different forms. In its early years, it was a privately-operated common school. Beginning in 1873, it was also associated with the publicly -run State Normal School (or Lincoln Normal University), which educated African-American teachers. After a fire destroyed the teaching academy in 1887, this section of the institution moved to Montgomery. It would later become Alabama State University, the first public Historically Black College (HBC) in the nation. The primary and secondary schools in Marion remained operational until 1970, and were publicly funded after 1943.

Lincoln Normal struggled financially throughout its existence, but left an important intellectual legacy in the African-American community. In addition to laying the foundation for Alabama State, a university that currently trains more teachers than any other institution in Alabama, Lincoln Normal provided a progressive and innovative model of education for its younger students. Alumni include Coretta Scott King and Edythe Scott Bagley. The only building from the school that remains standing today, Phillips Memorial Auditorium, is on the National Register of Historic Places.


1.0 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



This collection consists of two personal albums with photographs of teachers, administrators, and students at the Lincoln Normal School, an early African-American school in Marion, Alabama. The albums include formal group portraits, informal photographs from everyday life, and images of the school's surroundings.

Physical Location

The A.S. Williams III Americana Collection, University Libraries Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabmama

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of A.S. Williams III, 2010

Processing Information

Processed by Christa Vogelius



Guide to Lincoln Normal School Photograph Albums
November 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections Repository

Box 870266
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0266