Alabama Department of Archives & History
In 1901, Alabama created the first state-funded, independent department of archives & history in the United States. The Archives was originally housed in the state Capitol, where its museum collections were displayed in the legislative chambers when the House and Senate were not in session. Thomas McAdory Owen, a lawyer from Jefferson County, served as the department’s first director.
After his death in 1920, Owen was succeeded by his widow, Marie Bankhead Owen, who continued the department’s expansion. Mrs. Owen secured federal New Deal funds to construct the building that would house the Archives and serve as the state’s World War I memorial. The building opened in 1940 to national acclaim.
The original construction included only the central portion of the current buiilding. Expansions to the east in 1974 and west in 2005 completed the architect’s original intent for an H-shaped building. The walls of the central building are lined with Alabama marble quarried in Sylacauga.
The Archives has been the home of Alabama history for more than a century. Today, it continues its mission to tell the story of the people of Alabama as the state’s official government-records repository, as a special collections library, and as the home of the Museum of Alabama.