The Women's Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools was formed in Little Rock in September 1958. It was established in response to the closing of Little Rock's four public high schools by Governor Orval Faubus. The organization was founded by a group of women led by Adolphine Fletcher Terry, a member of a prominent Little Rock family. Mrs. Terry, Vivion Brewer, and Mrs. J.O. Powell organized the first meeting, which fifty-eight women attended. The stated purpose of the Committee was to inform the people of Little Rock, and the state of Arkansas, of the need for public education and of the price of not having public schools. After the schools were reopened in September 1959, the name was changed to the Women's Emergency Committee (WEC). The membership of the WEC eventually grew to over 1,600 women. In the five years of its existence, the WEC opposed Governor Faubus and his forces on numerous occasions. The most successful confrontation for the WEC was the Little Rock School Board recall election in May 1959, in which three Faubus-supported segregationists were removed from the board. They also succeeded in defeating Amendment 52, which would have abolished the constitutional guarantee of free public schools in November 1960. The WEC was also involved in school board and political contests through much of its history, principally the Joe Hardin-Faubus race in 1960 and the Sid McMath-Faubus race in 1962.
This collection contains correspondence, membership lists, information on other organizations interested in maintaining public schools, and other material related particularly to the issues of public education, civil and voting rights, and the economic effect of the school crisis. Additionally, there are booklets, pamphlets, magazines, and newspapers concerning these important issues of the time period.