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A Chronological History of
the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)
and its Predecessor Institutions and Organizations, 1831-

(Please contact the UAB Archives for additional information.)

Copyright: The University of Alabama Board of Trustees.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) traces its roots to the 1859 founding of the Medical College of Alabama and the 1936 opening of the Birmingham Extension Center of the University of Alabama. In 1945 the Medical College of Alabama was moved from Tuscaloosa and the University's Medical Center was founded in Birmingham. In 1954 the Extension Center was moved to a newly constructed facility adjacent to the Medical Center, bringing together for the first time the University's two academic components in Birmingham.  Later, in November of 1966, the Extension Center and the Medical Center were administratively merged to form the "University of Alabama in Birmingham," an organizational component of the University of Alabama (in Tuscaloosa). In 1969 UAB became an independent institution, one of the autonomous universities within the newly created three-campus University of Alabama System.

Today, UAB is a comprehensive urban university with a nationally recognized academic health center. UAB is the only public, four-year degree granting university in the state's largest metropolitan area. UAB is the largest research institution in the state of Alabama and is the largest single employer in the state.

A comprehensive chronology of the history of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and its predecessor entities is found below.  Underlined and bolded items in this list may be selected to see portraits or photographs about the specific person or event.

Chronology last updated 26 April 2024

January 1930: Dr. R. F. Lovelady was named the first full-time superintendent of Hillman Hospital.

1931: Dr. Allan Walker Blair, a Canadian-born pathologist, received a full-time faculty appointment as an assistant professor of Pathology. Blair had been an instructor at the two-year Tuscaloosa school since 1929.

1931: Dr. Eleanor Abrams Hunt received a full-time faculty appointment as an assistant professor of Histology and Embryology at the medical school in Tuscaloosa; she had been a research associate at the two-year school since 1928. Dr. Hunt was the first female appointed to the medical school's full-time faculty.

1932: Dr. Louise H. Branscomb, a gynecologist, became the first female physician granted staff privileges at the county-operated Hillman Hospital. She would later hold a clinical appointment at the medical school from 1945 until her retirement in 1975.

September 14, 1936: The University of Alabama opened its Birmingham Extension Center in an old wood-frame two-story house at 2131 6th Avenue North. For the first term, 116 students enrolled. One full-time instructor and seven-part time instructors taught 19 different courses.  The Center's library had 50 books.

September 1936: Edward K. Austin became the first director of the University of Alabama Birmingham Extension Center.

1936: Dr. Luther Terry completed an internship in Birmingham's Hillman Hospital. In 1961, the native of Red Level, Alabama, would be appointed Surgeon-General of the United States; he was the first Alabamian named as America’s top public health official.

1936: Dr. James W. McQueen was named superintendent of Hillman Hospital.

1936: Dr. Tom D. Spies established the Spies Nutrition Clinic within the Hillman Hospital upon the request of Dr. James S. McLester, physician-in-chief of the hospital.  Dr. Spies, a noted researcher from the University of Cincinnati (later from Northwestern University), would maintain the independent clinic within the hospital until his death in 1960.

1937: Dr. Richard C. Foster became president of The University of Alabama and served until 1941.

April 11, 1938: The cornerstone was laid -- after construction began -- on the Hillman Hospital Outpatient Clinic Building.

May 23, 1938: Thomas S. Lawson was elected to the University of Alabama Board of Trustees. He was the first new trustee elected to the board following the establishment of the extension center in Birmingham.

December 1938: Groundbreaking was held for Jefferson Hospital.

November 19, 1939: Hillman Hospital Outpatient Clinic Building was dedicated.

1939: The University of Alabama added four full-time faculty members at the Birmingham Extension Center:  Dr. Adrienne S. Rayl, Dr. Richard T. Eastwood, Marguerite Matlock Butler, and Quinton Dabbs.  Before these additions, the Center operated with one full-time faculty member, Center director Edward K. Austin, and with numerous part-time faculty and staff, including some full-time faculty from Tuscaloosa who commuted to and from Birmingham to teach.

1939: The University of Alabama's Birmingham Extension Center had an enrollment of 365 students.

Mervyn H. Sterne Library

917 13th St S
Birmingham, AL

(205) 934-6364

Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences

1700 University Blvd
Birmingham, AL

(205) 975-4821

Reynolds-Finley Historical Library

1700 University Blvd - 3rd Floor
Birmingham, AL

(205) 934-4475

Alabama Museum of the Health Sciences

1700 University Blvd - 3rd Floor
Birmingham, AL

(205) 934-4475

Lister Hill Library at University Hospital

615 18th Street S - P235 West Pavilion
Birmingham, AL

(205) 934-2275

801 Building

801 5th Ave South
Room 1111
Birmingham, AL

(205) 934-5432

J. Ellis Sparks Medical Library

301 Governors Drive SE - 3rd Floor
Huntsville, AL 35801

(256) 551-4405

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