Entries - Entry Category: Education - Starting with P

Panel of American Women

The Little Rock Panel of American Women was organized in 1963 by Sara Alderman Murphy. It was based on the national Panel of American Women that emerged in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1956, and it offered participants the opportunity to learn more about people of different races, religions, and cultures. In the aftermath of the 1957 school desegregation crisis in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and the continued efforts to desegregate schools across the state, the panel provided a structured forum for open discussion about racial and religious differences. The organization’s members traveled around Arkansas to speak. The panels consisted of five or six women—Jewish, Catholic, African American, white Protestant, and occasionally Asian American—and a moderator. Each woman spoke about her …

Pankey, Josephine Irvin Harris

Josephine Irvin Harris Pankey was a real estate developer, educator, philanthropist, and leader in the African-American community of Little Rock (Pulaski County) for the first half of the twentieth century. Josephine Irvin was born on November 17, 1869, in Cleveland, Ohio. Her parents were William R. Irvin and Katherine Harris Irvin. She was the oldest of their five children. Her father was a self-employed whitewasher, her mother a homemaker. Irvin attended elementary school in Cleveland, including at Oberlin College’s Academy, a preparatory school connected with the college. After graduation, she enrolled in Oberlin College but withdrew because of an illness. She was musically talented and studied at the conservatory that was connected with the academy and the college. By 1892, …

Parks School House

The Parks School House is located north of Highway 28 in Parks, an unincorporated community in Scott County. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 6, 2002. L. K. Robertson sold the property on which the school house is situated to the Parks School District No. 39 on February 17, 1931. A temporary wooden school house was constructed on the site until it was removed for the present building to be built in 1940. Unemployment was at an all-time high for the Parks area and most of Arkansas at the time, and the Great Depression and Dust Bowl had forced farmers and their families to leave Arkansas. However, word spread about the Work Progress Administration …

Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

aka: Dunbar Junior and Senior High School and Junior College
Dunbar Junior and Senior High School and Junior College, located at the corner of Wright Avenue and Ringo Street in Little Rock (Pulaski County), is significant in four areas: African-American history, education history, legal history, and architecture/engineering achievement. From 1929 to 1955, Dunbar offered a comprehensive education for black students in Little Rock. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Known historically as a Rosenwald School and funded in part by Julius Rosenwald—president of Sears, Roebuck and Company—Dunbar Junior and Senior High School and Junior College was completed in 1929 as the Negro School of Industrial Arts. It was part of a comprehensive nationwide program, funded primarily by Rosenwald, to improve the quality of …

Pea Ridge Academy

aka: Mount Vernon Normal College
aka: Mount Vernon Masonic College
aka: Pea Ridge Normal College
The Pea Ridge Academy, organized in 1874, was one of the earliest enduring institutions of higher education in the developing northwest Arkansas area following the Civil War. Contemporary with what is now the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) and the older Cane Hill College, the Pea Ridge Academy played a significant role in advancing education in Benton County. Organized as a private (or subscription) school, the academy soon entered a cooperative venture with the newly developing public school system, providing space for the public elementary and high school grades, while continuing to operate as a private trustee-governed academy offering college-level courses. Though never a large school, it sent out numerous graduates as business leaders and teachers for …

Peake High School

Peake High School served the African-American community in Arkadelphia (Clark County) for decades. Partially funded by the Rosenwald Fund, the building was constructed in 1928 and eventually became part of the Peake Elementary School campus. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 19, 2005. The first school built for African Americans in Arkadelphia opened in 1891. While educational opportunities for black children had existed in the community since 1869, the Sloan School on West Main was the first purpose-built public educational building. Arkadelphia Baptist Academy and the Bethel Institute (later Shorter College) also operated in the city during this period. The need for a newer building increased as the population of Arkadelphia grew, and the …

Phi Kappa Sigma Male College

Phi Kappa Sigma Male College opened on February 7, 1859, in Monticello (Drew County). The college was named after the Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity and is possibly the only college in the country named after a fraternity. The Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity was founded in 1850, and James Willey Barrow graduated from Centenary College of Louisiana as one of its members in 1856. Barrow moved to Monticello and, in 1858, served as the president for the Monticello Male Academy. Barrow taught Latin, Greek, and mathematics with assistance from David Shelton, C. S. Tatum, and A. M. Scott at the Monticello Male Academy. In a letter to his brother, John C. Barrow, dated May 15, 1858, James Barrow stated that “my …

Philander Smith College

Philander Smith College was the first historically black, four-year college in Arkansas and the first historically black college to be accredited by a regional accrediting institution. Enrollment as of September 2014 was 553 students. Like most of the African-American colleges and universities in the United States, Philander Smith College originated in the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands (commonly known as the Freedmen’s Bureau). The War Department organized the Freedmen’s Bureau on March 3, 1865, just before the Civil War ended. Throughout its six-year existence, the bureau sold confiscated properties and raised money to help the freed slaves gain access to the rights that they were denied during slavery. Among these was the right to be educated. In 1869, …

Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas (PCCUA)

Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas (PCCUA) in Helena-West Helena (Phillips County) is an institution of higher education in the middle section of eastern Arkansas. PCCUA is a leader in providing cultural enrichment and continuing education in a region often lacking these opportunities. PCCUA began as Phillips County Community College (PCCC) after the electorate in Phillips County passed a ballot measure providing local financial support for a community college on October 23, 1965. Community leaders felt that providing higher education to residents of the Delta would enhance the economy of the community and the quality of life of the residents the college would serve. Subsequently, Governor Orval Faubus appointed the first board of trustees for PCCC, which held …

