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Frances Cabaniss Roberts Collection

Identifier: MC-27

Scope and Contents

The Frances Cabaniss Roberts collection covers the historical records of the Cabaniss Roberts family. This collection contains extensive correspondence records of the Cabaniss Roberts family circa 1830 to 1930.


  • Creation: 1830 - 1930


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research in the Archives & Special Collections reading room. Handling guidelines and use restrictions will be communicated and enforced by archives staff members.

Conditions Governing Use

This material may be protected under U. S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S. Code) which governs the making of photocopies or reproductions of copyrighted materials. You may use the digitized material for private study, scholarship, or research. Though the University of Alabama in Huntsville Archives and Special Collections has physical ownership of the material in its collections, in some cases we may not own the copyright to the material. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in our collections.

Biographical / Historical

Dr. Frances Cabaniss Roberts was born December 19, 1916 in Gainesville, Alabama, a daughter of Richard H. and Mary (Watson) Roberts. She graduated from Livingston State College, earning her B.S. in 1937, and then the University of Alabama, earning her M.A. in 1940, then her PhD in 1956. Her 1940 M.A thesis was "An Experiment in Emancipation of Slaves by an Alabama Planter;" her 1956 PhD dissertation was "Background and Formative Period in the Great Bend and Madison County," 1956.

She began her professional career as a public school teacher first in Sumter County, Alabama and then in Huntsville, Alabama, 1937-1952. In Huntsville, Roberts taught history at Huntsville High School and then at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), where she was a vigorous participant in the formation of that University. (The Extension Center, then at West Huntsville High School, opened in January 1950.) From 1955 to 1956, she was the only full-time faculty member.

Dr. Roberts served in many roles at UAH: instructor 1953-1956; assistant professor, 1956-1959; associate professor, 1959-1961; professor of history beginning in 1961 until her retirement on August 31st, 1980. She led efforts for UAH to become a true university with Liberal Arts as a vital component, and she was truly the heart and soul of the History Department. Her curiosity about the past, her intellectual flexibility, her interest in her students, and her role as a community preservationist offered a heritage that remains.

Dr. Roberts’ publications included “Exploring Alabama” (with Charles G. Summersell), 1961; “Know Alabama: An Elementary History” (with Frank L. Owsley, John Craig Stewart, and Gordon T. Chappell, and later revised with Viola Ayer), 1961; “Highlights of Huntsville History,” 1962; “Shadows on the Wall: The Life and Works of Howard Weeden” (with Sarah Huff Fisk), Colonial Press, 1962; “Civics for Alabama Schools” (with Coleman Ransone), 1963, 2nd edition; “Sesquicentennial History of the Church of the Nativity, Episcopal, 1843-1993, Huntsville, Alabama,” 1992; and numerous journal articles.

In 1988, Dr. Roberts was honored with the dedication of Roberts Recital Hall. The University System Trustees issued this statement concerning the special day: "Dr. Roberts was one of the founding faculty of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, established the University History Department, and was its first full-time history professor. She devoted 18 years to the public schools and 29 years of dedicated service to UAH and accepting only the highest scholarly standards and inspiring generations of students to expand their academic horizons."

The collection of Dr. Roberts’ papers reflects her total immersion in the education, social, religious, musical, and literary life of the community as she led by doing. Frances Cabaniss Roberts died November 5, 2000 at the age of 83, leaving a legacy of leadership and dedication to the community.


105 Linear feet (143 boxes and 19 oversize.)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Johanna Shields, 2006.

Existence and Location of Copies

Processing Information

Collections are processed to a variety of levels, depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived research value, the availability of staff, and competing priorities. The library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections as they are acquired and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.

Nancy Rohr, Anne Coleman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama in Huntsville Archives & Special Collections Repository

M. Louis Salmon Library
301 Sparkman Drive
Huntsville, AL 35899 Alabama 35899 United States of America