Entries - Gender: Female

Blount, Lisa Suzanne

Lisa Blount was an actress who appeared in numerous films and television shows, most notably as Lynette Pomeroy in An Officer and a Gentleman (1982), for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. Along with her husband, actor Ray McKinnon, she received an Academy Award for the 2002 short film The Accountant. Lisa Suzanne Blount was born on July 1, 1957, in Fayetteville (Washington County) to Glen Roscoe Blount and Louise Martin Blount, natives of Floral (Independence County); she had one brother, Greg. The family moved to Jacksonville (Pulaski County). Blount graduated from Jacksonville High School in 1975 and attended the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville, beginning classes there when she was sixteen; she left UA before …

Bond, Barbara Ann Higgins

aka: Barbara Higgins Bond
Barbara Ann Higgins Bond—whose professional name is Higgins Bond—is a nationally recognized illustrator and commercial artist whose most important works have concerned the history and struggles of African Americans. A pioneer freelance artist since the early 1970s, she has designed and illustrated cultural heritage stamps published by the U.S. Postal Service and the United Nations. Her art has been exhibited by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the DuSable Museum of African American History, and she is a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Barbara Ann Higgins was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on December 14, 1951, the daughter of Henry Drew Higgins and Edna Washington Higgins. She grew up in Little Rock in a home on …

Bond, Patricia Lee Parker (Pat)

Pat Bond of Jacksonville (Pulaski County) served in the Eighty-first, Eighty-second, and Eighty-third Arkansas General Assemblies from 1997 to 2002, representing District 64, which covers part of Pulaski County.   Patricia Lee Parker was born on August 6, 1938, in Gladewater, Texas, to Murray Parker and Lucille A. Lee, who was a professional dancer with Chester Hale Girls, a Broadway dance ensemble that toured nationally and appeared in short Mentone films. In 1942, they moved to Arkansas, settling in Lewisville (Lafayette County), where her grandfather owned Lee Dry Goods Store. She was educated in the public schools of Lewisville and later reflected that “growing up in Lewisville was the kind of experience that you would want every child to have.” In high school, Pat was a cheerleader and a majorette, class president, and a member of the National Honor Society and the school newspaper and yearbook staffs; in addition, she played basketball and acted in class …

Bonslagel, Constance Josephine (Connie)

Constance Josephine (Connie) Bonslagel served as state home demonstration agent from 1917 until her death in 1950, except for an eighteen-month period during the 1930s in which she served as assistant director of the Rehabilitation Division of the Federal Resettlement Administration (FRA). She pioneered the women’s part of that program, setting up home economics programs in most of the states. Connie J. Bonslagel was born in Deasonville, Mississippi, on August 14, 1885, the daughter of A. W. Bonslagel and Betty Beall Bonslagel. She had one sister and one brother. Bonslagel, who never married, graduated from Mississippi State College for Women and pursued postgraduate work at Peabody College, Tulane University, and Columbia University Teachers College. Beginning in 1915, Bonslagel served as an …

Borhauer, Shirley Ursala Czosek

Shirley Borhauer was a representative from Bella Vista (Benton County) in the Eighty-third, Eighty-fourth, and Eighty-fifth Arkansas General Assemblies, serving from 2001 to 2006.   Shirley Ursala Czosek was born in Chicago, Illinois, on October 2, 1926, to Edmund Stanislaw Czosek, a screw machine operator at the Felt and Tarrant Manufacturing Company, and Clara Victoria Mindikowski Czosek, who was a Democratic election judge in Chicago’s Ward 26. She had one older sister, Phillis Mildred Czosek Black.  Czosek attended Chicago Public Schools and graduated from Blue Island High School in 1944. She worked in the office at the Dodge Chicago Aircraft Engine Plant, which made engines for B-29 bombers, and then entered the last class of the United States Cadet Nurse Corps and trained at the Little Company of Mary School of Nursing near Chicago. Graduating as a registered nurse in 1948, she worked at St. Francis Hospital and for the Chicago Public Health Department.  In 1949, she married William N. Borhauer Jr. and changed her political affiliation to Republican. After the birth of her daughter, …

