Entries - Entry Category: Education

Sulphur Rock Male and Female Academy

The Sulphur Rock Male and Female Academy was a leading educational institution in northeast Arkansas. Founded in 1872 in the town of Sulphur Rock (Independence County), the one-building school operated until 1906, when it was incorporated into the local public school system. Sulphur Rock was an early settlement in northeastern Arkansas, located near Batesville (Independence County). In June 1872, a group of townspeople met to discuss the creation of a local academy; forty-four signatories to the founding document pledged a total of $2,261 for the school’s creation. The board of trustees purchased a two-and-one-half-acre plot of land upon which was built a two-story, four-room, white frame building. However, the school was closed by 1875 after John G. Martin, who alleged …

Sykes, Curtis Henry

Curtis Henry Sykes was a pioneering educator, community leader, and historian from the Dark Hollow community in North Little Rock (Pulaski County). Remembered as a “champion for justice, equality and motivation,” Sykes served as one of the first black principals in the Little Rock School District in the 1960s before the district became fully desegregated. He was also a driving force in legislation requiring the teaching of African-American history in Arkansas public schools. Curtis Sykes was born on December 21, 1930, to Clarence Jerrod and Arlene Sykes Jerrod at the home of his grandparents, Lee Andrew Sykes and Ella Sykes, on Pine Street in Dark Hollow. Lee and Ella Sykes adopted Curtis following the death of his mother two years …

Thebom, Blanche

Blanche Thebom was a world-renowned operatic soprano, opera director, and educator. With her trademark six-foot-long hair, she was among the first American opera singers to have a highly successful international career, spending more than twenty years with the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She also appeared in Hollywood feature films. Thebom conducted a groundbreaking tour of the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. After retirement from the Met, she brought her talents to Arkansas when she taught and directed opera productions at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA Little Rock) for almost a decade. The daughter of Swedish immigrants, Blanche Thebom was born in Monessen, Pennsylvania, on September 19, 1915. She was raised in Canton, …

Thomas, Jefferson Allison

Jefferson Allison Thomas made history as a member of the Little Rock Nine, the nine African-American students who desegregated Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The world watched as they braved constant intimidation and threats from those who opposed desegregation of the formerly all-white high school. Jefferson Thomas was born the youngest of seven children on September 19, 1942, in Little Rock to Mr. and Mrs. Ellis Thomas. Thomas was a track athlete at all-black Horace Mann High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County) when he chose to volunteer to integrate all-white Central High School for the 1957–58 school year as a sophomore. The Nine were harassed daily by some white students, and Thomas’s quiet demeanor made him a …

Tribou, George

Father George William Tribou was an influential figure in Catholic educational and community affairs in Arkansas, primarily through his position as principal and rector of Catholic High School for Boys in Little Rock (Pulaski County). George Tribou was born in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, on April 14, 1924, to George and Mary Tribou. His father was an electrician, and his mother was a waitress; he had two sisters. After high school, he entered seminary in Philadelphia and completed the equivalent of a college curriculum. Area seminaries in the Northeast were rather crowded, so he relocated to St. John Catholic Seminary in Little Rock to complete his education for the priesthood. He was ordained as a Catholic priest on September 1, 1949. His …

Trickey, Minnijean Brown

Minnijean Brown Trickey made history as one of the Little Rock Nine, the nine African-American students who desegregated Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The world watched as they braved constant intimidation and threats from those who opposed desegregation of the formerly all-white high school. Minnijean Brown, the eldest of four children of Willie and Imogene Brown, was born on September 11, 1941, in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Her mother was a homemaker and nurse’s aid during the crisis, and her father was an independent mason and landscaping contractor. She is the sister of the late Bobby Brown, who was the president of Black United Youth (BUY) in Arkansas in the late 1960s. Although all of the Nine experienced …

