Time Period: World War II through the Faubus Era (1941 - 1967) - Starting with N

Nancarrow, Samuel Conlon

Samuel Conlon Nancarrow composed innovative music and produced a body of work largely for player piano. According to musicologist Kyle Gann, who has published a study of Nancarrow’s compositions, they are the most rhythmically complex ever written by anyone anywhere, featuring up to twelve different tempos at the same time. Gann describes “whirlwinds of notes…joyously physical in their energy.” The wealth of ideas in Nancarrow’s works has had a lasting impact on other composers. Conlon Nancarrow was born in Texarkana (Miller County) on October 27, 1912. His father, Samuel Charles Nancarrow, was a businessman and mayor of Texarkana from 1927 to 1930. His mother was Myra Brady Nancarrow, and he had one brother, Charles. At the insistence of his father, …

Narrows Dam

aka: Lake Greeson
Narrows Dam is located six miles north of Murfreesboro (Pike County). Authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1941, it was constructed on the Little Missouri River as a project for flood control and hydroelectric power. The Little Missouri River flows through the Ouachita Mountains and enters Pike County at its northwest upper corner, dropping 1,035 feet before it runs into Lake Greeson. Before the dam was constructed, heavy rains in the mountains often caused the area around Murfreesboro to become flooded, causing damage to houses and resulting in loss of livestock and farm crops. Martin White Greeson, the owner of the Murfreesboro-Nashville Southwest Railroad, urged the development of the watershed in order to control the water of the Little …

National Education Program

The National Education Program (NEP) was founded by Harding College (now Harding University) president George S. Benson to disseminate his ideas on Americanism. These included three fundamental principles: belief in God, belief in the U.S. Constitution, and belief in the free-enterprise system. Sources disagree about the date the NEP was founded, citing 1936, 1941, and 1948. The NEP wedded fundamentalist Christian religion with free-enterprise economic thought, which became foundational to the conservative movement that gained prominence with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. A native Oklahoman and a member of the Church of Christ, Benson completed his bachelor’s degree at Harding College and afterward served as principal of its high school division. In 1925, he and his wife, Sallie …

Neel, Margarete Ethel

Margarete Ethel Neel became the symbol of the International Red Cross after World War II. The White County chapter submitted to the national headquarters a wartime photo of Neel guiding the wheelchair of wounded Private Gordon Pyle of California. It was reproduced as a poster for the organization’s post-war fundraising activities. A plaque commemorating Neel’s Red Cross service stands in front of the Searcy American Legion Hut, where the White County chapter of the Red Cross is located. The chapter was dedicated to Neel just after her death in 1971. Neel was among the first women listed on the rolls of the U.S. Women’s Memorial when it was dedicated in Washington DC in 1997. Margarete Neel was born on December …

Negro Boys Industrial School Fire of 1959

aka: Wrightsville Fire of 1959
On March 5, 1959, twenty-one African-American boys burned to death inside a dormitory at an Arkansas reform school in Wrightsville (Pulaski County). The doors were locked from the outside. The fire mysteriously ignited around 4:00 a.m. on a cold, wet morning, following earlier thunderstorms in the same area of rural Pulaski County. The institution was one mile down a dirt road from the mostly black town of Wrightsville, then an unincorporated hamlet thirteen miles south of Little Rock (Pulaski County). Forty-eight children, ages thirteen to seventeen, managed to claw their way to safety by knocking out two of the window screens. Amidst the choking, blinding smoke and heat, four or five boys at a time tried to fight their way …

Nevada County Courthouse

The Nevada County Courthouse is located in downtown Prescott (Nevada County). Constructed in 1964, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 24, 2018. Nevada County was organized on March 20, 1871, from portions of Hempstead, Columbia, and Ouachita counties. The county court convened for the first time at Mount Moriah Methodist Church on May 8, 1871. No incorporated towns existed in the county. The following year, Rosston was named as the county seat by a governor-appointed commission, and in 1877, the voters of the county selected Prescott as the county seat. When the county seat moved to Prescott, a two-story building on East First Street served as the courthouse. Three permanent purpose-built courthouses have served …

Newport Air Field

During World War II, one of the army’s seven training airfields built in Arkansas was located at Newport (Jackson County). Over 4,000 men trained during the three years the Newport Army Air Field was in operation. At one point, over 4,800 people were living on the base, more than doubling Newport’s 1940 population of 4,301. Newport was chosen as a site through the encouragement of Congressman Wilbur D. Mills. The flat land already lent itself to airport usage as most trees had been cleared and the ground had been drained for farming. The project was announced in the middle of May 1942, and construction began almost immediately. Thirty-four farm families were displaced from the main site, along with those living …

Nighthawk, Robert

aka: Robert Lee McCollum
Robert Nighthawk was among the most remarkable slide guitarists in blues history, widely admired among his peers and the southern audiences he spent his life entertaining. Nighthawk influenced a generation of bluesmen such as Muddy Waters, B. B. King, Earl Hooker, and supposedly Elmore James. He was the archetype of the rambling bluesman, roaming all over the South with frequent trips to the North, though he chose Helena—present-day Helena-West Helena (Phillips County)—as his home base. This rambling nature and his decision to remain in the South likely explain why Nighthawk never achieved greater fame. Robert Nighthawk was born Robert Lee McCollum in Helena on November 30, 1909, to Ned and Mattie McCollum. He was one of three children. His was …

