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Sara Alderman Murphy Papers

Personal Papers, Notes and Records

Manuscript Collection MC 1321

The papers of Sara Alderman Murphy were donated by her husband, Patrick C. Murphy, on July 26, 1995.

Sara Alderman Murphy was born in Wartrace, Tennessee, on June 17, 1924, the daughter of David M. and Sadie Stephens Alderman. She received a B.A. in Social Studies and English from Vanderbilt in 1945, and a M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University in 1946. In a short autobiography, Murphy relates that at Columbia University she developed a social consciousness on race that she lacked as a young girl in the South; that social consciousness propelled her into social activism later in her life.

She married Patrick C. Murphy, and together they had three children: Ellen, Patrick, and Robert. From 1947 to 1950, Murphy was a member of the faculty of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. She and her family later moved to Little Rock, where she served on the faculty of the University of Arkansas in Little Rock in 1958. The late 1950's witnessed the eruption of racial tensions in Little Rock, as the city attempted to integrate the whites-only Central High School in the fall of 1957. When Governor Orval Faubus ordered the Little Rock public schools closed in the fall of 1958, a group of women led by Adolphine Fletcher Terry organized the Women's Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools (WEC). Following her convictions opposing racial prejudice, Sara Murphy joined the WEC, serving as a member of its board in 1962 and 1963. When the WEC disbanded in 1963, Murphy redirected her energy into the Panel of American Women (PAW), a multi-ethnic, multi-racial group which sought to lessen racial and religious tensions by promoting understanding through discussion. In 1963 Murphy founded a branch of PAW in Little Rock; her activity in PAW culminated in her serving as vice-president of the national PAW from 1971 to 1974. Murphy's activism earned her recognition among Arkansas's highest governing officials, and from 1972 to 1975 she served as vice-chairperson of the Governor's Commission on the Status of Women.

In 1967 Murphy began working in the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE). Completing her Ed.D. in Education Administration at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville in 1977, she became the ADE's associate director in 1979. She held that position until 1985, when she became an independent educational consultant working with the Arkansas Educational Renewal Consortium; she served as that organization's executive director in 1987 and 1988.

Murphy renewed her career as an activist in 1982, when she joined Betty Bumpers, the wife of Senator Dale Bumpers, in founding Peace Links, an organization intended to lessen international tensions through exchanges of persons and discussion. She served as the president of Arkansas's Peace Links from 1982 to 1984, and in the late 1980s was instrumental in arranging exchanges between women from the United States and the Soviet Union. Murphy also found a local focus for her activism; from 1989 to 1993 she chaired the advisory committee of the Conflict Management Program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. While remaining active in Peace Links, she dedicated the last years of her life to writing Breaking the Silence, a book detailing the role of the WEC in the Little Rock integration crisis. But the onset of cancer prevented her from finishing her book. She died on April 15, 1995; her son Patrick completed the editing of Breaking the Silence.

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This COLLECTION is a combination of papers accumulated by Murphy during her years as an activist and materials used in writing her book. Among the latter are the papers of Billie Wilson, a former member of WEC. Wilson gave Murphy her papers, which included correspondence, pamphlets, and press clippings, to aid in the writing of Breaking the Silence. Because of the overlapping subject matter in Murphy's and Wilson's papers, Wilson's materials have been integrated into the greater collection. In the course of doing research for her book, Murphy conducted several dozen interviews with participants in the Little Rock school integration crisis; cassette tapes and transcripts of these interviews make up a major portion of this collection. Also, Murphy examined materials at several different repositories, including the Arkansas History Commission and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Special Collections and Archives. To reflect the composition of her original research files, photocopies made for Murphy of original documents from these repositories have been retained.

Materials in this collection include interviews on cassette tapes, transcripts of interviews, films and video cassette tapes, correspondence, booklets and pamphlets, newspaper clippings, and broadsides. When possible clippings have been integrated with other materials on the same subject. Among the materials of the collection are several front pages from the Arkansas Democrat and Arkansas Gazette dating from the period of the Little Rock school integration crisis. The collection also includes three photographs featuring Sara Murphy. See also the Sara Alderman Murphy Papers Addendum (MC 1253).


