Reading Birmingham: An Introduction

BirminghamWatch has begun a new feature spotlighting books about Birmingham and Alabama.

James L. Baggett, a Birmingham archivist and writer about local history, will review new publications and older titles that address the city and state, some of them not widely known to local readers. This emphasis on books supports an important part of local journalism in the Birmingham and Alabama media scene.

Since 1970, many of the 450 books about Birmingham and Alabama have been researched with help from Baggett.

Baggett speaks and writes frequently about history and books and is a leader of Alabama historical organizations. He has served as president of the Society of Alabama Archivists and Chair of the Jefferson County Historical Commission.

Baggett has lectured and presented conference papers throughout the U.S. and in Europe and has been featured on Alabama Public Television, Alabama Public Radio, National Public Radio and CSPAN. He has served as curator or co-curator for several exhibits, including Looking Back at Gee’s Bend: The Photographs of John Reese, 1980, which traveled to 16 locations in five states, and Common Bonds: Birmingham Snapshots, 1900-1950, which traveled throughout Alabama and to Europe. He has authored or edited five books on Birmingham and Alabama history, including A Woman of the Town: Louise Wooster, Birmingham’s Magdalen and Alabama Illustrated: Engravings from 19th Century Newspapers. Baggett is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Alabama.