UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture 401 President Clinton Avenue Little Rock, AR, 72201 firstname.lastname@example.org
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UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture
Sarver, C. Robert (Charles Robert), 1931-1989
C. Robert Sarver Papers, 1928-1989 [bulk 1966-1989]
11.5 Linear feet; 23 document boxes
This collection is arranged in two series:Series I: Prison and Related MaterialsSeries II: Children's Services and Day Care Reform
Scope and Content Note
This collection contains legal documents, correspondence, and other papers concerning Robert Sarver's work with jail and prison conditions, chiefly in the southern United States. Most of the files address issues in states other than Arkansas, though there are materials related to his work with Arkansas prisons during Winthrop Rockefeller's governorship, including the
Holt v. Sarver case. Also included are materials concerning Parchman prison farm in Mississippi, "Sing Sing" in New York, and a prison riot at Huttonsville prison in West Virginia. Also included also are documents concerning his work with child care licensing and reform. Some correspondence in the collection also makes occasional reference to Sarver's health problems.
Charles Robert Sarver
Charles Robert Sarver was born in Fairmont, West Virginia, 1931 January 3. He enlisted in the United States Army after graduating from high school and served in the Korean War as an Intelligence and Reconnaissance Scout-Observer in the 32nd Infantry. He won several medals, including the Korean Service Medal with three bronze stars, the United States Service Medal, and the Purple Heart. Sarver later attended West Virginia University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts and a Juris Doctorate.
After graduating from law school, Sarver briefly worked at a legal firm before becoming an assistant prosecuting attorney. In 1966, he was appointed Director of Corrections for West Virginia, but in 1968 he was hired by Governor Winthrop Rockefeller to overhaul the troubled prison system after the firing of controversial reformer Tom Murton.
When the Arkansas General Assembly proved unwilling to provide funds for reform, Sarver assisted inmates in filing a lawsuit. The result was a group of cases known as
Holt v. Sarver. In 1970, federal judge J. Smith Henley ruled that the Arkansas prison system was unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment.
Holt v. Sarver led to penal reform in Arkansas, but Sarver's controversial measures cost him the position of Director of Corrections. In March 1971, he was replaced with Terrell Don Hutto.
After leaving the Arkansas Department of Corrections, Sarver worked as an expert witness in prison cases. He also worked as a consultant, helping to improve conditions at prisons around the country. He eventually was hired by the University of Arkansas at Little Rock where he worked in the Graduate School of Social Work and later as an administrator. Sarver also focused on childcare and adult daycare reform, advocating for federal and state regulations and better licensing practices. In the late 1970s, Sarver was diagnosed with lung cancer. During periods of remission, he continued his public service activities. While physicians often restricted him from working due to his illness, he remained committed to the social causes he had championed all of his life. On 1989 January 17, at the age of 58, Sarver died from cancer. He is buried in Mount Holly Cemetery in Little Rock.
Child care services--United States--History-- 20th century
Prisons--New York--History--20th century
Prisons--Officials and employees
Prisons--West Virginia--History--20th century
Sarver, C. Robert (Charles Robert), 1931-1989
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is available for viewing at the Arkansas Studies Institute.
Conditions Governing Use note
The copyright law of the United States (Title 17-U.S. Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. The person using this material is liable for any infringement.
Copyright for correspondence in the collections belongs to those correspondents or their beneficiaries. Persons wanting to re-use those materials are advised to obtain permission from copyright holders.
Preferred Citation note
C. Robert Sarver Papers, UALR.MS.0185. UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture, Arkansas Studies Institute, Little Rock.
Footnote or Endnote info:
Description of item, box number and file number, C. Robert Sarver Papers, UALR.MS.0185, UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture, Arkansas Studies Institute, Little Rock.
Amber R. Aulick-Ramsby, Graduate Assistant, UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture, Spring 2012. Completed by Colin Woodward, Ph.D., September 2013.