Department of History

  • In April, explore UAB’s academic arts performances

    For “April is for the Arts,” the UAB College of Arts and Sciences highlights the extraordinary talent from across the college’s fine art academic units for a month of events.

  • Author to discuss “Pink Triangle Legacies: Coming Out in the Shadow of the Holocaust” on April 4

    The UAB Institute for Human Rights presents W. Jake Newsome, Ph.D., whose book traces the transformation of the pink triangle from a Nazi concentration camp badge and emblem of discrimination into a global symbol of pride.

  • Departments offering events during Social Work Month

    The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of Social Work will present a collaborative event series from March 22-28 for Social Work Month.

    The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of Social Work will present a collaborative event series from March 22-28 for Social Work Month. The series—titled “Reclaiming Humanity in Alabama Prisons”—is co-sponsored by the J. Frank Barefield, Jr. Department of Criminal Justice, the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, and the Institute for Human Rights.

    “The theme for Social Work Month 2023 is ‘Social Work Breaks Barriers,’” said Ronald O. Pitner, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Social Work. “The events hosted by our Department of Social Work and partners will provide our social work community and stakeholders an opportunity to learn more about criminal justice and mental health, criminal justice and human rights, and the barriers that social workers need to break in order for this community to thrive.”

    The events include:

    • Criminal Justice Reform and Human Rights in Alabama: During this event, Lisa Borden (Senior Policy Counsel, International Advocacy with the Southern Poverty Law Center) will lead a discussion on criminal justice reform and human rights. The Institute for Human Rights will host the event, which will take place on Wednesday, March 22 from 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. in University Hall, Room 1005. It will also be available via Zoom. Registration required.
    • Movie Screening of 188 Years: Attend a screening of “188 Years: Life After Life Without Parole,” a documentary film directed by Michele Forman, director of UAB’s Media Studies Program. A panel discussion with some of the men appearing in the film will be held immediately after the film. The event will take place on Thursday, March 23 at 3:00 p.m. in the Alumni Theatre in the Hill Student Center. No registration is required.
    • Re-Entry Simulation: This is a large-scale simulation designed to highlight unnecessary barriers to successful re-entry to society following incarceration. The simulation is two hours long, and no previous experience is required to attend. The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Alabama will facilitate this event, and attendees can obtain free social work CEUs. The simulation will take place on Friday, March 24 from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. at Center Court at the UAB Campus Recreation Center. Registration required.
    • Webinar on Deliberate Indifference Podcast: Join Mary Scott Hodgin, host and journalist behind the podcast “Deliberate Indifference,” as she discusses her reporting on Alabama's prison system. Attendees can obtain free social work CEUs. The webinar will take place on Tuesday, March 28 from 12:00 - 1:00 p.m. Registration required.

    If you have questions about the events, please send them to

  • Three UAB history students each win ‘Best in Panel’ for research papers at 2023 Phi Alpha Theta Alabama Regional Conference

    UAB history students in Phi Alpha Theta attended the 2023 conference, where three students won session paper prizes for best papers in their panel.

  • 3 honored as emeritus faculty

    The UA System Board of Trustees elevated three former faculty to emeritus status during its Feb. 3 meeting. Those honored were Pamela S. Murray, Stephen James O’Connor and George Howard.

  • Department of History offering scholarships to transfer students

    The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of History is offering two $5,000 scholarships to deserving students who transfer from another college to major in history at UAB. Scholarship applicants should demonstrate academic promise and a commitment to the study of history.

    The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of History is offering two $5,000 scholarships to deserving students who transfer from another college to major in history at UAB. Scholarship applicants should demonstrate academic promise and a commitment to the study of history.

    The Department of History offers a B.A. in History and an M.A. in History. In addition, the department has a general history minor, an innovative media studies minor, an Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s (ABM) program, and an undergraduate public history certificate.