Bosmyer, Peggy Sue

When the Reverend Dr. Peggy Bosmyer was ordained in January 1977 at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Little Rock (Pulaski County) by the Right Reverend Christoph Keller Jr., bishop of the Diocese of Arkansas, she was the first woman in the South to be regularly ordained under a new canon as a priest in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA). Peggy Sue Bosmyer was born on July 26, 1948, in Helena (Phillips County), the daughter of Thomas Bosmyer, who was an insurance adjustor, and Margaret Markland Bosmyer, an elementary school teacher. Her older sister, Judy, had been born in 1944. Bosmyer graduated from Central High School in Helena in 1966. In 1970, she received a BA in …

Boston, Gretha Denise

Gretha Denise Boston is a celebrated mezzo-soprano and Tony Award–winning actress. She made her Carnegie Hall debut in 1991 in Mozart’s Coronation Mass and won the 1995 Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her role as Queenie in the Broadway revival of Show Boat; she was the first Arkansan to be so honored. The same role earned Boston the Theatre World Award as Outstanding Debut Artist. She was also nominated for the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Non-Resident Production for the 2000–01 season at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC for her performance in It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues. Gretha Boston was born in Crossett (Ashley County) on April 18, 1959, the …

Branscum, Robbie Tilley

Robbie Tilley Branscum gained fame as the award-winning author of books for older children. Her hardscrabble childhood in Arkansas provided the vivid, rustic backdrop for each of her many books. Robbie Branscum was born Robbie Nell Tilley in Big Flat (Baxter County) on June 17, 1934, the third of five children born into a poor family. When she was five, the family moved to Colorado in search of a better life. Her father, Donnie Tilley, worked briefly in timber before dying of appendicitis shortly after the move. Her mother, Blanche, took the children to live with their paternal grandparents near Big Flat and returned to Colorado alone. Tilley’s grandparents were poor sharecroppers who had previously raised ten children of their …

Brewer, Vivion Mercer Lenon

Vivion Mercer Lenon Brewer is best known for helping to found the Women’s Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools (WEC) in 1958 during the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County). She helped arrange the WEC’s initial meeting and served as the organization’s first chairperson until September 1960. Vivion Lenon was born on October 6, 1900, in Little Rock to Warren E. and Clara (Mercer) Lenon. She graduated from Little Rock High School (now Central High) in 1917 and attended Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she majored in sociology and graduated in 1921. In 1926, she enrolled in the Arkansas Law School in Little Rock and worked in her father’s bank, People’s Savings Bank, in Little …

Brickell, Beth

Beth Brickell is an actor, producer, and writer with many stage and screen credits, and is especially known for her leading role on the television series Gentle Ben. She has also engaged in film production and investigative journalism, the latter relating to the 1957 disappearance of Maud Crawford. Beth Brickell was born on November 13, 1936, in Brinkley (Monroe County) and was raised in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) and Camden (Ouachita County). She graduated from Camden High School in 1954, and then attended Arkansas State Teachers College (today’s University of Central Arkansas) in Conway (Faulkner County) and the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), where she majored in history and political science. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree …

brigham, besmilr moore

aka: Bess Miller Moore
Besmilr Moore Brigham was an award-winning poet and short-story writer who lived in Arkansas for decades. She came to prominence during the women’s movement of the 1960s, and her work is noted for its innovative structure, sound, and rhythm. Like poet e. e. cummings, she used a lower-case version of her name for her published works. Bess Miller Moore was born on September 28, 1913, in Pace, Mississippi. Her grandfather was Choctaw. She later changed her name to the more phonetic spelling “Besmilr.” She graduated from Mary Hardin-Baylor College in Texas and later studied at the New School for Social Research in New York, where she met and married Roy Brigham, who worked for a newspaper. Brigham’s poems have been …

Britt, Terri Utley Amos

Terri Britt, who was Terri Utley at the time, was named Miss Arkansas USA in 1982, going on to win the title of 1982’s Miss USA and compete in the Miss Universe pageant, in which she was a finalist. She remains the only Miss USA to come from Arkansas. When Elizabeth Ward, who was Miss Arkansas, was named Miss America in 1982, it became the first time both Miss America and Miss USA title holders were from the same state in the same year. After a career in the entertainment industry, Britt went on to become a successful motivational speaker and author. Terri Lea Utley was born on November 19, 1961. In her hometown of Cabot (Lonoke County), she was …

