Tell Us Your Story of the Lost Year

One of the main reasons for developing this website is to allow the parties involved to tell their stories. Whether you are a Lost Year classmates, a Lost Year teacher, the parent of a Lost Year classmate, siblings or others involved in this historical time in our city . . . please tell us your stories.

By submitting your story to us, you give your permission for us to use your information. It may be used in the form of an excerpt for this website, a portion of the documentary, or Dr. Gordy's book.

Your stories will help enrich the experiences of the Lost Year. Please take a few minutes to reflect on your experiences of the Lost Year.

Some questions to prompt your memory

Please use these as guides to trigger thoughts as you tell your story. None of the questions are required and some won't apply to your experience.

  1. What school did you attend in 1957 - 1958? What school were you to attend during the 1958 - '59 school year? What school did you attend during the Lost Year? What was your classification during the Lost Year? (senior, junior, sophomore).
  2. Were you or your family aware that the high schools might be closed? If so, how did they discover this? Was it talked about in your home? Was it talked about among your friends?
  3. At the beginning of the Lost Year, were you getting ready to begin the year at your normal high school? How did you feel when you got the word that your high school would be closed?
  4. Do you remember students being taught classes early on television?
  5. What did you think about the school year before, and the desegregation crisis of that year? Were you involved in anyway?
  6. Do you remember the mood of your family? The mood of your friends?
  7. Were you aware that the school district voters (your parents) were asked to vote either for or against integration, in September of 1959 and that there was no mention on the ballot of keeping the schools opened and integrated? Do you know how your parents voted?
  8. Were you aware of all four high schools that were closed that year, or only your own? Of your friends, were any of your closest friendships affected?
  9. Did you go out of state to school? If so, what state did you travel to, and who were you living with? How far did you travel? How did your being gone affect your family?
  10. Did you stay in Arkansas? Where did you go? How far did you travel, and how?
  11. Did you receive your education through correspondence courses?
  12. Did you drop out of school that year?
  13. What was your memory of the athletics programs at all of the closed high schools?
  14. Do you remember any of the groups that were organized to fight for and against what was happening here in Little Rock? Examples: Against - White Citizens Council, Mother's League of Central High or the CROSS Campaign
  15. For opening the public schools: The Women's Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools, the STOP Campaign.
  16. May 5 - Teacher Purge - School Board purged 44 teachers and principals.
  17. Were you aware of the teacher purge, and the STOP Campaign?
  18. What was going on in the nation regarding integration / desegregation? What was happening in other communities across the country?
  19. What did you do about the upcoming school year? (1959-60) Did you think there was a question as to whether they would open, and stay open? Did your parents have any question? Was Faubus active in trying to thwart the opening of the public schools again?
  20. Schools opened August 12th in 1959 - 60 school year.
  21. Do you consider the experience of the Lost Year a good or bad experience?
  22. Did you return to your original destination school? Did you graduate?
  23. Tell me the most uplifting story you can remember about that year.
  24. Tell me a moment that stood out in your mind, either the day you left home, the day you attended the new school. Were you welcomed or challenged?
  25. What do you think was learned from the schools being closed that school year?
  26. What lessons should be learned from the events of the "Lost Year"?
  27. What effect did the experience have on your attitude about integration/desegregation or race?
  28. What would you say sums up your experience?
The Lost Year
In the documentary film The Lost Year, the recollections of students and teachers who lived through this tumultuous time are interspersed with narration explaining the history and politics of the year to bring this previously untold story to vivid life.
Sondra Gordy's Finding the Lost Year
Finding the Lost Year: What Happened When Little Rock Closed its Public Schools was published in 2009 and expands the topic of this website and the documentary film. Written by historian Dr Sondra Gordy, this oral history extensively details events from May 1958 through August 1959 through the perspective of displaced students and teachers.
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