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R. D. W. Connor (Robert Digges Wimberly), 1878-1950
The Woman's Association for the Betterment of Public School Houses in North Carolina
Raleigh, [N.C.]: Office of the State Supt. of Public Instruction, [1906].


Robert Digges Wimberly Connor (26 Sept. 1878-25 Feb. 1950), an archivist and historian, was born in Wilson, North Carolina, the son of Judge Henry Groves Connor. After working briefly in the public schools, he was appointed secretary to the newly established North Carolina Historical Commission in 1903, which he subsequently developed into one of the nation's leading public history agencies. In 1943, the commission became the Department of Archives and History. In 1921, Connor became Kenan Professor of History at his alma mater, the University of North Carolina, where he had served as archivist of his student literary society. President Franklin Roosevelt appointed him the first archivist of the United States in 1934. Connor and his new staff created what is now the National Archives and Records Administration from the ground up. Following Roosevelt's desire to form his own library, Connor also set in place the nation's current presidential library system. A prolific writer of North Carolina history as well as a leader in archival work, Connor returned to the UNC classroom in 1941. He retired in 1949, and died the following year.

R. D. W. Connor, working with the North Carolina Department of Education, compiled this 1906 bulletin about the function, goals, and achievements of the Woman's Association for the Betterment of Public School Houses in North Carolina. The Woman's Association was founded by a group of two hundred young women at the State Normal and Industrial College at Greensboro on March 20, 1902. Their aim was to improve the infrastructure of schools in their areas, focusing not just on the buildings themselves but also school supplies, decorations, and libraries. They also hoped to garner the support and participation of women across the state who, in turn, would become members and work with teachers, school trustees, and their communities to begin local branches of the Woman's Association.

The bulletin begins with a message from J. Y. Joyner, North Carolina's Superintendent of Public Instruction, highlighting the Woman's Association's influential role in the recent school improvements across the state. Following a list of the current officers and a copy of the organization's constitution, Connor includes an extensive history and an overview of the Association's purpose, plans, and notable results. The next section covers information about specific county and local associations, including how they are formed, sample constitutions, and a sample annual report. Mary Taylor Moore describes her attempts to establish Woman's Associations in western North Carolina in the organization's inaugural year, 1902, and Leah D. Jones gives an account of similar attempts in eastern North Carolina in the same year. Several reports detail specific instances of success in improving local schoolhouses. These are "How a Wayne County School was Improved" by John S. Teague, two essays about Wake County's Eagle Rock School by Annie Abernathy, "A Greene County School" by Susie Kirkpatrick, "Snow Hill School, Greene County" by Mattie L. Albritton, and "A Log School-House" by Mrs. Charles Price. Images of several old and new schools are interspersed throughout the bulletin.

Monique Prince

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