Nimrod Dam and Lake

Nimrod Dam in western Perry County is the oldest project of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the state of Arkansas, created to control flooding along the Fourche La Fave River. Nimrod Lake, the reservoir created by the dam, stretches across the border of Perry and Yell counties and is a popular attraction for fishermen and duck hunters. The dam and lake take their names from the nearby community of Nimrod (Perry County), itself named after the biblical figure. The construction of Nimrod Dam was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1938. Damming the Fourche La Fave was considered an economical means of protecting communities and valuable crop land in Yell and Perry counties, as well as lessening …

Nine from Little Rock

Nine from Little Rock is a short documentary film produced in 1964. Coming less than a decade after the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the film checks back with the Little Rock Nine—Melba Pattillo, Carlotta Walls, Elizabeth Eckford, Gloria Ray, Minnijean Brown, Thelma Mothershed, Ernest Green, Jefferson Thomas, and Terrence Roberts—offering an update on their lives, while also including some reflections by the pioneering students on the personal impact of their efforts. Nine from Little Rock was a production of the United States Information Agency (USIA). Commissioned by USIA’s director of the Motion Picture and Television Service, George Stevens Jr., it focused not on the controversial integration effort of 1957, but rather on the nine …

Noble, Marion Monden

Marion Monden Noble was an Arkansas-born lifelong communist who is one of three Arkansans known to have served with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade during the Spanish Civil War (the others being pilot Frank Glasgow Tinker and composer Conlon Nancarrow). Marion Noble was born on May 4, 1911, in Garner (White County), one of six children of Isom J. Noble and Cora Noble. His father was a railroad worker known for treating both black and white workers equally, but he lost his job along with thousands of others during a railroad strike. By 1920, the family was living in Higginson (White County), where his father started a car repair business. Noble worked there as a mechanic before leaving to attend the …

Norfork Dam and Lake

Built on the North Fork River, just upstream from its confluence with the White River in Baxter County in north-central Arkansas, Norfork Dam and Lake are named after the nearby town of Norfork (Baxter County). The dam was authorized by Congress in the Flood Control Act of 1938, and construction began in the spring of 1941, making it one of the oldest U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ multi-purpose concrete structures. The reservoir extends north from the dam site to near Tecumseh, Missouri, and covers portions of Baxter and Fulton counties in Arkansas and Ozark County in Missouri. The drainage area controlled by the reservoir is about 1,806 square miles. The project also contains a powerhouse that houses the generators and …

Norrell, Catherine Dorris

Catherine Dorris Norrell was the wife of Congressman William Frank Norrell and succeeded him in Congress, becoming the third woman in Arkansas history to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. Catherine Dorris was born in Camden (Ouachita County) on March 30, 1901, to Baptist preacher Franklin Dorris and Rose Whitehead Dorris. The family moved from congregation to congregation in Texas, Tennessee, and Arkansas, and Dorris attended public schools in all of those states, finishing high school in Monticello (Drew County). She attended Ouachita Baptist College (now Ouachita Baptist University) in Arkadelphia (Clark County) as well as the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), becoming an accomplished organist and pianist. Afterward, she taught in the public schools of …

Norrell, William Frank

Congressman William Frank Norrell served southern Arkansas and the entire state during an important time in the region’s economic and social development. He was the first World War I veteran to be elected to Congress from Arkansas. William F. Norrell was born in Milo, a small community in Ashley County, on August 29, 1896. His parents were farmers John H. Norrell and Elvie Richardson Norrell. He attended the local public schools and pursued higher education at the Fourth District State Agricultural School of Monticello (Drew County)—now the University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM)—as well as at the College of the Ozarks (now the University of the Ozarks) at Clarksville (Johnson County) and at what is now the University of Arkansas at Little …

Norris, Walter

Walter Norris created an amalgamation of jazz improvisation with classical music in a style that no other pianist has duplicated. His varied career includes eight years as a pianist, musical director, and entertainment manager for New York’s Playboy Club. In addition, he authored noted books on the piano. Walter Norris was born on December 27, 1931, in Little Rock (Pulaski County). His father, Lucian Norris, was an accountant for the Federal Reserve Bank. Walter Norris began studying classical piano at the age of five, was playing “boogie woogie” by eight, and was playing in local bands by twelve. After graduation from Central High School, he began playing with Mose Allison on a southern tour. From 1950 to 1952, he served in the U.S. …

North Little Rock Six

The North Little Rock Six were six African-American students who attempted to desegregate North Little Rock High School on September 9, 1957. Two years earlier, the North Little Rock School Board voted to begin integrating classes at the twelfth-grade level; however, after Arkansas governor Orval E. Faubus publicly stated opposition to the integration of Little Rock Central High School and summoned the Arkansas National Guard to the school on September 2, 1957, the directors of the North Little Rock School Board put a halt to their integration plan. Seven seniors from the all-Black Scipio Jones High School initially registered to attend North Little Rock High for the 1957–58 school year, but only six students attempted to enroll. They were Richard …

Nunn, Ira Hudson (1901–1990)

Ira Hudson Nunn was a U.S. Navy officer who was much decorated for his World War II actions, later serving as the Navy’s Judge Advocate General. Ira Hudson Nunn was born in Camden (Ouachita County) on March 16, 1901, to merchant James B. Nunn and Henrietta Hudson Nunn; he was a descendant of some of the earliest white settlers of the area. Nunn entered the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, in 1920 after attending the Marion Military Institute at Marion, Alabama. He graduated from the academy on June 4, 1924, with the rank of ensign. Nunn married Esther Wagner of Washington DC. They had one daughter. Nunn served in the U.S. Navy’s Ordnance Bureau in Washington DC immediately after …