Tulip Female Collegiate Seminary

aka: Ouachita Conference Female College
The Tulip Female Collegiate Seminary was established in Tulip (Dallas County) during the antebellum period when the community was flourishing. The school instructed female students in the subjects of the day, such as English and music, in addition to drawing, needle-work, and domestic subjects. In August 1849, George D. Alexander established the Alexander Institute in Tulip for the education of both girls and boys. In August of 1850, community leaders in Tulip gathered to discuss dividing the Alexander Institute into two schools, one for girls and the other for boys. Among those prominent citizens was the state representative, Major George Clark Eaton, who represented the interests of those wishing to establish the two schools. On December 17, a legislative charter …

UA Little Rock Benton Campus

aka: Benton Learning Center
aka: Benton Center
aka: UALR Benton
The former UA Little Rock Benton Campus was located in Benton (Saline County) at 410 River Street near the Benton Commercial Historic District. It began operations in 1994 as the Benton Center, and in 2016, its name was changed to reflect its status as a full branch of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (once known as UALR, then UA Little Rock). By 2018, the UA Little Rock Benton Campus offered three four-year programs and three two-year programs in addition to several nursing prerequisites. Due in part to a substantial decrease in student enrollment, however, it was closed in June 2020. UA Little Rock held night classes at Benton High School beginning in 1975. In 1991, Benton native and …

University of Arkansas at Fort Smith (UAFS)

The University of Arkansas at Fort Smith (UAFS) is a state-supported liberal arts institution of higher education with its main campus located near Interstate 540 in the north-central part of the city. The 164-acre campus is a local landmark highly prized by Fort Smith (Sebastian County) area citizenry for its well-kept beauty. Founded in 1928 by the local school board as an extension of the high school, Fort Smith Junior College (FSJC) had thirty-four students in its first class. Financed in the beginning out of the high school budget, the college was established during a national educational movement toward two-year colleges. In 1937, FSJC students moved out of the high school itself into their own classrooms, which had been built …

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

University of Arkansas at Little Rock is a member of the University of Arkansas system, which includes four other major campuses and the Clinton School of Public Service. UALR began in 1927 as Little Rock Junior College (LRJC), housed in the Little Rock High School Building (later Central High School) under the administration of the Little Rock School Board. It became Little Rock University (LRU) in 1957 and moved to University Avenue. LRU became the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) after it merged with the University of Arkansas system in 1969. In January 2017, the chancellor announced that the shortened form of the school’s name would be UA Little Rock rather than UALR. The university is a metropolitan university that …

University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law is one of two Arkansas law schools, both of which are state supported and part of the University of Arkansas System. The first formal program of legal education in Arkansas was established in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1868 and was known as the Little Rock Law Class. Arkansas Industrial University, now the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), assumed sponsorship of this law class in 1892, establishing the Law Department in Little Rock under the deanship of Judge Frank Goar. The Law Department existed until 1915, when, as the result of disagreement between the law school and the board of trustees over the law …

University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM)

The University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM) was established in 1909 as one of the state’s four agricultural schools. It supports the only forestry school in the state. Although the smallest of the University of Arkansas (UA) campuses, it owns the most land, including 1,036 acres devoted to forestry research and instruction, as well as 300 acres used for agricultural teaching and research. Founding: Fourth District State Agricultural School From 1906 to 1909, the Farmers Educational and Cooperative Union lobbied the state legislature to create four agricultural schools. These schools would instruct students in modern farming practices and provide a general education resulting in a high school diploma. In 1909, the Arkansas legislature passed Act 100 establishing an agricultural school in …

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB)

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) began as Branch Normal College, which sought to accommodate the higher-educational needs of Arkansas’s African-American population. UAPB is the alma mater of such notable figures as attorney Wiley Branton Sr., Dr. Samuel Kountz, and attorney John W. Walker. State senator John Middleton Clayton sponsored a legislative act calling for the establishment of Branch Normal College, but it was not until 1875 that the state’s economic situation was secure enough to proceed with it. That year, Branch Normal was established as a branch of Arkansas Industrial University, now the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). Its primary objective was educating black students to become teachers for the state’s black schools. Governor …

