Monday, May 7, 2012

Featured Manuscript Collection: May/June

Laura Cornelius Conner Papers
MSS 03-29
Finding Aid

Laura Cornelius Conner was born October 24, 1864, to William and Arabella White Cornelius. She attended Bellwood Seminary at Anchorage, Kentucky, and taught in the public schools in Augusta, Arkansas, before her marriage to Emmerson Hall Conner in 1886. Conner was a well-known church and civic leader in her community. In recognition of her lifetime commitment to education in Augusta, the high school was named in her honor and she was given a lifetime position on the school board.

In 1921, Conner was appointed to the Honorary Penitentiary Commission. The commission was created upon recommendation of Governor Thomas C. McRae and was authorized by an act of the legislature of 1921. It was responsible for the management of the penitentiary system and acted as a parole board.

Conner became a vocal critic of conditions within the penitentiary system and sought to bring about a series of reforms. Her conscientious positions often put her at odds with her male counterparts, who balked at her reformist ideas. As a result of this intransigence, Conner stopped attending the meetings in protest and became a “silent member” of the commission.

Following her departure from the Penitentiary Commission, Conner continued to be active in community affairs. She died in her home on May 27, 1952.

This collection contains materials related to Laura Cornelius Conner’s stint on the Penitentiary Commission. It includes correspondence, reports on prison conditions, and newspaper clippings.
Letter from Clarence P. Newton, June 22, 1921
Box 1, File 1

Letter from Governor Thomas C. McRae, August 6, 1921
Box 1, File 1

"What Our Southern Neighbors Think of Stripes for Prisoners," 1921
Box 1, File 5


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