    History students at UAB also get the opportunity to explore public history in Birmingham and across Alabama by engaging with community members who have a stake and interest in the presentation of the past. The department has nurtured strong relationships with various institutions and nonprofit organizations that provide students with hands-on public history experiences. Some of these organizations include the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Sloss Furnaces, and the Jefferson County Memorial Project.

    Jonathan Wiesen, Ph.D., chair of the Department of History, hopes these new scholarships will attract students to UAB so they can experience all the university has to offer.

    “These scholarships will help students explore their passion for history in a new college setting,” said Wiesen. “We want to make the transition to UAB affordable, and we are eager to support these great history majors however we can. The department’s strengths include the history of the contemporary U.S., the World War II era, early modern Europe, east Asia, the ancient world, and public history.”

    Applicants should send a college transcript and a one-page description explaining why they are interested in studying history and what some of their career aspirations are to Walter Ward, Ph.D., The deadline to receive these documents is Friday, April 7, 2023, for the summer term.

  • College of Arts and Sciences announces grant recipients

    The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s College of Arts and Sciences offers faculty a range of awards and grant opportunities to advance their research and scholarship and recognize their achievements.

    The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s College of Arts and Sciences offers faculty a range of awards and grant opportunities to advance their research and scholarship and recognize their achievements.

    In 2020, the College announced a new grants program aimed at supporting students’ diversity awareness and building their multicultural competence. Through the program - entitled Building a Multicultural Curriculum - faculty can access grants to develop new courses or revise existing courses. Faculty can use the funds to pay for instructional materials, professional development, student assistants, and salaries. Congratulations to the 2022-2023 grant recipients:

    • Aiqi Liu, Ph.D., Department of History: “Race and Power in U.S-Pacific Relations from 1776 to 1952”
    • Gabe H. Miller, Ph.D., Department of Sociology: “The -Isms and -Phobias: Intersectionality in the Social Sciences”
    • Samiksha Raut, Ph.D., Department of Biology: “Instructional Teaching Practicum BY 488-02A; BY 488- 02B (Honors)”
    • Michelle Wooten, Ph.D., Department of Physics: “Preserving Alabama’s Starry Skies”

    In 2021, the College launched a new grant mechanism -  Mid-Career Pivot Grants - to support tenured faculty seeking to “pivot to a new direction in their research scholarship or creative activity." The individual grants are for a maximum of $10,000 over a two-year period for the disciplinary project proposed by the tenured faculty. After a review conducted by the senior faculty members in CAS, the following three pivot grants were selected for funding for 2022-2023:

    • Aaron Catledge, Ph.D., Department of Physics, “From Super-Hard to High-Entropy:
      A Novel Approach in Materials Development”
    • Stephen Merritt, Ph.D., Department of Anthropology, “Social Science Research in Cellular Agriculture”
    • Gregory Mumford, Ph.D., Department of Anthropology, “Coring in Lisht’s floodplain to locate the ‘lost’ Middle Kingdom Itj-tawy, Egypt”

    The College organizes monthly innovation forums to focus on some of the world's biggest problems where interdisciplinary innovations could have a significant impact and where UAB has existing strengths/interests.

    In addition to the forums, the College issues an annual call for interdisciplinary team proposals.

    Jeffrey Morris, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Biology, was selected for a FY 2023 CAS Interdisciplinary Team Award of $30,000 for his proposal entitled “Alternative antimicrobials and ecology of therapeutic treatment.” This interdisciplinary team award represents a collaboration led by Morris between CAS and the UAB School of Engineering. This interdisciplinary team proposal was selected after an external review of the all the proposals that were submitted to the College in November 2022.

  • 2022 in review: In case you missed these stories

    From innovative teaching approaches to research accomplishments, opportunities for artistic expression and more, there’s no shortage of stories to tell about what’s happening at UAB. Review some of the year’s best below, and visit and to read hundreds more.

