About Us: History in Brief

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Historical Spelman

History in Brief

1881

  • Founded as Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary by Sophia B. Packard and Harriet E. Giles
  • School opens April 11 in basement of Friendship Baptist Church, the Rev. Frank Quarles, pastor

1882

  • Two more teachers commissioned by the Woman's American Baptist Home Mission Society join Packard and Giles in "basement school"
  • Packard and Giles introduced to John D. Rockefeller who pledges $250 to the school

1883

  • Moved to present site occupying nine acres and five frame buildings
  • "Model School" to train student-teachers opens

1884

  • Name changes to Spelman Seminary in honor of Mrs. Laura Spelman Rockefeller and her parents Harvey Buel and Lucy Henry Spelman, longtime activists in the antislavery movement.

1885

  • Spelman students print first issue of the Spelman Messenger
  • Sophia Jones, M.D., first black female to join the faculty

1886

  • Rockefeller Hall dedicated
  • Nurse training department begins

1887

  • First Spelman class graduates receiving high school diplomas

1888

  • Packard Hall dedicated
  • Spelman incorporated under Board of Trustees
  • Charter granted by state of Georgia
  • Henry L. Morehouse becomes first president of Board of Trustees

1889

  • Nora Gordon, the first student to become a missionary to Africa, leaves for the Congo

1890

  • Laundry building dedicated

1891

  • Death of Sophia Packard
  • Harriet Giles appointed president
  • Missionary training department starts
  • Quarles Library opens in Packard Hall
  • Two students from Africa, Maggie Rattray and Lena Clark, enroll

1892

  • Teachers professional department begins
  • Spelman Alumnae Association organized

1893

  • Giles Hall dedicated

1895

  • Spelman exhibit included in Negro Building of Atlanta Cotton States Exposition

1897

  • College department opens

1901

  • Morehouse and Morgan Halls, MacVicar Hospital, and Reynolds Cottage dedicated
  • First college degrees granted to Jane Anna Granderson and Claudia T. White

1904

  • Graduate establishes school in Africa, which later includes building named Spelman Hall

1905

  • Upton Home (for nurses) dedicated

1909

  • Death of Harriet Giles
  • Lucy Upton appointed acting president

1910

  • Lucy Hale Tapley appointed president
  • Granddaughters Club organized

1917

  • Bessie Strong Hall dedicated

1918

  • Home economics department begins
  • Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Building dedicated

1924

  • Named changed to Spelman College
  • Campus Mirror starts

1925

  • Tapley Hall dedicated

1927

  • Lucy Tapley retires
  • Florence Read appointed president
  • Sisters Chapel dedicated
  • Grover-Werden fountain dedicated
  • Spelman College Glee Club organized
  • First annual Spelman-Morehouse Christmas Carol Concert, December 21, 1927

1928

  • Morehouse-Spelman Summer School begins
  • Elementary school and nurse training department discontinued

1929

  • Agreement of affiliation with Morehouse College and Atlanta University signed April1

1930

  • Nursery school opens
  • High school discontinued

1931

  • 50th anniversary celebration
  • University Players organized
  • Trevor Arnett Library dedicated

1932

  • "A" rating given by Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools
  • Death of Lucy Tapley

1939

  • Sculpture Building opens
  • Senior bench first dedicated on Class Day

1942

  • Spelman Students Association organized

1944

  • Hosts conference on Current Problems and Programs in the Higher Education of Negro Women

1945

  • Chadwick Hall acquired from Atlanta University

1947

  • Joins list of approved institutions of the Association of American Universities

1948

  • Hosts Atlanta Student-Faculty Conference on Civil Rights

1951

  • Read Hall dedicated

1953

  • Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Hall dedicated
  • Florence Read retires
  • Albert Manley becomes first Black and first male president

1956

  • 75th anniversary celebration
  • Charles E. Merrill establishes Merrill Foreign Travel-Study Program

1958

  • Accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools

1959

  • Cooperative agreement with Henry Grady Memorial Hospital for nurse training signed

1960

  • First student Domestic Exchange Program begins
  • First students arrested following sit-ins in downtown Atlanta
  • Spelman students participate in Crossroads Africa Program
  • Atlanta University Center students draft "An Appeal for Human Rights" that is published in the Atlanta Constitution and other national newspapers on March 9

