Entries - Gender: Female

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 only time both Miss America and Miss Universe titleholders 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 January 1, 1961. In her hometown of Cabot (Lonoke County), she was involved …

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 …

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, …

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 …

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, …

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 Earnest (or 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 …

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 …

Convent Inspection Act of 1915

aka: Act 130 of 1915
aka: Posey Act
The Convent Inspection Act was passed by the Arkansas General Assembly and signed by Governor George Washington Hays in March 1915. The act was not unique to Arkansas, as states such as Georgia and Florida had similar laws. The Arkansas law allowed for sheriffs and constables to inspect convents, hospitals, asylums, seminaries, and rectories on a regular basis. The purpose, as stated in one section, was “to afford every person within the confines of said institutions, the fullest opportunity to divulge the truth to their detention therein.” If twelve citizens petitioned local authorities, law enforcement could enter these facilities day or night without notice. Whatever the stated intention of the legislation, one writer in the Arkansas Gazette on February 17, …

Conway, Polly

aka: Mary Jane Bradley Conway
Mary Jane “Polly” Bradley Conway, the wife of Arkansas’s first governor, was a stable mother, supportive spouse, and respected prominent citizen. She was also a pioneer in what was then a primitive corner of the state. Polly Bradley was born on August 31, 1809, at or near Lebanon in Wilson County, Tennessee, to John Bradley and Jane Barton. Bradley’s father died the year she was born. After the War of 1812, her uncles Captain Hugh Bradley and Fleetwood Herndon moved to Arkansas. Bradley, her mother, her sisters, and her stepfather also migrated to Arkansas Territory, settling on the “Long Prairie” of the future Lafayette County. On December 21, 1826, Bradley married James Sevier Conway, presumably on Long Prairie, where he …

Cook, Doris Marie

Doris Marie Cook achieved many firsts in accounting, accounting education, and business in Arkansas. Cook was the first woman to receive the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation in the state, the first woman to be hold the rank of university professor at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), the first female member of the Arkansas Society of CPAs, the first woman to serve on and become president of the National Council for the Beta Alpha Psi academic honor organization, and the first woman to hold an endowed lectureship chair at UA. Doris Cook was born in Fayetteville on June 11, 1924. She was the second of two children born to Ira Cook and Mettie Dorman Cook. Cook …

Cornish, Hilda

aka: Brunhilde Kahlert Cornish
Brunhilde Kahlert Cornish was the founder of the Arkansas birth control movement. She was instrumental in founding the organization that became the Planned Parenthood Association of Arkansas. Hilda Kahlert was born on January 24, 1878, in St. Louis, Missouri, to German immigrants Sophie and Rudolph Kahlert. Her father was a carpenter, and her early life as a worker and as an observer of working-class struggles informed her about a broad spectrum of life experiences. After earning a high-school diploma, Kahlert left St. Louis to work as a milliner in New York. She moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1901 and married a widowed banker, Edward Cornish, in July 1902. The couple had six children between 1904 and 1917. Cornish …

Corrothers, Helen Gladys Curl

Helen G. Corrothers is a well-respected figure in the world of criminal justice who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to serve on the United States Parole Board and then the United States Sentencing Commission in the 1980s. Helen Gladys Curl was born on March 19, 1937, in Montrose (Ashley County) to Thomas Curl and Christene Farley Curl. Her father died when she was two. Following high school, Corrothers earned an Associate of Arts degree in liberal arts from Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock (Pulaski County). She then entered the U.S. Army, serving from 1956 to 1969. She earned the rank of captain. Over the course of her army career in the Far East, Europe, and the United States, …

Cotnam, Florence Lee Brown

Florence Lee Brown Cotnam was a leader in the women’s suffrage movement in Arkansas, representing the state by speaking for women’s suffrage across the nation. After women received the vote, Cotnam continued the cause of women by serving as the first president of the Little Rock League of Women Voters. Florence Lee Brown was born to Tarleton Woodson Brown and Eliza Webb Thurmond on April 16, 1865, in Cobham, Virginia. She had one sibling, Sue Brown. Florence Brown was educated in private schools in Gordonsville and Richmond, Virginia, and at the Charnwood Institute in Tyler, Texas, where she met Thomas Taylor Cotnam, an insurance agent. They were married on October 20, 1885, and had three children: Charles, Nell, and Thomas Tarleton. …