Brooks, Caroline Shawk

Caroline Shawk Brooks was the first American sculptor known to have worked in and mastered the medium of butter. She eventually became known as the “Butter Woman.” Caroline Shawk was born on April 28, 1840, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Abel Shawk and Phoebe Ann Marsh Shawk. She married Samuel H. Brooks in 1862, and the couple moved to Helena (Phillips County) in 1866, where Samuel Brooks owned and worked a cotton farm. They had one daughter, Caroline Mildred (1870–1950); she married Walter C. Green, a trained stonecutter who did most of the marble cutting for Caroline Brooks when she began to work in that medium. In 1867, the cotton crop failed. To supplement the family income, Caroline created her first …

Brooks, Ida Josephine

Ida Josephine Brooks was a teacher and early school administrator in Little Rock (Pulaski County). She was among Arkansas’s earliest women physicians and the first female faculty member at the University of Arkansas Medical School (now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences). She also took an active role in advocating for women’s rights. Ida Joe Brooks, the fourth of six children, was born at Muscatine, Iowa, on April 28, 1853, to Methodist minister Joseph Brooks and Elizabeth Goodenough Brooks. Brooks’s father was a candidate for governor in Arkansas in 1872 against Elisha Baxter. Both candidates claimed victory, precipitating the Brooks-Baxter War, with Brooks the loser. Little is known of Ida Joe Brooks’s childhood education. She graduated from Central High …

Brooks, Millie Muriel Ward

Millie Muriel Ward Brooks was a long-time alderman in Wrightsville (Pulaski County). The new Wrightsville branch library of the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) was named for her in 2013. Millie Muriel Ward was born on August 27, 1932, to Theodore Ward and Claudia B. Smith Ward, and she and her siblings lived with their parents in Wrightsville. She married Julius James Brooks Sr., and they had two children, Shanon and Tena. Millie Brooks entered politics later in life than is customary, besting two opponents to become Ward 2, Position 1 Wrightsville alderman in 1992. She apparently faced no other opponents for reelection during her tenure, and she died while in office on July 9, 2005. Her daughter Tena Brooks …

Brown, Evangeline Katherine

Evangeline Katherine Johnson Brown was a longtime educator and activist in the Arkansas Delta who served as a plaintiff and witness in Jeffers v. Clinton, a lawsuit that helped create new majority black districts for the Arkansas House of Representatives and the Arkansas Senate. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1994. Evangeline Katherine Johnson was born in Norwood, East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, on February 23, 1909, the fourth child of James M. Johnson and Mamie C. Gilmore Johnson. Her father was a farmer who owned the family’s farm (with a mortgage). It was fairly uncommon for area families to own their farms at that time. The family frequently moved, and Johnson attended high schools in …

Brown, Helen Marie Gurley

Helen Gurley Brown was a native Arkansan whose career includes landmark achievements in advertising and publishing. She was considered a spokesperson for the women’s liberation movement and sexual revolution in the mid-twentieth century as author of the bestselling book Sex and the Single Girl (1962) and editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine. Helen Marie Gurley was born on February 18, 1922, in Green Forest (Carroll County) to a family of modest means. Her father, Ira Gurley, finished law school in 1923 and was soon elected a state legislator. The family moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) and settled in the Pulaski Heights neighborhood. In 1932, as her father was preparing to run for Arkansas secretary of state, he was killed in an elevator …

Brown, Irma Jean Hunter

Irma Hunter Brown of Little Rock (Pulaski County) served in the Arkansas House of Representatives from 1981 to 1998 and in the Arkansas Senate from 2003 to 2008. She was the first African–American woman elected to the Arkansas House and then became the first African-American woman elected to the Arkansas Senate.  Irma Jean Hunter was born on January 5, 1939, in Tampa, Florida, to Dovie Estoria White Hunter and Joseph Hartwell Hunter. She grew up in Forsyth, Georgia, where she attended segregated public schools and graduated from Hubbard High School. She moved to North Little Rock (Pulaski County) to attend Shorter College, received her associate’s degree in 1958, and then transferred to Arkansas AM&N (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff), where she was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and graduated magna cum laude in 1960 with a double major in history and government and a minor in education. She taught in the …