  • A UAB Love Story: Engaged history majors set to graduate together Dec. 10

    Meeting in freshman year at UAB, engaged history majors Sydney Richardson and Caleb Randall are now set to graduate and walk together Dec. 10.

  • Liber offers expertise on the crisis in Ukraine

    Throughout the spring, George Liber served as UAB's expert on the war in Ukraine.

    Professor Emeritus George Liber. Photo by Steve Wood.On February 24, 2022, the Russian Federation launched an unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine, igniting the largest conflict in Europe since the Second World War. As the United States, the European Union, and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) impose paralyzing sanctions on Russia and seek to supply Ukraine with the necessary weapons to stop Russia—without provoking a Russian response against Ukraine’s NATO neighbors—this war is generating a series of crises in the international energy and food supply chains. These crises are sparking sharp increases in worldwide inflation and generating food insecurity for tens of millions across the world.

    Given the global impact of the war in Ukraine, UAB immediately sought out an expert who could offer insights about the crisis to the general public. Thankfully, George Liber, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus from the Department of History, offered to share his knowledge, so people across Alabama (and the country) could better understand the invasion.

    “Almost everyone outside of Ukraine expected the government under President Volodymyr Zelensky to collapse within days of the invasion, but the citizens of Ukraine rallied behind their charismatic leader and slowed the Russian advance,” said Liber. “Unarmed civilians are the primary victims of this war.”

    Liber’s connection to Ukraine is deep and personal. He grew up in Gary, Indiana, in the 1960s, and his parents were Ukrainian refugees. He visited Ukraine for the first time in 1970 when he was a senior in high school, providing him an opportunity to explore the country his parents once called home. He, along with a group of fellow students, traveled Europe and the U.S.S.R., visiting numerous cities along the way including Kyiv, Lviv, Moscow, and Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). The experience had a profound impact on him.

    “As my first overseas trip, this exploration showed me the differences between my life in the United States and of those who lived in other countries, especially communist countries,” said Liber.

    Soon after returning from the trip, Liber graduated from high school and enrolled at Indiana University. While at IU, he majored in history and refined his scholarly interests within the discipline.

    “At first, I imagined that I would become a historian of the United States. Later, I chose to study the history of Eastern Europe, concentrating on Poland,” said Liber.

    He earned his bachelor’s degree, then went on to pursue an M.A. in History from Harvard University, hoping to study with Orest Subtelny, the first faculty member with a Ph.D. in Ukrainian Studies. According to Liber, Subtelny taught the history of Ukraine from a transnational and inter-imperial perspective, especially when he centered Ukraine within the Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires. Subtelny made his specialty a part of global history and ensured his teaching was both accessible and interesting to a broader audience. This approach influenced Liber’s own teaching throughout his academic career.

    After completing his M.A. at Harvard, Liber continued his academic journey and earned a Ph.D. in History from Columbia University. And, beginning in the early 1980s, he found numerous opportunities to revisit (and briefly live in) both the U.S.S.R. and independent Ukraine—continuing the journey he began as a high school senior. Along with visiting, exploring, and studying the country, Liber also served in valuable roles for several of Ukraine’s elections.

    “I became a Short-Term Election Observer for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) for the presidential elections in Ukraine in 2010 and 2019, and for the parliamentary elections there in October 2012,” said Liber.

    While Liber was deepening his connection to Ukraine, he was also building a career at UAB. He arrived on campus in 1987 and, throughout his tenure, published three monographs on the history of Ukraine in the 20th century. He often taught “Western Civilization (1500-present),” as well as, “The World Since 1945.” According to Liber, these courses provided him with opportunities to engage new students in lectures and coursework that would help them expand their perspectives of the world. It also challenged him to think about his research.

    “Teaching introductory courses helps those engaged in complex research projects to prepare to answer the fundamental questions all audiences want to know: ‘Why is this important? How does it affect me? My family?’” Liber explained.

