Published on April 14, 2015 by William Nunnelley  
Jerry Armor

Educator Jerry Armor will discuss his new book, A Home for Wayward Boys: The Early History of the Alabama Boys’ Industrial School, during a Live at the Library program at Samford’s University Library Friday, April 17. The 6:30 p.m. program is free and open to the public.

The book tells the story of reformer Elizabeth Johnston’s efforts to separate teenage boys from hardened criminals by establishing the Alabama Boys’ Industrial School in 1900. Prior to Johnston’s efforts, boys were held in prison mining camps alongside adult criminals.

Johnston, called “Alabama’s first lobbyist for children” by former Alabama chief justice Sue Bell Cobb, was stunned when she first saw boys working alongside convicts in prison. She led an effort that ultimately convinced the Alabama legislature to establish the industrial school in Birmingham’s eastern section.

After several difficult years, Johnston and her supporters were able to hire a young Tennessee couple, David and Katherine Weakley, as superintendent and matron of the school. In time, it came to be recognized as one of the nation’s premier institutions of its kind.

Armor, a 1975 Samford graduate, taught for 30 years at Calhoun Community College and Athens State University. He was also a juvenile probation officer for seven years and served two years as psychologist in a state prison. Today, he directs the Lawrence County Children’s Policy Council and teaches part time. Armor also has written for academic and general interest publications.

A Home for Wayward Boys, which has a foreword by historian Wayne Flynt, was published by NewSouth Books Inc. of Montgomery. For information on the 220-page trade paperback, go to www.newsouthbooks.com.

 
About Samford UniversitySamford is a premier nationally ranked Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts and a distinct blend of graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 3rd nationally for student engagement and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance ranks Samford 34th among private universities in the U.S. for value and affordability. Samford enrolls 5,692 students from 46 states and 28 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 NCAA Division I teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference.