History museum

Former director of Alsobrook history museum has died


Mobile lost one of the most accomplished and esteemed members of its cultural community when historian David Ernest Alsobrook died on October 28 from a brief illness. The author and archivist spent decades on the national scene before taking over the management of the Mobile History Museum from 2007 to 2015. He had just turned 75 on September 15.

Alsobrook received a BA in English from Auburn University in 1968, an MA in American History from West Virginia University in 1972, and a doctorate. in American History from Auburn University in 1983 with a doctoral thesis on the progressive Mobile era. He worked in the Auburn University Archives and the Alabama Department of Archives and History before starting a long career with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). This work included almost 30 years in presidential libraries. He was supervising archivist at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, then founding director of the George HW Bush and William J. Clinton presidential libraries. He was the first person accused of founding more than one presidential library.

When Alsobrook retired from NARA to return to Mobile, it made national news. Likewise, his death was shared on social media by the George HW Bush Presidential Library account.

“[Alsobrook] hired the original staff and one of its biggest legacies are those who still work for the National Archives across the system. Thanks to David, a complete and accurate record of the Bush administration is available for researchers as well as for a world-class museum. This is the ultimate goal of an archivist and David was among the best, ”says the ad.

Although born in Eufaula, Alabama, Alsobrook grew up in Mobile after his parents moved to work in the booming World War II city of Azalea.

Alsobrook has authored over 20 articles in publications such as Alabama Review, Gulf South Historical Review, Provenance, Alabama Heritage, and the Alabama Online Encyclopedia. He received the Milo B. Howard Award for his 2004 Alabama Review article on the 1902 Mobile Streetcar Boycott.

Alsobrook was a member of the Alabama History Association, Phi Alpha Theta and featured in Marquis Who’s Who.

He is the author of the books “Southside: Eufaula’s Cotton Mill Village and Its People, 1890-1945” (Mercer University Press, 2017) and “Presidential Archivist” (Mercer University Press, 2020). The former won the Clinton Jackson Coley Book Award from the Alabama Historical Association.

Interviews with Alsobrook can still be found on C-SPAN, and Auburn University has a collection of his articles.

Donations in his memory can be made to the Alabama Historical Association or the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

The core of one of Alabama’s most treasured novels will host a unique one-woman show based on regional history. Storyteller Dolores Hydock performs “A Sweet Strangeness Thrills My Heart: The Journals of Sallie Independence Foster, 1861-1887” on November 13-14 at the historic Old Courthouse Museum in downtown Monroeville, Ala.

The courthouse inspired the central scenes of Harper Lee’s novel, from Monroeville, “To Kill A Mockingbird.” The sets for the following film adaptation were modeled on the building.

Hydock’s play is a chronicle of everyday life in Florence, Alabama, in the years before, during and after the Civil War. She designed it after discovering the diary in the archives of the University of North Alabama, where Foster’s family home is now part of the campus. She also used letters and other period documents to create an account of life experiences amidst the shocking reality of war.

“She shares everything – as diaries do – from schoolgirl crushes to the anxiety of having ‘Yankees’ on her front porch and brothers gone to war, navigating a radically changed world as an adult. reluctant, “Monroe County Museum Council Endowment Chairman Gail Dees said in a press release.

The board of directors is sponsoring the performance as the main event of the foundation’s annual fall fruitcake festival. There will also be a silent auction on Saturday, November 13th featuring a Winchester rifle, an authentic Confederate bond, a 19th century coin and more. A limited number of connoisseur fruit cakes will also be available for sale.

Performances will take place on November 13 at 5 p.m. and November 14 at 2 p.m. Saturday tickets are $ 40 and include a wine and cheese reception after the performance. Sunday tickets are $ 30. Student tickets are half price.

Tickets and information are available at the museum, by calling 251-575-7433 or through Eventbrite. For more information, visit the museum’s website at monroecounty.org.



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