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Brownie Ledbetter papers

Brownie Ledbetter papers

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Finding aid for the Brownie Ledbetter papers


Butler Center for Arkansas Studies
100 Rock Street
Little Rock, Arkansas, 72201
(501) 320-5700

February 13, 2004

Repository: Butler Center for Arkansas Studies
Creator:Ledbetter, Brownie Williams, 1932-2010
Title: Brownie Ledbetter papers
Dates: 1897-1999
Quantity: 18.75 Linear feet
Abstract:This collection contains the personal papers of Brownie Williams Ledbetter, a social and political activist, of Little Rock, Arkansas.
Identification: BC.MSS.99.36
Language: English


The collection is divided into nine series, with boxes numbered within each series. Series I contains biographical and personal materials, including family histories. Series II contains materials pertaining to organizations with which Mrs. Ledbetter was involved, from 1963-1999. Materials in Series III pertain to social and political issues with which she was concerned. Series IV materials concern actions of the Arkansas Legislature from 1970-1996, as well as national voting rights laws. Materials in Series V pertain to elections, candidates, and inaugurations, from 1971-1995. Series VI, labeled "People," contains informational materials about individuals with whom Ledbetter has been associated. Series VII contains photographs and slides of both personal and professional subjects. Series VIII contains audio-visual materials, and Series IX contains miscellaneous items, as listed in the finding aid. Organizations and issues are listed in alphabetical order. Subject headings have been added within boxes. Other files are in topical and chronological order.

Scope and Contents

This collection contains the personal papers of Brownie Williams Ledbetter, a social and political activist, of Little Rock, Arkansas.

Biographical Information

Brownie Williams Ledbetter, one of Arkansas' best-known political activists, was born April 28, 1932, in Little Rock, to William H. Williams, a businessman and dairy farmer, and Helon Brown Williams. She graduated from Central High School and attended Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia. In 1953, she married Cal Ledbetter Jr., an attorney and later political science professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Together they had three children: Grainger, Jeffrey (now deceased) and Snow.

Brownie Ledbetter was a member of the Women's Emergency Committee, formed in 1958 after the closing of the Little Rock Public Schools. The Committee worked to have the schools re-opened and to elect progressive candidates to the Little Rock School Board. She was a founding member of the Panel of American Women in Arkansas, in 1963. The Panel was composed of women of different ethnic and religious backgrounds who spoke to school and civic groups about their experiences, in the hope of promoting understanding and tolerance. The Panel of American Women evolved into the Arkansas Public Policy Panel, a lobbying group, and Mrs. Ledbetter served as executive director for several years. Ledbetter founded the Arkansas Fairness Council, a coalition of grassroots citizens' groups, in 1983, and served as president of the Council.

Ledbetter was involved in many other organizations, including Arkansas Career Resources, Inc. (founder and executive director); the Southern Coalition for Educational Equity (state director); the ERA/Arkansas Coalition (organizing member); the State Federation of Business and Professional Women; the State Central Democratic Committee; and the Women's Environment and Development Organization (co-founder with Bella Abzug). She was also an elder in the Presbyterian Church. Brownie Ledbetter served as organizer and political consultant in campaigns from school board elections to Presidential campaigns. She was campaign manager for her husband, Cal, in his successful bid for the Arkansas State Legislature. She was a delegate to the National Democratic Convention in 1968 and 1972.

Ledbetter died at her home in Little Rock on March 21, 2010. She is remembered as a lifelong activist who was dedicated to equality and who served as a catalyst for numerous grassroots organizations.

Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

Arkansas Career Resources.
Arkansas Fairness Council.
Arkansas Public Policy Panel.
Ledbetter, Brownie Williams, 1932-2010
Ledbetter, Cal, Jr.
Little Rock (Ark.)
Panel of American Women. (Little Rock, Ark.)
Women -- Arkansas
Women's Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools. (Little Rock, Ark.)
Women's Environment and Development Organization. (New York, NY)


Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Restrictions on Use

Non-circulating, in-house use only.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Brownie Ledbetter papers, MSS.99.36, Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, Arkansas Studies Institute

Acquisition Information

Donated by Brownie Ledbetter, 1999

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