Brownlee, Christine Jackson

Christine Brownlee was mayor of Gilmore (Crittenden County) in 1987–1990 and again in 1997–2002, as well as a state representative in the Seventy-Eighth and Seventy-Ninth Arkansas General Assemblies, serving in 1991–1994 and representing several cities and towns in Mississippi County and a small portion of Crittenden County. She was the first African–American woman to serve as a Republican in the Arkansas General Assembly.  Christine Jackson was born in Jonesboro (Craighead County) on October 16, 1955, to Fannie Murray Wall Jackson, who was a homemaker, and Tom Edward Jackson, a farmer. She was the youngest of ten children. She began her education at the segregated George Washington Carver public school in Marked Tree (Poinsett County). When she was in the third grade, the family moved to Gilmore, near where her father bought a 120-acre farm, and she attended the segregated William R. Golden School in Turrell (Crittenden County). She was salutatorian of her sixth–grade class, a …

Bumpers, Betty

Betty Bumpers, wife of former Arkansas governor and U.S. senator Dale Bumpers, was known for her far-reaching efforts to promote childhood immunizations and world peace. Betty Lou Flanagan was born on January 11, 1925, to Herman “Babe” Flanagan and Ola Callan Flanagan in Grand Prairie (Franklin County). Her mother was a homemaker, and her father was a cattle farmer and auctioneer. The family moved to Fort Smith (Sebastian County) during World War II, and later to Iowa before returning to Franklin County. She attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Art, the University of Iowa, and the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). Flanagan married Dale Bumpers on September 4, 1949, while he was attending law school at Northwestern …

Burks, Ruth Coker

Ruth Burks is an Arkansas woman who, in the midst of the 1980s AIDS epidemic, provided support for dozens of men who were dying of AIDS—men who were often abandoned by their families, with even some health professionals being reluctant to treat them. Burks treated the men with dignity and compassion that eased the pain, physical and emotional, that marked their final days. She also ensured that they would have a proper final resting place, providing for the burial of dozens of men in Files Cemetery. Frances Ruth Coker was born in Hot Springs (Garland County) on March 19, 1959, to James Isham Coker and Aline Lawlor Coker. Her father, who was almost twenty years older than her mother, served …

Cabe, Gloria Buford

Gloria Cabe was a major political figure in Arkansas from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s. She was a member of the Arkansas General Assembly, and her close ties to Governor Bill Clinton would lead her to move to Washington DC following Clinton’s election to the presidency in 1992. Gloria Burford was born in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on September 15, 1941. She graduated from Pine Bluff High School in 1959. She went on to Hendrix College, where she earned a BA in French in 1963. Burford married Robert Cabe, a Hendrix classmate who would become a prominent attorney, and the couple had a daughter and a son. While raising her young children, Cabe became involved in the local community, …

Caldwell, Sarah

A member of the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame, Sarah Caldwell was an internationally recognized American opera director, conductor, producer, and impresario. She was known for emphasizing the dramatic elements of opera in her productions with innovative stagings that often included spectacular visual effects. She also was known for performing and staging obscure operas that were performed only rarely because of their difficulty. Sarah Caldwell was born on March 6, 1924, in Maryville, Missouri, but grew up in Fayetteville (Washington County). Her parents divorced when she was young, and her mother—piano teacher Margaret Carrie Caldwell Baker—later married Henry Alexander, who taught political science at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville. Recognized as a child prodigy, she was performing in public on violin …

Call, Cora Elizabeth Pinkley

Cora Elizabeth Pinkley Call was a popular Ozark writer, naturalist, herbalist, folklorist, and Eureka Springs (Carroll County) historian and booster. A lifetime resident of Carroll County, Call achieved statewide and national prominence as the founder and longtime president of the Ozark Writers-Artists Guild (OWAG), which held annual meetings in Eureka Springs. Born on April 28, 1892, to George Washington Pinkley and Mary Jane Harp Pinkley in Winona Township, Cora Pinkley was diagnosed with scleroderma (then called “Stone Disease”) at the age of twelve. Her prognosis was eventual paralysis and a short life expectancy. Unable to enjoy a normal childhood or sit still for more than a few minutes, she left school and educated herself through reading and walking in the …

