Center receives grant to digitize history of segregation, integration of Arkansas schools

The UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture (CAHC) has received a $106,908 grant award to digitize materials related to the history of segregation and integration of Arkansas’s educational system. The award is part of the Digitizing Hidden Collections and Archives initiative sponsored by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. CAHC’s proposal was one of 18 chosen for the 2015 award cycle.

This 18-month project involves the collaboration of CAHC, the Central Arkansas Library System’s Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, and the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site. The partnership of a university, public library, and national park is unique and the strength of this combined institutional partnership is multifaceted. This will result in a rare meta-collection of materials housed in three different archives yet digitally available in a single location.

Digitizing this unique group of archival collections will provide scholars of civil rights, race, education, and the law the opportunity to study evolution of education in Central Arkansas through the lens of religion, the judicial system, and contemporary students and educators.

Materials to be digitized include:

  • The National Dunbar Historical Collections contains materials pertaining to Dunbar High School, Little Rock’s high school for African American students before integration. This collection originates from a joint effort of the National Dunbar Alumni Association (NDAA) and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR).
  • The FBI: Little Rock School Crisis Report was received by UALR in 1981 through FOIA requests. Judge Ronald Davies requested the U.S. Attorney authorize an FBI investigation after receiving information the National Guard had turned away nine African American students who had attempted to attend classes at Central High School in September 1957.
  • Robert Brown, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas during the Central High integration crisis, spoke out against Governor Faubus’s handling of the school crisis. Included in Brown’s papers are letters both supporting and criticizing his position.
  • Elizabeth Huckaby taught English at Central High School for over 40 years. She kept a journal during the integration crisis and published a book which was later made into a film.
  • Federal Judge Harry Lemley’s 1958 ruling in the case Aaron v. Cooper temporarily halted the integration of Little Rock’s Central High School. His papers contain a scrapbook and correspondence detailing his role in the desegregation crisis.
  • Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site houses material related to the Little Rock Nine, Women’s Emergency Committee, the organization of the Central High Museum prior to its affiliation with the National Park Service, and oral histories.
  • The Office of Desegregation Monitoring (ODM) is a federal office resulting of a Pulaski County school desegregation case (filed November 30, 1982) and charged with monitoring and assisting efforts of three school districts to meet desegregation obligations and mandates. ODM records include documents, court filings and exhibits, and correspondence, maps, school profiles, and reports concerning compliances, operations, and policies.

See a selection of representative samples.

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