Series 1. Materials on Individual Persons. Boxes 1-7.
Series 2. Subject Files. Boxes 8-17.

Series 1. Materials on Individual Persons. Boxes 1-7.

This series consists of materials pertaining to individual persons, most of whom participated in the events surrounding the desegregation of Little Rock schools in 1957-1959. A large portion of the materials are interviews, some on cassette tapes and others written transcripts. Most of the interviews available on cassette tapes were conducted by Sara Murphy while writing her book Breaking the Silence; she transcribed most of them. Other interviews in this series were conducted by independent researchers John Pagan, John Luter, and John Kirk; Mimi Dortch of the Arkansas Interfaith Conference; Charlotte Gadberg of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Oral History Project; and T.H. Baker of the New York Times Oral History Program; most of their interviews are available as written transcripts only. The files of a few individuals, including Sara Murphy, Orval Faubus, Adolphine Fletcher Terry, and Billie Wilson, also include correspondence, their writings, and press clippings about them.

Subseries 1. Individual Files.

Various papers comprise this subseries. In most cases these materials are interview transcripts. Apparently Sara Murphy transcribed her own interviews, editing them to include only what she considered the most important points in her conversations with interviewees.  In addition to interview transcripts, some files include letters and other materials. The file on Clarence Thomas consists of items put forth by women's organizations opposing his nomination to the United States Supreme Court.

 Box 1.  An asterisk after the name indicates that this collection has a cassette tape interview corresponding to the transcript in the file.

  1. Adair, Sharon*
  2. Armor, Evelyn*
  3. Ashmore, Harry*
  4. Babbitt, Thelma
  5. Basham, Parma*
  6. Bates, Daisy*
  7. Becker, Bill
  8. Brewer, Vivion [Selected materials removed at request of interviewer.]
  9. Brown, Earline
  10. Butler, Richard C.
  11. Cartright, Colbert
  12. Cotnam, Florence Brown
  13. Cowling, Dale
  14. Darragh, Fred*
  15. Dunaway, Edwin*
  16. Eidson, Jim*
  17. Evans, Jacqueline*
  18. Faubus, Alta
  19. Faubus, Orval*
  20. Faubus, Orval--Clippings and other materials
  21. Faubus, Orval--John Pagan Essay
  22. Forster, Bobbie
  23. Gordon, Jean*
  24. Gray, Elizabeth Dodson
  25. Green, Ernest*