University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service

aka: Clinton School
The University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service (UACS, or Clinton School), which is the only school in the United States offering a master’s degree in public service (MPS), has the mission of preparing graduates for careers in nonprofit, governmental, volunteer, or private-sector service work. The school is situated in the historic Choctaw Station of the Rock Island Railroad, which is part of the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Additional offices and classrooms are in the Arkansas Studies Institute, located in the River Market District of Little Rock. The Clinton School was established by the board of trustees of the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) on January 29, 2004, …

University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville (UACCB)

The University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville (UACCB) “is a comprehensive community college committed to providing learning experiences that improve the lives of those we serve.” It is one of the fastest-growing community colleges in Arkansas. UACCB was founded in Batesville (Independence County) in 1975 as Gateway Vocational-Technical School, created to provide hands-on technical training and educational opportunities to the residents of Independence County and the surrounding area. According to state Senator Bill Walmsley, the name “Gateway” was chosen “not only because Batesville is the gateway to the White River Basin, but because this school was to be the gateway to education and a better quality of life for people in this area.” Don Tomlinson was the institution’s first …

University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton (UACCM)

The University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton (UACCM) developed from a small vocational technical school offering only occupational-specific diplomas into a fast-growing degree-granting college with twenty-four available degree programs of study and over 2,000 credit students served each semester. It serves a six-county area and offers two degree programs that are unique to the state of Arkansas: Associate of Applied Science degrees in surveying and petroleum technology. In 1959, Arkansas’s first postsecondary vocational-technical school had opened in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), and it was originally intended to serve the needs of the entire state. However, the Arkansas General Assembly, recognizing the need for expanded vocational education opportunities, provided state funds for the construction and operation of a second postsecondary vocational-technical …

University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service (UACES)

The University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service (UACES), an arm of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, offers non-traditional education, bringing university research to Arkansans to help improve their lives. The UACES disseminates information on agricultural production, protection of natural resources, family and consumer sciences, 4-H youth development, rural community development, and public issues education. With offices in every county, the UACES provides easy access to information that has practical and immediate application. The UACES state headquarters is in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on land that borders the campus of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR). Three federal legislative acts, passed during the mid- to late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, created the national Agricultural Extension Service …

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS)

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock (Pulaski County) is Arkansas’s premier research hospital. UAMS provides the state with a solid foundation of higher learning and financial support. It has a long history of serving the public by providing the indigent with quality healthcare and is one of the largest employers in Arkansas, providing almost 9,000 jobs, many of them professional. To some extent, the history of UAMS is the history of medicine in Arkansas. The Arkansas State Medical Association, formed in 1870, pressed the legislature to allow the legal dissection of cadavers—a major milestone in medical research and education. After the legislature’s approval in 1873, the state’s first dissection, performed by Drs. Lenow and Vickery, …

University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana (UAHT)

The University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana (UAHT) is a fully accredited, comprehensive community college that provides the first two years of a traditional college education transferable to four-year colleges and universities, as well as multiple technical and industrial programs. Programs include bachelor’s and master’s degrees through distance education and numerous community service and continuing education opportunities. UAHT was founded as Red River Vocational-Technical School in Hope (Hempstead County) in 1965. In 1991, as part of a statewide movement to transform Arkansas’s technical schools into community colleges, the vocational-technical school was placed under the Arkansas Department of Higher Education (ADHE) and renamed Red River Technical College. In 1995, the Arkansas General Assembly approved legislation that provided for the merger of two-year colleges …

