Braxton Bragg Comer papers, 1905-1940.

Creator: Comer, B. B. (Braxton Bragg), 1848-1927.
Collection number: 168
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Abstract: Braxton Bragg Comer of Birmingham and Comer, Barbour County, Ala., was president of Avondale Cotton Mills, planter, merchant, and prominent politician, who served as president of the Alabama Railroad Commission, 1904-1907; governor of Alabama, 1908-1911; and U.S. senator, 1920. Personal, plantation and other business, and political papers of Comer. Personal papers consist primarily of letters to his family, including his brother E. T. Comer, about family matters, hunting, and social activities, and about Comer’s interest in public and higher education in Alabama. Plantation records include correspondence with agents, sharecroppers, and laborers on the Comer plantation; vendors of farm machinery and agricultural supplies; and others. These letters discuss business disputes, Comer’s African-American workforce, the sale and purchase of feed and livestock, cultivation techniques, and varieties of plants and animals. Plantation records also contain laborer and sharecropper work reports and financial and legal documents relating to the sale and purchase of farm equipment, including union activities in the mills.Political papers discuss many issues included in the progressive agenda–regulation of public utilities and transportation, especially railroads; Prohibition; and convict leasing. Comer’s battle to regulate the cotton futures market is also documented. In the 1910s and 1920s, papers show Comer’s involvement in several Alabama political campaigns and in Oscar Underwood’s unsuccessful bid for the 1924 Democratic presidential nomination. Many items document the role of the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama politics in the 1920s. In 1940, there are items concerning Comer family history. Also included are scrapbooks of newspaper clippings, most dating from Comer’s tenure as governor of Alabama. Topics include Comer’s administration, railroad regulation, Prohibition, education, election reform, local and national elections, and Democratic Party politics.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: Comer’s personal papers in Series 1 discuss African Americans, including a servant light enough to pass for white (1920), the death of Becky Comer, a former family slave (1922), his views on race relations and education (1917), traveling with African American servants (1919). The plantation records in Series 1 contain numerous documents related to African American laborers working for Comer as well as African American schools, and his thoughts on African Americans in the military. Volume 4 (pages 227-308) includes detail of the impeachment of Sheriff Frank Cazalas of Mobile, Ala., on the grounds that he permitted the lynching of an African-American accused murderer.