Daisy Bates Papers, 1946-1966


Summary Information
Title: Daisy Bates Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1946-1966

Creator:
  • Bates, Daisy, 1914?-1999
Call Number: Mss 523; Micro 801; Audio 814A; PH Mss 523; PH Mss 523 (3)

Quantity: 2.2 cubic feet (6 archives boxes), 6 reels of microfilm (35 mm), 4 tape recordings, and 123 photographs (1 archives box and 1 oversize folder)

Repository:
Archival Locations:
Wisconsin Historical Society (Map)

Abstract:
Papers of Daisy Bates, a civil rights activist who as a former head of the Arkansas NAACP was a leading figure in the desegregation of the Little Rock schools in 1957. Included in the collection are general correspondence, primarily relating to Mrs. Bates' speaking and writing; speeches and biographical statements; and microfilm copies of drafts of her 1962 memoir The Long Shadow of Little Rock. Also available on microfilm are clippings pertaining to Mrs. Bates, her husband, L. C. Bates (publisher of the Arkansas State Press), and the school desegregation crisis in general; research files on the nine students who integrated Central High School; and behavioral record cards of many Central High School students, 1955-1958. Records of the Arkansas and Little Rock NAACP chapter as kept by Mrs. Bates include legal documents, minutes, printed memos, financial statements, correspondence, transcripts of telephone conversations, and a discussion between NAACP officer Clarence Laws and the nine students. Tapes in the collection contain portions of an interview with Mrs. Bates, a general discussion of the situation in Little Rock, and a speech by Orval E. Faubus. The photographs document the activities of Mrs. Bates and her involvement in the desegregation of Central High School and subsequent related events from 1957-1960. Included are images of Mrs. Bates, L.C., the Little Rock Nine students, and others involved in the desegregation events. Additional images document the violence that occurred as a result of this effort.

Note:

There is a restriction on use of this material; see the Administrative/Restriction Information portion of this finding aid for details.



Language: English

URL to cite for this finding aid: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/wiarchives.uw-whs-mss00523
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Biography/History

Daisy Bates (née Daisy Lee Gatson) was born 11 November 1922 [1] in the southern Arkansas town of Huttig, in Union County. When she was a small child, her mother was attacked and killed by three white men; Daisy's grieving father subsequently left the child with friends, Orlee and Susie Gatson (or Smith), who raised her as a foster child. Daisy attended public schools in Huttig, and later studied at Shorter College and at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, where she studied business and economics. In Memphis in 1941 or 1942, she married L. C. (Lucius Christopher) Bates, a journalist working as an insurance salesman, who had been a friend of her foster father. The Bates moved to Little Rock shortly after their marriage, where they founded the weekly newspaper, the Arkansas State Press, with L. C. as editor and publisher and Daisy as co-publisher and manager.

Mrs. Bates was a member of a number of organizations, including the Arkansas Council of Human Relations, Urban League, YWCA, National Council of Negro Women, and the AME Church. Both she and her husband were active in the Little Rock and Arkansas NAACP; she served as president of the Arkansas NAACP from 1952 until 1961, and in 1963 was chosen as a member of the NAACP national board. The couple had a foster son, Clyde Cross Bates, who lived with them from 1951 to 1957. He was never formally adopted, and when the Bates came under attack in 1957, they were forced to return the boy to his own family.

In August 1956, following a suit brought by 33 parents, the United States District Court approved the Little Rock School District school desegregation plan of May 1955. Integration was ordered to begin in the senior high schools on 3 September 1957, and was to be extended to all schools by 1963. After further legal skirmishing, on 2 September, Governor Orval E. Faubus ordered the Arkansas National Guard and State Police to surround Central High School, which was targeted for integration by Negroes, to “prevent disorder.” The all-black high school, Horace Mann, was not affected by his order. In a speech delivered that evening, Governor Faubus declared that “blood will run in the streets” if Negro students tried to enter Central High School.

