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Jessie Angeline Evans Benham Papers

Identifier: MC 2265

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of materials, predominately correspondence and press coverage, regarding Jessie Angeline (Angie) Evans, with the bulk focusing on her support of school integration while student council president at Van Buren High School in Van Buren, Arkansas. Her remarks at a school board meeting in 1958 made national and international news, and she was featured in publications such as Life, Time, and Look.

Some correspondence is encompanied by enclosures from the correspondent such as press clippings, photographs, and brochures; other correspondence is accompanied by biographical information on the correspondent, or by forms categorizing the correspondence that were created by Benham and her husband.

Correspondents include Montana State Representative Carl Pat Minette; Illinois State Representatives Charles F. Armstrong and Paul Simon; University of Arkansas Art Department head David Durst; Madeline author Ludwig Bemelmans; Rebel Without a Cause screenwriter Stewart Stern; and civil rights activist Sarah Patton Boyle.


  • ca 1935-2017
  • Majority of material found within 1958-1959


Language of Materials

Materials are primarily in English. Some materials are in German, French, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Access Information

Please call (479) 575-8444 or email at least two weeks in advance of your arrival to ensure availability of the materials.

Use Information

No Use Restrictions Apply.

No Interlibrary Loan.

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Biographical Note

In September 1958, Jessie Angeline (Angie) Evans was a junior at Van Buren High School, and the school's student council president. In an echo of the Little Rock High School integration crisis happening elsewhere in Arkansas, an estimated 45 of her schoolmates stayed home from school in protest of the integration of their own high school, and some students and townspeople protested outside the school. Evans polled the student body and found the majority in favor integration, however. On September 9, Evans noted that poll as she spoke out in favor of integration at a school board meeting, and her stance was widely reported in the national and international media, including in Time and Life magazines. Mademoiselle magazine named her a woman of the year. 

In 1962, Evans married married David Benham, a former high school classmate. She graduated from the Fort Smith Junior College and Agnes Scott College before earning a Ph.D. in general experimental psychology from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and went on to work as a psychologist. Dr. Benham reflected on her experiences in an essay, "Love's Injunctions," published in Crisis of Conscience: Arkansas Methodists and the Civil Rights Struggle (Little Rock, AR: Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, 2007).


9.5 Linear Feet (16 boxes)

Arrangement of the Papers

Collection materials are arranged by format. The majority of the collection correspondence was received from the donor in binders, some of which were organized alpabetically by correspondent, and some of which were separated out as international correspondence. This arrangement scheme has been applied, at the folder level, to all correspondence. When no last name was given, correspondence has been filed as anonymous. In some cases, correspondence has been foldered by individual correspondent when there were multiple pieces of correspondence, or numerous enclosures.

Many correspondents included clippings, brochures, photographs, and other materials; when these were received from the donor together, they have been retained together. Other publications were not associated with specific correspondence, and have been arranged separately.

Acquisition Information

The Jessie Angeline Evans Benham Papers were donated to the Special Collections Department by Jessie Angeline Evans Benham of Van Buren, Arkansas, on January 28, 2018 and June 15, 2018.

Alternate Formats Available

Correspondence from the collection was digitized by the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith's Pebley Center prior to donation.


Box 21, Folder 207 contains materials regarding Evans' pro-integration stance.

Processing Information

Processed by Katrina Windon; completed in January 2019.

Jessie Angeline Evans Benham Papers
Katrina Windon
January 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Department Repository

University of Arkansas Libraries
365 N. McIlroy Avenue
Fayetteville AR 72701 United States
(479) 575-8444