University of Arkansas Rich Mountain

aka: Rich Mountain Community College
What became the University of Arkansas Rich Mountain (UA Rich Mountain) in 2017 is a public, two-year comprehensive community college located in Mena (Polk County). Its service area includes Polk, Scott, and Montgomery counties as well as portions of Sevier County and LeFlore County, Oklahoma. The college, known at that time as Rich Mountain Community College, was accredited in 1990 through the North Central Association for Colleges and Universities. In September 2014, enrollment was 1,003 students. The college was funded by the Arkansas General Assembly in 1973 under the auspices of the Arkansas Department of Vocational Education. The first classes began in the fall of 1975. At the time, the campus consisted of a single vocational-technical building. In 1983, the Arkansas …

University of Arkansas School of Law

Located in Fayetteville (Washington County), the University of Arkansas School of Law is part of the flagship campus at the University of Arkansas (UA). The school provides a three-year graduate law degree for students with four years of pre-law coursework. With a 25.9 percent minority enrollment, the school was recently ranked one of the most diverse in the nation by U.S News and World Report. It is also home to the National Agricultural Law Center and offers the nation’s only Master of Law degree in agricultural law. The school offers a student-run free legal clinic, publishes the Arkansas Law Review, and is home to the Young Law Library, the largest collection of legal texts in Arkansas. Significant staff members have …

University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College

aka: Pulaski Technical College
The University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College (UA-Pulaski Tech) in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) is a comprehensive two-year college offering technical programs, a university-transfer program, and specialized programs for business and industry. The college’s mission is to provide access to high-quality education that promotes student learning, to enable individuals to develop to their fullest potential, and to support the economic development of the state. The college’s history dates back to October 1945, when it was established as the Little Rock Vocational School under the supervision of the Little Rock Public Schools. Until January 1976, the school met in a building at the corner of 14th Street and Scott Street in Little Rock (Pulaski County). In October 1969, administration of the …

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville (UA)

The University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) is located in the northwest corner of the state. It is Arkansas’s land grant university and is famed for its traditions, including the unique Razorback mascot. The institution was originally named Arkansas Industrial University but changed in 1899 to the University of Arkansas, reflecting its broader academic scope. It has long been an academic and cultural mainstay in Arkansas, with its research generating a great deal of economic progress for the state and its Razorback athletic team being arguably the state’s most popular. UA’s Founding The U.S. Congress passed the Morrill Land Grant Act in 1862, allowing 30,000 acres of public lands to be sold in each state to supply funds for …

University of Central Arkansas (UCA)

The University of Central Arkansas (UCA) has been one of Arkansas’s leading institutions of higher education for more than 100 years. Beginning as a normal school (teacher’s training institution) with approximately 100 students in 1908, UCA has become a comprehensive PhD-granting institution with 11,350 students in 2017. UCA was created by the passage of Act 317 of 1907 as Arkansas State Normal School, the only institution of higher learning in the state created for the sole purpose of teacher training. On May 15, 1907, acting governor X. O. Pindall appointed the first board of trustees. Several cities submitted bids for the school, including Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Benton (Saline County), Quitman (Cleburne County), Russellville (Pope County), and Conway (Faulkner County). The …

University of the Ozarks

The University of the Ozarks is a fully accredited, private four-year college that offers baccalaureate degrees in twenty-seven liberal arts and pre-professional programs. Enrollment in the twenty-first century has ranged between 600 and 650 students, primarily from Arkansas, but with significant numbers from Texas, Oklahoma, and Central America. Students participate in a wide range of extracurricular activities and organizations. Men’s and women’s varsity athletic teams, the Eagles, compete in six different sports in the American Southwest Conference of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III. Located on a thirty-acre campus in Clarksville (Johnson County) and affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA), the university builds on a longstanding mission of social inclusiveness, academic rigor, and spiritual edification. The origins of the …