Cotton, Carolina

aka: Helen Hagstrom
Helen Hagstrom is best known for her country and western swing music and yodeling, as well as her appearances in numerous television specials, radio programs, and films under the name of Carolina Cotton. Nicknamed “The Yodeling Blonde Bombshell,” Hagstrom was an entertainer and teacher throughout her life. Helen Hagstrom was born on October 20, 1925, in Cash (Craighead County), where her parents, Fred and Helen Hagstrom, and maternal grandparents had a farm, growing many crops, including cotton and peanuts. During the Great Depression, Hagstrom’s father moved his wife and two daughters to San Francisco, California. Hagstrom began performing in traveling stage shows with the O’Neille Sisters Kiddie Revue. Then, after regularly visiting KYA Radio to watch Dude Martin’s Roundup Gang …

Coullet, Rhonda Lee Oglesby

Rhonda Lee Oglesby Coullet was the only Miss Arkansas ever to resign her title. After briefly fulfilling her role as Miss Arkansas 1965, she abruptly gave up her crown and went on to achieve notable successes in show business, including starring on Broadway in The Robber Bridegroom. Rhonda Oglesby was born on September 23, 1945, in Magnolia (Columbia County) to Horace and Cecil Oglesby, both employees of International Paper Company in Spring Hill, Louisiana, but she was raised in Stamps (Lafayette County). She has one brother, Scott. In 1955, the family moved to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). She attended Sam Taylor Elementary School and Pine Bluff High School, where she was a cheerleader. She was recognized for her beauty and …

Coulter, Hope Norman

Little Rock (Pulaski County) author Hope Coulter is a novelist, short-story writer, poet, children’s book author, and professor. Coulter has received several of Arkansas’s top literary prizes, including the Porter Prize for fiction and the Laman Library Writers Fellowship. Poems and stories by Coulter have also received awards or recognition in contests from such national literary journals as the North American Review, Terrain.org, the Southwest Review, and Louisiana Life. Hope Elizabeth Norman was born on January 25, 1961, in New Orleans, Louisiana, but spent her early years in Little Rock. Her father, Tom David Norman, was then a pathologist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Her mother, Hope Johns Norman, as a member of the Women’s Emergency …

Cranford, Lorraine Albert

Lorraine Albert Cranford was the founder of Ballet Arkansas—a company that traces its roots to the Little Rock Civic Ballet of the 1960s—as well as a dance teacher in the Little Rock (Pulaski County) area. Lorraine Albert was born on September 4, 1918, in Steubenville, Ohio, to Henri Albert and Arthurine Van Klempette Albert. Her mother was a ballroom dancer who started her daughter in dance classes. By the time she was three, her family lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Albert studied ballet under Karl Heinrich in Pittsburgh and went to New York at age fifteen to continue her dance training. Her training was not limited to classical ballet, and she studied and danced in the same shows as famous performers such as …

Crawford, Maud Robinson

Maud Robinson Crawford, a lawyer with the Gaughan, McClellan and Laney law firm in Camden (Ouachita County), mysteriously disappeared from her stately Colonial home on Saturday night, March 2, 1957, at age sixty-five. U.S. Senator John L. McClellan, a former partner in the law firm, was at the time of her disappearance the chairman of a high-profile Senate investigation into alleged mob ties to organized labor. The disappearance of Sen. McClellan’s former associate was international news, a first assumption being that she had been kidnapped by the Mafia to intimidate the senator. When no ransom note appeared, however, the theory was rejected by law enforcement. No body was ever found, and the case was never solved. Maud Robinson was born …

Crawford, Phyllis

aka: Josie Turner
Phyllis Crawford was the author of children’s books and adult fiction, including Hello, the Boat!, which won the Ford Foundation award for the best book manuscript for children in 1938. Over several decades, Crawford also contributed to the New Yorker and other magazines under the pseudonym of Josie Turner. She often drew upon her experiences growing up in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to frame the plots of her stories. Phyllis Crawford was born on February 8, 1899, in Little Rock to T. Dwight Crawford and Bessie Williams Crawford. Her father was an attorney and worked for the Arkansas Supreme Court for many years. She had one brother, John, also an author. The Crawford family resided at 416 Fairfax, in one …

Crescent College and Conservatory

The Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women operated out of the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs (Carroll County). It was opened on September 23, 1908, and operated from September through June, with the summer months being devoted to hotel operations. The college remained open until 1924, when it was forced to close due to lack of funding. It reopened as Crescent Junior College in 1930 and remained open until 1934. Founded by the Eureka Springs Investment Company, specifically A. S. Maddox and J. H. Phillips, Crescent College was established as an exclusive boarding school for young women.  Maddox had previously operated a successful female seminary in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and was seeking a new location with better facilities. …