Callery, Ida Hayman

Ida Hayman Callery was a teacher, suffragist, feminist, and socialist organizer in Arkansas prior to World War I. She traveled extensively as an organizer for the Socialist Party in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Her unwillingness to acknowledge the equality of African Americans, however, served to limit her influence, as she consciously excluded them from her efforts. Ida Hayman was born on October 23, 1886, on a farm near Caldwell in Sumner County, Kansas, the eldest of eight children of William D. Hayman, who was a farmer and businessman, and Emma Belle Burnett Hayman, a homemaker. Hayman worked on the family farm and later worked on behalf of tenant farmers and coal miners. After her father lost money in the declining …

Camp Joyzelle

Camp Joyzelle was a summer camp for girls that operated for nearly three decades at Monte Ne (Benton County). Summer camps emerged in the late 1800s as a way to provide urban youngsters with wholesome, outdoor activities during the long summer vacation. Summer camping for girls became popular after World War I. Some camps were run by organizations such as the Girl Scouts, while others were similar to private schools and served mostly well-to-do families. Camp Joyzelle was a typical example of the latter. The camp was founded by Iris Armstrong, who at the time had a private dramatic academy in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Armstrong’s goal was to start a camp at which girls could be instructed in drama …

Campbell-Brown, Veronica

Veronica Campbell-Brown is a former University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) track and field athlete who specializes in the 100 meters, 200 meters, and 4×100-meter relay. A citizen of Jamaica, she is the most decorated Olympic athlete affiliated with the state of Arkansas, having won eight Olympic medals from 2000 to 2016. In addition to her Olympic accolades, Campbell-Brown has garnered numerous medals at the youth, junior, and senior levels of competition. In 2007, she became the first of eight track and field athletes to win an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championship title, in her case in the 100 meters, at all three competitive levels. Veronica Campbell was born on May 15, 1982, in Clarks Town, Trelawny, …

Canerday, Natalie Suzanne

Natalie Canerday is an Arkansas actress known for such films like October Sky and Sling Blade. The bulk of Canerday’s filmography comprises films set in and/or filmed on location in Arkansas. Natalie Suzanne Canerday was born in Russellville (Pope County) on March 9, 1962, to Don and Nancy Canerday. She has one older brother, Jon Canerday. Canerday had big dreams of performing, though not necessarily acting, and wished to pursue tap dancing, especially on variety shows such as The Bozo Show and The Tommy Trent Show, hosted by Arkansas singer Tommy Trent and based in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Canerday’s first significant acting work concerned character performances at the Ozark Mountains–themed Dogpatch USA amusement park during the 1980s. The park …

Caraway, Hattie Ophelia Wyatt

Hattie Ophelia Wyatt Caraway was the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate, the first woman to preside over the Senate, the first to chair a Senate committee, and the first to preside over a Senate hearing. She served from 1931 to 1945 and was a strong supporter of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s economic recovery legislation during the Great Depression. Hattie Wyatt was born to William Carroll Wyatt and Lucy Burch Wyatt on February 1, 1878, near Bakersville, Tennessee. It is unknown how many siblings she had, though the 1900 Census shows four children living at her parents’ residence. When she was four, she moved with her family to Hustburg, Tennessee, where she helped on the family farm and in …

Carlisle, Irene Jones

Originally from Texas, Irene Carlisle lived much of her life in Fayetteville (Washington County), where she became a widely respected teacher, poet, and folklorist. Carlisle taught Latin and English at Springdale High School; published poetry in a variety of newspapers, magazines, and journals; published a well-received book of poetry; and collected folksongs and folklore in northwestern Arkansas. Irene Jones was born to Stephen and Tela Jones on May 24, 1908. She married Jack Carlisle in 1929, and the couple moved to Fayetteville. She earned a BA from Texas Christian University in 1929. During World War II, her husband served in the U.S. Navy, and she worked as a welder in a California shipyard; she composed a popular poem, “Welder,” about …

Carmelite Monastery of St. Teresa of Jesus

The Carmelite Monastery of St. Teresa of Jesus is the home of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Little Rock (Pulaski County), a cloistered community of women in the Roman Catholic Church. The monastery is autonomous (independent) but belongs to a worldwide order composed of both men and women. The principal mission of the Carmelites is service of the Church through a life of union with God in prayer. The Carmelite Order traces its history from the twelfth century with a group of hermits living on Mount Carmel in Palestine. In the thirteenth century, they transferred to Europe. There, the order was “reformed” in the sixteenth century as a result of the Council of Trent and the many spiritual gifts of …

