Founded in 1970, the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame (AWHOF) celebrates the lives and accomplishments of Alabama’s most outstanding women. Hosted by the University of West Alabama in Livingston, Sumter County, the AWHOF became a state agency by an act of the Alabama legislature in 1975. The organization was originally housed at the now-defunct Judson College in Marion, Perry County, until that school’s closure in 2021; it had been the only women’s college in the state. Inductees have included such notable Alabamians as environmentalist Mary Ivy Burks, disabilities rights and labor activist Helen Keller, educator and prison reformer Julia Tutwiler, actress Tallulah Bankhead, and civil rights icon Rosa Parks. The AWHOF also includes women who have been overlooked but have contributed to the betterment of the state, the nation, and the world. To be considered for induction, a woman must be deceased for two years.
Recognition of these women is the main reason for the existence of the Hall of Fame. Each woman is honored with a bronze plaque that contains her likeness and lists her accomplishments. The plaque is unveiled at the Induction Ceremony after a brief description of each inductee’s life and contributions to Alabama. AWHOF is located in A. Howard Bean Hall on the campus of Judson College. The neoclassical-style building was constructed with a gift by the Carnegie Foundation and was dedicated as Judson’s library on May 8, 1908; it served as the library until 1962. The building was then used for classroom space until renovations began in 1987. The AWHOF was located in Judson’s Bowling Library until its move to A. Howard Bean Hall.
The Hall of Fame is governed by a self-perpetuating board of directors composed of 11 members. At least one member is chosen from each of the following fields: politics, art, education, business, law, community service, medicine, religion, and science. Members of the board serve for three-year terms, may be re-elected, and are not compensated. Alabama’s governor and the president of Judson College also serve as voting members of the board. The board elects an executive secretary who serves, at the pleasure of the board, as a nonvoting member. The board meets semiannually and at other times as its rules and bylaws may prescribe. A quorum of five members of the board must be present for business to be conducted. The board fills vacancies as they occur and has the full and final right of choosing succeeding members.
Anyone can nominate a candidate for induction by completing the nomination form found on the AWHOF website. All nominations are carefully reviewed by the board, and one or two inductees are chosen by majority vote of the board. Individuals may be re-nominated up to three times. After the third nomination, they are considered eligible for selection without further nomination. Additional supporting information may be added at any time.
AWHOF is an agency of the state of Alabama and receives a small appropriation from the state each year. Additional support is provided by Judson College and by donations from the public.