The institute began as Southern University in 1856. It later collaborated with Birmingham University (found in 1898), on May 30, 1918 and came to be known as Birmingham-Southern College, offering 25 majors and 25 minors in liberal arts. It was recognized by Phi Beta Kappa in 1937. The institute is honored to have notable alumni in the field of arts: Ray Reach (Dir. of Student - Jazz Hall of Fame and Owner - Magic City Music Productions) and Alexander Gelman (Producing Artistic Director - Organic Theater Company).