Van Buren Schools, Desegregation of

The desegregation of Van Buren (Crawford County) schools produced several national headlines and is one of Arkansas’s most intriguing episodes of compliance with—and defiance against—the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas school desegregation decision. In 1954, the Van Buren School District had 2,634 white students and eighty-seven African-American students. Black students attended a segregated elementary school, and after graduation they were bussed over the Arkansas River to the segregated Lincoln High School of Fort Smith (Sebastian County). After Brown, with assistance from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), nineteen parents sued for the entry of twenty-four black students into Van Buren’s white high school, the first case of its kind …

Vance, Rupert Bayliss

Rupert Bayliss Vance was a sociologist on the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), who, along with fellow sociology faculty member Howard Odum, established the field of “regional sociology”—in their case, an extensive study of the South. The two helped provide a progressive counterweight at UNC in the 1930s to the conservative agrarian philosophy centered with the faculty at Vanderbilt University and expressed in their collection of essays I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition (1930). Rupert B. Vance was born on March 15, 1899, in Plumerville (Conway County), the oldest of four children of Walter Vance and Mary Bayliss Vance. Walter Vance owned a general store, though the Vances lived on …

Velvatex College of Beauty Culture

In 1926, M. E. Patterson of Little Rock (Pulaski County) incorporated Velvatex College of Beauty Culture, then known as Velvatex Beauty College, which was the state’s only approved beauty school for people of color. (A history produced by the school, however, lists its beginning operation year as 1929.) The school was founded after Patterson, who had often done hairdressing in her home kitchen, chose to teach others the skills of the trade in a more formal educational setting—and to help men and women become entrepreneurs. Patterson dubbed the school “Velvatex” because she believed African-American hair emulated the feel of velvet. By the height of the Great Depression, many black-owned industries had taken a hit, but beauty salons were plentiful throughout …

W. F. Branch High School

Located in west Newport (Jackson County) on Arrington Avenue, W. F. Branch High School served as the town’s high school for black students until its closure in 1970. After the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas decision in 1954, some school districts in Arkansas, such as Charleston (Franklin County), Hoxie (Lawrence County), and Fayetteville (Washington County), desegregated successfully. In 1957, the attention of the nation focused on desegregation at Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The federal government allowed school districts to utilize the Freedom of Choice plan, which allowed for more gradual integration. In Newport, for example, the all-black Branch High School and the all-white Newport High School operated separately within the same district. In …

Wair, Thelma Jean Mothershed

Thelma Jean Mothershed Wair made history as a member of the Little Rock Nine, the African-American students involved in the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The world watched as they braved constant intimidation and threats from those who opposed desegregation of the formerly all-white high school. Mothershed was a junior when she entered Central. Despite the fact that she had a cardiac condition since birth, she had a near perfect record for attendance. Thelma Mothershed was born on November 29, 1940, in Bloomberg, Texas, to Arlevis Leander Mothershed and Hosanna Claire Moore Mothershed. Her father was a psychiatric aide at the Veterans Hospital, and her mother was a homemaker. She has three sisters and two brothers. …

Washburn, Cephas

Cephas Washburn was a Presbyterian missionary who helped found Dwight Mission to serve the Cherokee. Washburn, who struggled along with his colleagues to bring Christianity to Native Americans on the territorial Arkansas frontier, served as an educator and minister for four decades. Cephas Washburn was born on July 25, 1793, in Randolph, Vermont, to Josiah Washburn and Phebe Cushman Washburn, who were farmers. Washburn turned from farming to education when he feared he might be disabled permanently from a broken leg. While teaching in Groton, Massachusetts, in the winter of 1814–1815 to raise money for further education, he became a Congregationalist and soon decided he wanted to be a missionary to the Indians. After graduating from Vermont University in 1817, …

Watkins, Claibourne

Claibourne Watkins was one of three native Arkansan founders of the Medical Department of the Arkansas Industrial University, now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Watkins was born on March 3, 1844, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the second son of George Claibourne Watkins and Mary Crease Watkins. His father was state attorney general and chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. He had two brothers: Colonel Anderson Watkins, who was killed at Atlanta during the Civil War, and Captain Walton Watkins. Watkins was educated in a number of institutions, both private and public. The Civil War broke out just prior to his completing his undergraduate degree at St. Timothy’s Hall in Cantonsville, Maryland. A Southerner by birth and …

