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A. S. Williams III Americana Manuscript Collections

Guide to the Howard Weeden papers W.0008


University Libraries Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama

Box 870266
Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 35487-0266

September 2013


This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2013-11-15T13:51-0600

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Description Rules:

Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Collection Title:

Howard Weeden papers

Unit ID:



University Libraries Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama


0.4 Linear feet


between 1735 and 1905


Three composition books filled with collections of quotations and illustrations and one book of devotions.


The A. S. Williams III Americana Collection, Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library, The University of Alabama

General Physical Description note

The four volumes in this collection are fairly fragile; most of the bindings are loose or detached.


Weeden, Howard, 1847-1905


Williams, A. S., III

Access Restrictions:


Biographical/Historical note

Artist and poet, Maria Howard Weeden (known as Howard) was born in Huntsville, Alabama, on 6 July 1847, the youngest daughter of Dr. William Donaldson and Jane Eliza Brooks Urquhart Weeden. Howard's father died returning from a trip to New Orleans six months before she was born. She was educated at Huntsville Female Seminary, where she showed a talent for music and art. Recognizing her talents, Howard's mother hired William Frye, a well-known Huntsville portrait painter, to provide Howard with private art lessons.

The family home in downtown Huntsville was confiscated by Union troops in 1862, and Howard, her mother, and her sister Kate moved in with their servants. Later that year, the family and their servants moved to the Tuskegee plantation of Maria's older sister. Howard then enrolled in the Tuskegee Female Methodist College.

Returning to Huntsville in 1866, the Weedens found their home plundered and finances depleted. To help with finances, she taught art classes and sold paintings, handpainted note cards, and mementoes; she painted scenes of Huntsville and more than 200 wildflowers found on Monte Sano, a mountain near Huntsville. As a hobby, Howard often copied poems of well-known authors onto blank pages and illustrated the margins with her personal drawings. She also began writing inspirational poems and fables and essays for the Christian Observer newspaper, under the pseudonym Flake White.

In 1893, Howard traveled to Chicago for the World's Columbian Exposition and viewed works of other artists. She was struck at the common portrayal of freedpeople in an exaggerated, caricatured minstrel show style, such as A. B. Frost's illustrations for Joel Chandler Harris's Uncle Remus tales. Recognizing the inadequacy of such depictions, Howard was inspired to paint the people she had known all her life. She would spend many years painting the freedpeople that she grew up with, cared for, and respected.

Toward the end of her life she wrote four collections of poetry, including Songs of the Old South, Bandana Ballads, and Old Voices. She died from tuberculosis on 12 April 1905.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Alabama

Scope and Contents note

This collection includes three handwritten journals and one published devotional. The journals are collections of quotes and illustrations. The first journal includes several illustrations related to the short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." The published devotional, entitled Devout Exercises of the Heart and written by Elizabeth Rowe, contains a note which says the volume was published in 1735.

Acquisition Information:

Gift of A. S. Williams III, 2010

General note

The title on the phase box spine: Howard Weedon Journals

Related Archival Materials note

There are other collections and books by and about Howard Weeden in the A. S. Williams III Americana Collection, W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library, and the Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library. Contact a staff member for assistance.

Processing Information:

Processed by

Haley Aaron and Martha Bace, 2013

Preferred Citation:

Howard Weeden papers, The A. S. Williams III American Collection, University Libraries Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama


Williams, A. S., III (local)

American poetry--Alabama--19th Century (lcsh)

Huntsville (Ala.) (lcsh)

Literature and Authors (localbroad)

Among My Books, Volume 1 Item 1 Box W0008.01

Among My Books, Volume 2 Item 2 Box W0008.01

Footprints from Classic Shores Item 3 Box W0008.01

Devout Exercises of the Heart Item 4 Box W0008.01