1961

  • Non-Western studies program instituted
  • Florence Read's "The Story of Spelman" College published
  • Becomes member of the American Association of University Women

1964

  • John D. Rockefeller Jr., Fine Arts Building dedicated
  • Dorothy Shepherd Manley Hall dedicated

1968

  • Howard-Harreld Hall dedicated

1969

  • Black Studies program instituted

1970

  • Opening of Margaret Nabrit Curry Collection on Women in Quarles Library

1971

  • Health Careers Program established

1973

  • Death of Florence Read
  • Albert E. Manley College Center opens
  • Sarah Sage McAlpin Hall dedicated

1974

  • Morehouse-James Hall dedicated
  • Guest House named after Dr. Helen Albro

1976

  • Albert Manley retires
  • Donald Stewart elected president

1977

  • Inauguration of Donald Stewart

1978

  • Office of Freshman Studies established

1979

  • Included in Atlanta Women Exhibition, Atlanta Historical Society
  • Sue Bailey Thurman International Room dedicated
  • Marian Wright Edelman (class of '60) first alumna elected Chair of the Board of Trustees

1980

  • Co-sponsors "Southern Women: From Myth to Modern Times" symposium
  • Spelman College honors programs created
  • Continuing education program started

1981

  • Centennial celebration
  • Women's Research and Resources Center, the first at an HBCU, established

1985

  • Academic Computer Center opens

1986

  • Donald and Isabel Stewart Living-Learning Center dedicated
  • Donald Stewart resigns to accept the presidency of The College Board; Barbara Carter, vice president for Academic Affairs appointed acting president, 1986-1987

1987

  • Johnnetta Betsch Cole elected as the first Black woman president
  • Gift of $20 million from Drs. William (Bill) and Camille Cosby announced

1988

  • Spelman listed as one of the nation's top colleges in U.S. News & World Report
  • The Spelman College mentorship program is established

1989

  • The Office of Community Service opens
  • Spelman's flag goes into space with Mae Jemison, the first Black woman astronaut
  • International Affairs Center established

1990

  • Nelson Mandela visits Atlanta University Center as part of his U.S. tour to raise funds for the struggle against apartheid in South Africa

1991

  • Spelman's Community Service Program is designated White House Point of Light #563

1992

  • Producers from Bill Cosby's "A Different World" visit campus to speak with students about script ideas for the fall season of the TV show
  • Spelman announces the receipt of $37 million from the DeWitt Wallace/Readers Digest Fund, the largest gift ever given to a historically Black college
  • Spelman is named the No. 1 regional liberal arts college in the South by U.S. News & World Report

1993

  • Spelman receives endowment from the Bonner Foundation for the Bonner Scholars Community Service Program

1994


  • Giles hall dedicated on its 100th birthday
  • The Association of Medical Colleges ranks Spelman No. 5 among undergraduate programs for Black students accepted to medical school
  • Spelman makes the Top Ten list of best college buys in Money Guide magazine's "Best College Buys Now"
  • Maya Angelou Practice Theater dedicated in the John Rockefeller Jr. Fine Arts Building
  • Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching ranks Spelman as a Baccalaureate I institution

1995

  • Spelman is one of six institutions designated by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as a Model Institution for Excellence in undergraduate science and math education

1996

  • Official opening of the Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Academic Center and the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art
  • The successful capital campaign brings Spelman's endowment to $141 million, the largest of any historically black college or university
  • Dr. Cole announces her resignation as president of Spelman College

1997

  • Audrey Forbes Manley (class of '55) becomes first alumna elected President of the College
  • Death of Albert E. Manley

1998

  • Spelman awarded a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa
  • Becomes a provisional member of NCAA Division II in basketball, volleyball, cross-country, tennis, and track and field
  • Spelman ranked No. 2 on the fifth annual list of Top Ten Activist Schools by Mother Jones Magazine

1999

  • Spelman ranked No. 1 by Black Enterprise as best environment for Black collegians
  • Two Spelman seniors receive Fulbright Post-Baccalaureate Fellowships for research study abroad

2000

  • Spelman ranked No. 2 by the Association of Medical Colleges in placing African-American students in medical school
  • Women of Excellence Leadership Series, or WEL, is inaugurated. The program is designed to provide advanced-level leadership and training to Spelman women

