A note on the back of the photo reads, "Cocktail Party for legislature at time Huntsville wanted Research Park & Institute for university." From left to right: Mrs. Foster Haley, Mrs. Milton Cummings, Wernher von Braun, Maria von Braun, Roscoe Roberts, Ryan DeGraffenried, and Milton Cummings.
Von Braun, then the director of Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, delivered this speech to the legislature in 1961. In the speech, he emphasizes that Alabama must take advantage of its position in the aerospace industry and create a robust "academic and research environment" in Huntsville to attract businesses that "will give birth to major new industries throughout the state." He exhorts the legislature to fund the newly established University of Alabama Research Institute (now part of the University of Alabama in Huntsville), arguing that "the Institute will not only be self-sustaining, but will enrich the State both financially and culturally." The legislature later approved von Braun's request of $3 million for the Research Institute, enabling the purchase of 200 acres of land for the campus and the construction of the Institute in 1964. The speech includes copies of slides von Braun used during his presentation, including diagrams of Saturn and Nova rockets as well as a mockup of a Saturn rocket on the lawn of the state capitol in Montgomery.