Carmen, Jeanne Laverne

During the 1950s and 1960s, Jeanne Carmen was a pin-up model, a trick shot golfer, and a B-movie actress. Jeanne Carmen was born Agnes Lavern Carmon in the Lafe community in Greene County near Paragould (Greene County) on August 4, 1930. Her mother was Georgia Ellen Wright, who was twenty years old and was not married to her daughter’s father. On March 20, 1930, Georgia Wright had appeared before the Greene County Court, explaining that she was pregnant and was due in August. She testified that Dennis “D. B.” Carmon was the father of her unborn child. She asked for an arrest warrant to hold him to answer to the charge. On August 4, she gave birth to Agnes and …

Carnes, Gressie Umsted

Gressie Umsted Carnes was active in state and national politics as a member of the Democratic Party. She also played major roles in promoting Easter Seals and Girl Scouts in Arkansas. Gressie Umsted was born on August 9, 1903, in Bernice, Louisiana, to Edna Sedalia Edwards Umsted and Sidney Albert Umsted. She had twin sisters, Audrey and Aubrey, and a brother who died in infancy. Her family moved to Arkansas in the early 1920s. Umsted graduated from high school in El Dorado (Union County) and attended Henderson-Brown College in Arkadelphia (Clark County) and Gulf Park College in Gulfport, Mississippi. She was working on a BA in music but did not finish, leaving school after her father died from injuries sustained …

Carter-Perry, June

June Carter-Perry is a former educator, diplomat, and U.S. State Department official. Her lengthy and multi-faceted diplomatic career included service as the U.S. ambassador to both Lesotho and Sierra Leone. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2016. June Carter was born on November 13, 1943, in Texarkana (Miller County). Her mother, Louise Pendleton Carter, was a Peace Corps volunteer in Malaysia. June Carter graduated from Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois, in 1965, earning a bachelor’s degree in history. She earned a master’s degree in European history from the University of Chicago in 1967. She soon married Fredrick M. Perry, who served as an official with both the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the …

Carter, Vertie Lee Glasgow

Vertie Lee Glasgow Carter is a renowned educator whose doctorate in education paved her way into previously unattainable arenas for an African-American woman of her time in Arkansas. Over her long career in education, she influenced generations of teachers and revolutionized the way Arkansas applied employment and merit systems. She is a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Vertie L. Glasgow was born on October 19, 1923, into the sharecropping family of Daisy James Glasgow, who was also a schoolteacher, and Thomas Glasgow in the Antioch community in Hempstead County. To buy books and pay tuition to Yerger High School in Hope (Hempstead County), she raised and sold pigs. After graduating from high school in 1942, she attended …

Case, Sarah Esther

Sarah Esther Case was the first woman from Arkansas to be called as a foreign missionary by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. She was also the first woman to hold a full-time connectional appointment in the church hierarchy, serving for fourteen years as secretary of the General Board of Missions. “Essie” Case was born January 28, 1868, in Izard County, the eldest of the thirteen children of Robert Ridgway Case, a merchant, and Ella Byers Case. Case inherited an interest in the work of the Methodist church from her grandmothers, Sarah Ridgway Case and Esther Wilson Byers. Both were leaders in the establishment of women’s work at First Methodist Episcopal Church, South, of Batesville (Independence County), and both were charter …

Castle, Irene

Irene Castle was a famous ballroom dancer in the 1910s to the 1930s who appeared in several silent movies and many Broadway shows. She lived in Arkansas for a time and worked for animal rights. In her autobiography, she wrote that she would like to be remembered more for her work to prevent animal cruelty than for her dance career. Irene Foote was born on April 17, 1893, in New Rochelle, New York, to Hubert Foote, a doctor, and Annie Elroy Thomas; she had one older sister. Foote attended several boarding schools as a child. She met Vernon Castle, a British citizen who was part of a comedy show, in 1910. He got her a dance audition with Lew Fields, …

