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Melba Pattillo Beals Papers

Identifier: MC 1795

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of letters, photographs, magazines, newspaper and other publication clippings, commemorative materials, and related materials regarding Melba Pattillo Beals and detailing the integration of Little Rock’s Central High School in 1957-1958. Also included are materials associated with Beals’ book manuscript and publications titled Warriors Don’t Cry and White is a State of Mind. Family materials include correspondence and materials associated with Lois Pattillo, Melba Pattillo Beals’ mother, educational history and works of poetry.

Published books have been transferred to the Arkansas Collection and proof copies have been transferred to the Rare Book Collection as part of the Melba Pattillo Beals papers.


  • 1957-2001


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

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

Access Restrictions Apply: Financial documents containing the donor’s social security number are restricted. Folder with withheld documents is Box 1, Folder 34.

No Interlibrary Loan.

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

Biographical Note

Melba Pattillo Beals was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1941, to mother Lois Marie Pattillo and father Howell Pattillo. In 1957, Melba began attending the previously all-white Little Rock Central High School, and she became known as one of the Little Rock Nine, the group of African American students who was involved in the desegregation of the school. Beals finished the school year at Central High, despite frequent and persistent harassment. In 1958, following the closure of Little Rock city schools, she transferred to and graduated from a high school in Santa Rosa, California. Beals earned a BA in journalism from San Francisco State University and an MA in journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Following her graduation, she worked as a reporter, a consultant, a motivational speaker, and an author.

Beals recounted her experiences at Central High with the Little Rock Nine in the memoir Warriors Don’t Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Desegreate Little Rock’s Central High School (1994). This was the first first-hand account of the Little Rock Nine’s experiences published. It won the ALA Notable Book Award for 1995 and the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award in 1995. Beals published White Is a State of Mind, a recounting of her senior year in high school and her years in college, in 1999. In 2018, she published I Will Not Fear: My Story of a Lifetime of Building Faith Under Fire and March Forward, Girl: From Young Warrior to Little Rock Nine.

Beals is the recipient of the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP (1958) and the Congressional Gold Medal (1999).

Note Sources: “Melba Pattillo Beals,” in The Encyclopedia of Arkansas,


5 Linear Feet (5 Boxes)

Arrangement of the Papers

Collection materials are arranged by format. Some of the clippings in the collection were received from the donor in binders and were arranged chronologically. This arrangement has been preserved. Loose clippings have been grouped together in the order in which they were received from the donor. Fan mail was separated from professional and family correspondence by the donor, and this arrangement has also been preserved. Some correspondence included clippings and photographs. When these were received from the donor together, they have been retained together. Other photographs and clippings have been arranged separately.

Acquisition Information

The Melba Pattillo Beals Papers were donated to the Special Collections Department by Melba Pattillo Beals of San Rafael, CA, on July 26, 2008.

Processing Information

Processed by Melanie Griffin; completed in April 2019.



Melba Pattillo Beals Papers
Melanie Griffin
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