The UCA Photograph Collection is Now Available Online

The UCA Archives and Special Collections department is pleased to announce that the UCA Images collection is now available for browsing on our Digital Archives platform. This collection represents over one hundred years of UCA’s history, from its foundation as a teacher training school to the present day.

Arkansas State Teacher's College agriculture students working in the campus garden. This photograph was taken in 1915 on Donaghey Avenue, looking toward campus.
This photograph of Arkansas State Teacher’s College agriculture shows students working in the campus garden in 1915. This photograph was taken on Donaghey Avenue, looking toward the eventual location of Old Main.

As of September 2022, this collection contains 1,085 photographs of UCA history. These photographs depict not only the physical campus, but the people both past and present that make up our community. Several photographs, such as the students above, provide a glimpse into the everyday life of a student in the early days of UCA. Other photographs show previous Bears and Sugar Bears teams, graduations, and other events.

A photograph taken roughly 1960 of UCA cheerleaders and band holding a pep rally in front of Old Main
A photograph of UCA cheerleaders and band holding a pep rally in the circle in front of Old Main, c. 1960.

Our platform for the university’s digital archives, ContentDM, provides several different methods for locating photographs. Our collections can be searched by keyword, subject, or date. One unique way of searching for a photograph is searching by subject. If you were interested in historic photographs of a building on campus, you could select “buildings” as your subject and browse through the results, or you could select a particular campus building. We hope that our platform and our method of assigning subjects makes the process of browsing through the collection both useful and easy.

A photograph of Old Main with snow taken in 1947
A photograph of Old Main taken in the winter of 1947 from the location of today’s Torreyson Library.

We anticipate that this collection will continue to grow over time. We always welcome donations of new photographs, manuscripts, and artifacts related to the history of the University of Central Arkansas. Additionally, the archives contains thousands of photographs depicting the university and its people which have not yet been processed. Although not every photograph will eventually be included in our digital collection, we will continue working diligently to preserve the history of the University of Central Arkansas and freely provide items of interest to our campus community and to the public.

Go Bears!
Daniel Klotz
UCA Archives and Special Collections

Summer School at UCA in 1927

Summer time was always busy at Arkansas State Teachers College (now the University of Central Arkansas) during the early years.  In fact, more students attended UCA during the summer than in the fall and spring semesters.

Public school teachers from across Arkansas attended UCA to further their education and either receive the Licentiate of Instruction (L.I.) or the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Education.  For those teachers who had no credentials the L. I., a two-year course of study, was greatly valued.

There were two summer sessions held at UCA during 1927, and 1,165 students were enrolled during the first session and 426 students were enrolled during the second summer session.  By comparison, the enrollment for fall 1927 was 905 students, with 2,245 students enrolled in correspondence courses.

The courses that were offered during the summer session of 1927 included courses in agriculture, history, drawing, education , English, expression, foreign languages, home economics, manual training, mathematics, piano, public school music, science, and New Testament Bible. The Department of Education offered the most courses of any department including educational psychology, mental measurements, high school administration, observation and plans, standards and measurements and several methods courses.

The reason so many teachers were coming to UCA during the summer months was because the vast majority did not have a degree of any kind.  Statistics for white teachers’ qualifications were compiled on 16 rural counties in 1927, regarding teacher education for the elementary schools.  It was determined that of the  class “A” elementary schools (class “A” schools were considered the best) only 11% of teachers had four years of college training, 11% had three to four years of college training, 47% had two to three years, 21% had one to two years, and 10% had one year of college training.

In class “C” elementary schools only 1.4% of teachers had four years of college training, .5% had three to four years, 20% had two to three years, 25% had one to two years, and 52% had one year of college training.  The principals of class “B” and class “C” high schools were only required to have two years of college training.

The progress of African American public high schools was slow during the 1920s, and it was 1924 before African American high schools in Arkansas were inspected and given a classification.  The vast majority (98.2%) of the 110,853 African American students enrolled in Arkansas public schools during the 1927-1928 academic year were enrolled in grades one through eight.  Only 1,976 students or 1.8% of African American students were enrolled in the high school grades.  Records show that 494 African American high school age students were enrolled in private schools.

A situation that was problematic during the 1920s was the number of agencies that awarded teacher certificates; there were 78 agencies that granted teacher certificates in Arkansas.  Each of Arkansas’s 75 counties had a certificate requirement, as did the University of Arkansas, UCA, and the State Department of Education.  To complicate matters further, there was no uniformity in the qualifications required to grant teacher certificates.  The 1928-1929 Biennial Report of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction included an article that asked the Arkansas General Assembly to create legislation that would place teacher certification under one central agency, thus creating a certificate system that was uniform in nature.

UCA continues to stay busy educating students during the summers.  According to the UCA Office of Institutional Research, during the summer of 2016 there were 4,665 distinct students enrolled in at least one summer session.

Sources for this article included: Biennial Report of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, 1926-1930; Arkansas Department of Education; A History of the Arkansas State Teachers College by Ted Worley-1954; and the UCA Office of Institutional Research.
 Summer Session - ASTC - 1927 300dpi

This photograph is from the 1927 summer school at UCA. Due to the size of the group I suspect it’s from summer session one, which was the largest with 1,165 students taking classes.