    When teaching his intro courses, Liber often presented a nuanced view of history. Specifically, Liber wanted his students to understand the fragility of our modern world and the stakes the global community faces.

    “My mission—as I understood it—was to explain why the modern world works the way it works and how, over the course of centuries, our current rules-based world order and economic prosperity developed,” said Liber. “We think that this rules-based order is a permanent feature of our lives, but as Russia’s war against Ukraine has clearly demonstrated, this order is fracturable and in danger of collapsing.”

    In February 2022, Russia, the largest country in the world, attacked Ukraine, the largest country wholly within Europe.

    Given his expertise on Russia and Ukraine—as well as his ability to share complex historical information with non-historians—Liber was recruited by UAB’s University Relations team to serve as an expert media source on the crisis in Ukraine in February 2022. The media team soon discovered an interesting fact when they reached out to Liber: he’d just retired from UAB. His retirement did not stop him from sharing his insights, though. Quite the opposite. Soon after agreeing to serve as an expert source, Liber participated in numerous interviews with broadcast stations, including CBS 42 and WBRC FOX6 in Birmingham, and joined a series of virtual and in-person panels.

    “Although I had previously appeared in the local media during various crises in my 34 years at UAB, I had never received as many requests in so short a time,” said Liber. “I accepted every one. As I spoke to the media, I felt very self-conscious, as if I were participating in a reality TV show.”

    It was a valuable experience, but it was also difficult and painful for Liber to talk about the war. As he shared his knowledge with Alabamians, he often saw footage and photos of the destruction of cities, streets, and monuments he’d come to know over the past 40 years. What his parents and their generation experienced eight decades ago exploded in full force across television screens on a daily basis in the spring of 2022. Their past became a visual reality in the present.

    “History is a rational study of a very confusing and very emotional past, but when we live in the present—even if we are committed to a rational assessment of the world—events produce emotional impacts,” said Liber. “Historical tsunamis generate emotional consequences not only among the millions in their path, but also among those who report and analyze these current political and historical events from afar.”

    Liber sees this work as important—even if he was asked to do it during the first couple months of his retirement. Specifically, he thinks there is great value in scholars sharing their research with the public so people can better understand events that might impact their lives. He believes UAB faculty set a strong example of bringing scholarly research to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “Just as UAB’s medical spokesmen and spokeswomen provided excellent television presentations (even if in 30-second sound bites!) about the spread of COVID-19 and the measures necessary to prevent vulnerable populations from infection, all scholars—especially historians and social scientists—need to learn to communicate to broader audiences the significance of what they do,” said Liber.

    It is a goal that ensures the public is well-informed and, in some cases, better prepared for world-changing moments and crises.

  • Community shines light on a little-known incident in Civil Rights-era Birmingham

    UAB history students and faculty are contributing to the Beth-El Civil Rights Experience, an effort by the congregation of Birmingham’s Temple Beth-El to share the experiences of members of the city’s Jewish community during the era, including an attempted bombing in 1958.

  • College of Arts and Sciences alumni receive NAS awards

    The UAB National Alumni Society hosted its annual meeting honoring the recipients of the 2022 Alumni Awards and the UAB Young Alumni Rising Star Awards.

    On Friday, September 23, 2022, the UAB National Alumni Society (NAS) hosted its annual meeting and awards dinner honoring the recipients of both the 2022 Alumni Awards and the UAB Young Alumni Rising Star Awards. This was the first time that recipients for both awards were be acknowledged at the same event.

    In total, the NAS distributed five Alumni Awards at the event, including: Honorary Life Membership Award, Honorary Alumni Award, Distinguished Alumni Award, Outstanding Young Alumni Award, and Volunteer of the Year Award.

    Along with the Alumni Awards, the NAS honored recipients of the UAB Young Alumni Rising Stars Award. This award was established to recognize young alumni who have “demonstrated an ability to excel personally and professionally while committing time and energy in service to the University and local community.” In total, five alumni received the UAB Young Alumni Rising Star Awards at the September 23 event.

