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Galloway Female College

Galloway Women’s College in Searcy (White County) was one of the longest survivors from among the schools established in the 1800s by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in Arkansas. Dedicated in honor of Bishop Charles Betts Galloway on April 18, 1889, the school endured until its final merger with Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County) in 1933.

Methodist Church leaders realized by the latter part of the nineteenth century that their resources could not support the numerous small schools they had established around the state and decided to concentrate efforts on fewer institutions to provide better facilities and sounder education. Under the leadership of Bishop Galloway, leaders decided to focus on one institution primarily for men and Galloway Female College, as it was then known, as the counterpart for women. Searcy won bidding rights for location of the women’s school through pledges of $25,000.

Galloway Female College had problems from the beginning. Its first president, Robert W. Erwin, died less than two months before the scheduled beginning of classes. The national Panic of 1893 led to a failure in 1896 of a planned bond issue to finance buildings and equipment. A fire in 1898 completely destroyed the school’s impressive four-story building. In spite of handicaps, the school grew rapidly. Within five years, students, most of whom were from Arkansas, had to be turned away for lack of housing. In 1925–26, enrollment reached a high of 269.

In common with most other schools of the day, Galloway’s curriculum was designed to cover a wide range of educational attainments from primary to secondary levels. Traditional curriculum included homemaking and secretarial training. The school was particularly strong in music, art, and speech. At the end of the 1800s, more occupational and professional courses were offered. By 1908, kindergarten and primary levels were discontinued. Frequent well-attended concerts, recitals, and exhibitions of student and faculty work sponsored through highly competitive literary societies bolstered social life.

During the first decade of the twentieth century, with money scarce, Methodists proposed unifying Hendrix College and Henderson College (later Henderson-Brown College), a co-educational college in Arkadelphia (Clark County), with Galloway under one administration, making Henderson and Galloway two-year schools. The plan, vigorously fought by both Henderson and Galloway, was instituted a few years later. Galloway operated under a deficit for several years, and enrollment fell to seventy-five in 1932–33. The decline sounded the death knell for Galloway. The school was closed following its final commencement in June 1933, at which time nineteen diplomas were awarded, and the operations were merged with Hendrix College. A year later, the property was sold to Harding College (now Harding University) for a fraction of its estimated value.

Four presidents led the college after its opening: Sidney H. Babcock (1889–1892), John Hixon Dye (1892–1897), Charles Conway Godden (1897–1907), and Dr. John Milton Williams (1907–1933). During Williams’s tenure, the college became known as Galloway Women’s College. Galloway alumni, known for their fierce loyalty to the school, held reunions in Searcy or Little Rock (Pulaski County) for forty-eight years until their last reunion in 1981, which took place at Galloway Hall women’s dormitory on the campus of Hendrix College.

For additional information:
Britton, Nancy. Two Centuries of Methodism in Arkansas, 1800–2000. Little Rock: August House, 2000.

Galloway College Collection. Butler Center for Arkansas Studies. Central Arkansas Library System, Little Rock, Arkansas.

Lester, James E., Jr. Hendrix College: A Centennial History. Conway, AR: Hendrix College Centennial Committee, 1964.

Meriwether, Robert W. “Galloway College: The Early Years, 1889–1907.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 40 (Winter 1981): 291–329.

Katherine Stanick
Little Rock, Arkansas

Last Updated 3/26/2013

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