Additionally, the photograph appears to have been made by a camera that took photographs as it rotated. The several photos were then put together into one big photograph.

1922 Orchestra

During the early years of Arkansas State Normal School (now the University of Central Arkansas) attempts were made to create a school orchestra and keep it going from year to year.  The first photograph of the College Orchestra appeared in the 1922 Scroll.  There were 15 members in the 1922 orchestra that was under the direction of Homer F. Hess, Head of the Department of Music.

There was a big contrast in the orchestra from 1922 to 1923. One major problem that was described in both the 1922 and 1923 Scrolls, was the difficulty in obtaining an adequate number of string players each year. To help alleviate this weakness, Mr. Hess came up with a proposed solution to the problem.  According to the 1923 Scroll, “Last year Mr. Hess came to the conclusion that he could not expect a sufficient number of violin students to enter school annually to keep up that side of the organization; so he offered a beginners course in violin free to all students at the beginning of the school year.  His invitation was accepted by a large number of students, many of them showing talent and being admitted to membership in the orchestra.”

No matter how small in number the orchestra was, the rest of the student body greatly appreciated their efforts.  According to the 1923 Scroll, “Probably no other organization in school has proven so popular as the orchestra this year.  It has appeared in public concerts and entertainments numerous times during the school year, and always has exacted extended cheers from the audience.  It has appeared at all school functions where music of that kind was desired, and helped materially in the success of many of them.”

Mr. Hess was also a composer and composed the current UCA Alma Mater.  Hess wrote the music and Ora Blackmun, UCA professor of English, wrote the lyrics.  The Alma Mater appears to have been written in 1923 and has a copyright date of 1925.  UCA has had more than one song to serve as the Alma Mater, but it was the one composed by Hess that has withstood the test of time. Hess came to UCA in 1919 and resigned in August 1941.

The College Orchestra changed its name to the Little Symphony and made its first appearance under the the new name on January 11, 1949, when it performed at an assembly under the direction of Milton Trusler.  The Little Symphony became a fixture on campus and also an integral part of the Department of Music.  From 1949 to 1984 it was under the direction of Dr. Carl Forsberg, who also served as chair of the Department of Music from 1970 to 1980.

More on the Little Symphony, its progression and its next name change in a future article.


Happy Days at UCA

Dear Friends,

Attached to this post is a PDF of a promotional brochure that was distributed by Arkansas State Teachers College (now the University of Central Arkansas) in 1933.  In 1933, the unemployment rate in the United States was at its highest of the Great Depression, between 24.7% and 24.9%.  The promotional brochure was designed to bring in students during the worst economic crisis in our nation’s history.  Note the cost of attending UCA, especially the rate of tuition, on the third page from the end.

All of the employees of UCA had their pay cut by 10% on two separate occasions, and they were also paid in warrants.  A warrant is not a check, and cannot be cashed immediately.  On average, the warrants were cashed no sooner than 30 days after they were issued, and never for the amount on the warrant.  Warrants were worth about 85% of their face value.

After the pay cuts, and after being paid in warrants, the Bank of Conway failed, taking UCA’s money with it.  President McAlister then went to the faculty and explained UCA’s financial situation.  McAlister said that it was imperative that the faculty loan money to UCA, or the institution could close.  So, the faculty, even though they were hurting financially, loaned money to UCA to keep its doors open.

I hope you enjoy this promotional brochure from 84 years ago.



Happy Days at UCA, 1933

Good English Week

Dear Friends,

Much of today’s short article comes from the book, “The Centennial History of the University of Central Arkansas.”  Since I authored that book, I don’t think the author will mind if I borrow some of his lines.

You will find attached to this post a pamphlet on Good English and why a Good English Week was held in various parts of the country and at UCA.  The pamphlet will tell the reader why we did it and how we did it.

According to “The Centennial History of the University of Central Arkansas” bottom of page 34 & top of page 35, “During the Torreyson administration, there was a valiant effort to improve the language of the Normal students.  To address the problem of poor grammar, Professor Andrew Jackson Meadors explained the importance of using correct English to the students in a morning talk at chapel.  Good English Week began on December 8 and ended on December 12, 1919.  Professor Meadors pointed out that Good English Week was a war on cheap slang and incorrect English.  He went on to say, ‘The chief aim and ideal set for the student body is to create a language consciousness on its part which will tolerate only that cultured usage of the English language which has been universally accepted by leading students of English.'”

“Good English Week may have made some students more cognizant of the importance of better grammar, but on others there was little or no positive impact.  Meadors related his experience to a Normal Echo reporter after he had asked a female student for her thoughts concerning Good English Week.  She had replied, ‘It ain’t goin’ to do no good.’

“Meadors went on to say, ‘On individuals of that type…the object and purpose of the campaign has been lost.  There is a vast majority, however, who have caught the full significance of this praiseworthy movement, and who will carry on the fight, even though Good English Week proper has passed.'”

I hope you enjoy reading about Good English Week that was observed almost 98 years ago at UCA.



Good English Week, UCA 1919