In response to an appeal by NAACP attorneys Wiley Branton and Thurgood Marshall, a Federal judge ordered integration to proceed as scheduled, but the nine Negro students who attempted to enter Central on 4 September were stopped by the troops. Violent demonstrations of white opposition to desegregation ensued, and Governor Faubus daily helped spur the segregation sentiment. Finally, on 20 September, Faubus withdrew the National Guard in compliance with a Federal Court injunction obtained by the NAACP. The violence escalated in the vicinity of the high school, however, and on 24 September President Eisenhower sent the 101st Airborne Paratroop Division to Central High School, and federalized the 10,000 men of the Arkansas National Guard, to protect the black students. Under military guard, the “Little Rock Nine” students completed the remainder of the school year.

Prior to the end of the 1957-1958 school year, the Little Rock School Board again petitioned the Federal District Court for a delay in integration at Central until January 1961. In August, the United States Circuit Court reversed the decree granting a delay, and ordered integration to begin in September. Governor Faubus responded by calling a special session of the state legislature for passage of several segregation bills, among them a bill empowering the governor to close any or all schools in any school district. After an appeal of the integration order to the United States Supreme Court failed on 11 September, Governor Faubus ordered Little Rock's high schools closed. Despite the efforts of Little Rock citizens, both black and white, to have the schools reopened, they remained closed for the entire school year.

Although the operation of the schools resumed in 1959, many of the original nine students had gone elsewhere to complete their education. Their families, too, felt the pressure of the opposition, and some left Little Rock to find other jobs and homes. Those who remained endured various forms of intimidation, including arrests, shootings, and bombings. As a friend, and as head of the Arkansas NAACP, Mrs. Bates provided support and encouragement to the students and was in daily communication with their parents, school officials, and the local and national NAACP offices. The Bates also suffered physical and emotional abuse from white opponents, and in late October 1959, were forced by declining revenues and a boycott by white advertisers to suspend publication of the Arkansas State Press.

Mrs. Bates spent much of the next two years in New York City, or on speaking engagements throughout the country. In 1962, her reminiscences of the desegregation crisis were published as The Long Shadow of Little Rock. For a time, her husband worked in Louisiana as a field secretary for the NAACP. At this writing, the Bates live in Little Rock.

Scope and Content Note

The papers of Daisy Bates have been arranged in eight major series: General Correspondence; Speeches and Statements; Manuscripts and Drafts of The Long Shadow of Little Rock; the Little Rock School Integration Crisis, including news clippings about Mrs. Bates; NAACP Records; Reference and Subject Files; Tape Recordings; and Photographs.

The GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE primarily consists of letters regarding speaking engagements, honors and awards dinners and programs, and similar social correspondence. A few letters from the early 1950s are personal in nature, while correspondence from the period after publication of Mrs. Bates' book deals mainly with accolades which she received, promotion of book sales, and autograph parties. Mrs. Bates received many letters during and immediately after the 1957 desegregation of Central High School; many of the writers admired her stance and her efforts, and commiserated with her about obstacles they encountered. There is a small amount of hate mail present.

Mrs. Bates' SPEECHES AND STATEMENTS include a folder of mainly self-created biographical sketches and resumes, as well as typewritten and annotated copies of speeches delivered before clubs, organizations, awards dinners, and the like. Approximately half of the speeches are dated; others are not, and may have been drafts of later, dated versions. There is also a folder of fragments of speeches and notes, and another containing noteworthy speeches of other individuals. Two folders contain programs from many of the occasions when Mrs. Bates spoke, appeared on the program, or was a prominent sponsor of an event.

MANUSCRIPTS AND DRAFTS OF THE LONG SHADOW OF LITTLE ROCK contain notes, partial and complete drafts of many stages of the manuscript, and, for many chapters, the final version as well. These have been arranged by chapter, or by groups of chapters, where possible, but often it could not be determined which draft was early or which later. Most of the pages bear handwritten annotations, some by Mrs. Bates, some apparently by her typist, and others by unnamed reviewers. The manuscripts and drafts have been microfilmed for preservation. Included with this series is one folder containing reviews of the book and other promotional material.

