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A series of images from the UAB Archives

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

View images from the 1940s.

January 23, 1940: Gordon D. Palmer was elected to the University of Alabama Board of Trustees.

November 29, 1940: Brewer Dixon was elected to the University of Alabama Board of Trustees.

December 26-30, 1940: Jefferson Hospital was dedicated.

January 1941: The Federally-sponsored Engineering, Science and Management War Training Program was initiated at the Birmingham Extension Center.  Through the ESMWT, the University of Alabama's extension division served "individuals engaged in the war industry" and aided in their effectiveness in "speeding up the production of goods and materials for the war."

February 1, 1941: Charles R. Skelton, a 43-year old carpenter from Ensley who had helped lay the foundation for the hospital, became the first patient admitted to Jefferson Hospital.

1941: Dr. George H. Denny became president of The University of Alabama -- for a second time -- and served until the following year.

1941: Space was so overcrowded at the Birmingham Extension Center that the university had to use a portion of the city's nearby Phillips High School for classes. The school was located on 7th Avenue North.

1942: Dr. Raymond R. Paty became president of The University of Alabama and served until December 1946.

March 30, 1942: The 10th and 11th floors of Jefferson Hospital became home to the secret national headquarters of the US Army’s Replacement and School Command (R&SC), which was charged with individual training of officers and enlisted personnel of the infantry, field artillery, cavalry, coast artillery, armored forces, parachute and tank destroyer units. The operation was moved from Washington, DC and was activated in Birmingham on this date. The R&SC remained in Jefferson Hospital until it was moved to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina in April of 1944.

June 8, 1942: As part of the national defense effort during World War II, the medical school in Tuscaloosa instituted an accelerated training program of year-round school containing four sessions of study within a three-year curriculum. New classes began at nine-month intervals.

1942: Dr. Adrienne S. Rayl became the interim director of the Birmingham Extension Center.

1942: In the fall term, E. A. Lowe became the second director of the Birmingham Extension Center.

May 29, 1943: Paul P. Salter was elected to the University of Alabama Board of Trustees.

June 2, 1943: The Jones Bill, Alabama Act 89, authorized an expansion of the two-year Medical College of Alabama to a four-year program and appropriated over $1.3 million for buildings, equipment, and maintenance.

December 1, 1943: D. Lonnie Noojin was elected to the University of Alabama Board of Trustees.

February 16, 1944: The Building Commission for the Four-Year Medical College adopted a resolution locating the new four-year medical school in Birmingham. The Commission had been authorized in 1943 by the Jones Bill (Alabama Act 89) and its nine members had been appointed by Governor Chauncey Sparks.

August 1, 1944: Dr. Roy R. Kracke became first dean of the four-year Medical College of Alabama.

December 1, 1944: Dr. Roger Denio Baker became the medical school's first full-time faculty member and the first departmental chair (pathology) appointed by Dean Roy R. Kracke.

December 20, 1944: The University of Alabama entered into a 99-year contract with Jefferson County for the use of Jefferson and Hillman Hospitals. The contract also conveyed to the university the land on which the hospitals were located.

1944: Fifty-four students, including three females, graduated as the last class of the two-year basic medical sciences program in Tuscaloosa.

January 1, 1945: Jefferson and Hillman Hospitals were merged to form The University of Alabama’s Jefferson-Hillman Hospital.  More than 670 hospital staff, 257 employed in Hillman Hospital and 419 in Jefferson Hospital, transitioned from Jefferson County employees to become university employees.

July 10, 1945: The Alfred A. Walker Ward was dedicated at Jefferson-Hillman Hospital as a ward dedicated to the treatment of infantile paralysis (a.k.a. poliomyelitis). Named in honor of a city pediatrician and chair of the county’s board of health, the new polio ward was located on the fourth floor of the Hillman building.

March 1945: Mary Ament became librarian of the newly established Medical College Library; she resigned three months later.

June 4, 1945: Twenty-two juniors registered for classes in Jefferson-Hillman Hospital for the new four-year Medical College of Alabama.

June 27, 1945: With the Newton Bill, Alabama Act 207, the state legislature created The University of Alabama School of Dentistry but appropriated no funds for its operation.

June 1945: As World War II was ending, 324 students were enrolled at the Birmingham Extension Center.

September 24, 1945: The two-year basic medical sciences program on the Tuscaloosa campus of The University of Alabama was closed.

September 24, 1945: The fall term began at the Birmingham Extension Center with over 200 students enrolled. There were two full-time instructors, 16 part-time instructors, and three staff. Five of the 18 faculty members were female.

September 1945: Mildred R. Crowe became second librarian of the Medical College Library.

October 1, 1945: The unpacking and organization of the library of the medical college began.

October 8, 1945: Classes for freshmen and sophomore medical students began at the new, four-year Medical College of Alabama with the freshman class size limited to 52 students.

