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James William Oakley Jr. Photographs

 Collection — Box: 38034.001
Identifier: 2010-020

Scope and Contents

James William Oakley Jr. took these photographs during the week that Autherine Lucy, the first African American student at The University of Alabama, enrolled in February 1956. Photos do not show Lucy. Photos instead focus on crowds that gathered on campus an in downtown Tuscaloosa in protest of her enrollment. Oakley was a student at the University at the time.


  • 1956 February

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Due to the nature of certain archival formats, including digital and audio-visual materials, access to certain materials may require additional advance notice.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers are responsible for using the materials in conformance with United States copyright law as well as any donor restrictions accompanying the materials. The user assumes all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any copyright claimants in collection materials. Copyright for official University records is held by The University of Alabama. The library claims only physical ownership of many manuscript collections. Anyone wishing to broadcast or publish this material must assume all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants of literary property rights or copyrights. Please contact Special Collections ( with questions regarding specific manuscript collections. For more information about copyright policy, please visit: Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals without the consent of those individuals may have legal implications, for which the University of Alabama assumes no responsibility.

Biographical / Historical

In 1952, Pollie Ann Myers and her friend Autherine Lucy applied for admission to The University of Alabama as undergraduate students. Although the University initially accepted their applications, school administrators quickly rejected their request. Myers and Lucy, aided by Birmingham NAACP attorney Arthur Shores and others, including Thurgood Marshall, then entered a three-year court battle to gain admission. In July 1955 Judge Harlan Groom ruled in favor of Myers and Lucy. When the two women were ready to enroll in early 1956, the University denied admission to the now-married Pollie Myers Hudson on the grounds that she had conceived a child out of wedlock. The next day, February 1, 1956, Autherine Lucy arrived on campus to register for classes. She attended class on February 2, and over the course of several days mobs gathered on campus and in downtown Tuscaloosa to protest her enrollment. Escorted around campus at times by the Dean of Women, local clergy, and her attorneys (including Shores, Thurgood Marshall, and Constance Baker Motley), Lucy attended class two days amid protests. Pelted with garbage by the growing crowds, Lucy was secreted away to safety while lying down in a car. On February 6, 1956, University administrators suspended her from classes, citing safety concerns. The University expelled her later in February 1956. After the University of Alabama overturned her expulsion in 1988, Autherine Lucy Foster enrolled again, graduating in 1992 with a master's degree in education.

James Oakley was a University of Alabama student when he took these photographs. He was a member of Theta Chi fraternity, whose house was at the time adjacent to Smith Hall.


0.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Photographs taken by James William Oakley Jr. during the week that Autherine Lucy, the first African American student at The University of Alabama, enrolled in February 1956.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of James William Oakley Jr.

Processing Information

Processed by Marina Klarić, November 2013; revised by Donnelly Walton, 2017
Guide to the James William Oakley Jr. photographs
Marina Klarić; April Burnett; Donnelly Walton
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections Repository

Box 870266
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0266