Records of THE LITTLE ROCK SCHOOL INTEGRATION CRISIS contain microfilmed student files concerning the “Little Rock Nine” students. These consist of typewritten reports, apparently compiled by Mrs. Bates, of incidents, harassment, and intimidation suffered by the students. Also included are letters received by the students from supporters, copies of their replies, and other material pertaining to them or to their families. A folder of incidents, general reports, and memos contains summary reports of the events which occurred at Central and copies of memos written by the school administration and staff. A scholarship fund was established for the benefit of the students, and papers relating to donations, expenditures, and the students' college experiences, are also included. Other student records are comprised of record cards of Central High School students, 1955-1958, which may have been the official school records. With these are typewritten cards created by Mrs. Bates and indicating which white students harassed the nine black students. All of the cards are arranged alphabetically by the students' surnames, and each contains a record of misbehavior, punishments, and, occasionally, personal comments about the student. Two student directories from the high school are also included.

Also in this series are microfilmed newspaper clippings illustrating the desegregation of Central High School and its aftermath, 1956-1963. Many of these clippings came from the two Little Rock daily newspapers, Arkansas Gazette and Arkansas Democrat, with others from the Bates' paper, Arkansas State Press, and from other papers throughout the country. A folder of printed articles, pamphlets, and clippings presents retrospective views of the events of 1957. Also included are a number of news clippings pertaining to Daisy Bates. A few of these date from the late 1940s and early 1950s, and concern her role as publisher and manager of the State Press; the 1946 contempt of court conviction of the Bates; the 1952 “Spirit of Cotton” promotional tour, when she acted as chaperone; and her early NAACP activities. Clippings from the late 1950s and 1960s illustrate Mrs. Bates' involvement with the “Little Rock Nine” and the events surrounding desegregation, her speaking tours, awards received, publicity about the publication of her memoirs, and other material. All of the clippings are arranged in chronological order by date of publication, with undated clippings filmed at the end of each section.

The NAACP RECORDS contain a variety of material concerning both the Little Rock and Arkansas State Conference of Branches, and the national board of the NAACP. The national records include administrative papers received by Mrs. Bates during her tenure on the national board, and include minutes of meetings, printed memos, and financial statements. A file of speeches delivered at national NAACP conferences is also present. Legal documents, correspondence, and other papers regarding NAACP court cases deal primarily with the attempts of the state attorney general to force the Arkansas NAACP to register with his office. Other cases involve the Bates as officers of the NAACP. Records of the Arkansas State Conference of Branches include correspondence, both typewritten and printed; conference programs, press releases, financial records, and other administrative papers. Transcripts of phone conversations between Mrs. Bates and NAACP officials in New York, and of a tape recorded discussion between NAACP officer Clarence Laws and the nine students, reveal the close contact of the two organizations, and the assistance provided by the national office in 1957 and 1958. News clippings of NAACP events and activities, 1952-1962, have also been microfilmed.

A small REFERENCE AND SUBJECT FILE contains material related to the school desegregation crisis and other topics. Miscellaneous news clippings, primarily concerning white opposition in Little Rock, copies of proposed segregation legislation, and a folder of printed items for mass distribution, comprise the collection's anti-integration records. There is also a folder regarding the Arkansas State Press, its demise, and L. C. Bates. Records of the Arkansas Council of Human Relations are included because of Mrs. Bates' work with the organization.

The TAPE RECORDINGS in the collection contain portions of an interview with Mrs. Bates, a general discussion of the Little Rock situation in 1957 or 1958, speeches from an awards presentation, and a taped political speech by Governor Faubus. Further description of the tapes may be found in the contents list.

The PHOTOGRAPHS document Mrs. Bates' activities during and after the desegregation of Central High School as well as the incident itself and the Little Rock Nine. Images of Mrs. Bates include portraits and snapshots of her alone and with prominent politicians and civil rights leaders including Orval Faubus, W. Averell Harriman, President Dwight Eisenhower, and Ralph H. Bunch, Secretary General of the United Nations. Other photographs show her at speaking engagements, presentations and events, and during a promotional event for her book. Also included are images of her husband, L. C. Bates, and construction of their home in Little Rock and its vandalism. Photographs documenting the events at Central High School include images of the Little Rock Nine, their first attempt to enter school, the protests and violence that surrounded the event, and troops sent to protect them. The collection also includes photographs made for Life magazine stories about the Little Rock Nine and the desegregation of the school. Other photographs include images related to the National Council of Negro Women, 1951-1953 and numerous identified and unidentified individuals with possible connections to the Little Rock Nine and/or Mrs. Bates including NAACP attorneys Wiley Branton and Thurgood Marshall; Effie Jones, the first African American student to enter Hall High School in Little Rock; and educator Mary Wilber Weeks-Burroughs.

