In Memoriam: Sarah Woolfolk Wiggins, 1934-2020

Sarah Wiggins pictureDr. Sarah Woolfolk Wiggins, the Department of History’s pioneering first female professor, passed away at her Tuscaloosa home on Easter Sunday. A memorial service will be held at Christ Episcopal Church at a later date, once social distancing restrictions are lifted. A private burial will take place at Greenwood Cemetery in Montgomery, Alabama. Dr. Wiggins is preceded in death by her parents, Robert Nelson Woolfolk, Jr. and Dixie Gilliland Woolfolk, and her husband, Peyton Norvell Wiggins. She is survived by her daughter, Henrietta Wiggins Muller and her husband, Courtney. She is also survived by two granddaughters, Sarah VanVoorhis Manning Muller and Gray Manning Muller.

Dr. Wiggins earned her bachelor’s degree from Huntingdon College and both her MA and PhD from Louisiana State University, where she was a student of the legendary T. Harry Williams. After graduation, she spent two years teaching at Southern Seminary Junior College in Buena Vista, Virginia before joining The University of Alabama Department of History in 1961.

Dust jacket for The Scalawag in Alabama Politics. Features a cartoon goat dressed like a man.

Wiggins specialized in the Old South, Civil War, Reconstruction, and Alabama history. She retired from UA in 1995, after nearly 35 years of service. In addition to her primary appointment as a history professor, she edited of The Alabama Review for two decades. Wiggins was a former president of both the Alabama Historical Association and the Jemison-Van deGraaff Foundation Board of Directors. She also served on a number of commissions and boards during her lifetime, including The University of Alabama Library Leadership Board, Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society Board, Alabama Historical Association Board of Directors, Southern Historical Association Executive Council, Alabama Local Records Commission, and Alabama State Records Commission. Dr. Wiggins also enjoyed volunteering in a variety of ministries for Christ Episcopal Church.

Wiggins also published extensively. She’s best known for her 1977 monograph, The Scalawag in Alabama Politics, 1865-1881. Her most recent book, Love and Duty: Amelia and Josiah Gorgas and Their Family, was published in 2005. Her edited works include From Civil War to Civil Rights, Alabama 1860–1960: An Anthology from The Alabama Review (1987); The Journals of Josiah Gorgas, 1857–1878 (1995); and The Journal of Sarah Haynsworth Gayle, 1827–1835: A Substitute for Social Intercourse (2013).

The Wiggins family is grateful for her loving caregivers, Beth Hubbard and Lorie Price, and Hospice of West Alabama. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to Christ Episcopal Church, 605 Lurleen B Wallace Blvd N, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401 or Friends of Florence, Attention: Jill Schwartz, 4545 W Street NW, Washington, DC 20007. Please share online condolences at: