Entries - Gender: Female - Starting with G

Galloway Women’s College

aka: Galloway Female College
Galloway Women’s College in Searcy (White County) was one of the longest survivors from among the schools established in the 1800s by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in Arkansas. Dedicated in honor of Bishop Charles Betts Galloway on April 18, 1889, the school endured until its final merger with Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County) in 1933. Methodist Church leaders realized by the latter part of the nineteenth century that their resources could not support the numerous small schools they had established around the state and decided to concentrate efforts on fewer institutions to provide better facilities and sounder education. Under the leadership of Bishop Galloway, leaders decided to focus on one institution primarily for men and Galloway Female College, …

Gardner, Virginia

Virginia Gardner was a journalist and left-wing activist. At one time a member of the Communist Party, she was also the author of a well-received biography of Louise Bryant, the wife of Russian Revolution chronicler John Reed. Although born in Oklahoma, Gardner spent most of her youth in Arkansas. Virginia Gardner was born on June 27, 1904, in Sallisaw, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). She was the youngest of three daughters born to Gertrude Boltswood Gardner and John Gardner, who was a banker. The family moved to Fort Smith (Sebastian County) when she was two. That same year, her father contracted tuberculosis. He was taken to Colorado for treatment, and he sometimes returned there in the summers. Gardner’s mother died when …

Garland, Mamie Odessa Hale

Mamie Odessa Hale Garland served as midwife consultant for the Arkansas Department of Health from 1945 to 1950 and is credited with training the state’s elderly and illiterate “granny midwives” to ensure that they knew the proper techniques to manage the medical aspects of pregnancy, labor, and delivery and could complete birth certificates. Her contributions led to Arkansas’s improved maternal/infant mortality rates and regulation of midwives. Mamie Odessa Hale was born November 19, 1910, in Keeny’s Creek, West Virginia. She was the third child born to Emanuel Hale and Minnie Maude Creasy Hale. In 1941, Hale attended the Tuskegee School of Nurse-Midwifery for Colored Nurses in Alabama, a program sponsored by the Children’s Bureau; a bachelor’s degree was required to …

Garvan, Verna Cook

Verna Mary Cook Garvan was one of the first women in Arkansas to own a construction/manufacturing business and was the benefactor of what is now Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs (Garland County). Verna Cook was born on January 22, 1911, in Groveton, Texas, to Arthur Bacillius Cook and Essie Louise Bordis Cook. Verna Cook and her sister, Dorothy, were raised to be “proper ladies,” but Verna often accompanied her father to work and absorbed his business acumen. In 1916, her father moved the family to Malvern (Hot Spring County) to manage the Wisconsin and Arkansas Lumber Company, an enterprise producing oak and pine flooring. Malvern Brick and Tile was also purchased by Verna’s father, who later served as a …

General Federation of Women’s Clubs of Arkansas (GFWC)

The General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) is an international organization dedicated to volunteerism and social reform. The Arkansas Federation of Women’s Clubs (AFWC) was admitted to the General Federation of Women’s Clubs in May 1897. Clubs belonging to AFWC have been leaders in fundraising and lobbying efforts to improve Arkansas. Some accomplishments include the establishment of libraries across Arkansas and the preservation of the Old State House in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The AFWC was formed at a conference held on April 22–23, 1897. Forty-six representatives from twenty-five clubs around the state met at the Capital Theater in Little Rock after being called together by Mrs. William C. Ratcliffe, who was there elected to lead the organization as president. …

Ghostley, Alice Margaret

Alice Ghostley was a film, stage, and television actress who was often described as looking “sweetly befuddled.” She most often played comedic roles, though she won Broadway’s Tony Award as best featured actress for her serious portrayal in the 1964 drama The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window. Ghostley’s distinctive face and quavering voice became known to millions for her comedic performance as a good witch/housekeeper in the television sitcom Bewitched in the 1960s and 1970s. From 1986 to 1993, she won new fans for her performance as eccentric family friend Bernice Clifton in the television series Designing Women, created by Arkansan Harry Thomason and his wife, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason. Alice Margaret Ghostley was born in Eve, Missouri, on August 14, 1923, …

Gilbert, Ollie Eva Woody

Both a local and national celebrity, Ollie Eva Woody Gilbert, known popularly as Aunt Ollie, performed with Jimmy Driftwood, Woody Guthrie, and many other folk musicians who have come to define the voice of the Great Depression. Venues ranged from friends’ and family members’ front porches and living rooms in the Ozark Mountains to Cow Palace in San Francisco, California; the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee; and Madison Square Garden in New York City. The eighth of thirteen children of James (Jim) Franklin Woody and Mary Minerva Balentine Woody, Ollie Eva Woody was born on October 17, 1892, in the Hickory Grove area of Stone County. Shelearned to play the banjo at the age of five. Her instrument was made …

Gilchrist, Ellen

Winner of the 1984 National Book Award for Fiction for her collection of short stories, Victory Over Japan, Ellen Gilchrist has been declared “a national treasure” by the Washington Post for her various works, which at present constitute a collection of twenty-three books. She has received numerous other awards for her work, as well as a National Endowment for the Arts Grant in Fiction. A Mississippi native, she currently lives in Fayetteville (Washington County) and was for many years a faculty member at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville. Gilchrist was born on February 20, 1935, near Vicksburg, Mississippi, the second child and only daughter of Aurora (Alford) and William Garth Gilchrist. Much of her young life was spent …

Giles, Janice Holt

Janice Holt Giles was a popular and prolific autobiographer and author of historical fiction, much of which addresses themes relating to the rural Appalachian foothills of south-central Kentucky, her adopted home state. Although never quite achieving the stature of literary contemporaries such as Marjorie Rawlings, Jesse Stuart, or Eudora Welty, she was, nevertheless, an accomplished and critically acclaimed writer whose books were frequent bestsellers. Janice Meredith Holt was born in Altus (Franklin County) on March 28, 1905. She was the second child of John Albert Holt and Lucy Elizabeth McGraw Holt, both of whom were educators. The Holts’ first child died at birth. Two other children, a daughter and son, were born in 1907 and 1910. Janice Meredith was to …

Gillis, Ann

aka: Alma Mabel Conner
Ann Gillis was a child actress and ingénue in thirty-nine Hollywood movies from 1934 to 1947. She played small parts in two perennially famous films—Walt Disney’s Bambi (1942) and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Ann Gillis was born Alma Mabel Conner in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on February 12, 1927, to Mabel Brandon Conner. She later recalled: “My mother was one of those ladies who kept getting married. I guess one might say she was a femme fatale.” Mabel Conner left two husbands, including Alma’s father. The family often consisted only of Mabel, Alma, and Alma’s brother Brandon. Alma’s first show business experiences were in school plays in New Rochelle, New York, and her mother was eager to …

Girl Scouts

Headquartered in New York City, Girl Scouts is a nonprofit organization that seeks to make the world a better place by encouraging confidence, courage, and character in its members. Since its founding in 1912, Girl Scouts has empowered millions of girls and women to become leaders in all fifty U.S. states, including Arkansas, where it has been active since 1927. It is the largest educational organization for girls in the world, and more than 59 million women in the United States are Girl Scout alumnae. Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low founded what is now Girl Scouts of the USA in 1912 in Savannah, Georgia. Low—a world traveler, athlete, and artist—spent several years searching for something useful to do with her life …

Gladys McFadden and the Loving Sisters

Gladys McFadden and the Loving Sisters were an African-American gospel group based in Little Rock (Pulaski County). At its artistic peak in the 1970s, the group’s adventurous, contemporary style put its sound outside the realm of traditional gospel music. The group—which included McFadden as well as Jo Dumas, Ann James, and Lorraine Leeks—was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2003. Gladys McFadden was born on September 10, 1934, in Little Rock. Her father, Aaron Williams, was a pastor, and her mother coached their church choir. McFadden sang in that choir until age nine, when she founded a group she christened the Loving Sisters, as the group included one of McFadden’s sisters, as well as a friend who …

Good, Mary Lowe

Mary Lowe Good was a renowned chemist, industrial innovator, professor, and government leader. Good was the first woman in Arkansas to earn a PhD in the so-called hard sciences such as chemistry or physics (fellow Arkansan Margaret Pittman was awarded a PhD in bacteriology in 1929). Good was the first woman elected to the board of the American Chemical Society, and she held important U.S. government positions under the administrations of four presidents. Mary Lowe was born in Grapevine, Texas, on June 20, 1931. Her parents were Winnie Lowe, who was a teacher and librarian, and John Lowe, a school principal; she had three siblings, including Betty Ann Lowe, who became a renowned hospital administrator. In 1942, the family moved …