Administrative/Restriction Information
Use Restrictions

Individuals or corporate bodies other than the Wisconsin Historical Society hold the copyright for a portion of the photographs in this collection. Permission from the appropriate copyright holder(s) may be required before reproducing photographs from this collection.


Acquisition Information

Presented by Mr. and Mrs. L. C. Bates, Little Rock, Arkansas, 1966. Accession Number: M66-392


Processing Information

Papers processed by Menzi Behrnd Klodt, March 1980. Photographs processed by Keidra Chaney and Nicolette Bromberg, 1997, and by David Benjamin, 2009.


Contents List
Mss 523
Series: General Correspondence
Box   1
Folder   1-7
1952-1958
Box   2
Folder   1-6
1959-1961
Box   3
Folder   1-2
1962-1966, undated
Series: Speeches and Statements of Daisy Bates
Box   3
Folder   3
Biographical data (compiled by Daisy Bates)
Box   3
Folder   4-8
Speeches and statements, 1957-1966, undated
Box   3
Folder   9
Fragments of speeches, undated
Box   4
Folder   1
Speeches and statements of others, 1957, 1959, undated
Box   4
Folder   2-3
Programs, 1952, 1957-1964
Series: Manuscripts and Drafts of The Long Shadow of Little Rock
Micro 801
Reel   1-3
Book drafts
Mss 523
Box   4
Folder   4
Book reviews and publicity, 1962-1963
Series: The Little Rock School Integration Crisis
Micro 801
Student files
“The Little Rock Nine”
Reel   6
Frame   1-36
Brown, Minnijean, 1957-1959
Reel   6
Frame   37-47
Eckford, Elizabeth, 1957-1959
Reel   6
Frame   48-52
Green, Ernest, 1957-1958
Reel   6
Frame   53-54
Mothershed, Thelma, 1958-1959
Reel   6
Frame   55-65
Patillo, Melba, 1957-1959
Reel   6
Frame   66-68
Ray, Gloria, 1957-1958
Reel   6
Frame   69-80
Roberts, Terrence, 1957-1958
Reel   6
Frame   81-264
Thomas, Jefferson, 1957-1960
Reel   6
Frame   265-277
Walls, Carlotta, 1957-1958
Reel   6
Frame   278-398
Incidents, general reports, and memos, 1957-1960
Reel   6
Frame   399-482
Scholarship fund and college expenses, 1960-1961
Little Rock Central High School
Reel   6
Student record cards, 1955-1958
Note: Numbered pages 1-95.
Reel   6
Student directories, 1957-1960
Reel   4-5
“The Crisis,” 1956-1963
Note: Numbered pages 1-243.
Mss 523
Box   4
Folder   5
“The Crisis,” 1957, retrospective views
Micro 801
Reel   5
Daisy Bates, news clippings, 1946, 1948, 1951-1952, 1954-1966
Note: Numbered pages 1-80.
Series: NAACP Records
Mss 523
Box   4
Folder   6
Address and phone directory (National NAACP)
Box   4
Folder   7-8
Administrative records (National NAACP), 1957-1962
Court cases
Box   6
Folder   1
Aaron et al. vs. Cooper et al., 1956-1958
Box   6
Folder   2
Bates vs. State of Arkansas; State Press Co., Inc. vs. Willett, M.D., 1946
Box   6
Folder   3
Bates vs. City of Little Rock; Williams vs. City of North Little Rock, 1959-1960
Box   6
Folder   4
State of Arkansas vs. NAACP; NAACP vs. Bennett; and Related Material, 1957-1958
Box   4
Folder   9
National proposal regarding segregation, 1961
Box   6
Folder   5
Speeches delivered at NAACP conferences (National NAACP), 1956-1961
Box   6
Folder   6
Statements, policies and other material (National NAACP), 1960
Box   4
Folder   10
Arkansas state conferences of branches, records, 1954-1965
Box   5
Folder   1
Arkansas attorney authorization forms and petitions, 1955
Box   5
Folder   2
Transcripts of phone conversations between Little Rock and New York, 1957-1958, 1959
Box   5
Folder   3
Transcript of tape recorded discussion between Clarence Laws and the “Little Rock Nine,” 1957
Micro 801
Reel   5
News clippings concerning the Arkansas State Conference of Branches, and Little Rock NAACP, 1952-1962
