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Birmingham-Southern College is the result of a merger of Southern
University, founded in Greensboro, Alabama, in 1856, with Birmingham
College, opened in 1898 in Birmingham, Alabama. These two institutions
were consolidated on May 30, 1918, under the name of Birmingham-
Southern College.
In 1824, the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church
recommended that each conference establish a seminary of learning under
its regulation and patronage. Not until 1854 did the Alabama Conference
undertake to carry out this recommendation of the superior body. In that
year, a committee was appointed to select a site for the proposed college
and to procure funds for its establishment and maintenance. The charter
was granted by the State of Alabama on January 25, 1856, and the first
meeting of the Board of Trustees was held on March 17, 1856; January 25
is therefore known as Charter Day for the College, and March 17 has been
designated as Founder’s Day.
After the State was divided into two Methodist conferences, the North
Alabama Conference, in 1883, joined with the Alabama Conference in the
support of Southern University.
At the session of the North Alabama Conference held at Tuscaloosa in
November 1896, work was begun toward establishing a college within the
bounds of this conference. In the fall of 1897, the foundation for the first
building was laid in Birmingham. In April 1898, a president was elected
and a faculty was chosen and organized. The Conference then surrendered
its interest in Southern University and, in September 1898, the North
Alabama Conference College (later named Birmingham College) opened
its doors to students.
For twenty years the two colleges were maintained by the Methodists
of Alabama. Finally, on May 30, 1918, through their appointed
commissioners, the two conferences consolidated these institutions under
the name of Birmingham-Southern College. With no loss of time from the
regular work at either place, the consolidation was effected, and the new
institution opened its doors in Birmingham on September 11, 1918. Since
that time, Birmingham-Southern College has grown rapidly and is now a
fully accredited institution in every way.
Birmingham-Southern has consistently sought academic distinction. In
its standards were recognized by the nation’s leading academic honor
society, Phi Beta Kappa, which granted the College a charter to establish
Alabama Beta.