Name: Lily May Caldwell Papers

Dates: 1910-1983

Extent: 2.5 cubic feet

Historical Note: Lily May Caldwell was born in Houston, Texas, in 1898 and grew up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where as a child she wanted to work for a newspaper. She began work for the Birmingham News-Age Herald in 1921. Her duties included the classified advertising section and the Miss Alabama Pageant, then sponsored by the newspaper.  Working within the state, Caldwell raised a tremendous amount of scholarship money for the Miss Alabama Pageant. Caldwell's efforts produced a number of successful Miss Alabama contestants including Yolande Betzbe who became Alabama's first Miss America in 1951. In the 1950s and 1960s,  Caldwell was promoted to the newspaper's arts and entertainment section within a few years. When performers visited Birmingham, Caldwell interviewed the individual and wrote stories for the newspaper. She gained a wide acquaintance with individuals in the performing arts and especially maintained contact with Alabamians who had achieved stardom. Through the years, Caldwell's dedication led to numerous promotions and at the time of her retirement in 1966, she was editor of the entertainment section of the Birmingham News.  Caldwell traveled considerably in her role as entertainment and amusements editor. She went to Europe to cover the filming of motion pictures, to New York to review plays and concerts, and to Hollywood to interview performers and visit old friends. 

Working for the newspaper also allowed Caldwell to pursue her interest in politics, she became especially interested in the career of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and maintained a correspondence with Roosevelt's secretaries.  Caldwell never married and spent her retirement years maintaining contact with the many people with whom she had developed friendships through her newspaper work. Lily May Caldwell died in Birmingham on June 15, 1980, she was 82 years old.

Scope & Contents: Includes correspondence, news clippings, tickets and passes, and phonograph albums.

Arrangement: Organized into three series: 1. Correspondence; 2. Certificates, Clippings, Etc.; and 3. Phonograph Records.

Accession Number: M94-05

Provenance: These materials were donated to the UAB Archives by a bequest of the James F. Hatcher Estate, and executrix Norma Warren transferred the materials to the archives in January 1994. After Caldwell’s death in 1980, her nephew had given the material to Hatcher for display in his entertainment museum in UAB's Town and Gown Theater. While processing the Hatcher donation, Archivist William Harris chose to separate the Caldwell papers into their own discrete collection.

Copyright: Many items within this collection may be governed by applicable copyright laws. Please consult the University Archivist for copyright information.

Finding aid: Printed descriptive guide by William A. Harris – revised by Tim L. Pennycuff – available in repository.

Access Points:
Birmingham News Company.
Caldwell, Lily May, d  1898-1980.
Jordan, Irene, d b. 1919.
MacDonald, Jeanette, d 1907-1965.
Miss America Pageant.
Motion picture actors and actresses.
Newspaper employees z Alabama z Birmingham.
Presidents z United States x Staff.
Reporters and reporting z Alabama z Birmingham.
Television actors and actresses.
Theatre critics z Alabama z Birmingham.

Document Types:
Phonograph records.

Location: Manuscript Stacks

Related Series: PMC15, Lily May Caldwell Photograph Collection
University Record Group 45:  Town and Gown Theatre

Physical Condition: Acid free folders and acid free boxes

This page created 1995 and last updated on 17 October 2018.

Copyright:  The University of Alabama Board of Trustees.