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The Bama State Experience: ASU Origins

The key to understanding ASU’s evolution and ultimate impact is the history of its origins—its founding and beginnings.

When finished browsing ASU Origins, be sure to check out ASU's Impact by clicking here or on the tab at the top of the page.


Over one hundred fifty years ago, nine former enslaved persons came together to establish an institution that promised to educate the newly freed.

Alexander Curtis of the Marion Nine

Alexander Curtis

Alexander H. Curtis was born in Raleigh, North Carolina on December 29, 1829. Ten years later, he was brought to Alabama as the slave of E. Haywood. Curtis served as the waiting boy in the store of Stockton and Hunt. He moved to Marion to serve as the body servant for RT Gore from 1848 until 1850. After working as a barber for a time, he paid Mrs. E. Haywood $2000 for his freedom and left for New York soon afterward, where he was freed in 1859. He returned to Marion after the Civil War to open a barbershop and a mercantile store.

David Harris of the Marion Nine

David Harris

David Harris was born in Tennessee circa 1818. He was not one of the original nine but replaced Thomas Lee in 1869. Harris was a merchant, plasterer, and a brick mason. The enterprising Harris learned how to read and write before the Civil War. Harris married Harriet Massey circa 1848, and they had one son; Dr. Joseph Mayo Harris, who married Catharine A. Curtis.  Harris had a piece of furniture called a “secretary” built to commemorate the occasion of his emancipation; the secretary is still in the family. Harris became Town Marshal in 1870 and remarried a woman named Christiania in 1886 after his first wife died. David Harris died in 1899.

»See other highlighted material from our ASU Founders Collection«

»Also see our finding aid for the ASU Archives Binder Files Collection«


The Alabama State University yearbooks are a great resource to find information about students, faculty, staff, and alumni, as well as to discover a variety of topics such as academics, student life, sports, clubs, and other major school events.

The Hornet, Volume II, 1929

Cover of the Hornet, 1929 


“To the fellow Students and Alumni, we, the staff, present this second edition of “The Hornet” as a picture of the life which we have so joyously lived at State Normal. May it serve as a revelation of the ideals and principles characterized by a good school, to the sons and daughters yet unborn. May it Recall the Sacred traditions of the past, and remind us of the challenge of the future. And if in later years, when even the Staff has been long forgotten, it helps you to live again in the atmosphere of Alabama State Normal, in the days of ’29, the pleasure of serving you will have been ours.”

The 1958 Hornet, First Yearbook Edition

Cover of the Hornet, 1958


“As students of this institution, we are sincerely grateful for the numerous educational experiences which have provided for us a result of your far reaching and dynamic capabilities as a leader. Because of the degree of your sincerity in purpose and incessant labor, and your concern for providing educational opportunities for Alabama’s youth, the name, high ideals and fame of our school are held in the highest esteem throughout the vast domain of our country and also abroad. We are the immediate benefactors of your labor and concern. It is for these deeds, and others too numerous to account for, that we are both privileged and proud to dedicate this 1958 issue of the HORNET to you, President H. Council Trenholm."

The 1966 Hornet

Cover of the Hornet, 1966


"In a day when individualism is threatened by the possibility of obliteration on every hand, Alabama State College seeks to fashion lives, which will not crumble beneath the destructive powers of the world. In its purpose and fulfillment thereof, our college sends out students, who have been trained to resist those processes that destroy character and leadership. We can say that beneath this seemingly cold mask of learning there is not a single but a multitude of life’s most intriguing reflections. Disclosed in the face of Alabama State College is a conglomeration of attitudes that reflect and authenticate our existence; that portray the agony and ecstasy of our being. Alabama State College is a stage where uncultivated impulses collide with intellectual ones…justice, knowledge, love, spirit, character and temperament all act the part…"

»See other ASU Yearbooks«

ASU Student Newspapers

Students at Alabama State University began publishing a student newspaper in 1949. Over time the student paper was known by various names. The school published a newspaper for the Junior College Division known as “The Fresh-More,” and the next year in 1950 students published “The Hornet.” Thereafter, the two papers were combined into the “The Alabama State College Hornet and Fresh-More.” In 1963, the student paper received the name it carries today, “The Hornet Tribune.”

From its inception, the weekly student paper chronicled events, activities, and conditions at the school. The publication also serves as a forum for discussion and debate; in addition, the paper provides a laboratory experience for students interested in publishing. Today, the Student Publication Board manages the student newspaper, which is distributed in both print and electronic formats.

Hornet Tribune

Front page of the Hornet Tribune

Four hundred and five (405) newspapers editions starting from February 1963 to September 2021

The Fresh-More

Front page of the Fresh-More

Fifteen (15) newspapers editions starting from November 1948 to March 1959.

Hornet Life

Front page of Hornet Life
Hornet Life - August 1991

»See other material from our ASU Student Newspaper Collection«

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