A physicist's pictorial history

of the

University of Alabama

Ante-bellum observatory used by Frederick A.P. Barnard

Barnard later taught at the University of Mississippi and, after the war, became president of Columbia University.

Ironically, Barnard College in New York City was named after him in honor of his early advocacy of co-education.



Boyhood home of Robert Jemison Van de Graaff, inventor of the electrostatic accelerator.

Van de Graaff received two degrees from the University of Alabama.

By providing the first intense beams of subatomic particles of precisely controllable energy, Robert Van de Graaff became one of the founders of modern high energy physics.

The mansion, built in the Italianate style was completed during the civil war.


The University was the scene of a brief skirmish in the civil war which led to the destruction of the campus by federal troops in April of 1865.

The futile attempt by UA students to repel the US army is commemorated by the placque shown here in front of the library.

We are now meeting annually with agents from Washington and there are hopes that relations between the government and the University of Alabama will be normalized soon.


Gallalee Hall, home of physics and astronomy.

Our graduate program was begun here after WWII under the leadership of Arthur Ruark.

Ruark designed the building to include a three-story shaft for a Van de Graaff accelerator. The accelerator, however, was never built since Ruark left to become head of the controlled fusion program at the Atomic Energy Commission.

Ironically, Van de Graaff institutes have been built at many universities including one in Holland from which country Robert Van de Graaff's forefathers emigrated.

It was not until circa 1970 that subatomic physics was re-established at the University of Alabama. The university is now home to a particle theory group working at several of the frontier areas of subatomic physics and of an experimental group participating in the world-wide effort to explore neutrino properties. Under the presidency of Joab Thomas plans were drawn up to establish a Van de Graaff Institute for High Energy Physics in Tuscaloosa although these plans have not yet been brought to fruition. Nevertheless, under current President Witt, physics research has been greatly enhanced with new additions to the faculty. Modern research facilities have been built for the other science departments and should ultimately be built for this department also.

UA College of Commerce and Business Ad.

The rich side of campus

The grass is greener over there.

Temple to Business Maximus


Icarus and the guardian angels

A sculpture by Be Gardiner

located at the corner of University and Hackberry

Apparently he flew too close to the sun.



Some further shots of the UA campus