Alabama Academy of Honor


Edwin C. Bridges

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in August 2006.



Ed Bridges is in his 25th year as director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History. Established thirty-three years before the U.S. National Archives, the Alabama Archives was the first state historical agency in the United States and has been one of the major cultural institutions in Alabama. Bridges has worked diligently to update and strengthen the programs and services of this venerable institution.

Bridges grew up in Bainbridge, Georgia, and graduated from Furman University, where he earned both the Woodrow Wilson and Danforth fellowships. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in history from the University of Chicago, studying there under some of the leading historians in the United States. He taught history in high school for two years in Greenville, South Carolina, and worked for two years as a contract researcher for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. He also taught at the Georgia Institute for Technology in Atlanta before joining the staff of the Georgia Department of Archives and History, where he served last as assistant director.

At the Alabama Department of Archives and History, Bridges worked to integrate new technology and modern professional practices into all aspects of the Archives' work. During his tenure, the department has undertaken major efforts to update all cataloging records, to improve the conditions in which the collections are stored, to increase public accessibility to the department's holdings, and to expand and upgrade educational programs about Alabama history. In 2005, the department opened a new west wing addition to the building, completing a plan for the site originally developed in the late 1910s.

Outside the Archives, Bridges has been involved in a variety of state and community activities. For years, he has presented programs about Alabama history to groups across the state. He has served as president of the Alabama Historical Association, as well as a member of the Alabama Historical Commission, the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame, the Alabama Men's Hall of Fame, the Governor's Mansion Advisory Board, and the Alabama Historical Records Advisory Board. He is a recipient of the Alabama Humanities Foundation's Annual Humanities Award and has been inducted into the College of Communications Hall of Fame at the University of Alabama.

Bridges' areas of professional interest have centered on legal issues affecting the administration of public archives. He has served as a consultant on archival administration to the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators, as well as to several states. He has been a member of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and a board member of the Research Libraries Group, an international organization of major research libraries. He has served as vice chairman of the Information Policy Task Force of the Council of State Governments and has represented the United States in archival exchanges with both the former Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. He was the organizer and first leader of a seminar on archival administration at the University of Pittsburgh that has served as a training center for many state archival leaders across the United States. He is a Fellow of the Society of American Archivists.

Bridges and his wife Martha have three daughters Sarah Bridges Dixon (husband Michael), Mary Bridges, and Abby Bridges.