  26. Guthridge, Amos
  27. Hardie, Dick
  28. Holcomb, Carroll*
  29. House, A.F.
  30. House, Pat*
  31. Huckaby, Elizabeth Paisley*
  32. Hulett, Sammie Dean Parker*
Box 2
  1. Isbell, Mary
  2. Jackson, Jo*
  3. Jacoway, Elizabeth
  4. Johnston, Charles*
  5. Karam, Jimmy
  6. Kolb, Margaret*
  7. Lile, R.A.
  8. Lindsey, Mary
  9. Marion, Frances
  10. Massery, Hazel Bryan*
  11. Matthews, Jess
  12. Mendel, Janie*
  13. Metcalf, Marguerite
  14. Mitchell, W.S.
  15. Morehead, Elizabeth (Mrs. A.B.)*
  16. Morris, Dottie
  17. Morrison, Margaret
  18. Moser, M.L.
  19. Murphy, Sara [Selected materials removed at request of interviewer.]
  20. Murphy, Sara--Articles and Essays, 1950-1975
  21. Murphy, Sara--Articles and Essays, 1982, 1990 and n.d.
  22. Murphy, Sara--Book Reviews
  23. Murphy, Sara--"A Little Peace, Please"
  24. Murphy, Sara--Notes
  25. Murphy, Sara--Photographs
  26. Murphy, Sara--School Board Election Campaign, 1962
Box 3
  1. Oates, Willie*
  2. O'Connell, Msgr.
  3. O'Donnell, John
  4. Patterson, Hugh
  5. Powell, J.O.
  6. Powell, Terrell
  7. Pruden, Wesley
  8. Ray, Ruth Arnold*
  9. Rector, William F.
  10. Reid, Eleanor
  11. Rozzell, Forrest
  12. Samuel, Irene*
  13. Samuel, Irene, and Pat House*
  14. Schmutz, Jean Ann*
  15. Shaver, Bex
  16. Shelton, Bill*
  17. Shults, Barbara and Bob*
  18. Smith, William J.
  19. Sutton, Ozell*
Box 4
  1. Terry, Adolphine Fletcher--Adolphine Terry Day
  2. Terry, Adolphine Fletcher--Biographical Materials
  3. Terry, Adolphine Fletcher--Charlotte Stephens
  4. Terry, Adolphine Fletcher--Clippings
  5. Terry, Adolphine Fletcher--Correspondence
  6. Terry, Adolphine Fletcher--Diaries (Excerpts)
  7. Terry, Adolphine Fletcher--Endorsements
  8. Terry, Adolphine Fletcher--Interviews [Materials removed at request of interviewer.]
  9. Terry, Adolphine Fletcher--Miscellaneous Materials
  10. Terry, Bill and Betty*
  11. Terry, Mildred*
  12. Thomas, Clarence
  13. Townsend, W.H.*
  14. Trout, Robert
Box 5
  1. Tucker, Everett
  2. Upshur, Evangeline*
  3. Upton, Wayne
  4. Williams, Betty*
  5. Williams, Frances*
  6. Williams, Grainger*
  7. Williams, Mamie Ruth*
  8. Williamson, Gaston*
  9. Wilson, Billie--Correspondence
  10. Wilson, Billie--Trip to Atlanta
  11. Wilson, Billie, and Gwen Booe*
  12. Wilson, Diane
  13. Winstead, Vircie
  14. Woods, Henry*
  15. Worthen, Mary*
  16. Young, Rufus
  17. Youngdahl, Pat*
Subseries 2. Cassette Tape Interviews.

This subseries consists of interviews and group discussions on cassette tapes. Most of these interviews were conducted by Sara Murphy. Exceptions include interviews of Adolphine Fletcher Terry, Sara Murphy, and Vivion Brewer, conducted by John Pagan; and a second interview of Sara Murphy by John Kirk. In some cases only one side of the tape features a recording; the content of each tape is noted on each container. Those interviews marked with an asterisk indicate that a transcript is filed in Subseries 1, Individual Files, under the name of the interviewee. Because of its poor condition, the original taped interview of Sara Murphy by John Pagan is restricted from use; a user's copy is available.

Box 6

  1. Aldersgate Panel on Local Black History, February 1992.
  2. Armor, Evelyn, 1 December 1993.*
  3. Ashmore, Harry, 13 June 1994, Part I.*
  4. Ashmore, Harry, 13 June 1994 Part I Backup.*
  5. Ashmore, Harry, 13 June 1994, Part II.*
  6. Bass, Martha; Patricia and Skipper Rosther, 17 October 1992.
  7. Bass, Martha, 31 January 1993.
  8. Bates, Daisy, 16 April 1992.*
  9. Boswell, Esther, 10 November 1993.
  10. Brewer, Vivion, 1973. [Material removed at request of interviewer.]
  11. Darragh, Fred, 24 November 1993.*
  12. Dunaway, Edwin, 18 August 1992, Part I.*
  13. Dunaway, Edwin, 18 August 1992, Part II.*
  14. Dunaway, Edwin, 15 October 1992; Discussion on Education Advisory Group.
  15. Eidson, Jim, November 1992;* Parma Basham, 24 November 1992.*
  16. Evans, Jacqueline, 16 November 1993.*
  17. Faubus, Orval, 19 August 1992, Part I.*
  18. Faubus, Orval, 19 August 1992, Part II.*
  19. Focus Group on the Presidential Election, 27 September 1992.
  20. Friedan, Betty, Discussion on Women's Issues, 28 March 1990.
  21. Gordon, Jean, 16 June 1992.*
  22. Ernest Green, 7 December 1992*; Adair, Sharon, 9 December 1992.*
  23. Holcomb, Carroll, 24 August 1994, Part I.*
  24. Holcomb, Carroll, 24 August 1994, Part II.*
  25. House, Pat, 7 July 1992, Part I.*
  26. House, Pat, 7 July 1992, Part II.*
  27. Huckaby, Elizabeth Paisley, 18 August 1992.*
  28. Hulett, Sammie Dean Parker, 9 December 1992.*
  29. Johnston, Charles, 4 November 1994.*
  30. Kolb, Margaret, 13 June 1992.*
  31. Massery, Hazel Bryan, 27 July 1992.*
  32. Mendel, Janie, 9[10] December, 1992.*
  33. Morehead, Mrs. A.B. (Elizabeth), 20 July 1992.*
  34. Murphy, Sara, interview by John Pagan, 1973, Original Tape (Restricted). [Material removed at request of interviewer.]
  35. Murphy, Sara, interview by John Pagan, 1973, User's Copy. [Material removed at request of interviewer.]
  36. Oates, Willie, 24 August 1992.*
Box 7
  1. Samuel, Irene, 20 [21] July 1992.*
  2. Samuel, Irene, 14 August 1993;* Sara Murphy interview by John Kirk.*
  3. Samuel, Irene, and Pat House, 21 May 1992, Part I.*
  4. Samuel, Irene, and Pat House, 21 May 1992, Part II;* Jo Jackson, 3 June 1992.*
  5. Samuel, Irene, and Pat House, 4 June 1992, Part I.*
  6. Samuel, Irene, and Pat House, 4 June 1992, Part II.*
  7. Schmutz, Jean Ann, 11 June 1992;* Ruth Ray, 12 June 1992.*
  8. Shelton, Bill, 1 December 1993.*
  9. Schults, Barbara and Bob, 10 October 1992.*
  10. Sutton, Ozell, 29 August [September] 1993.*
  11. Terry, Adolphine Fletcher, January 1973, Part I. [Material removed at request of interviewer.]
  12. Terry, Adolphine Fletcher, January 1973, Part II. [Material removed at request of interviewer.]
  13. Terry, Bill and Betty, 13 August 1992.*
  14. Terry, Mildred, 17 November 1992.*
  15. Townsend, W.H., 23 July 1992.*
  16. Upshur, Evangeline, 23 July 1992.*
  17. Williams, Betty, 6 December 1993.*
  18. Williams, Frances, 5 August 1992.*
  19. Williams, Grainger, 29 July 1992.*
  20. Williams, Mamie Ruth, 3 July 1992.*
  21. Williams, Mamie Ruth, 14 August 1993.*
  22. Williamson, Gaston, 10 December 1993.*
  23. Wilson, Billie, and Gwen Booe, 3 June 1992;* Jo Jackson, 3 June 1992 (continued from Tape 40).*
  24. Woods, Henry, 30 August 1992.*
  25. Worthen, Mary, 14 August 1992.*
  26. Youngdahl, Pat, 17 November 1994.*

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Series 2. Subject Files. Boxes 8-17.

This series is arranged alphabetically by subject. The contents of many of its files pertain to the desegregation of Little Rock public schools. Other files contain materials on reducing prejudice and promoting the peaceful resolution of conflicts. Also included in this series are records of organizations in which Sara Murphy was an active participant, such as the Women's Emergency Committee and Peace Links. Oversized newspapers and broadsides, as well as films and videos, are also filed in this series.