Goss, Kay

Kay Goss is an author, educator, historian, lecturer, and emergency management official. Goss served as senior assistant for intergovernmental relations for two Arkansas governors (1982–1994) and was appointed associate director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), serving from 1994 to 2001. She also wrote the first full-scale biography of powerful U.S. congressman from Arkansas Wilbur D. Mills, published in 2012. Kay Gentry Collett, a native of Fayetteville (Washington County), was born on August 7, 1941. She majored in political science, public administration, and government, with a minor in history, at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville, graduating in 1963. She earned a master’s degree from UA in 1966 before embarking on doctoral studies in public administration at West …

Gracen, Elizabeth Ward

aka: Grace Elizabeth Ward
Grace Elizabeth Ward was the 1981 Miss Arkansas and 1982 Miss America. When she began her acting career in 1987, she changed her name to “Elizabeth Ward Gracen,” because another Elizabeth Ward was already in the Screen Actors Guild. In 1992, she became the first former Miss America to appear on the cover of Playboy magazine and in a nude pictorial feature. Grace Elizabeth Ward was born on April 3, 1961, in Ozark (Franklin County) to Jimmy and Patricia Ward. Ward’s father was a supervisor at various poultry factories. Her mother was a registered nurse. She has a younger brother, Van Thomas Ward, and younger sister, Mary Margaret Ward. Ward graduated from Russellville High School in Russellville (Pope County) in …

Graham, Josephine Hutson

Josephine Hutson Graham was a prolific artist, educator, author, and folklorist of Arkansas’s White River culture and cuisine. She won many local, regional, and national art awards and held more than twenty one-woman shows throughout the South and Southwest, as well as shows in New York, Washington DC, and Dallas, Texas. Josephine Hutson was born in Newport (Jackson County) on April 12, 1915, to Thomas Hutson (a cotton broker) and Mary Bailey Hutson; she had one younger brother. After high school graduation in Newport, Graham attended the University of Texas for three years before transferring to the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). She earned a bachelor’s degree in English. She married Thomas Nathan Graham, a farmer and …

Greene, Bette Evensky

Bette Evensky Greene was a successful novelist who was raised in Arkansas and who used Arkansas as the setting for many of her novels. Her most noted novel, Summer of My German Soldier, is read widely and was made into a television movie. Bette Greene was born on June 28, 1934, in Memphis, Tennessee, to Arthur Evensky and Sadie Steinberg Evensky, who lived in Parkin (Cross County), thirty-five miles from Memphis. The Evenskys were the only Jewish family in Parkin; they attended synagogue in Memphis. Their store was called Evensky’s Dry Goods. Greene lived in Parkin until she was thirteen. Even after she left, she retained ties to the community, including her childhood friend Eda Claire Slabaugh, who became mayor. …

Griggs, Mildred Barnes

Mildred Barnes Griggs served as professor and dean of the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and is a nationally recognized leader in the field of home economics. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2015. Mildred Barnes was born in Marianna (Lee County) on March 11, 1942. After graduating from Robert R. Moton High School in Marianna, she studied at Arkansas AM&N College in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County)—which is now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB)—graduating in May 1963 with a degree in education. She earned graduate degrees, including a doctorate, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1967 and 1970. After joining the faculty in 1970, she …

Guy v. Daniel

aka: Abby Guy v. William Daniel
Abby Guy v. William Daniel was a freedom suit and racial identity case brought before the Arkansas Supreme Court in January 1861. The case originated in the Ashley County Circuit Court in July 1855 when Abby Guy sued William Daniel, whom she said wrongfully held her and her children in slavery. According to Guy, she and her family were free white people. After a jury decided in favor of Guy, Daniel appealed the case to the Arkansas Supreme Court, which, in the end, declined to overturn the lower court’s verdict. Guy and her children were freed. Racial identity trials, in which the outcome rested on whether or not one party was white, were not unusual in the South. Guy v. …