Watson, Hattie Rutherford

aka: Harriet Louise Gertrude Rutherford Watson
Harriet Louise Gertrude (Hattie) Rutherford Watson was an educator, librarian, and prominent member of the social and education communities in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). She and her husband, John Brown Watson, were activists for the African-American community during the early twentieth century. Hattie Rutherford was born November 23, 1885, in Rome, Georgia, as part of the black elite in the post-bellum era. She was the elder daughter of Samuel W. and Mary Anne Lemon Rutherford. Her father founded the National Benefit Life Insurance Company in 1898. Rutherford acquired an elementary education in the public schools of Atlanta and a high school diploma at Spelman Seminary. She completed her college work at Spelman College and was the only graduate from that …

Watson, John Brown

John Brown Watson was president of Agricultural, Mechanical, and Normal College (AM&N), now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), from 1928 until his death in 1942. Watson was a member of the first generation of black Americans born after the Civil War and representative of that demographic among his cohorts, identified as what Professor Willard B. Gatewood Jr. called “aristocrats of color.” Watson was born near Tyler, Texas, on December 28, 1869, to Crystal and Frank Watson; he was named for the antebellum abolitionist John Brown. Educated near his home, Watson passed the county teacher examination in 1887 and taught  for two years. He entered Bishop College at Marshall, Texas, in 1891 at the seventh grade level and …

Wells, Ira James Kohath

A pioneer in education and journalism, Ira James Kohath Wells was a gifted scholar, businessman, and humanitarian with humble rural beginnings. Ira J. K. Wells was born in Tamo (Jefferson County) on July 1, 1898, to William James Wells and Emma Brown Wells. When he was young, half of his leg was amputated after he injured it trying to hop on to a moving freight train. For the rest of his life, he had a wooden prosthetic leg. He finished his secondary education at Branch Normal College in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County)—now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB)—and then went on to earn a degree in business from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1923. Even as a student, …

West, Dan Carlos

Dr. Dan Carlos West served as president of Arkansas College, now Lyon College, from 1972 to 1988. As stated in Brooks Blevins’s history of the college, the physical and curricular changes, along with West’s administrative style, made his presidency “the most turbulent, the most exciting, the most confusing, [and] the most successful” time in the school’s history up to that point. Dan C. West was born on May 29, 1939, in Galveston, Texas, one of four children of Embry Carlos West and Mildred Louise Junker West. The family later moved to Dallas, Texas, where West attended Woodrow Wilson High School, graduating in 1957. He attended the University of Texas for a year and then went on to the U.S. Naval …

Westside School Shooting

In the early afternoon of March 24, 1998, two students from Westside Middle School, located approximately two miles west of Jonesboro (Craighead County), conducted an armed ambush on teachers and students, which resulted in five dead and ten others injured. The shooters, Andrew Golden and Mitchell Johnson, were arrested and prosecuted for the crime. The incident was one of two school shootings in Arkansas and one of several school shootings across the nation that adjusted school administrators’ and law enforcement officers’ concepts on school security and response plans to violent incidents at schools. The students and teachers had returned from spring break the day before the shooting. Fifth period was just starting at 12:35 p.m. when a fire alarm caused …

Williams Baptist University

Williams Baptist University is a comprehensive liberal arts institution owned and operated by the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. Founded in Pocahontas (Randolph County) in 1941, the college was moved to Walnut Ridge (Lawrence County) in 1946. The university is one of two institutions of higher education affiliated with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, the other institution being Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) in Arkadelphia (Clark County). The impetus for the establishment of the university was first provided by Dr. Henry E. Watters, former president of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, who had hoped to revive Jonesboro Baptist College, an institution that had failed during the early years of the Great Depression. During the mid-1930s, Watters attempted to enlist support for the …

Williams, Hubert Ethridge (H. E.)