Note: Numbered pages 1-30.
Mss 523
Series: Reference and Subject Files
Box   5
Folder   4
Addresses and telephone numbers
Box   5
Folder   5
Arkansas Council on Human Relations, 1958-1959, 1966
Box   5
Folder   6
Arkansas Gazette and its editorial position in the Little Rock School Crisis, 1957
Box   5
Folder   7
Arkansas schools, reference data, 1950
Box   5
Folder   8
Arkansas segregation bills, 1956, 1958
Box   5
Folder   9
Arkansas State Press, 1956-1957, 1959
Box   5
Folder   10
Miscellaneous
Micro 801
Reel   5
Miscellaneous news clippings, 1956-1963
Note: Numbered pages 1-31.
Mss 523
Box   5
Folder   11
Ogden, Dunbar H., 1959-1960
Box   5
Folder   12
Report of the investigation of the bombing of the Walls' home,
Box   5
Folder   13
White and black opposition, 1954-1959
Audio 814A
Series: Tape Recordings
814A/1
General discussion of the Little Rock situation, undated
Scope and Content Note: General discussion of the Little Rock situation, government, segregation, Central High School, and the actions of officials; between an unidentified man and two unidentified women, perhaps taped in a restaurant or other public place. Sound is fuzzy in places, and there is background music throughout.
814A/1
American Veterans Committee awards presentation, 1958 January 26
Scope and Content Note: Also on Reel 1 are speeches and awards from the American Veterans Committee presentation of Americanism Awards to the “Little Rock Nine”, Little Rock. Tape ends just as awards are being presented.
814A/2
Telecast of Governor Faubus
Scope and Content Note: A political telecast of Governor Faubus, taped from television, discussing the Little Rock situation and other matters. Dates from the period of the Little Rock school board election.
814A/3-4
Castro speech, 26 September 1960
Scope and Content Note: Two tapes of the 26 September 1960 speech of Fidel Castro before the United Nations, in Spanish, with simultaneous English translation, taken from television or radio, and with background voices.
814A/4
Interview with Daisy Bates, 1957 or 1958
Scope and Content Note: Castro's speech ends and the remainder of the tape consists of an interview with Daisy Bates, sometime in 1957 or 1958, regarding the Little Rock crisis and the nine students. The interviewer's questions are difficult to hear, and part of the interview was recorded over part of the speech.
PH Mss 523
Series: Photographs
Daisy Bates
Box   1
Folder   1
Portraits and snapshots
Box   1
Folder   2
L.C. Bates and others
Box   1
Folder   3
Prominent politicians and civil rights leaders
Box   1
Folder   4-8
Speaking engagements, presentations, events, 1959, 1962-1963, undated
PH Mss 523 (3)
Oversize photograph
PH Mss 523
Box   1
Folder   9
L. C. Bates, 1959, 1962-1963, undated
Box   1
Folder   10
Bates house
Little Rock Nine students
Box   1
Folder   11
Melba Patillo [Beals]
Box   1
Folder   12
Minnijean Brown
Box   1
Folder   13
Elizabeth Eckford
Box   1
Folder   14
Thelma Mothershed
Box   1
Folder   15
Gloria Ray
Box   1
Folder   16
Terrance Roberts
Box   1
Folder   17
Jefferson Thomas
Box   1
Folder   18
Carlotta Walls
Box   1
Folder   19
Group photographs
Box   1
Folder   20
Central High School integration attempts/aftermath
Box   1
Folder   21-23
Life magazine photographs
PH Mss 523 (3)
Oversize photographs
PH Mss 523
Box   1
Folder   24
National Council of Negro Women, 1951-1953
Box   1
Folder   25
Identified people
Box   1
Folder   26
Unidentified people

Notes:
[1]

This date is disputed. See Box 3, folder 3 “Biographical Data.”