Surprises From the Archives

UAB archivist Tim Pennycuff shares six favorite artifacts and stories
Photos and artifacts courtesy of UAB Archives
Green type on beige background; headline: Surprises from the Archives
UAB archivist Tim Pennycuff shares six favorite artifacts and stories
Photos and artifacts courtesy of UAB Archives

1. Historic honor

The Bell Building on campus originally was part of Ullman High School. It is named for George Bell, Ullman High's first principal, who served from 1937 until 1965. According to Joseph Volker, D.D.S., Ph.D., UAB's first president, it likely was the first building on a predominantly white college campus in the South named for an African American. In the photo below, Volker and Bell family members dedicate the building in 1971.

Black and white photo of Bell family with Joseph Volker next to Bell Building sign

2. The first victory

UAB President S. Richardson Hill Jr., M.D., held up this bumper sticker at the 1977 press conference announcing the hiring of Coach Gene Bartow from UCLA. It was a big win because UCLA was the country's top basketball program at the time. Bartow served as men's basketball head coach until 1996 and inaugural athletic director until 2000.

Photo of bumper sticker, with green lettering on a gold background, reading UAB 1, UCLA 0

3. Breaking ground for groundbreaking care

When the Board of Lady Managers broke ground for Hillman Hospital in 1902, this red, white, and blue ribbon adorned the shovel. Originally a private charity facility and then a county hospital, Hillman paved the way for the birth and growth of the Medical Center and more than a century of expert health care.

Photo of ragged red, white, and blue ribbon

4. A nod from the First Lady

After a traveling exhibit honoring the assassinated President John F. Kennedy visited the Medical Center in 1964, Jackie Kennedy wrote a note of thanks to Joseph Volker. The black band around the letter indicates that it was typed on mourning stationery.

Photo of letter from Jacqueline Kennedy

5. Show business

Birmingham's Virginia Samford Theatre once was UAB’s Town and Gown Theater, a hub for professional productions that often attracted notable talent. This photo shows the first production after UAB became an autonomous university in 1969—Hello, Dolly!, starring Alabama actress Boots Carroll.

Black and white photo of performance of Hello Dolly!, with actress Boots Carroll at center stage

6. Up, up, and away

Before launching into orbit aboard the space shuttle Columbia in 1992, School of Optometry researcher Larry DeLucas, O.D., Ph.D., completed the paperwork required for faculty traveling internationally—with some clever responses.

Photo of DeLucas travel form listing destination as where no optometrist has gone before

Published December 2019