Bachelors Degrees > Ellis College of Arts and Science > Social Sciences Department
John W. Graves
John William Graves has taught history and political science courses at Henderson State University since 1985. He received his Ph.D degree in history from the University of Virginia and his M.A. and B.A. degrees in history from the University of Arkansas. A native of Little Rock, his principal area of scholarly specialization has been the study of race relations in Arkansas during the latter half of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. His pioneering master's thesis constituted the first scholarly investigation of the origins of racial segregation and Jim Crow practices in Arkansas. It was also the first scholarly work to identify the fact that Arkansas's 1891 Election Law served as an instrument for political disfranchisement, driving many poor and illiterate persons, both black and white, from the polls; more than any other single measure, the law established one-party rule and white supremacy as the central motif of Arkansas politics for almost three-quarters of a century to come.
Graves expanded upon his initial research in the doctoral dissertation that he completed at the University of Virginia that was subsequently published in revised form as a book by the University of Arkansas Press. Published under the title Town and Country: Race Relations in an Urban-Rural Context, Arkansas, 1865-1905, the book was the winner of the 1991 Arkansiana Award of the Arkansas Library Association, given biennially for the best book on an Arkansas topic published during the preceding two years. It was also the winner of an Award of Commendation from the American Association for the Study of State and Local History in 1993, and it was one of only a handful of books that were formally endorsed by the late C. Vann Woodward during his lifetime (formerly Sterling Professor of History at Yale, Woodward was widely regarded as the dean of Southern historians in the years preceding his death).
In addition to the above, Graves has published articles dealing with the history of race relations in Arkansas in The Journal of Southern History, The Journal of the West, The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Arkansas Review: A Journal of Delta Studies, and the University of Virginia's journal Essays in History. Several of these articles have been republished in various anthologies.
Graves was also in 1992 a founding member of the Mosaic Templars Building Preservation Society and has served continuously on its Board of Directors since that time. The society spearheaded a successful sixteen-year effort to restore and reconstruct the historic Mosaic Templars of America Headquarters Building in Little Rock and create the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center of the Department of Arkansas Heritage; the center, which opened in September, 2008, is the first public state museum commemorating the heritage and history of African Americans in Arkansas.
Graves currently serves on the state Advisory Board of the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, and in addition he is a member of the Black History Commission of the State of Arkansas. He is also a past president of the Arkansas Historical Association.