Pittman, Samuel Pinckney

Samuel Pinckney Pittman came to prominence in northwestern Arkansas as a Confederate veteran, civic leader, Washington County official, memoir writer, and advocate for agricultural and educational interests. Born to James and Mary Pittman on June 27, 1836, ten miles southwest of Fayetteville (Washington County) in what is now Prairie Grove Township, Samuel Pinckney Pittman grew up on the family farm. He received an education at Ozark Institute in Mount Comfort (Washington County). After his father’s death in 1847, Pittman continued to farm and raise livestock. In 1858, Pittman married Sarah Boone. They had a son named William in 1859; he died of typhoid fever at the age of eighteen. Their daughter, Mary was born in 1866; she died in 1904. …

Ponca Elk Education Center

The Ponca Elk Education Center was established in 2002 to serve wildlife enthusiasts coming to Newton County to view elk, which were introduced to the state in 1981. The center is in a handsome log building on Arkansas Highway 43 in the village of Ponca in western Newton County. The building was for a short time used as a charter school by a religious organization and was later leased by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC). The Ponca facility has displays of elk and many other Arkansas wildlife. It features eye-catching photographs and a gift shop selling nature-related items, as well as hunting and fishing licenses. There is also a small meeting room. Porches offer visitors a chance to …

Powhatan Male and Female Academy

aka: Powhatan School House
The Powhatan Male and Female Academy, first located in a log cabin built by Andrew Imboden in 1854, was the first school in the settlement of Powhatan (Lawrence County). The school remained open for just over 100 years, closing due to consolidation in 1955. Shortly after the construction of the school, Benjamin F. Mathews was retained as its first school master. It is believed that he gave the school its name. The first school term covered just two months. Being the only school in the immediate area, it saw steady growth until forced to close due to the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. The academy reopened shortly after the end of the war. Apparently around 1880, the old …

Preston, Alice L.

Alice Luberter Walker Preston was an African-American schoolteacher who was instrumental in the peaceful integration of Murfreesboro (Pike County) city schools in 1965. Over her lifetime, she left an enduring legacy in the field of education in Arkansas. Alice Luberter Walker was born on December 16, 1907, in Paraloma (Howard County), the first of two children born to Lizzie Walker and the Reverend R. W. Walker. Because there was no high school for black students in Paraloma or nearby Nashville (Howard County), her family made arrangements for her to live with a cousin, the Reverend Bennie Neal, and his family in Fort Smith (Sebastian County), and she attended Fort Smith High School. She later stayed with a cousin in Hope …

Private School Movement

aka: Segregation Academies
Beginning in the mid-1960s and continuing into the early 1970s, there was a rapid expansion in the establishment of new, non-parochial private schools across the South. This phenomenon, often called the “segregation academy” or “white academy” movement, was commonly viewed as a means for white parents to avoid having their children attend increasingly integrated public schools. Within Arkansas, the establishment of new private schools was concentrated in two areas—the Delta region and Pulaski County. Starting in the mid-1960s, both of these areas, which had the highest concentration of African Americans in the state, truly began to integrate their schools. The resulting increased level of integration provided the impetus for the start of the private school movement in Arkansas, which was …

Pruden, James Wesley, Sr.

James Wesley Pruden Sr., a Southern Baptist minister, was first chaplain and then president of the Little Rock (Pulaski County) chapter of the White Citizens’ Council during the volatile school desegregation period of 1957–58. Pruden led a campaign in the newspapers and in the streets to stop the desegregation of Central High School. Journalist Roy Reed’s analysis of Pruden is that, had it not been for the school crisis, he would have been “destined for the obscurity of a second-tier Baptist Church,” and that he was “a man whose ambition out-paced his abilities.” Wesley Pruden was the great-grandson of John Pruden, a North Carolina slaveholder. He was born near Alexander (Pulaski and Saline counties) in 1908. He moved early in …

Pugsley v. Sellmeyer

Pugsley v. Sellmeyer is the title of an Arkansas Supreme Court case that dealt with a disciplinary decision made by the school district of Knobel (Clay County) pertaining to a student being suspended for wearing talcum powder on her face. The case has been cited in other legal actions, namely in students’ rights lawsuits, and appears in various books focusing on these matters. At the beginning of the 1921–22 academic year, Knobel High School principal N. E. Hicks informed a student assembly of new rules of conduct adopted by the district’s school board. One of the mandates prohibited female students from wearing low-necked dresses or immodest clothing, as well as banning cosmetics. Earlier in the day, senior Pearl Pugsley had …

Purdue, Albert Homer

Albert Homer Purdue was the ex officio state geologist from 1907 to 1912. He published many works on the geology of both Arkansas and Tennessee. Purdue was a renowned geologist and taught at Arkansas Industrial University, which is now the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville. Albert Purdue was born on March 29, 1861, on a farm near Yankeetown, Indiana, to Samuel Leroy and Phoebe (Priest) Purdue. Albert was the second oldest of eight children and spent his youth working on the family farm, receiving only minimal formal education. At the age of twenty, however, he entered the Indiana State Normal School (later Indiana State University) in Terre Haute. He received his diploma on June 8, 1888. Until 1896, Purdue …

Purvis, Hoyt

Hoyt Hughes Purvis was a longtime professor of journalism at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). Prior to going into teaching, he served as press secretary and aide to Senator J. William Fulbright as well as an advisor to Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia. In addition, he was a political reporter for the Houston Chronicle. Hoyt Purvis was born on November 7, 1939, in Jonesboro (Craighead County) to Hoyt Somervell Purvis and Jane Hughes Purvis. After growing up in Arkansas, he received his undergraduate degree in 1961 from the University of Texas (UT) in Austin, where the budding journalist served as editor and sports editor for the Daily Texan; he also earned a master’s degree in …