2001

  • Division of Media and Information Technology established
  • Professor Ayoka Chenzira, internationally noted filmmaker and visual artist, is the first recipient of the William and Camille Cosby Endowed Professorship in the Fine Arts.
  • Spelman's Independent Scholars Program (SIS) established to conduct extensive interviews with African-American elders in an effort to capture and preserve their stories about life in the past century
  • Spelman hosts 25th International Association of Philosophy and Literature Conference. The event marked the first time a historically Black college hosted the conference
  • Spelman signs partnership agreement with the University of Delaware to enrich curricular and cultural offerings in the arts at both institutions
  • Spelman's Habitat for Humanity Chapter completes its first year of operation. More than 125 students, faculty and staff were actively involved in the chapter's programs and activities
  • Spelman celebrates 75th anniversary of the Spelman-Morehouse Christmas Carol Concert

2002

  • Albro Falconer Manley Science Center dedicated
  • The Lilly Foundation awards Spelman a $2 million grant to establish the Sisters Center for WISDOM, Women in Spiritual Discernment of Ministry
  • Spelman and all the schools in the Atlanta University Center open the University Community Academy Charter School in historic West End
  • Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, (C'70), cultural historian and founder of legendary a cappella group, Sweet Honey in the Rock, named 2002 Cosby Professor in the Fine Arts and Dr. Shelia Walker, nationally known anthropologist and scholar named 2002 Cosby Professor in the Humanities
  • Dr. Audrey Forbes Manley retires, named president emerita
  • Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum appointed ninth president of Spelman College

2003

  • Spelman establishes Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement, or LEADS
  • Spelman named in the top 100 Best Liberal Arts Colleges by U.S. News and World Report
  • Spelman receives $4.5 million NASA grant to enhance its Women in Science and Engineering Scholars Program
  • Dr. Renita J. Weems, prominent author, Biblical scholar, and ordained minister, named 2003 Cosby Professor in the Humanities and Dr. William J. Darity Jr., distinguished scholar and economist, named 2003 Cosby Professor in the Social Sciences
  • Spelman named one of six institutions to receive $4.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities to eliminate health disparities among racial and ethnic minority groups

2004

  • Sisters Center for WISDOM (Women in Spiritual Discernment of Ministry) launched
  • Spelman's Independent Scholars Program (SIS) partners with AARP (formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons) and The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights on "Voices of Civil Rights," a project designed to collect and preserve firsthand accounts of the Civil Rights Movement
  • Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement sponsors first national Leadership Symposium & Conference for Women of Color, "It's Our Turn"
  • Packard Hall renovation wins an Atlanta Urban Design Commission Award of Excellence for 2004
  • Atlanta University Center Inc. restructured as the Atlanta University Center Consortium.

2005

  • The Johnnetta Betsch Cole Living and Learning Center II dedicated
  • President Tatum receives 2005 Brock International Prize in Education Laureate
  • Spelbots participate in International Robocup as first all-female, African-American, undergraduate robotics team

2006

  • College breaks ground on site of future "green" dorm
  • Women’s Research and Resource Center celebrates 25 Years
  • College celebrates 125th Anniversary 

2007

  • Descendants of Mary Mcleod Bethune and Eleanor Roosevelt participate in historic conversation
  • Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first female head of state gives commencement address
  • Alumna Bernice A. King establishes scholarship in honor of Coretta Scott King

2008

  • The Suites, the College's first ‘green’ dorm opens
  • Department of Energy Alcove in Albro Falconer Manley Science Center dedicated
  • Women's Center receives $1 Million from Ford Foundation to establish endowment fund
  • Anonymous donor gives Spelman $17 Million for international initiatives
  • Chinese language courses begin

2009

  • $150 million capital campaign, largest in College's history launched
  • Junior invents top 25 Downloadable iPhone app  

2010

  • Spelman and other AUCC institutions celebrate 50th Anniversary of The Atlanta Student Movement  
  • Two seniors become first from HBCU to win the AT&T Big Mobile On Campus Challenge  
  • Interlink Alliance holds inaugural conference

2011

  • Project Impact launches
  • First African-American first lady, Michelle Obama, delivers the commencement address
  • Gordon-Zeto Center for Global Education opens

2012

  • Renovation of Laura Spelman Rockefeller Hall
  • Wellness Revolution launched