Chaffin, Charlie Francis Cole

Charlie Cole Chaffin of Benton (Saline County) served in the Arkansas Senate representing District 16 (Saline County, parts of Perry and Garland counties) from 1984 to 1994. She was a delegate to the 1979–1980 Arkansas Constitutional Convention and the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in 1994 and 1996.  Charlie Francis Cole was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on September 13, 1938, to Grace Francis “Frank” Cole, who was a nurse anesthetist, and John Walton Cole, a fourth-generation physician. She was raised in Sheridan (Grant County) and Malvern (Hot Spring County) in a politically active family. Her grandfather, Dr. Charles F. Cole, served on the Grant County Quorum Court. Her father served on the Grant County Democratic Central Committee and eighteen years on the Arkansas Board of Education. Her uncle Ed McDonald was Arkansas’s secretary of state and a candidate for governor. Another uncle, Jim Cole, served as prosecuting attorney and state legislator. Her mother marched for civil rights with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and her brother, John Cole, served as prosecuting attorney and circuit judge. She and family members worked on campaigns …

Chambers, Erle Rutherford

Erle Rutherford Chambers was a pioneering woman in Arkansas in the early part of the twentieth century. In addition to being the first woman to graduate from the Law Department of the University of Arkansas, she was also the first to be elected to the Arkansas General Assembly. Erle Rutherford Chambers was born in 1875 in Tennessee to Thomas Chambers and Henrietta Davidson Chambers. She had one younger sister. Little is known about her youth or when she came to Arkansas, but she worked as a teacher before moving into law. Chambers had become interested in the law as a secretary in the Little Rock (Pulaski County) firm of Moore, Smith and Trieber. She began her legal studies while still …

Chandler, Florence Clyde

Florence Clyde Chandler was a plant geneticist with a broad background in tree-breeding and the induction of polyploidy (the quality of having one or more extra sets of chromosomes) in flowering plants. Her exceptional success inducing polyploidy in the nuclei by using colchicines resulted in the production of a series of outstanding tetraploid and diploid verbenas. During World War II, she worked at the Guatemalan experimental station as a cinchona (a type of evergreen tree) breeder, where she furthered the successful development of a derivative for quinine, a malaria remedy. Born on September 28, 1901, in Oliver (Scott County) to William Festus Chandler and Nannie Charlotte Shannon, Florence Chandler was educated at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington …

Chi Omega

Chi Omega, the largest women’s fraternal organization in the world, was founded at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) on April 5, 1895. As of 2012, more than 300,000 women have been initiated into Chi Omega. The national headquarters are in Memphis, Tennessee. In 2011, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), UA, and Arkansas State University (ASU) had Chi Omega chapters, and there were sixteen alumnae chapters in Arkansas. Contrary to popular usage, Chi Omega has always referred to itself as a fraternity rather than a sorority. The first members, referred to as the Five Founders, included Ina May Boles, Jobelle Holcombe, Alice Simonds, Jean Vincenheller, and Dr. Charles Richardson, a Fayetteville dentist and a …

Christensen, Les

aka: Leslie Ann Christensen
Leslie Ann (Les) Christensen is director of the Bradbury Art Museum at Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County), but she is best known as a sculptor who works in mixed media using everyday objects to offer a vision of universal experience and common responsibility. Her artwork has been exhibited in solo and group shows throughout the United States and in Europe. Les Christensen was born on July 3, 1960, in Omaha, Nebraska, as the second of four children (and the only daughter) of Dean and Carol Christensen. She attended the University of Iowa, where she received a BFA in sculpture in 1982. She spent a year of graduate school at the Rijksuniversiteit te Utrecht in the Netherlands and …

Clark, Alida Clawson

Alida Clawson Clark, an Indiana Quaker who co-founded Southland College, arrived in Arkansas with her husband, Calvin, in April 1864 on a wartime mission to provide material and spiritual comfort to former slaves while war raged in the rest of the state. After supervising a temporary orphanage and school for black children in Union-occupied Helena (Phillips County), the Clarks moved their charges and school to a rural site near Helena, establishing what became Southland College (later Southland Institute), the first academy of higher education for African Americans west of the Mississippi River. She also founded Southland Monthly Meeting, the first predominantly black Friends Meeting for Worship in more than two centuries of Quaker history. Alida Clawson was born February 9, …