    The College of Arts and Sciences would like to acknowledge and celebrate six stellar alumni from the College who were honored at the event.

    Congratulations to the following two alumni for winning Alumni Awards:

    Distinguished Alumni Award

    Dr. Kierstin Cates Kennedy, World Languages and Literatures with a concentration in Spanish, 2002

    Kierstin Cates Kennedy, M.D., is Chief of Hospital Medicine and Clinical Associate Professor at UAB Medicine. The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented to a UAB graduate whose professional and community accomplishments are outstanding. The recipient must be one who is distinguished in his/her profession or other worthy endeavors, has demonstrated a continual interest in UAB, and who is a member in good standing of the UAB National Alumni Society.

    Volunteer of the Year Award

    Adam Roderick, Psychology, 2009

    Adam Roderick is the Manager of Learning and Development at Milo's Tea Company. The Volunteer of the Year Award is given to an individual who has dedicated their time and effort to improving the University through volunteerism.

    UAB Young Alumni Rising Stars Awards

    Also, congratulations to the following four alumni for winning UAB Young Alumni Rising Stars Awards:

    • Briana Bryant (Communication Studies, 2018) – Southern Research
    • Dr. Bliss Chang (Biology, 2015) – Columbia University
    • Dr. Zachary “Kane” Jones (Psychology, 2012) – United States Air Force
    • Hernandez Stroud (History, 2010) – Brennan Center for Justice

  • UAB History Students Present at Statewide Antisemitism Conference

    Eve Wright presents her research at the Rosa Park Museum at Troy University in Montgomery, Alabama.

    By Eve Wright

    Eve Wright presents her research at the Rosa Parks Museum at Troy University in Montgomery, Alabama. Antisemitism is often called “the longest hatred,” yet few of us have a knowledge of it that extends beyond Nazi Germany and the Second World War. Therefore, when I was given the opportunity to take a semester-long class on the prejudice and discrimination that has faced Jews throughout their history, I leapt at the chance.

    The class, which was taught by five experts across the state of Alabama, considered the history of antisemitism from the medieval period to present. We were introduced to a range of sources, including plays, films, and historical documents, which we analyzed prior to class and on a discussion board, allowing for more comprehensive discussions in our weekly seminars. The opportunity to have five professors with expertise in various areas allowed for a class experience which I have not had before. Each professor employed a different teaching style, which kept the class engaging and vibrant.

    As an exchange student from England majoring in American and Canadian Studies, I found the latter weeks the most fascinating as they focused heavily on antisemitism in the United States. Most notable for me was the consideration of the relationship between African Americans and the Jewish community, which led me to write my final research paper on whether Jewish-Americans earned or chose their whiteness and how this affected Antisemitism in the African American community in the latter half of the twentieth century.

    The class culminated in a conference held in Montgomery, Alabama, with each student giving a 15-minute presentation on the research paper they had written for the class. Topics ranged from contemporary antisemitic conspiracy theories and how they are rooted in historic anti-Jewish tropes to Jewish-Muslim relations in the Middle Ages. This opportunity was extremely exciting for me as an exchange student, given my home university does not offer such team-taught opportunities.

    This class truly changed me as a student. It pushed me to critically approach sources in a way that I had not before, whilst building my confidence in my own knowledge and work.

    Eve Wright is an exchange student and American & Canadian Studies major from University of Nottingham, UK.

  • Employees recognized at 2021 UAB Service Awards

    Twenty-seven College of Arts and Sciences employees who have worked at UAB for 20 years or more were recognized at the UAB Service Awards reception on April 11, 2022.

    Dean Kecia M. Thomas with Kim Hazelwood at the UAB Service Awards reception.Twenty-seven College of Arts and Sciences employees who have worked at UAB for 20 years or more were recognized at the UAB Service Awards reception on April 11, 2022. These dedicated colleagues were honored for their number of years of employment at UAB as of December 31, 2021.


