Julia Tutwiler

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Julia Strudwick Tutwiler (born August 15, 1841 in Tuscaloosa; died March 24, 1916 in Birmingham) was an educator and social reformer, known for her relentless efforts to upgrade prison conditions, women's education, and mental health facilities in Alabama. She served as the president of the Alabama Normal College in Livingston from 1883 to 1910. She also wrote the lyrics to Alabama's state song.

Tutwiler was the daughter of Henry Tutwiler, headmaster of the Greene Springs School in Hale County, and cousin to Edward M. Tutwiler, founder of Leeds and builder of the Tutwiler Hotel and Ridgely Apartments in Birmingham. As a girl she taught the children of slaves how to read. She attended the Havana United Methodist Church

She attended Madame Maroteau's School in Philadelphia before entering the first class to graduate Vasser College. She also spent a year studying classical languages with professors from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. From there she studied for three years at the Sorbonne and the Institute of Deaconesses in Kaiserworth, Germany. She wrote the poem, "Alabama" during a bout of homesickness in Germany around 1868. The poem, set to music by Edna Gockel Gussen in 1917, was adopted as the state song on March 9, 1931.

Returning to Alabama in 1876, she accepted a faculty appointment at the Tuscaloosa Female College, then became co-principal, with her uncle, Carlos Smith, of the Livingston Female Academy in 1879. Largely as a result of her petitions, the Alabama Normal College was established in 1882, with her as principal. She also secured the establishment of the Alabama Girl's Industrial School in Montevallo (now the University of Montevallo) in 1896, the same year that she successfully enrolled 10 of her Livingston graduates into the University of Alabama, thus pioneering co-education in the state university.

In addition to her work in education, Tutwiler served as superintendent of prison and jail work for the Women's Christian Temperence Union. Her work led to the separation of violent felons from those jailed for minor offenses, to the separation of male and female inmates, to reform schools for juvenile inmates, and for laws requiring prison inspections. She also worked toward the elimination of the convict lease system, which was accomplished after her death. The Julia Tutwiler Women's Prison in Wetumpka is named in her honor.

Tutwiler was elected in 1953 to the Alabama Hall of Fame, and into the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame in 1970. At Livingston the University's Library and Department of Education both bear her name. The online library catalog is also dubbed "Miss Julia". She was also the subject of a book and one-woman play, My Name is Julia, authored by Kathryn Tucker Windham.


  • Tutwiler, Julia S. (November 1882) "The Technical Education of Women". Education


  • “The Brilliant Career of Miss Tutwiler of Alabama.” (December 13, 1898) Birmingham Age-Herald.
  • Bynum, Rusty (1989) Julia Tutwiler: the Pathfinder. Huntsville: Writers Consortium Books
  • Moore, Eoline Wallace (1934) “Intimate View (of Julia Tutwiler).” Birmingham-Southern Bulletin.
  • Owen, Marie Bankhead. “Miss Julia Strudwick Tutwiler; Alabama’s Most Eminent Woman Educator."
  • Pannell, Anne Gary and Dorthea E. Wyatt. (1961) Julia S. Tutwiler and Social Progress in Alabama. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press
  • Pruitt, Paul M, Jr (Fall 1991/Winter 1992) "Julia S. Tutwiler: Years of Innocence/Years of Experience". two-part essay. Alabama Heritage Nos. 22-23.
  • Windham, Kathryn Tucker. (1991) My Name is Julia. Birmingham: Birmingham Public Library Press. ISBN 0942301188

External links