Clark, Mamie Katherine Phipps

Hot Springs (Garland County) native Mamie Phipps Clark was the first African-American woman to earn a Doctor of Philosophy degree in psychology from Columbia University. The research she did with her husband was important in the success of the 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, in which the United States Supreme Court declared the doctrine of “separate but equal” with regard to education to be unconstitutional on account of such separation generating “a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community” on the part of African-American students. Mamie Phipps was born on October 18, 1917, in Hot Springs to British West Indies native Harold H. Phipps, a physician, and Kate Florence Phipps, who assisted …

Clarke, Faye

Faye Clarke co-founded the Educate the Children Foundation, which was created to support rural and impoverished school districts with donations of books and other educational materials. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2002. Faye Wilma Robinson was born on August 6, 1931, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) to Jerimah and Eariest Robinson. In high school, she was an Arkansas National Merit Scholar and went on to study at Hampton Institute in Virginia. After graduation, she attended a one-year program in businesses at Radcliffe College taught by professors of the Harvard Business School, where women were not yet allowed; she was the first African-American woman in this program. She began working at Aramark, a company that …

Clemmer, Ann Veasman

Ann Veasman Clemmer is a professor, politician, and public servant from Saline County. She taught political science at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock from August 1992 to January 2015. She was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives in 2008 and served three consecutive terms, followed by service in the Arkansas Department of Higher Education (ADHE). Carol Ann Veasman was born in Osceola (Mississippi County) on August 10, 1958, to Martha Lee Robinson Veasman, a teacher, and Joseph Christian Veasman, a farmer. Her father left farming for agricultural related public service, which included the Agency for International Development (USAID) in Vietnam (during the conflict years) as an agricultural advisor. The Veasman family lived in the Philippines during that …

Clinton, Chelsea Victoria

Chelsea Clinton is the only child of former U.S. president Bill Clinton and his wife, former U.S. senator and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was the Democratic nominee for U.S. president in 2016. Chelsea Clinton has served as a correspondent, public speaker, and author, and she works with the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative. Chelsea Victoria Clinton was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on February 27, 1980. Hillary Clinton stated in her memoir that the name was inspired by a walk through the Chelsea district in London, England. Hearing the Joni Mitchell song, “Chelsea Morning,” Bill Clinton said, “If we ever have a daughter, we should name her Chelsea.” When their daughter was born, …

Clinton, Hillary Diane Rodham

Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton was the first lady of Arkansas, first lady of the United States, United States senator from New York (marking the first time in the nation’s history that a first lady was elected to the Senate), and Secretary of State in the administration of President Barack Obama. She was the only U.S. first lady to keep an office in the West Wing among the president’s senior staff and the only first lady to run for president. Her independence and public involvement with a number of issues often made her a subject of controversy, but her support of women’s and children’s issues won her many admirers. In 2016, she became the first woman nominated for president by a …

Connelly, Mary

Mary Connelly was an early educator in southern Arkansas. Operating a school first in Camden (Ouachita County) and later in Arkadelphia (Clark County), she helped establish the latter city’s reputation as an educational center. Mary Connelly was born to the Reverend Henry Connelly and Jane Johnson Connelly in Newburgh, New York; her exact date of birth is unknown. The oldest of eleven children, she graduated from the Presbyterian-affiliated Washington Female Seminary in Washington, Pennsylvania, in 1855. Connelly worked in Camden during the Civil War as a teacher. At the outbreak of the war, she was teaching at a private school in the town and was unable to secure transportation home to New York. She remained in Camden for the duration …

Conner, Laura Cornelius

Laura Nancy Cornelius Conner was a prison reformer, educator, and farmer. In the 1920s, she served on the penitentiary board during the governorship of Thomas McRae. Conner was shocked by the conditions in the Arkansas prisons, but despite support from prisoners, community leaders, and legal experts, she was unable to make progress in reforming the penitentiary. She returned to her hometown, where she was an educator and planter until her death. Laura Cornelius was born on October 24, 1864 in Augusta (Woodruff County). She was one of eight children born to William Cornelius and Arabella White Cornelius. Arabella Cornelius died when Laura was three. After the death of her father in 1876, Laura moved in with her sister Ella and …