    The UAB Service Awards are given to active employees beginning at five years of employment and at each five-year milestone. Employees who reach 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, and 45 years of service are invited to a reception on behalf of UAB President Ray L. Watts and presented with a service award pin, certificate, and a gift of gratitude.


    This year, Dr. Vithal K. Ghanta, professor in the Department of Biology and co-director of the Undergraduate Immunology Program, was honored for 50 years of service to UAB. Dr. Gregory Pence, professor in the Department of Philosophy and director of the Early Medical School Acceptance Program, was honored for 45 years of service. Congratulations to all our colleagues for their dedication and commitment to the University’s mission and vision.

    50-Year Recipient: Dr. Vithal K. Ghanta, professor in the Department of Biology

    20-Year Recipients

    • Kimberly H. Hazelwood, College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office
    • Erin Wright, Art and Art History
    • Tanja Matthews, Chemistry
    • Dr. Jacqueline Nikles, Chemistry
    • Daniel L. Butcher, English
    • Dr. Gale M. Temple, English
    • Dr. Lourdes M. Sanchez-Lopez, Foreign Languages and Literatures
    • Dr. Stephen J. Miller, History
    • Dr. John Heith Copes, Criminal Justice
    • Dr. Reinhard E. Fambrough, Music
    • Dr. Gitendra Uswatte, Psychology
    45-Year Recipient: Dr. Gregory E. Pence, professor in the Department of Philosophy

    25-Year Recipients

    • James R. Grimes, Advising
    • Margaret Amsler, Biology
    • Leslie C. Hendon, Biology
    • Adriana S. Addison, Psychology
    • Dr. Karlene K. Ball, Psychology
    • Wanda R. Fisher, Psychology
    • Pamela Y. Robinson, Psychology

    30-Year Recipients

    • Dr. Tracy P. Hamilton, Chemistry
    • Dr. Kathryn D. Morgan, Criminal Justice and African American Studies
    • Kimberly A. Schnormeier, Theatre

    35-Year Recipients

    • Dr. Edwin W. Cook III, Psychology
    • Dr. Edward Taub, Psychology

    40-Year Recipients

    • Dr. Howard L. Irving, Music
    • Dr. Franklin R. Amthor, Psychology

    45-Year Recipient

    • Dr. Gregory E. Pence, Philosophy

    50-Year Recipient

    • Dr. Vithal K. Ghanta, Biology

  • Ten UAB students, one alum named Fulbright semifinalists

    Eleven Blazers have been named semifinalists for an international exchange program.

  • Graduating students make a splash while creating “The SpongeBob Musical”

    Lighting designer Bailey Dumlao and co-director Devin Ty Franklin are two of the artists behind the scenes of Theatre UAB’s “The SpongeBob Musical.”

  • 2022 Michel de Montaigne Endowed Prize in the History of Ideas

    The Michel de Montaigne Endowed Prize in the History of Ideas was established in the College of Arts and Sciences in 2018 in honor of the 16th-century French essayist.

    Jonathan Wiesen, Ph.D.The recipient of the 2022 Michel de Montaigne Endowed Prize in the History of Ideas is Jonathan Wiesen, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of History. This prestigious academic award acknowledges his notable essay "International Responses to Nazi Race and Jewish Policy, 1933-1939." Dr. Wiesen's UAB colleagues on the selection committee chose his work for this honor.

    The selection committee remarked that "This essay situates the argument clearly within scholarly discourse and cites relevant literature" and went on to describe the piece as "clearly written and organized." Moreover, the members note, "The discussion of the U.S. as a case study for race and how it fed into German policies in the 1930s is both accessibly framed and really a stunning contribution to this area of research."

    The Michel de Montaigne Endowed Prize in the History of Ideas includes a $1,000 award, as well as a plaque to commemorate Dr. Wiesen's achievement.

