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 21 March 2019.

1831: The University of Alabama Board of Trustees was created by the Alabama legislature.

April 5, 1859: The Probate Court of Mobile County granted a charter for a medical school with power vested in a board of trustees originally comprised by Drs. Josiah C. Nott, James F. Heustis, William H. Anderson, George A. Ketchum, Francis A. Ross, and Frederick E. Gordon.

November 14, 1859: The Medical College of Alabama opened in Mobile in a rented building. Dr. William H. Anderson was the school's first dean.

January 30, 1860: Act No. 255 of the Alabama Legislature chartered the Medical College of Alabama and appropriated $50,000.00 for purchase of grounds, the erection of buildings, and for necessary contingent expenses. Power for the school was vested with a board of trustees comprised by Newton St. John, J. C. Dubose, Robert A. Baker, William D. Dunn, A. R. Manning, Duke W. Goodman, H. T. Smith, C. R. Foot, Murray F. Smith, Samuel G. Battle, Theophilus L. Toulmin, John Little Smith, Charles Labaron, N. H. Brown, and John Forysth.

March 7, 1860: The first class of 15 graduated from the Medical College of Alabama after a one-year term.  Samuel W. Acton was the school's first graduate.

1860: A new four-story building was opened on St. Anthony Street in Mobile to house the Medical College of Alabama. The building occupied the center of a square bounded by St. Anthony, Lawrence, Cedar, and State streets.

1861: Classes suspended at the Medical College of Alabama due to the Civil War.

1865: The building of the Medical College of Alabama was occupied by the Federal Government; it later became the headquarters of the local Freedmen's Bureau.

1868: The building of the Medical College of Alabama was returned to the ownership of the college's governing board.

November 1868: Classes that had been suspended during the Civil War resumed at the Medical College of Alabama in Mobile. Dr. William H. Anderson returned as dean.

1869: Following the resumption of the school, five students graduated from the Medical College of Alabama after a one-year term.

1874: E. James Nesbitt of the British West Indies graduated from the Medical College of Alabama; the first international student to graduate from the medical school.

March 1878: The graduating class at the Medical College of Alabama included two international students, Segundo Zertuche of Mexico and Charles Hampden Field of London, England.

January 1884: A group of Birmingham women met at the First Methodist Episcopal Church South and formed the Daughters of the United Charities.

1885: Dr. George A. Ketchum became the second dean of the Medical College of Alabama.

September 1888: The Daughters of the United Charities established a hospital board and began plans for The Hospital of the United Charities.

October 23, 1888: The Hospital of the United Charities, a precursor to Hillman Hospital, opened in Birmingham.

July 12, 1893: The Birmingham Dental College was incorporated by the State. The college opened for instruction that fall.  Dr. Thomas M. Allen was the college's first dean.

October 13, 1893: With the start of the new school term, the Medical College of Alabama lengthened requirements for graduation from a two-year to three-year course.

June 9, 1894: The Birmingham Medical College was organized as a proprietary school and incorporated by the state legislature. Drs. John D. S. Davis, William E. B. Davis, William H. Johnston, Benjamin L. Wyman, Sr., Russell M. Cunningham, John C. LeGrande, B. G. Copeland, J. H. McCarty, and Lewis G. Woodson were the original stockholders of the medical school.

October 2, 1894: The Birmingham Medical College opened for its first term with Dr. William H. Johnston as dean. The College was located in the old Lunsford Hotel, a five-story building at 209-211 21st Street North. The college had a three-year course of study.

December 1, 1894: The Hospital of the United Charities (predecessor of the Hillman Hospital) burned to the ground.

1894: The first class of three students graduated from the Birmingham Dental College after a one-year term.

1895: The first graduating class of the Birmingham Medical College was composed of one student, William Josiah Clark, who graduated after a one-year term.

1895: A one-story annex to the main building, housing the microscopy and pathology laboratories, was completed at the Medical College of Alabama.

March 1896: The Hospital of the United Charities was renamed Hillman Hospital in honor of benefactor Thomas T. Hillman, president of the TCI Railroad.

February 11, 1897: The state legislature chartered Hillman Hospital and vested its management in the Board of Lady Managers.

October 11, 1897: Following an announcement of Governor Joseph F. Johnston, the Medical College of Alabama in Mobile became the Medical Department of the University of Alabama (in Tuscaloosa). Control of the program remained with the school’s independent governing board and no funding was forthcoming from the University.

1897: The state legislature confirmed the charter of the Birmingham Medical College.

1898: Dr. Benjamin L. Wyman, Sr., became the second dean of the Birmingham Medical College.

January 1, 1899: Entering freshmen at the Birmingham Medical College were required to attend the college's new four-year course.

March 29, 1899: Elizabeth White of Birmingham graduated from the Birmingham Medical College. She was the school's only female graduate.

October 9, 1899: Entering freshmen at the Medical College of Alabama were required to attend the college's new four-year course.