LOTW Five: Birmingham, AL

As a native of Birmingham, Alabama, I always find it interesting to find a letter sent from someone from my area. I’ll sometimes come across a letter sent to Martha Berry from the McWane family, and that name always sticks out to me. The McWane family played a huge part in the growth of Birmingham during the early 20th century because of the family’s important role in the manufacturing industry, so it’s always interesting to see either Mr. McWane or his wife send a friendly letter to Miss Berry. In this case, Mrs. McWane is wishing to buy a fan from the Berry Schools, but she also thanks Miss Berry for their meeting at Tate Springs, as well as providing some information on their seven month old son. Since I have just recently completed a final research paper for my English 102 class, with my chosen subject being the economic growth and decline of Birmingham, writing this letter of the week based on my relation to some of the letters seemed easy to me.

For those of you who are not from the great state of Alabama, Birmingham has probably one of the coolest science centers in the South. Coincidentally, it’s called the McWane Science Center. It may be aimed towards children and teenagers, but I still consider it to be one of the funnest attractions in downtown Birmingham. It has at least three floors filled with fun science activities that can be enjoyed by anyone at any age. It also has a marine/aquatic animal petting zoo, a small aquarium, a room dedicated to the McWane family’s history, an enormous IMAX theatre, and an interactive space shuttle mission. As you can tell, this place is pretty awesome. What I did not realize until now is that the McWane Center is actually home to one of Birmingham’s biggest research archives, which, at least in my opinion, makes it even more awesome.

It is always nice when editing and grouping Martha Berry’s letters to see a familiar name or place. I was lucky enough to come across Mrs. McWane’s letter, which I found to be strangely interesting considering my knowledge of the family’s importance to Birmingham. Hopefully, as I continue to group a couple of thousand documents, I can come across other letters that are of interest to me. Only recently did I find a letter explaining to Martha Berry that John D. Rockefeller Jr. could not donate money to the schools, which would have been interesting to write about (if only I could find it again).


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