The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories
Little Rock Central High crisis collection
Repository: Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
Collection Description (Extant): The site's oral history collection includes videotaped interviews conducted in partnership with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Thirty-two interviews were conducted between 2003 and 2007 with people associated with the 1957 desegregation crisis at Little Rock Central High School. Interviews include all members of the Little Rock Nine (the nine African American students who attended the historically white Central High School in 1957-58), some of their parents and siblings, soldiers in the Arkansas National Guard and US Army's 101st Airborne Division, white students from Central High School, neighboring business owners, members of the Women's Emergency Committee (the organization that worked to reopen the schools on a desegregated basis), and students who continued desegregating Central High in later years.
Topics of the interviews include the 1957 Central High desegregation events, race relations in Little Rock (before and after the crisis), "Jim Crow" segregation in Little Rock before 1957, court cases related to the crisis and desegregation, the role of the military and school officials in the crisis, and the role of citizen groups in resolving the crisis.
The interviews form a key element of the exhibits in the new visitor center at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site that opened in 2007 for the 50th anniversary of the events. Visitors can watch segments of the interviews that cover key aspects of the 1957 events. The site frequently uses quotations from the interviews as part of interpretive programs, and makes the transcripts available to researchers upon request. In addition, park staff members are working with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to produce edited segments on different topics pertinent to the crisis to place on the park Web site. Members of the Little Rock Nine reflect on the challenges they faced during the 1957-58 school year.
Access Copy Note: Some video clips of the interviews are available on the website.
Collection URL: http://www.nps.gov/chsc/historyculture/oral-history.htm
Digital Status: Partial
Extent: 32 interviews; videotapes
Related Archival Items: A related collection was transferred from University of Arkansas-Little Rock in 2009. More information on the transfer of custody to the Little Rock Central High School Historic Site can be found at http://ualr.edu/archives/index.php/home/collections/central-high-crisis/
Interviewees: Terrence Roberts, Ernest Green, Carlotta Walls Lanier, Gloria Ray Karlmark, Elizabeth Eckford, Melba Patillo Beals, Minnijean Brown Trickey, Jefferson Thomas, Thelma Mothershed Wair
Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights
Central High School (Little Rock, Ark.)
School integration--Arkansas--Little Rock