Bessie Boehm Moore

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Bessie Grace Boehm Moore (August 2, 1902 – October 24, 1995)[1] was an American educator from Arkansas. She was a lifelong advocate to increase funding and support for libraries and served on the Arkansas Library Commission for 38 years. In 1999, American Libraries named her one of the "100 Most Important Leaders We Had in the 20th Century".[2]


Early life and education[edit]

Bessie Boehm Moore was born August 2, 1902 in Owensboro, Kentucky but grew up near Mountain View, Arkansas.[1] At age 14, she earned a teaching certificate.[3] She earned a BA in education from the Arkansas State Teachers College in 1942.[1]


She gained respect in the educational community and although she held no office as of this time officials invited her to their councils and invited her to speak. At the early age of 24, she was on the National Committee for the Sesquicentennial Celebration of the United States.[3] In 1934, she was appointed as Supervisor of Nursery Schools,[3] then appointed as the Supervisor for Elementary Education of Arkansas in 1939 until 1944.[3]

In 1963, Bessie was chosen to chair the Ozark Folk Center Commission in Mountain View, Arkansas.[3] The Center was the only one of its kind. In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson granted her membership to the National Advisory Commission on Libraries in 1965.[4] "The Arkansas State Council on Economic Education formed in 1962 with Bessie as the Executive Director from 1962 to 1979."[3]

From 1972 to 1988 she was a member of the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science for three consecutive presidents, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan.[4] On the council she served as vice Chairman Emeritus. While many of her accomplishments were focused in her home state of Arkansas, she was an annual lecturer at many out of state universities from 1974. This list included the University of Michigan, University of Nebraska, Florida State University, University of Arizona, and the University of South Florida.[3] She holds a special place as one of the five honorary members of the University of Michigan Library School Alumni Association.[3]

Moore had just three roles throughout her career not having to do with education or libraries: as one of the first County Supervisors for Jefferson County, Arkansas,[3] her joint ownership of a local cafeteria with her husband until his death in 1958,[3] and serving on the Board of Directors of the First National Bank of Little Rock from 1971 until 1979.[3]

Death and afterward[edit]

Bessie Boehm Moore died on October 24, 1995.[4]

Several organizations and awards are named in her honor:

  • The Bessie B. Moore Center for Economic Education, established in 1978 at the University of Arkansas, gives the Bessie Moore Award annually to an outstanding economic educator in the US.[5][6]
  • Moore established the Bessie Boehm Moore-Thorndike Press Award in 1991, sponsored by the American Library Association, giving a $1000 scholarship to the recipient.[7][8] 1996 was the only year that her scholarship was not awarded. It was resumed in 2000.[8]
  • The Mountain View Public Library in Mountain View, Arkansas, was renamed the Bessie B. Moore Public Library in her honor on August 1, 1992.[4]


  • 1952: Arkansas Woman of the Year[3]
  • 1958: Honorary Doctor of Laws, University of Arkansas[3]
  • 1959: C.E. Palmer Distinguished Service Award (Moore remains the only woman to have ever received that award)[3]
  • 1977: Honorary Doctor of Laws, University of Arizona.[3]
  • 1989: Distinguished Lifetime Service Award, NCLIS.[4]
  • National Distinguished Award, Joint Council of Economic Education of New York[3]


  1. ^ a b c Ashcraft, Carolyn (9 November 2012). "Bessie Grace Boehm Moore (1902–1995)". The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Central Arkansas Library System. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
  2. ^ Leonard Kniffel, Peggy Sullivan, Edith McCormick, "100 of the Most Important Leaders We Had in the 20th Century," American Libraries 30, no. 11 (December 1999): 43.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Bessie the Builder, Queen Bessie: Profile of Bessie Boehm Moore, 1984". EDRS. 1984-05-03. Retrieved 2009-05-26.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Dr. Bessie Boehm Moore". NCLIS. Retrieved 2009-05-26.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "Bessie Boehm Moore Center for Economic Education". Graduate Catalog of Studies. University of Arkansas. 1999. Archived from the original on 2010-06-10. Retrieved 2009-05-26.
  6. ^ "Tribute to Bessie B. Moore". Bessie B. Moore Center for Economic Education. Retrieved 2009-05-26.
  7. ^ "Bessie Boehm Moore/ Thorndike Press Award Committee". ALA. Retrieved 2009-05-26.
  8. ^ a b "Bessie Boehm Moore". Zoominfo. Retrieved 2009-05-26.

External links[edit]