Claris Gustavius “Crip” Hall (1901–1961)
Claris Gustavius “Crip” Hall was a promoter of the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), an ardent Razorback football fan, and a noted politician. Hall served as Arkansas’s secretary of state from 1937 to 1961, dying shortly after being reelected in 1960. He also served as president of the National Association of Secretaries of State.
C. G. Hall was born in Social Hill (Hot Spring County) on October 8, 1901, to John R. Hall and Elizabeth Hodges Hall. At the age of eighteen months, he contracted polio. Over the years, he acquired the name “Crip” due to his handicap, coming to prefer it over his given name. He attended public schools in Malvern (Hot Spring County), even playing catcher on his high school baseball team, and entered the University of Arkansas in 1919, graduating with a degree in journalism in 1924. On October 5, 1929, Hall married Nancy Pearl Johnson, and the couple had one daughter, Nancy Anne. Nancy Anne Hall later married R. Robert Bailey, the youngest child of Carl Edward Bailey, Arkansas’s thirty-first governor.
Hall attended the Arkansas Law School in Little Rock and went on to practice law with state senator E. B. Dillon. In 1934, Hall ran for Arkansas secretary of state but lost to Ed McDonald. He ran again in 1936 and won, defeating George W. Neal.
Immediately upon becoming Arkansas’s secretary of state, Hall planned and implemented the landscaping of the Arkansas State Capitol grounds in Little Rock (Pulaski County). In 1938, he further enhanced the capitol grounds by instituting an annual tradition of decorating the capitol building with Christmas lights. The lights were in honor of patients at the Arkansas Children’s Infirmary in Little Rock as well as other pediatric patients in local hospitals. This ceremony has continued each year, with children from Easter Seals honoring Hall’s tradition by switching on the capitol lights.
In 1941, Hall wrote a joint resolution establishing the honorary title of Arkansas Traveler, which was passed by the Arkansas General Assembly. This honorary title is bestowed upon distinguished visitors to Arkansas, making them ambassadors of goodwill from the state. In 1947, after a failed first bill attempt, Hall successfully lobbied Governor Benjamin Travis Laney and additional influential Arkansans to introduce a second bill to the Arkansas state legislature to build War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, promoting Razorback football. Hall also established the “Crip Hall Award,” given to the outstanding Razorback player in the yearly homecoming football game.
Hall served as Arkansas secretary of state from 1937 until his death on January 14, 1961. Upon Hall’s death, Governor Orval Faubus appointed Nancy Hall to serve the remainder of her husband’s term. He is buried at Roselawn Memorial Park in Little Rock.
For additional information:
C. G. “Crip” Hall Materials, MC 1847, Special Collections. University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville, Arkansas.
“Crip Hall Dies at 59, Was in His 25th Year as Secretary of State.” Arkansas Democrat, January 14, 1961, p. 1.
Williams, Fay. “The Life Story of C. G. Hall, Official Host of the State of Arkansas.” Arkansas Democrat Magazine, October 8, 1950, pp. 6–7.
UA Little Rock Center for Arkansas History and Culture
Last Updated: 09/12/2022