Leah Rawls Atkins

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Leah Rawls Atkins

Leah Marie Rawls Atkins (born April 24, 1935 in Birmingham) is a historian and former water skiing champion.

Atkins grew up with an extended household in a cluster of houses at the site of her great-grandfather's plantation house near Oak Hill Cemetery. As a teenager in the 1950s, Atkins won water skiing championships and numerous national and international competitions, including the U.S. Women's Overall National Championship and the Women's Overall World Championship. She was the first woman to serve as a judge for, and on the governing board of the American Water Ski Association.

She earned her master's at Auburn University and went on to earn the first PhD in history granted by Auburn in 1974 . She taught there, at Samford University and UAB. She directed the Auburn University Center for Arts and Humanities until retiring in 1995. She is also the author of numerous historical books, including The Valley and the Hills produced under the sponsorship of the Jefferson County Historical Society. She also co-authored the landmark Alabama: History of a Deep South State with William Rogers, Robert Ward and Wayne Flynt.

Atkins is a past president and long-time secretary of the Alabama Historical Association and was a founding member of the board of the Friends of the Alabama Archives and served on the board of the Alabama Archives and History Foundation.

In 1976, Atkins became the first woman inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. She was added to the Alabama Academy of Honor in 2007.

Atkins and her husband, George, have four children and 13 grandchildren.


  • Atkins, Leah Rawls (1960) Early Efforts to Control Tuberculosis in Alabama: The Formation and Work of the Alabama Tuberculosis Association, 1908-1930. Master's Thesis. Auburn University
  • Atkins, Leah Rawls (1974) Southern Congressmen and the Homestead Bill.. Ph.D. dissertation. Auburn University
  • Atkins, Leah Rawls (1976) A Manual for Writing Alabama State and Local History. Montgomery: Alabama Historical Commission
  • Atkins, Leah Rawls (197–) William Appleman Williams: The Misuse of History.
  • Atkins, Leah Rawls (1978) The Romantic Ideal: Alabama's Plantation Eden. Troy: Troy State University Press ISBN 0916624196
  • Atkins, Leah Rawls & Flora Jones Beavers (1981) The Jones Family of Huntsville Road. Birmingham: L. R. Atkins
  • Atkins, Leah Rawls (1981) The Valley and the Hills: An Illustrated History of Birmingham and Jefferson County, Alabama. Birmingham: Birmingham-Jefferson Historical Society. ISBN 0897810317
  • Atkins, Leah Rawls (1986) The Club: A History, 1951-1986. Birmingham: The Club
  • Rogers, William Warren; Robert D. Ward; Leah Rawls Atkins, L & Wayne Flynt (1994) Alabama: The History of a Deep South State. University of Alabama Press ISBN 081731699X
  • Adams, E. Bryding and Leah Rawls Atkins (1995) Made in Alabama: A State Legacy. Birmingham: Birmingham Museum of Art ISBN 0931394406
  • Atkins, Leah Rawls; William Warren Rogers; Robert David Ward & Alice Knierim (1995) An Alabama Legacy: Images of a State. Donning Company ISBN 0898659507
  • Atkins, Leah Rawls (1995) Nineteenth Century Club: Celebrating 100 Years of 'Mutual Mental Improvement' (1895-1995) Birmingham, Alabama. Birmingham: The Club
  • Atkins, Leah Rawls (1996) Caroline Marshall Draughon. Auburn: Auburn University Campus Club/Craftmaster Printers
  • Atkins, Leah Rawls (1999) John M. Harbert III: Marching to the Beat of a Different Drummer. Tarva House iSBN 0966654609
  • Atkins, Leah Rawls (2000) The Warrior and the Tombigbee: Two Rivers Flowing Through History. Warrior-Tombigbee Waterway Association
  • Atkins, Leah Rawls (2002) The Building of Brasfield & Gorrie. Birmingham: Brasfield & Gorrie ISBN 061512173X
  • Atkins, Leah Rawls (2006) Developed for the Service of Alabama: The Centennial History of the Alabama Power Company, 1906-2006 Birmingham: Alabama Power Company. ISBN 0978675304
  • Atkins, Leah Rawls (2008) Blossoms Amid the Deep Verdure, 1892-1992: A Century of Women at Auburn. Auburn: Auburn University
  • Atkins, Leah Rawls & Katherine Tuttle Walcott (2009) "I Am a Telephone Man": Wallace R. Bunn's Life in the Bell System.. Pine Ridge House
  • Atkins, Leah Rawls (2010) "Tasso": The Bower House at Molette's Bend. Birmingham: Alabama Power Company