October 18, 1945: The Iota Chapter of the Phi Chi Medical Fraternity held a dance to welcome freshman and sophomore students to the new school in Birmingham.  The established chapter of the medical-social fraternity had been moved from the campus in Tuscaloosa to Birmingham.

December 1945: Highlights of Jefferson-Hillman Hospital, a news sheet for hospital staff, was first published.

1945: Research grants at the Medical College of Alabama totaled $8,900.

1945: Tuition for the Medical College of Alabama was $400 per scholastic year.

1945: Isaac J. Browder became the third director of the Birmingham Extension Center.

1945: Dr. Roy R. Kracke obtained three additional blocks of land adjacent to Jefferson-Hillman Hospital for the development of a medical center.

1945: The Cullom Apartments located at the corner of South 20th Street and 8th Avenue South were acquired for use as student dormitories and as faculty housing.

1945: Dr. Melson Barfield-Carter became chair of the Department of Radiology. She was the first female department head at the Medical Center.

May 1, 1946: By the end of the first year, the medical school employed 172 faculty members, 58 of whom were full-time, four library staff, two hospital executives, and six administrative staff.

August 13, 1946: President Harry S. Truman signed the Hill-Burton Hospital Survey and Construction Act, co-sponsored by Alabama Senator Lister Hill.

October 25, 1946: At the first commencement ceremony held in Birmingham, 21 students graduated from the Medical College of Alabama.  The first graduate in Birmingham was Homer W. Allgood.  The only female in the class, Virginia Dare Hamilton, became the first woman to receive the MD degree.  There were also 14 paraprofessional graduates who received medical technology or radiological technology certificates during this first ceremony.

November 30, 1946: William H. Key, Jr., was elected to the University of Alabama Board of Trustees. Key was the first trustee elected to the board following the establishment of the medical center in Birmingham.

1946: The Birmingham Extension Center had an enrollment of over 500 students. The old building on 6th Avenue North could not handle all of the students and instructors, so the University leased space in several buildings in the city's downtown.

1946: The four-year medical school in Birmingham had 58 full-time faculty, seven of whom were women and one of whom was chair of a department. There were also numerous volunteer faculty (i.e. clinical faculty) who had private practices outside of the medical school.

1947: Ralph E. Adams became the acting president of The University of Alabama and served until 1948.

March 12, 1947: Groundbreaking was held at the Medical Center for the Jefferson County Public Health Building.

June 1947: In the immediate post-war years, total enrollment at the Birmingham Extension Center had surged to over 2,000 students.

June 1947: Laboratory facilities of the Stockham Pipe and Fittings Company were made available to engineering metallurgy students from the Birmingham Extension Center.

October 9, 1947: Alabama Act 678 appropriated funds of $750,000 for the operation of the University of Alabama School of Dentistry.

November 22, 1947: William H. Mitchell was elected to the University of Alabama Board of Trustees.

1947: Graduate programs were first offered at the Birmingham Extension Center during the fall term. Faculty from the campus in Tuscaloosa came to Birmingham as instructors for the two new programs in education and history.

June 8, 1948: Carmen Margarita Sosa of Salinas, Puerto Rico, received a certificate in medical technology, the first international student to graduate from a program at the Medical Center in Birmingham.

June 1948: Dr. Joseph F. Volker was named first dean of the School of Dentistry.

October 18, 1948: Fifty-two freshmen, all veterans, began classes at the School of Dentistry.

October 1948: A separate library was established for the School of Dentistry.

1948: Drs. Joseph F. Volker and Roy R. Kracke decided to jointly fund and administer the basic science departments.

1948: The Medical Center was awarded $30,000 in research and training grants.

1948: Dr. John M. Gallalee became president of The University of Alabama and served until 1953.

1948: The School of Dentistry opened for classes with 23 full-time faculty, all of whom were male. There were two female members of the part-time faculty: Drs. Polly Ayers and Eleanor A. Hunt. Several of the school’s initial faculty held primary appointments in the medical school but also taught basic science courses to the first dental students.

June 3, 1949: The Class of 1949, the first class to spend all four years of medical school in Birmingham, graduated with 24 male and 7 female students.

June 30, 1949: Groundbreaking ceremonies were held in the Medical Center for the Crippled Children's Clinic and Hospital.

September 19, 1949: Alabama Act 596, the Wright-Boutwell Bill, which created The University of Alabama School of Nursing, was signed by Governor James E. Folsom.

October 23, 1949: A groundbreaking ceremony was held at the Medical Center for the Birmingham Veterans Administration Hospital.

November 9, 1949: The Alabama legislature approved plans for a joint medical college and dental school building.

1949: Dr. Hsien Wu became a member of the full-time biochemistry faculty with the appointment as a Visiting Professor. Dr. Wu, who had a long and distinguished career in his native China, remained in Birmingham until his retirement in 1952.

1949: The Jefferson County Public Health Building was dedicated adjacent to the Medical Center.

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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