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Samuel Ullman Bio And Museum

Samuel Ullman

Samuel Ullman was born in Germany in 1840. At the age of eleven, he and his family moved to the United States and settled in Mississippi. In 1884, Ullman moved to the young city of Birmingham, Alabama, and was immediately placed on the city's first board of education.

During his eighteen years of service, he advocated educational benefits for black children similar to those provided for whites. In addition to his numerous community activities, Ullman also served as president and then lay rabbi of the city's reform congregation at Temple Emanu-El. 

In his retirement, he wrote a poetic essay entitled “Youth.” It was General Douglas MacArthur who facilitated Ullman's popularity as a poet - he hung a framed copy of a version of Ullman's poem "Youth" on the wall of his office in Tokyo and often quoted from the poem in his speeches. Through MacArthur's influence, the people of Japan discovered "Youth" and became curious about the poem's author.

The Samuel Ullman Museum

The Samuel Ullman Museum is located at 2150 15th Avenue South, Birmingham, Alabama.

Reflecting the admiration of the Japanese people for Mr. Ullman and his inspiring poetry, a Japanese business executive working in Alabama visited Birmingham in 1992 and expressed the desire to see the erstwhile Ullman residence where the poet had spent the last 17 years of his life and where he had penned his most significant work. Mr. Kenji(Ken) Awakura, then First Vice President of The Japan-America Society of Alabama (JASA), finding that the house had fallen into disrepair, was inspired with a vision of what the house could become if restored and operated as a museum.

Mr. Awakura spearheaded a JASA-led fund raising effort in Japan and the United States, resulting in corporate and personal contributions which were used to purchase and restore the property. The property was presented to The UAB Educational Foundation by JASA in 1993, and the Ullman Museum, displaying materials, artifacts, and furniture donated by members of the Ullman family, officially opened on March 21, 1994.
Additional generous gifts to JASA by the Alabama Power Foundation and Mr. Wyatt Rushton Haskell, a prominent Birmingham attorney and Ullman devotee, were invested to ensure the ongoing maintenance and improvements of the museum.

Read more about the Samuel Ullman Museum here.
A documentary on Samuel Ullman’s history is available online for free here.


Samuel Ullman

Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.

Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity of the appetite, for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in a man of sixty more than a boy of twenty. Nobody grows old merely by a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.

Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust.

Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing child-like appetite of what’s next, and the joy of the game of living. In the center of your heart and my heart there is a wireless station; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage and power from men and from the infinite, so long are you young.

When the aerials are down, and your spirit is covered with snows of cynicism and the ice of pessimism, then you are grown old, even at twenty, but as long as your aerials are up, to catch the waves of optimism, there is hope you may die young at eighty.


原作 サミュエル・ウルマン 翻訳 岡田 義夫








The Samuel Ullman Award

The Japan-America Society of Alabama initiated the Samuel Ullman Award in 1992 to recognize those who have made significant contributions toward the advancement of the relationship between Japan and Alabama. 

Past Award Recipients

1992  Mr. Akio Morita, Sony Corporation

1993  His Excellency Kazuo Chiba, Ambassador of Japan to Great Britain

1994  Mr. Osamu Uno, Chairman of Kansai Economic Federation

1995  General (Ret.) Mikio Kimata, Japan Self-Defense Forces

1995  Mr. Charles Todd, Intermarko

1996  Mr. Kenji Awakura, JVC America

1996  Mr. Marrion Rambeau, Honorary Consul General

1997  Mr. Kazunori Tago, Dainichi Kensetsu, Builder of Japanese Tea House

1997  Mr. Joe Blackburn, Sirote & Permutt

1998  Dr. Ichiro Miyagawa, University of Alabama

1998  Mr. Elmer Harris, Alabama Power Company

1999 – Dr. Yumi Akimoto, Mitsubishi Materials Corporation

2000 – Mr. David Naito, Daikin America

2000  Mr. Fred Denton, Denton & Associates

2002 – Mr. Hisashi Yamada, Urasenke Chanoyu Society

2002  Ms. Margaret Armbrester, University of Alabama at Birmingham

2003 – Dr. Malcolm Portera, University of Alabama System

2003  Mr. Kozo Ogi, State of Alabama Japan Office

2004 – Honda Manufacturing of Alabama (accepted by Mr. Masaaki Kato)

2004 – Mr. Larry Doss, Coilplus

2005 – Ms. Taeko Horwitz, Japan Saturday Schools in Alabama

2005 – Mr. Mike Gillespie, Madison County Commission

2006 – Japan External Trade Organization (accepted by Mr. Hirokazu Yamaoka)

2006 – Tuscaloosa Sister Cities Commission (accepted by Ms. Lisa Keyes)

2007 – Dr. Ryoji Chubachi, Sony Corporation

2007 – Ms. Hilda Lockhart, Alabama Development Office

2008 – Honorable Shoji Ogawa, Consul General of Japan in Atlanta

2008 – Dr. Marilyn Emplaincourt, University of Alabama

2009 – Mr. Satoshi Kakuda, State of Alabama Japan Office

2009 – Mr. Brian Hilson, Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County

2010 – Dr. Nobuaki Tamagawa, formerly of Sony Corporation (accepted by Mr. Kengo Saito)

2010 – Mr. Douglas Moore, DMC Partnership Award (accepted by Ms. Susan Moore)

2011 – Daikin America (accepted by Mr. Forrest Keith)

2011 – Mr. David Echols, Alabama Development Office (accepted by Ms. Cynthia Echols)

2012 – Mr. Fred Spicer, Birmingham Botanical Gardens

2012 – Mr. Kozo Matsuda, ARCUS Services

2013 – Mr. Charles Wood, Charles Wood Japanese Garden

2014 – Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama (accepted by Mr. Jim Bolte)

2015 – Mr. Lamar Smith, JASA Past President

2015 – Mr. Kazuo Moriya, Hayashi Telempu North America

2016 – Mr. Wyatt Haskell

2017 – Mr. Mark Jackson, Honorary Consul General of Japan

2018 – Mr. Scotty Colson, The Jimmie Hale Mission

2019 – Mayor William Bell, City of Birmingham, Alabama

2019 – Mayor Ryu Yamamoto, City of Maebashi, Japan

2022  Mr. Ed Castile, AIDT

2023  Mr. Robert Black, North Alabama Japanese Garden

2023  Mrs. Linda T. Roberson, Birmingham City Schools-Retired

Contact Us

+1 (205) 703-0960


2081 Columbiana Rd #10

Vestavia Hills, AL 35216

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