Box 8

  1. Academic Enhancement Committee
  2. Act 10
  3. Albert Pike House
  4. Amendment 52
  5. American Association of University Women
  6. Arkansas Arts Center--Women in the Arts
  7. Arkansas Council on Human Relations
  8. Arkansas Interfaith Conference
  9. Arkansas Interfaith Conference--Transcripts of Interviews
  10. Bibliographies
  11. Breast Cancer Fund
  12. Capital Citizen's Council
  13. Churches and Race Relations
  14. Clinton Presidential Campaign and Inauguration, 1992-1993
  15. Coalition Building Through Prejudice Reduction Committee, 1988-1992
  16. Coalition Building Through Prejudice Reduction Committee, n.d. and Articles
Box 9
  1. Conference on Community Unity, 1960
  2. Conflict Center Advisory Committee
  3. Conflict Resolution
  4. Democrats for Rockefeller
  5. Desegregation--FBI Reports
  6. Desegregation--Georgia
  7. Desegregation--Hate Materials
  8. Desegregation--Little Rock Churches
  9. Desegregation--Little Rock Schools, 1951-1959, General Materials
  10. Desegregation--Little Rock Schools, 1957-1967, Articles
  11. Desegregation--Little Rock Schools, 1957-1961, Booklets
  12. Desegregation--Little Rock Schools, 1965-1968
Box 10
  1. Desegregation--Little Rock Schools, Chronology, 1957-1959
  2. Desegregation--Little Rock Schools, SERS Reports, August 1957-July 1958
Box 11
  1. Desegregation--Little Rock Schools Report, 1967
  2. Desegregation--Little Rock Schools Report, 1968
  3. Desegregation--"The Little Rock Story" by Corinne Silverman
  4. Desegregation--Little Rock Women
  5. Desegregation--Mothers' League of Central High School
  6. Desegregation--Miscellaneous Articles
  7. Desegregation--Miscellaneous Materials
  8. Desegregation--"The Second Reconstruction in Little Rock" by Nat Griswold
  9. Desegregation--Washington, D.C.
  10. Education--Arkansas
  11. Feminist Spirituality
  12. Homosexuality
  13. Immunization Program
Box 12
  1. Junior League
  2. League of Women Voters
  3. Little Rock Coalition
  4. Little Rock Housing Authority
  5. Little Rock Panel
  6. Lynching
  7. Miscellaneous Materials
  8. National Educational Association
  9. Newspaper Clippings--1954-1957
  10. Newspaper Clippings--January-October 1958
  11. Newspaper Clippings--November-December 1958
  12. Newspaper Clippings--January-June 1959
  13. Newspaper Clippings--July-August 1959
  14. Newspaper Clippings--September-December 1959
Box 13
  1. Newspaper Clippings--1960-1969
  2. Newspaper Clippings--1976-1994
  3. Newspaper Clippings--n.d.
  4. Panel of Americans/Panel of American Women 1963-August 1965
  5. Panel of Americans/Panel of American Women September-December 1965
  6. Panel of Americans/Panel of American Women 1966- and n.d.
  7. Panel of Americans/Panel of American Women--Clippings
  8. Pankey Community Improvement Association
Box 14
  1. Peace Links--Arkansas
  2. Peace Links--Chinese-American Exchange
  3. Peace Links--National Organization
  4. Peace Links--Newsletters, Articles, and Other Materials
  5. Peace Links--Soviet-American Women's Exchange, 1987-1991
  6. Peace Links--Soviet-American Women's Exchange, 1992-1994
  7. Peace Links--Soviet-American Women's Exchange Dinner Menus
  8. Phyllis Wheatley Young Women's Christian Association
  9. Planning Workshop
  10. Public Schools
  11. Race and Prejudice
  12. "Racial Patterns in Little Rock, 1945-1954," by Griffin Smith, Jr.
  13. Raney High School
Box 15
  1. Southern Education Foundation
  2. Soviet-American Women's Summit, May 1990
  3. STOP and the Little Rock Teacher's Purge
  4. STOP and the Little Rock Teacher's Purge--Clippings
  5. Sub-Committee on Women's Issues
  6. Thomas Plan
  7. Urban League
  8. Women's Emergency Committee
  9. Women's Emergency Committee--Clippings
  10. Women's Emergency Committee--Economic Study of Little Rock, 1957-1959
  11. Women's Emergency Committee--Legal Matters
  12. Women's Emergency Committee--Research Papers and Articles
Box 16
  1. Video Recording--"Planting Seeds for Peace," Narrated by Casey Kasem, 1988
  2. Video Recording--Conflict Resolution, "Just the Two of Us," 26 March 1993
  3. Video Recording--"1957 Crisis Interviews," 20 August 1993
  4. Video Recording--Southern Poverty Law Center Klanwatch Project Video, n.d.
  5. Video Recording--Learning in America Series, n.d.
  6. Video Recording--"The Downlink Connection," n.d.
  7. Audio Recording--Meeting of HOPE, Atlanta, Georgia, 4 March 1959
  8. 16 mm Film--Clips of Billie Wilson for Documentary Film, "The Last School Bell," on Little Rock for Atlanta Television, 1959
Box 17
  1. Newspaper Front Pages
  2. Racist Newspapers
  3. Broadsides