  • 2022 winners of the College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Award for Excellence in Teaching

    The Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching recognizes full-time regular faculty members of University of Alabama at Birmingham’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) who have demonstrated exceptional accomplishments in teaching.

    2022 winners of the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching: Ragib Hasan, Ph.D.; Dione King, Ph.D.; and Andrew Baer, Ph.D.The Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching recognizes full-time regular faculty members of University of Alabama at Birmingham’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) who have demonstrated exceptional accomplishments in teaching.

    Award winners must have held faculty status at UAB for a minimum of three years and may receive the award only once in any three-year period.

    The CAS Excellence in Teaching Committee selected award recipients for being outstanding representatives of effective teaching and thoughtful pedagogy from the Arts and Humanities, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and Social and Behavioral Sciences.

    • Arts and Humanities: Andrew Baer, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of History
    • Natural Sciences and Mathematics: Ragib Hasan, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science
    • Social and Behavioral Sciences: Dione King, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Social Work

    Congratulations to this year’s winners. Also, in the near future, one of these faculty members will be awarded the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

  • Annual Jemison Lecture presents “Inventing ‘Authenticity’”

    The 2022 Jemison Lecture will explore the use of the word “authenticity” in today’s culture April 6 at the UAB Alumni House.

  • New history scholarship honors Fred Dyess

    If you ever stepped foot inside of Avondale Antiques in Birmingham, Alabama, you surely met owner Fred Dyess. His engaging personality and encyclopedic knowledge of antiques would grab ahold of every customer, prompting new friendships and sparking dynamic conversations.

    Fred DyessIf you ever stepped foot inside of Avondale Antiques in Birmingham, Alabama, you surely met owner Fred Dyess. His engaging personality and encyclopedic knowledge of antiques would grab ahold of every customer, prompting new friendships and sparking dynamic conversations.

    “He was an interesting person with a lot of different hobbies,” said Seth Dyess, Fred’s son. “He was always willing to help people.”

    Fred nurtured his interest in antiques and history as he traveled the country as a young man. He grew up in Saraland, Alabama; moved to Waynesboro, Mississippi; then settled in Houston, Texas for several years. While in Houston, Fred met his wife Judy Flowers Dyess, and they began to build a life together.

    “Throughout his travels, he gained a passion for history,” said Seth.

    Along with his journeys, Fred also explored several career fields, including landscaping and sales. When Fred and Judy moved to Birmingham, he made a major life decision and enrolled in college. He selected the University of Alabama at Birmingham and, after taking a few courses, decided to pursue his academic passion: history.

    According to Seth, his father was a first-generation college student, which is why he held a special place in his heart for UAB.

    “[Many UAB students] are doing everything they can, which is what my father did,” said Seth.

    Over time, Fred put his business-sense and love for history into practice, and, in 2015, he opened a mid-century community institution simply known as Avondale Antiques.

    When spending time in his store, Fred was more than a salesman. He was a guide—someone who could help you curate a room, while also providing historical context for a rattan chair or a mid-century buffet. In some cases, Fred would personally drive a piece to a customer’s home, carry it inside, and help arrange it. Clearly, he loved his work.

    Sadly, on January 2, 2022, Fred passed away after battling COVID-19. The painful news reverberated through his community of friends, supporters, and customers, many of whom shared heartfelt memories of Fred on the Avondale Antiques Facebook page and elsewhere.

    While still grieving, Seth sought a way to honor his life and legacy. Given his father’s love for history and UAB, Seth established the Fred Dyess Endowed Student Award in History.

    “It honors him,” said Seth. “For someone who is working and raising kids and is trying to go to school, [this scholarship] will hopefully ease the burden.”

    Through this scholarship, Seth and his family may help another first-generation college student invest in their love for history and fulfill their dreams. The College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of History deeply appreciate this new scholarship and offer condolences to the Dyess family.

    More information about the Fred Dyess Endowed Student Award in History is available here.