The Morgan County Archives are located in Decatur, Morgan County. The facility holds records related to the history of Morgan County dating back to 1819, when Alabama first became a state. Documents and other holdings include materials related to the Tuscumbia, Courtland and Decatur Railroad; marriage records dating back to 1821; and photographs of antebellum plantations. The Morgan County Archives is located at 624 Bank Street N.E. in the Bank Street-Old Decatur Historic District. The Archives contains a research area and provides photocopying on many items.
The Morgan County Commission established the Archives in 1995 to create a permanent repository for government records in Morgan County. Governments are legally obliged to preserve government records and make them available to the public. When records are no longer needed for day-to-day business, each branch of the county government sends its records to be permanently housed in the Archives. The earliest records date to 1818, when the county was first established (being known at the time as Cotaco County). Probate Court records dating to the early nineteenth century preserve data on estates. Marriage records, divorce records, census data, voter registrations, birth records, court proceedings, and other government documents offer a wealth of information relating to Morgan County.
The repository also houses hundreds of volumes of historical and genealogical data and records. Rare books concerning the histories of local schools, communities, and churches offer information found nowhere else. Yearbooks, biographies, maps, and a large collection of photographs (including landmarks, schools, family photos, and buildings) illuminate the history of Morgan County. In conjunction with the Morgan County Genealogical Society, the Archives maintains numerous family histories, newspaper articles, and genealogical publications that have been indexed for ease of access. The Archives also has bound copies of The Decatur Daily dating back to 1919 and copies of The Hartselle Enquirer dating to 1926, as well as other local newspapers on microfilm.
Morgan County citizens have donated numerous photographs, personal papers, maps, and objects. Collections include artifacts relating to area veterans; the Judge Seybourn Lynne Collection, a set of photographs from the 1933 trial of Haywood Patterson, a defendant in the infamous Scottsboro Trials for which Lynne served as judge; and the Maurice Jones Civil War Artifact Collection, which contains artifacts excavated from around the Decatur area. Collections at the Archives are of interest not only with regard to the history of Morgan County, they also place the county history in the larger state and national historical context.
The Archives are housed in the former Tennessee Valley Bank, an Art Deco-inspired structure that features a stone exterior, metal doors, and a 17-ton circular vault door. The exterior of the building is now adorned with a series of plaques that serve as a tribute to Morgan County veterans dating back to the Revolutionary War. The Morgan County Archives are funded through filing fees with the Morgan County Probate Court as well as through the Morgan County Commission. It has a staff of three, including a full-time archivist. Permanent collections include the Maurice Jones Civil War Artifact Collection, a Veterans Collection (housing uniforms, firearms, and various other pieces of wartime materials), and the Cotton and Textile Manufacturing Collection.
Morgan County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Morgan County, Alabama. Poca, W.V.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 1998.
Published June 30, 2014
Last updated July 2, 2014