Hubert Etheridge Williams was a twentieth-century religious, educational, and civic leader. He founded what is now Williams Baptist University and made an unsuccessful race for the Democratic nomination for governor in 1960. In 1941, he became the youngest college president in the nation. Hubert Etheridge (H. E.) Williams was born on April 8, 1913, in Casa (Perry County) to Robert L. Williams and Anna Emma Williams. Robert Williams, who was a Baptist deacon, had progressive leanings, which he instilled in his son. Williams graduated from Casa High School and enrolled at Arkansas Polytechnic College—which later became Arkansas Tech University—in Russellville (Pope County). He also attended Ouachita Baptist College—which later became Ouachita Baptist University—in Arkadelphia (Clark County), and the George Peabody …

Williams, John Gilbert

A champion of the modern approach to architectural design, John Gilbert Williams was an architect, landscape architect, and the founding faculty member of the Department of Architecture at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). John G. Williams was born on April 30, 1915, in Van Buren (Crawford County) to Vera Jane Wallace Williams and Charles Bunyan Williams; he had one older brother. He studied engineering at Arkansas Polytechnic College (now Arkansas Tech University) in Russellville (Pope County) before pursuing his bachelor’s degree in architecture from Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Oklahoma State University). After graduating in 1940, he returned to Russellville to teach drawing and math at Arkansas Polytechnic College for two years. While in Russellville, he …

Williams, Robert Lee, II

Robert Lee Williams II was a leading figure in American psychology known for his work in the education of African-American children and in studying the cultural biases present in standard testing measures, especially IQ tests. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2011. Robert Lee Williams was born on February 20, 1930, in Little Rock (Pulaski County). His father, Robert L. Williams, worked as a millwright and died in 1935; his mother cleaned houses. He had one sister. He graduated from Dunbar High School at age sixteen and attended Dunbar Junior College for a year before dropping out, discouraged by his low score on an IQ test. He married Ava L. Kemp in 1948. They had …

Winchester School for Mountain Boys

The Winchester School for Mountain Boys opened near Havana (Yell County) in 1921. Named after Bishop James R. Winchester, the Episcopal bishop of Arkansas from 1911 to 1932, the school was operated by the Episcopal Church and associated with St. Barnaba’s Mission in Havana. The Winchester School was a “mountain mission school,” a type of educational institution established during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to serve children in the mountainous regions of the South, particularly Appalachia and the Ozark Plateau. The Winchester School for Mountain Boys was funded by a group of women from Little Rock (Pulaski County) and first run by the Reverend Gustave Orth, locally revered as “the Apostle of the Mountains,” and later the Reverend E. …

Winthrop Rockefeller Institute

Winthrop Rockefeller Institute of the University of Arkansas System (commonly called the Rockefeller Institute) is an educational institute and conference center. This 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization seeks to continue the legacy of the late Governor Winthrop Rockefeller by serving the people of Arkansas with ongoing learning opportunities and by providing a place for group meetings and conferences. The Rockefeller Institute is located on Petit Jean Mountain near Morrilton (Conway County), on 188 acres of the original grounds of Governor Rockefeller’s model cattle farm. Winthrop Rockefeller died in 1973, and, that same year, the nonprofit Winrock International was established. In 2004, Winrock vacated the facilities on Petit Jean and relocated to Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Washington DC. The property reverted to …

Winthrop School Museum

The Winthrop School Museum, the location of the former Winthrop School, is located in a two-story brick schoolhouse building at 530 Spring Street in Winthrop (Little River County). The Winthrop School Museum is a monument to the educational and community history of Winthrop, and the building is a historical representation of a rural school building in the early twentieth century. As Winthrop’s population grew in the early twentieth century, the Winthrop School was built to replace a three-room rough-plank building, located on the same site, that had previously served as the school. Construction started on the Winthrop School in 1912, and it was completed the following year. According to the Little River County deed record books, on September 19, 1908, …

