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Biography: Dr. Thomas Perkins Abernethy born August 25, 1890

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Lowndes County, Alabama

Thomas Perkins Abernethy was a teacher, born August 25, 1890, at Collirene, Lowdnes County; son of William Heinz Abernethy and Annie Pierce (Rast) Abernethy, of Birmingham, the former a Confederate soldier; grandson of Rev. Thomas Smith Abernethy and Eliza (Heinz) Abernethy, Jr., and of William Heinz and Eliza (Clarke) Heinz; great-grandson of Thomas Smith Abernethy, a pioneer Methodist minister, one of the founders of the Alabama conference.

He attended the public schools of Birmingham, graduating in 1905, after which he entered the Fourth district agricultural school, Sylacauga; had one year at Marion institute. He was a cadet sergeant and played on the football team. He was student at the College of Charleston, Charleston, S. C., 1908-12, graduating A.B., and M.A., magna cum laude, the latter year winning a number of college honors.

In 1914 he entered Harvard graduate school of arts and sciences, received the M. A. degree in history, 1915. continuing his studies through 1916 for a Ph.D. degree. He taught at Marion institute, 1912-14 while completing graduate work in history at Harvard University.; He taught at Woman’s college of Alabama, 1916-17; Marion institute, 1919. He held the Chair of History at Marion Military Institute.

After graduate studies at Harvard, Dr. Abernathy had a distinguished career as a Southern historian and professor. He taught at Vanderbilt University, the University of Chattanooga, and the University of Alabama. Later he joined the faculty of the University of Virginia. At the end of his career he held the chair of the Cocoran Department of History at UVA, one of the premier departments of history in the country. He retired from UVA in 1961 and taught briefly at the University of Texas and University of Arizona.

“Dr. Abernethy received an Honorary Doctor of Literature (Litt. D.) from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. He was also honored by a festschrift entitled The Old Dominion: Essays for Thomas Perkins Abernethy, edited by Darrett B. Rutman (1964).
Among his many contributions to the field of history, Dr. Abernethy co-founded and served as third president of the Southern Historical Association. He also served on the executive board of the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond for over a quarter century.”

When the United States entered the European War, he joined the army as a private in the 81st division, December 28. 1917, and was discharged as second lieutenant of infantry, December 28, 1918.

Dr. Abernathy married: December 6, 1917, at Marlon, Ida Erckman Robertson. daughter of Taliaferro Caldwell Robertson and Charlotte Staton (Huger) Robertson, who lived at Asheville, N. C.; granddaughter of Alexander Calvin and Thomas S. Huger and Elizabeth (Staton) Huger of South Carolina. Ida was secretary to the president of Marion Military Institute.

Thomas later became a Historian and his private library was donated by Abernethy to Marion Military Institute around 1970. the collection consists of some 950 volumes including many first editions and rare books, the oldest being published in 1779. Seven books written by Dr. Abernethy are also part of the collection.

Thomas Perkins Abernethy died November 12, 1975. He is buried in University of Virginia Cemetery and Columbarium at Charlottesville, Charlottesville City, Virginia, USA


  1. History of Alabama and dictionary of Alabama biography, Volume 3 By Thomas McAdory Owen, Marie Bankhead Owen
  2. memorial # 8945395 # 32518889
  3. Marion Military Institute Archives

This biography is included in the Book Biographies of Notable and Not-so-Notable Alabama Pioneers Vol. III

Biographies of Notable and Not-so-Notable Alabama Pioneers Volume III (Kindle Edition)

By (author):  Causey, Donna R

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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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