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Researching a Local Business: Archives

Getting started with researching a Business in Huntsville and the surrounding area.

Archives at the Library

About the collections


Huntsville’s Library was formed in 1818, when Alabama was still a part of the Mississippi Territory.  It is the oldest continuing Library in the state, although it has changed location several times.

 The Department of Archives was established in 1973 in order to house the rare, fragile, and unique material that has been part of the library collection since 1818.


Manuscripts in the Archives offer the researcher a valuable source for study and writing of history relating to Huntsville and Madison County, Alabama.  The collection includes business records, church records, diaries, records from local organizations, journals and scrapbooks.  A prized part of our collection is the Clay Family papers, covering the period from 1812-1877.  These include statehood papers from Gov. C.C. Clay, Civil War letters and family correspondence.


The photograph collection numbers over 15,000 positive photographic prints from Huntsville and Madison County, the oldest dating from the 1850’s.  They depict street scenes, businesses, buildings, churches, schools, cotton mills, portraits, and historic homes.

Digital Archives

Browse our extensive collection of historic photographs, manuscripts and other historical resources at

Alabama History Resources

The following are sites that include various archival resources from the state of Alabama, including Alabama Mosaic and the Alabama Department of History and Archives as well as some of the neighboring Alabama counties:

The Digital Public Library of America

The Digital Public Library of America brings together the riches of America’s libraries, archives, and museums, and makes them freely available to the world. It strives to contain the full breadth of human expression, from the written word, to works of art and culture, to records of America’s heritage, to the efforts and data of science. DPLA aims to expand this crucial realm of openly available materials, and make those riches more easily discovered and more widely usable and used.