Women’s Library

The Women’s Library was formed in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1982. Completely volunteer based and operated, the library lent books, musical recordings, and local and national periodicals that supported women’s rights and self-education. Many of these materials could not be found at Fayetteville’s public library or in local bookstores, and so the library was a central resource for early gender and women’s studies courses at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville. The library sponsored special events like book and craft fairs, live music, and poetry readings in its space. In addition, it donated materials to women’s prisons and to the Women’s Project in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The library closed in 2000. The Women’s Library was created by a …

Women’s Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools (WEC)

The Women’s Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools (WEC) was formed on September 12, 1958, to combat the governor’s closing of Little Rock (Pulaski County) high schools. The first meeting of the organization was held on September 16. During the summer after the 1957 desegregation crisis at Central High School in Little Rock, Governor Orval Faubus invoked a recently passed state law and closed the schools to prevent further desegregation. The WEC became the first organization to publicly support reopening the schools under the district’s desegregation plan. It remained active until 1963. Forty-eight women met in September 1958 in the antebellum home of Adolphine Fletcher Terry, the widow of U.S. Congressman David D. Terry and a local activist for libraries, …

Wood v. Strickland

Wood v. Strickland is the title of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that grew out of a local dispute over a teenage prank perpetrated by three high school students of the Mena Special School District. This case has attained an importance far beyond its origins, helping to define the constitutional rights of public school students and the parameters under which public officials may be sued for monetary damages in federal court. On February 18, 1972, three students—Virginia Crain, Peggy Strickland, and Jo Wall—at Mena (Polk County) confessed to spiking the punch at an extracurricular function with twenty-four ounces of a flavored malt liquor beverage. Principal Duddy Waller suspended the three students for a week. The same day, meeting in a …

World Services for the Blind

aka: Lions World Services for the Blind
World Services for the Blind (WSB), located in Little Rock (Pulaski County), is the only organization in the United States, if not the world, that offers career-path professional training for adults who are blind or visually impaired. The mission of the organization is to educate adults who are blind or visually impaired for careers and independent lives. Founded by Roy Kumpe and the Lions Clubs of Arkansas in 1946, the organization was first known as the Prevocational Adjustment Center for the Adult Blind. The passage by the U.S. Congress of the Randolph-Sheppard Act of 1936 created the first significant employment opportunities for blind individuals in Arkansas and throughout the nation. The Prevocational Adjustment Center’s original mission was to train Arkansans …

Wynne Normal and Industrial Institute

The Wynne Normal and Industrial Institute was a private primary and secondary school for African Americans founded in Wynne (Cross County) in 1901 by the Reverend W. F. Lovelace, DD, who served as the school’s principal. The school operated until 1924. Born in Lauderdale County, Tennessee, in 1862, Lovelace was a Baptist minister and educator who moved to Wynne in 1887 to pastor First Baptist Church. When he arrived in Wynne, the Cross County schools had 1,424 white students and 860 black students. In 1888, Lovelace became principal of Wynne’s public school for black students and remained in the position until 1894. In 1896, Lovelace was named principal of black schools in Stuttgart (Arkansas County). He was later asked to …

Yale Camp

Approximately one mile east of Crossett (Ashley County), just off U.S. Highway 82, is the site of what was once an important adjunct to the Yale University School of Forestry. Built in 1946, the spring camp for Yale students of forest management provided a hands-on educational experience until its closure in 1966. In the early 1900s, Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, was perhaps an unlikely location of the nation’s premier school of forest management. To supplement work in the classroom, the school provided a spring field trip to southern forests, visiting as the guest of a different lumber company each year, since northern forests might still be under snow at the time of the field trip. The first trip …