Thursday, June 26, 2014

Discovering Women in Political Papers

I became interested in Jeannette Rockefeller during the UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture’s honoring of Winthrop Rockefeller’s 100th birthday anniversary. The Center holds the Winthrop Rockefeller Papers, UALR.MS.0001. Winthrop Rockefeller was born May 1, 1912. On May 1, 2012, the Center debuted an online exhibit devoted to the highlights of his life. I participated in a small way with the creation of this exhibit and found myself wondering: “But what about Jeannette Rockefeller, Winthrop Rockefeller’s wife?”

At the time, I knew almost nothing about Jeannette. As my curiosity increased about this woman, I discovered that little had been written on her life and interests. Fortunately for me, as a graduate student in the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s master of arts in public history program, my curiosity resulted in an approved thesis topic: Arts Advocate: Jeannette Edris Rockefeller and the Founding of the Arkansas Arts Center.

 Jeannette’s interest in establishing an arts center in Little Rock, Arkansas, was just one of her many passions, e.g., education, women’s empowerment, mental health research, and civil rights. My thesis concentrates on the early years of the Arkansas Art Center and Jeannette’s role in its creation. But there is so much more to explore with respect to this fascinating woman’s life. Jeannette, as well as her husband, Winthrop, made enormous contributions to the state of Arkansas. Hopefully, future scholars will examine additional aspects of this dynamic woman, an Arkansas activist.

Kaye M. Lundgren
Archival Assistant
UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture (Little Rock, Ark.)


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