Jefferson County was founded in 1819. Birmingham, the state's most populous city, founded in 1871, has an abundance of historical sites, societies and museums – but no central museum to tell the varied stories of all its people.
The organization currently owns 412 separate collections, containing 8,200 artifacts. Of those, about half are single photographic negatives of local retail, industrial and city scenes from the 1960s and early 1970s. Others range from the 3,300-lb. terra cotta nameplate from the former Birmingham News building, to documents, personal correspondence of Birmingham's prominent citizens, vintage restaurant menus, patent medicine and pop bottles made in Birmingham, and the Blach's Knight – a 1963 suit of armor used as an advertising symbol by Blach's Department Store.