First Person Plural: An Oral History of Arkansas Women focuses on the life stories of 20th-century women and how these portraits collectively show the range of ordinary women’s activities in a time of great change that saw the civil rights movement, new roles for women, and access to new technologies. The women interviewed for the project discuss growing up, education, courtship, family life, working life, philanthropy, and community service. Through their voices, we explore diverse issues and dilemmas, especially efforts to welcome new opportunities while maintaining traditions.
Over the past several years, the project team has conducted interviews with women across the state. A sampling includes artist and philanthropist Robyn Horn, community volunteer Catherine West of Marianna, Shirley McFarlin of the Arkansas League of Women Voters, educator Dr. Diana Gonzales Worthen of Fayetteville, Viola Callahan Meadows of the Clover Bend restoration project, and retired foundation executive Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton of Little Rock. To read excerpts from the interviews, an overview of the free First Person Plural traveling exhibit (available through the Center for Arkansas History and Culture, University of Arkansas at Little Rock), and a map showing where we've been, visit the project website https://1stpersonplural.org. Additional interviews are being processed and will be posted to the website.
It is a pleasure and a privilege to be documenting the diversity and complexity of Arkansas women’s lives and to be placing this information in publicly accessible formats where all may make use of it. Thanks go to
Our narrators, who so graciously share their reflections with us and the state at large.
Our advisory committee: Dr. Deborah Baldwin, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; Dr. Sarah Beth Estes, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; Dr. Sondra Gordy (retired, University of Central Arkansas); Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton (retired, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation); Dr. Janine Parry, University of Arkansas-Fayetteville; Lynnette Watts, retired, Women’s Foundation of Arkansas; and Dr. Diana Gonzales Worthen, University of Arkansas-Fayetteville.
Other valued collaborators: writer and historian Grif Stockley, Dr. Joycelyn Elders, Maricella Garcia of Catholic Charities, all of whom helped launch the project; as well as Yihan Wang and Thomas Clifton; UALR Art Department; photographers Rita Henry, Cynthia Adams, and Brandon Markin; editor Ali Welky; and designer H. K. Stewart.
Project team: director Jo Blatti; research associates Acadia Roher, Cody Besset, Marisa Nelson; and interns Cindy McCaskill, UALR, and Morgan Rogers, UCA.
Archival partners: the Center for Arkansas History and Culture at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
The Bridge Fund Endowment of the Arkansas Community Foundation, the Arkansas Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Esse Purse Museum, and the Rebasmen Fund, the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas, and the Social Justice Advocacy Committee of Second Presbyterian Church (Little Rock) for project support.
Our sponsoring organization, Just Communities of Arkansas.