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Sarah Ann (Gayle) and William B. Crawford Papers

Identifier: MSS-0369

Scope and Contents

The Sarah Ann (Gayle) and William B. Crawford papers consist of journals, correspondence, scrapbooks, photographs, and miscellaneous materials.

The journals, with one exception, are those of Sarah Gayle Crawford, covering the period from June 1839 to February 1854. In them she relates her travel to New York City in 1839 to attend school; a visit made with her husband, William B. Crawford, in 1849 to the Crawford family in Columbia, South Carolina; trips to Washington, DC, the New England states and Canada; and their last journey together, to England, France, and Spain in 1853, in search of a healthful environment for William, who died from tuberculosis in Malaga, Spain. The other journal is William’s and dates from his trip to Europe in 1833.

The journals give the Crawford’s observations on geography, architecture, climate, social customs, hotel accommodations, and expenses. There are descriptions of Sarah being introduced to President Zachary Taylor, First Lady Betsy Taylor, and an aged Dolly Madison. They also trace the declining health of William, depicting nineteenth-century medical practices of bleeding and administration of large doses of laudanum, and make reference to the 1839 and 1853 epidemics of yellow fever in Mobile, Alabama.

There is some correspondence to and from Sarah Crawford, to and from William Crawford, and among other family members. Some letters are also found pasted in two scrapbooks kept by Sarah and continued by her daughter Sallie Crawford Hughes.

The scrapbooks include pictures and poems selected by Sarah Crawford, wedding invitations and announcements, newspaper clippings of marriages and funerals of family members and friends, clippings of casualty reports from the Civil War, and the list of wedding presents received by Sallie Crawford Hughes in 1884.

The photographs include one of Amelia Gayle Gorgas, Sarah Crawford’s sister, standing before the Gorgas home on the University of Alabama campus in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, one of Stanhope Bayne Jones, and views of Cannes, France in 1853. Additionally there is a sketch of the Josiah Gorgas monument. There is also a mourning card with locks of grey hair, presumed to be Sarah Crawford’s hair, stitched onto the card as well as some dried flowers. The handwritten card reads ”Born in Cliborne Alabama March 24th 1824 – Sarah Gayle Crawford – Died in Tuscaloosa Ala – Nov. 29th 1895 – Married in Mobile Dec. 8th, 1842 by the Rev. Dr. Boring, to Dr. Wm. B Crawford.” The name “Sarah Amelia Hughes” is written on the left hand edge of the card.


  • 1833-1889


Language of Materials


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.

Biograpica/Historical Note

Sarah Ann Gayle Crawford (1824–1895) was born in Claiborne, Monroe County, Alabama on March 24, 1824, the second child and oldest daughter of Sarah Pringle Haynsworth and John Gayle (lawyer, legislator, jurist, and governor of Alabama from 1831 to 1835). Upon John Gayle's election as Governor in 1833 the Gayle family moved to the state capital, Tuscaloosa, where her mother died in 1835 in Tuscaloosa. Sarah and Amelia remained in Tuscaloosa under the care of their mother’s friend, Mrs. Alva Woods. John Gayle married Clarissa Stedman Peck in 1837 and reunited the family in Toulminville, Alabama, just north of Mobile. At age fifteen, Sarah accompanied by her father, travelled to New York City to enroll in Madame Adele Canda’s boarding school. She returned home to Toulminville in 1841. She married William B. Crawford, a prominent Mobile physician from Winnsboro, South Carolina on December 8, 1842. They had four children: Clara Jane, Amelia Gayle (“Millie”), William Bones, Jr., (“Billy”) and Sarah (“Sallie”).

William Bones Crawford (1809–1853) was born in 1809 in South Carolina. He graduated from South Carolina College, where he was a classmate of John B. Floyd, U.S. Secretary of War 1859–1860. Crawford received his medical training in Paris, France from 1832 to 1833. After his marriage to Sarah, he practiced medicine in Mobile until his own health declined in the later 1840s. In 1849, he and Sarah travelled abroad for his health. In 1853 Sarah left her children in the care of her sister Amelia Gayle to once again accompany her husband abroad for his health. They travelled to England, France, and Spain where they settled in Malaga at the Fonda de la Alameda. Crawford died on December 28, 1853.

Sarah returned to Mobile in February 1854. During the Civil War Sarah resided in Mobile and in 1864 she moved to Eutaw, Greene County, Alabama to the home of her late husband’s brother, Colonel James Crawford. By January 1876, Sarah had returned to Mobile and began taking in boarders to augment her meager resources. From 1884 to 1894 she lived with her youngest daughter, Sarah (“Sallie”), who had married Samuel Hughes and lived in Edgefield, South Carolina. In 1895, Sarah returned to Alabama and lived with her sister, Amelia Gayle Gorgas, whose home was on the University of Alabama campus. Sarah died in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on November 29, 1895.

Sarah Gayle Crawford’s brother-in-law, Josiah Gorgas, was chief of ordnance of the Confederate Army and president of the University of Alabama after the War. The University of Alabama’s main library building is named for his wife and Sarah’s sister, Amelia Gayle Gorgas, who was the University’s librarian for many years. Dr. William Crawford Gorgas, the conqueror of yellow fever, was Josiah and Amelia’s son and Sarah’s, nephew.


Mary Tabb Johnston, Amelia Gayle Gorgas: A Biography (University, AL.: University of Alabama Press, 1978).

Thomas McAdory Owen, History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, vol. III (Chicago, IL.: S.J. Clarke, 1921), p. 648

Wiggins, Sarah Woolfolk, The Journals of Josiah Gorgas, 1857 – 1878 (Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1995), p. 263.


0.8 Linear Feet


Correspondence, diaries, journals, speeches, scrapbooks, and other papers of Sarah Ann Gayle Crawford, sister to Amelia Gayle Gorgas, and William B. Crawford.


Gift of Miss Mary Adams Hughes, 1975

Processed by

Martha Bace, 2008
Guide to the Sarah Ann (Gayle) and William B. Crawford Papers
Martha Bace
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections Repository

Box 870266
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0266