Year of Alabama History



March 17, 1970













March 15, 1929









March 17, 1825









March 17, 1863












March 20, 1872

















March 21, 1932







March 21, 1965









Dr. Wernher von Braun




Elba Flooded

This Week in Alabama History

March 15 - 21




Featured Event:

The Alabama Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville is dedicated, with Wernher von Braun calling it "a graphic display of man's entering into the cosmic age." Now known as the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, visitors tour the museum, which includes rockets and spacecraft, and participate in activities like Space Camp.



Other Events this Week

Elba residents are forced to take refuge on housetops as they await rescue from rapidly rising flood waters. Rains beginning in late February resulted in flooding that affected most of the state and left 15,000 south Alabamians homeless. Although the Flood of 1929 hit Elba the hardest, several other towns, including Geneva and Brewton, were covered in as much as fifteen feet of water.


Benjamin Sterling Turner is born a slave in North Carolina. In 1830 he was brought to Dallas County, Alabama. After freedom Turner began a mercantile business and was elected Dallas County tax collector in 1867. In 1871 Turner was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming the state’s first African-American congressman.



John Pelham, a 24-year-old Confederate hero from Calhoun County, is mortally wounded on the battlefield at Kelley's Ford, Virginia. He died the next day and his body lay in state in the capitol at Richmond before being taken to Alabama for burial. Pelham's skill and daring as an artillery commander distinguished him from the outset of the Civil War and earned him the nickname "the gallant Pelham" from Robert E. Lee.


Because of financial problems, the Methodist church transfers the grounds, buildings, and legal control of East Alabama Male College in Auburn to the State of Alabama. The institution is rechartered as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama, the first land-grant college in the South to be established separate from the state university. The school became Alabama Polytechnic Institute in 1899 and Auburn University in 1960.


Listen: Click the play button below to hear Archives Staff discuss this event on Alabama Public Radio.


Over 250 Alabamians die in tornadoes that sweep the state. More than 1,500 others were injured and damage was estimated at $5 million. The western and north-central parts of the state, especially the towns of Northport, Cullman, and Columbiana, were hardest hit.


Rev. Martin Luther King leads 3,200 marchers from Selma toward Montgomery in support of civil rights for black Americans, after two earlier marches had ended at the Edmund Pettus Bridge--the first in violence and the second in prayer. Four days later, outside the Alabama state capitol, King told 25,000 demonstrators that "we are on the move now . . . and no wave of racism can stop us." On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law.