The University of Alabama boasts more than 150 years of rich history as well as academic and social progress. Our story is one of campus growth, increased academic intelligence, and celebrated progress as we continue to strive to be The Capstone of Higher Education. Explore the timeline below to learn more about how we got to where we are today!
Timeline of UA History
1820 The University of Alabama is established on December 18th. It was named “the University of the State of Alabama.”
1827The University of Alabama is placed in Tuscaloosa, the state capital at the time. Tuscaloosa remained the capital of Alabama from 1826-1846.
1829The first building, the Gorgas House, is constructed. This building is one of the four remaining buildings from pre-Civil War UA. It was originally built as a University dining hall, then remodeled to be a residence hall in 1840. It was occupied by the Gorgas family from 1879-1953. It is now available to be toured and is a memorial for the Gorgas family.
1831On April 18th, inaugural ceremonies are held to honor the official opening of the University.
1860The University of Alabama becomes a military school. Many of the students who graduated from UA became officers during the Civil War for the Confederate Army.
1865On April 4th, the original campus is burned down by Union troops. Only four buildings remain today from the original campus; the Gorgas House, the President’s Mansion, the Little Round House, and the Old Observatory.
1892The first football game is played in a Birmingham baseball park against local high school students. Only one more game was played until 1899. These two football games laid the foundation for future football traditions and fans for years to come.
1893In the fall semester, the first female students enroll due to lobbying by Julia Tutwiler. (Do you recognize the name??) At this time, women had to complete their freshman year at another college and take a test in order to enroll at UA. Today, 56% of the student body are women!
1894The student newspaper, The Crimson White, debuts. The CW has always served the University and its students by keeping them in the loop and giving students the opportunity to gain skills in many different types of news media. You should grab a copy on campus today!
1913During a speech, President George H. Denny calls the University the “Capstone of the public school system in the state of Alabama.” This is why we refer to UA as the Capstone today!
1914The University band is first organized. It was known as the “Alabama Band.” It was first formed as a military band, and in 1922, an alumnus coined the name “Million Dollar Band.” This is what we know the band as today.
Denny Chimes, the bell tower on the Quad, is completed and dedicated to President George H. Denny.
Bryant-Denny stadium opens at a capacity of 18,000 on September 28th. It was originally named Denny Stadium, after president George H. Denny. Today, this stadium is at the core of many game-day traditions, as you are now surrounded by 101,821 of your Crimson Tide family members!
1939Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library is built. Gorgas is UA’s largest library and is a great place study spot for group study sessions or to find a quiet spot to study. You may end up spending a lot of your time there!
1954Pieces of the Sylacauga meteorite fall through the roof of a house, hitting Ann Hodges. It was the first extraterrestrial object to hit a human being. Two years later, it was donated to the Alabama Museum of Natural History, located in UA’s own Smith Hall.
1956Autherine Lucy enrolls as the first African-American student at UA.
1957Paul “Bear” Bryant is named the Crimson Tide’s head football coach.
1963Governor George Wallace’s “stand in the schoolhouse door” takes place at Foster Auditorium. After Wallace steps aside, UA’s integration is called for by President John F. Kennedy.
1975Denny stadium becomes “Bryant-Denny Stadium” after state legislature added “Bryant” to the name to honor coach Bear Bryant.
1981The University celebrates 150 years of education.
2007Coach Nick Saban becomes Head Coach of the Crimson Tide football team.
The University of Alabama honors first enrolled African-American students Autherine Lucy, Vivian Malone, and James hood by naming the plaza in front of Foster Auditorium Malone-Hood Plaza. A clock tower named after Autherine Lucy is erected, and is located in the center of the plaza.
Bryant-Denny Stadium undergoes another expansion, increasing capacity to 101,821. This is its current capacity. It is now the fourth largest stadium in the Southeastern Conference and the eighth largest stadium in the world!
2011A tornado rips through the City of Tuscaloosa, an event that changed the city forever. UA students, faculty, and staff stepped up to help the community and to support those affected. The University acknowledged the physical and emotional damage to the UA and Tuscaloosa community and cancelled the rest of the spring semester.
2012Dr. Judy Bonner becomes UA’s first female president.
2013UA celebrates 50 years of desegregation.
2017Enrollment hits a record high of 38,563 students for Fall 2017.
2020You join the Crimson Tide family and begin your legacy at UA!