Monday, September 8, 2008

Featured Manuscript Collection: September/October

The Brownie Ledbetter Papers
MSS 99-36

Finding Aid

Brownie Ledbetter and Judy Goldsmith at NOW Convention, Little Rock, Ark., circa 1983. Location in Collection: Series VII, Box 1, Item 18.

Brownie Williams Ledbetter, one of Arkansas’ best-known political activists, was born April 28, 1932 in Little Rock, to William H. Williams, a businessman and dairy farmer, and Helon Brown Williams. She graduated from Central High School and attended Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia. In 1953, she married Cal Ledbetter, Jr., an attorney and later political science professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Together they had three children: Grainger, Jeffrey (now deceased) and Snow.

Image to Left: Letter sent to Ledbetter regarding the resignation of ten Junior League of Little Rock members following the denial of membership to a Jewish nominee. Ledbetter had resigned earlier for the same reason.

Location in collection: Series II, Box 12, Item 1.

Brownie Ledbetter was a member of the Women’s Emergency Committee, formed in 1958 after the closing of the Little Rock Public Schools. The Committee worked to have the schools re-opened and to elect progressive candidates to the Little Rock School Board. She was a founding member of the Panel of American Women in Arkansas, in 1963. The Panel was composed of women of different ethnic and religious backgrounds who spoke to school and civic groups about their experiences, in the hope of promoting understanding and tolerance. The Panel of American Women evolved into the Arkansas Public Policy Panel, a lobbying group, and Mrs. Ledbetter served as executive director for several years. Ledbetter founded the Arkansas Fairness Council, a coalition of grassroots citizens’ groups, in 1983, and served as president of the Council.

Ledbetter has been involved in many other organizations, including Arkansas Career Resources, Inc. (founder and executive director); the Southern Coalition for Educational Equity (state director); the ERA/Arkansas Coalition (organizing member); the State Federation of Business and Professional Women; the State Central Democratic Committee; and the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (co-founder with Bella Abzug). She is also an elder in the Presbyterian Church.
Image Above Left: Arkansas E.R.A. March, Women's Equality Day. Little Rock, Ark., August 26, 1978. Location in Collection: Series II, Box 10, Item 3. Image Above Right: Arkansas Fairness Council Flyer, "Everybody Much Sacrifice. . . To Meet This Medicaid Crisis." Location in Collection: Series II, Box 4, Item 8.

Brownie Ledbetter has served as organizer and political consultant in campaigns from school board elections to Presidential campaigns. She was campaign manager for her husband, Cal, in his successful bid for the Arkansas State Legislature. She was a delegate to the National Democratic Convention in 1968 and 1972.

Image to Left: Schedule of Events, Inauguration of Governor Dale Bumpers, 1971.

Image to Right: Assigned number to meet Governor and Mrs. Dale Bumpers, 1971.

Loction in Collection of Both Items: Series V, Box 1, File 1.

The Brownie Ledbetter Papers consists of forty-five boxes organized into nine series. Series I contains biographical and personal materials, including family histories. Series II contains materials pertaining to organizations with which Ledbetter was involved, from 1963-1999. Materials in Series III pertain to social and political issues with which she was concerned. Series IV materials concern actions of the Arkansas Legislature from 1970-1996, as well as national voting rights laws. Materials in Series V pertain to elections, candidates, and inaugurations, from 1971-1995. Series VI, labeled “People,” contains informational materials about individuals with whom Ledbetter has been associated. Series VII contains photographs and slides of both personal and professional subjects. Series VIII contains audio-visual materials, and Series IX contains miscellaneous items.

See Also: The Arkansas Public Policy Panel Records, MSS 99-37 and The Panel of American Women Papers, MSS 99-25
Previous blog entry about Ledbetter, here.

This information taken from the finding aid written by Carolyn Cash, Manuscripts Department.


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