January 30, 2014


Archives and Special Collections Division Added to LRC

A new Archives and Special Collections Division is currently being added to the Learning Resources Center at Northeast Alabama Community College. Renovations are under way now and the unit is expected to open soon.

“We are very excited about this addition, and under the direction of Dr. Julia Everett (Director, LRC), Mr. Blake Wilhelm (LRC Archivist/Specialist), and our history instructors, we hope to develop this Archives and Special Collections division into a treasure trove of information on local history,” said Dr. David Campbell, President of NACC. “With his background and training, Mr. Wilhelm will be able to provide Northeast with some great leadership in developing it.”

Wilhelm grew up in Scottsboro, attended Scottsboro High School, and was a student at Northeast. He has taught at Northeast since 2012. He has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Alabama and a Master of Arts from Jacksonville State University. He is a member of the Southern and Alabama Historical Associations and the Alabama Association of Historians. He has extensive research and archival experience, particularly in Alabama history.

Wilhelm explained that archival material is material that is valuable as a “primary source.” It has intrinsic value of its own. An example would be a document signed by a President. Special Collection material is an extensive collection on a particular topic. The special collections at Northeast will focus on local history and local culture in Jackson and DeKalb counties and in the surrounding area.

In the summer of 2013 the College was fortunate to receive its first addition to the Archives and Special Collections when a generous donation was made by Marty King on behalf of his late wife, Gail Tate King. Mrs. King passed away in 2012. She was an accomplished archaeologist and instructor at Northwest Shoals Community College and left behind an extensive collection of materials and a wealth of research.

“This donation from the King family opens up some great opportunities for us at Northeast,” said Campbell. “As a part of the Archives and Special Collections unit in the LRC, these materials will focus on the significance of the Trail of Tears and the Cherokee heritage of our area. Mrs. King worked with the Alabama Trail of Tears Commission to help determine the exact route of the trail as it wound through DeKalb, Jackson, and Marshall Counties. Much of this information will be in this collection, including reference sources, maps, and other documents. Many people in our area have Cherokee heritage, myself included. This donation to the LRC, with its focus on the Cherokees, will help us better understand our past.”

Wilhelm explained that this collection is largely centered on the Trail of Tears and Southeastern Native American tribes. The collection includes a vast amount of secondary sources including books and journals. It also includes primary source materials including Trail of Tears rolls, a collection of maps and a large map case, as well as a number of microfilm rolls.

Gail Tate King was a former President of the Alabama Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association. “Dr. Campbell, Dr. Everett and I attended this group’s 2013 annual meeting last summer here at Northeast,” said Wilhelm. “I’ve remained in touch with some of their members and several members have committed to will their personal collections to the college. Also, the organization is in the process of looking for a collection of local artifacts for us to display in the Archives room.”

Sharon Freeman, a representative of the Alabama Trail of Tears group, has been very complimentary of Northeast’s opening the Special Collections room. She believes many researchers from all over the Southeast will come to Northeast to go through the materials. “Word has spread about what a great job Northeast has done with Mrs. King’s collection, so much that other people have become interested in donating as well,” said Freeman.
Recently, the Archives received another generous donation from John Paul Campbell, who is a former Dean at Northeast. “Mr. Campbell donated an original transcript from the Scottsboro Boys Trial, which we were much honored to receive,” said Wilhelm.

In addition to the donated materials already received, Wilhelm has been working with Dr. Everett to identify some other materials that fit into the local history special collection. “We have already added a number of books dealing with different aspects of life in Jackson and DeKalb counties and the surrounding area,” continued Wilhelm. “These include social, political and cultural history, folklore from the region, and books by acclaimed authors (being examples of these). We are looking forward to adding more.”

The Archives and Special Collections room is currently undergoing a renovation. When the renovation is complete, there will be three computers dedicated to research, a printing station, and a new microfilm reader/scanner making the Archives room a truly state-of-the-art research facility.

“Our hope is that the Archives and Special Collections will be an asset to the cultural enrichment aspect of our mission, and that it will be a resource for researchers both inside and outside the community,” stated Wilhelm. “We believe that this addition to the Learning Resources Center will also help our students, faculty and staff better understand our community so that we may better serve it. When the center opens, we encourage everyone to come by and see the progress we’ve made and take advantage of this resource.”

President Campbell added, “I see our Special Collections as another way for Northeast to serve the community. We have a very unique and fascinating history and heritage in DeKalb and Jackson counties. We hope the Special Collections Center will give people here the chance to appreciate and understand this rich heritage even more. As a community college, that’s what we are here for – to give back to and enrich the community.”

For more information about the Archives and Special Collections, contact Wilhelm at ext. 2288, For more information about the NACC Learning Resources Center, contact Dr. Everett at ext. 2226,

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Pictured are (seated) LRC Director Dr. Julia Everett and Archivist Blake Wilhelm looking over the Trail of Tears Collection.