Julia TutwilerTuesday, February 15, 2011
Without even realizing what was in Havana, Alabama, I saw this stone monument on the side of the road -- prominent were the names Dr. Henry Tutwiler and Julia Strudwick Tutwiler. Anyone who paid attention in Alabama History class knows at least one of those names:
They're both buried at the Havana United Methodist Church cemetery.
Julia Tutwiler's father established the Greene Springs School for Boys (which he sent his own children to, including the girls) not too far from here. Julia's other formal education education included a private boarding school in Philadelphia, a year at Vassar when it first opened, private lessons by teachers at what is now Washington and Lee University in Virginia where she got her teaching certificate, and at the Deaconnesses Institute in Prussia/Germany (where the nuns supposedly turned her away until they realized she was still in town and was serious about studying there).
After two years of schooling there, she stayed another two years. It was from Europe that she wrote the poem "Alabama" which is our state song.
Also in Germany, she visited a school for male prisoners and a reformatory, which was the same idea for women. When she came back to Alabama she worked on reform so that women would not be housed with men and that young people would not be housed with hardened criminals. The reforms went on that fresh water would be available, cells would be heated during cold months, and there would be two hours of schooling each day.
She was principal at what is now the University of West Alabama when it was set up as a school for girls, and the state sent her money, which was the first time state money had ever been given to a school for girls. She fought to finally have girls admitted to the University of Alabama, and won -- and she worked for money to start the Alabama Girls' Industrial School which is now the University of Montevallo.
There's a Tutwiler Hall at Bama and a Tutwiler Hall at Montevallo in her honor, and she's been inducted into the Alabama Hall of Fame and the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame.