African-American Schools and Desegregation in Arizona

February is Black History Month, and we’re highlighting the history of desegregation of schools in Arizona. Since the territorial period, members of Arizona’s African-American community have fought segregation of schools, but the state observed varying degrees of optional or compulsory segregation from 1909 until 1953.


Photograph of a Works Progress Administration program at Carver High School library in Phoenix (Ariz.), ca. 1935. RG 89, Arizona Board of Public Welfare.

The Territory of Arizona officially codified racial segregation of schools in 1909, when they passed HB #101. When the first segregated school opened in 1910, African American parents led by Samuel Bayless hired former Governor Joseph Kibbey to seek an injunction against the school board on the grounds that forcing their children to walk across railroad tracks to school was an unnecessary burden, and that the school would be inferior. Unfortunately, this challenge failed, and by the time Arizona became a state in 1912, segregation remained mandated.


HB #101 from 1909 “To prescribe and enforce rules not inconsistent with law or those prescribed by the Territorial Board of Education for their own government and the government of schools; and when they deem it advisable, they may segregate pupils of the African from pupils of the White races, and to that end are empowered to provide all accommodations made necessary by such segregation.” RG 6, Secretary of the Territory.

The first segregated school in Phoenix was Phoenix Elementary’s Frederick Douglass Elementary School at 520 E. Madison, and was later renamed Booker T. Washington Elementary (1921). In 1926, the district built the Phoenix Union Colored High School, which would later become George Washington Carver High School, at 415 E. Grant. It operated until desegregation. In Tucson, the Dunbar School (established 1912) was the first and onlysegregated school, and closed when segregation ended in Arizona. Today, it serves as an African-American Museum and Cultural Center.


In 1951, Hayzel Daniels (attorney, and one of the first African American legislators in Arizona) introduced a bill allowing schools to choose to desegregate. In 1952, voters defeated a bill that would have mandated desegregation. Finally, in “Phillips vs. Phoenix Union High School District.” Judge Fred Stuckmeyer declared “half a century of intolerance is enough,” and ruled segregation to be unconstitutional. PyleLetter2PyleLetter

By the time the U.S. Supreme Courts handed down the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision, the ruling that declared “separate but equal” education to be unconstitutional, Arizona had already desegregated.


Though the schools are long gone, the buildings and sites remain important symbols of the struggle for desegregation and Civil Rights in our state. Stop by the reading room and see some of our original documents and published materials related to the history of African-American schools and desegregation in Arizona!

Critters of Arizona


Photograph of two dogs sitting at a piano at the Ganado Navajo Presbyterian Mission in Ganado (Ariz.), ca. 1935, MG 4 Clarence G. Salsbury

Like any good library, we have our fair share of crazy animal lovers here. Cats, dogs, geckos, guinea pigs, we have a little bit of everything. This month, we’re giving some love to the critters in our collections! It turns out that we have a little bit of everything, ranging from dogs playing the piano, random cats pictured in Arizona Highways, and event some ostriches! So next time you’re at the archives, stop by and see some of the goodies we have in the case!


Photograph/colorized postcard of ostriches on an ostrich farm, RG 99 Arizona State Library, Archives & Public Records, SG 12 Historical Photographs, 97-2915.jpg

Arizona has a long history of interesting critter stories. For instance, we have an ostrich farm that has been in operation for three generations, the Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Farm!

And of course, who could forget Beale’s Camel Train, pre-Civil War period when the U.S. Army created the U.S. Camel Corps to experiment with using camels to pack gear through the desert. One figure in this story is Hadji Ali, more commonly known in Arizona as “Hi Jolly,” who was hired as one of the first camel drivers hired by the Army, and whose grave and memorial can be viewed in Quartzsite today.


Photograph of Mr. & Mrs. Hadji Ali (also called Hi Jolly) in Quartzsite (Ariz.)., 1880. RG 99, SG 12, Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records. History and Archives Historical Photographs.

IMG_5760We also have materials related to wildlife preserves here in Arizona, which are partly documented in David Brown’s 2012 history of the Arizona Department of Game and Fish, Bringing Back the Game.


Letter from Boy Scouts of America in favor of Big Horn Sheep Refuge, RG 47, Arizona Department of Game and Fish.


Bringing Back the Game: Arizona Wildlife Management, 1912-1962. David Brown. Phoenix, Ariz. : Arizona Game and Fish Dept., c2012.

Papago Park and the Case for Dumpster-Diving


A colorized map from the Proposed Plan for Papago Park, submitted by the City of Phoenix Planning Commission in 1956

Papago Park is a local treasure here in the Valley, and one that has many layers of history. Boasting many interesting geological formations, the park has served as reservation to Pima and Maricopa tribes in the 19th century, the Papago-Saguaro National Monument (designatedin 1914, but revoked in 1930), German Prisoner-of-War camp during World War II, a VA hospital, and an Army Reserve, It is home to former Governor George W.P. Hunt’s tomb, and once featured an amusement park called Legend City. We tend to think that Papago Park has some pretty important history – and apparently, so did Charles Eatherly when he dredged a box out of the trash forty years ago when he started his career at Arizona State Parks.


Proposed Plan for Papago Park, submitted by the City of Phoenix Planning Commission in 1956.

Last week, in the latest installment of treasures coming out of Arizona State Parks/State Historic Preservation Office, we were able to take in the small box of records related to the sale of Papago Park to the City of Phoenix in 1959. Records include maps, leases, correspondence, right-of-way information, etc. Welcome to the State Archives, Papago Park records. And thanks to Mr. Eatherly for recognizing these gems and saving them for all of us to enjoy! 


Conditional Certificate of Purchase of Papago Park by City of Phoenix from the Arizona State Parks Board, 1959


Letter from longtime Yuma Legislator Harold Giss to Charles Reitz of the State Parks Board regarding the sale of Papago Park to the City of Phoenix

Exciting New Records from the State Historic Preservation Office!


Map Librarian Julie Hoff surveys new records just transferred from the State Historic Preservation Office

Records often come to the State Archives through a random series of events – sometimes when someone is cleaning out a storage unit, sometimes when someone leaves office, sometimes shrouded in (gasp!) scandal! This is a story of none of these things. We received a call recently that the State Historic Preservation Office would be relocating from it’s offices in the Corporation Commission buildings to historic Evans House at 11th Avenue and Washington.


1893 Historic Evans House, new home of the State Historic Preservation Office.

We expect more materials from SHPO down the line, but for now, we went over for a transfer of county maps and architectural drawings. Among the materials transferred, we were particularly smitten with a large book of drawings of significant sites in Arizona, many of them dating from the 1930s and done during the Works Progress Administration! Here are some of our favorites.


Details of column, San Xavier del Bac Mission, dated 1940


Reredos (altarpiece) drawings, San Xavier del Bac Mission, dated 1940


Ceiling details with color schemes, San Xavier del Bac Mission, dated 1940


Elevation drawings, Mission San Jose De Tumacácori, dated 1937


Cross-sections of the sanctuary, Mission San Jose De Tumacácori, dated 1937

And the Band Played On…


Photograph of two dogs sitting at a piano at the Ganado Navajo Presbyterian Mission in Ganado (Ariz.)

This month, we’re celebrating music at the Archives! We have some interesting finds, including two piano-playing dogs, and sheet music for an Evan Mecham song! But you’ll have to stop by the Archives to see the rest!



Photograph of boys in the marching band at Phoenix Indian School, Phoenix (Ariz.), ca. 1907


Photograph/colorized postcard of the Arizona School of Music in Phoenix (Ariz.), ca. 1910



The Arizona State Fair

Take me out to the fair!Well, friends, it’s just about that time again – the time of year when you can purchase just about every kind of food imaginable, deep fried and served on a stick. Where you can see your favorite bands from high school, twenty years after their peak.

The Arizona Territorial Fair was first held in 1884, and morphed into the State Fair once Arizona gained statehood. The experienced some rough years during the Great Depression and World War II, but has been going strong since 1946. The fair has hosted some big name acts, and Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, and the Rolling Stones have all performed there!

While the Arizona State Planning and Building Commission went as far as to draw up plans to relocate the fair from it’s home west of 17th Avenue between McDowell and Encanto in Phoenix to Papago Park, plans were eventually scrapped and the fair remained at it’s historic location. The fairgrounds is home to some pretty impressive historical structures! Some highlights include the Gem and Mineral Building (1918), the Grandstand arena (funded by the WPA, 1936), and the Coliseum (1946).


Letterhead from the 1914 Arizona State Fair


Photograph of a woman working at a booth at the Arizona State Fair, Phoenix (Ariz.)., PG 18 Dick Gilmore. 01-6188.jpg


The site of the current fairgrounds, located between McDowell and Encanto west of 17th Avenue, was purchased in 1905.


In 1957, the Arizona State Planning and Building Commission proposed a massive development of Papago Park that would have moved the State Fair east.

Photograph/color image of facilities and events at the Arizona State Fair in Phoenix (Ariz.), 04-5455.jpg

Photograph/color image of facilities and events at the Arizona State Fair in Phoenix (Ariz.), 04-5457.jpg

Photograph of a rodeo clown at the Arizona State Fair in Phoenix (Ariz.), 03-0268.jpg


Photograph of a boy skateboarding at the Arizona State Fair in Phoenix (Ariz.), 03-0277.jpg

Happy Archives Month!

October is Archives Month across the country, and here in Arizona, we decided to focus our annual Archives Month Poster on Ghost Towns of Arizona! We chose the theme to focus on towns in their heyday, but to also look at how these towns look today. Towns would spring up as part of boom or bust economies, often centered on resources such as mining, ranching, or timber. We’re delighted this year to have a good representation from across the state – everything from Metcalf, the copper town in Greenlee County, to Charleston, the mill town in Cochise County that provided timber for Tombstone. If you’d like your own copy of the poster, just fill out the form at the bottom of the page! 

Archives Month poster 2015

The 2015 Archives Month Poster!

We also took the opportunity to explore and display some of the goodies from our own collections, and you can stop by and see them in our display case in the reading room!

GhostTowns3 GhostTowns2 GhostTowns1We’re happy to mail you a copy of the Archives Month Poster! Just provide us with a little information here!