Nonfiction

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Entry Category: Nonfiction

Accomplices to the Crime

Accomplices to the Crime is penologist Thomas O. Murton’s 1969 nonfiction account of his efforts to reform the Arkansas prisons during the administration of Governor Winthrop Rockefeller. The book provides a graphic description of the brutality and corruption at Tucker Unit in Jefferson County, where Murton spent most of his time as a prison manager. The book also examines Murton’s brief but controversial tenure at Cummins Unit in Lincoln County. The book, written by Murton and Hollywood writer Joe Hyams, sold well and became the basis for the 1980 film Brubaker, starring Robert Redford. Some of the claims Murton made in the book, however, were later challenged. The book begins with the Murton arriving in Arkansas, where he was responsible …

Alexander, Larry Dell

Larry Dell Alexander was a visual artist, writer, and Bible teacher best known for his elaborate pen-and-ink drawings and crosshatching technique. He painted Clinton Family Portrait, an oil painting that he gave to President Bill Clinton in 1995. He also wrote several Bible study commentary books on the New Testament. Larry D. Alexander was born on May 30, 1953, in Dermott (Chicot County), the second son of Robert and Janie Alexander. His father was a truck driver and his mother a hairdresser. He had eight siblings. Alexander began drawing at age four and never received any formal art training while growing up. After graduating from Dermott High School in May 1971, Alexander moved to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), where he …

Allbright, Charles Wilson

Charles Wilson Allbright was one of the best-known and most widely read newspaper columnists in Arkansas. Allbright wrote for the Arkansas Gazette and its successor the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, served as a speech writer, and authored several books. Charles Allbright was born on February 5, 1929, in Oxford, Mississippi, to Brice and Nita Allbright. In an interview conducted by Michael Haddigan in March 2000, Allbright stated, “I was born in Oxford, Mississippi, which has nothing to do with my life except that is where my mother’s parents were. And, in those days, it took two weeks to have a baby, and you’d go where your parents are, and they’d take care of you, so I was born at Oxford.” At the …

Anderson, Daisy

Educator, author, and lecturer Daisy Graham Anderson is best known for being one of the last surviving widows of the American Civil War (1861–1865), having been married to a former slave and U.S. Colored Regiment soldier and Union veteran. In 1998, she was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Daisy Graham was born about 1900 in Civil District 8, Hardin County, Tennessee, to John Wesley Graham and Alice Graham. She was the oldest of the eight Graham children (three girls and five boys). Her father was a farmer. Even though he was poor, he owned his home. Education was stressed to the children—both Graham’s mother and father could read and write. After graduating …

Anderson, Pernella

Pernella Mae Center Anderson of El Dorado (Union County) was one of Arkansas’s two African-American interviewers for the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP). She interviewed former slaves between 1936 and 1939. Pernella Center was born on April 12, 1903, in Camden (Ouachita County). She was the youngest of Willis Center and Sallie Washington Center’s ten children. Her father, a carpenter, and her mother, a housewife, were born in Louisiana but moved the family to Arkansas by 1894. Center’s mother died when Center was two years old, and her father remarried two years later. Center married her first husband, Theodore Haynie Jr., around 1920, and the couple had three children. Despite her home responsibilities, she was motivated to further her education and …

Annals of Arkansas

The Annals of Arkansas comprise four volumes of narrative and biographical histories of Arkansas, written by several experts in the state’s history and edited by Dallas Tabor Herndon, who was director of the Arkansas History Commission (now the Arkansas State Archives). The Annals were meant to revise, re-edit, and continue preserving and recording the historical record of Arkansas’s development initially begun by Herndon’s previous multi-volume study, Centennial History of Arkansas, published in 1922. In short, the Annals of Arkansas and the Annals’ forerunners—the Centennial History of Arkansas and Fay Hempstead’s Historical Review of Arkansas—form the beginnings of an authoritative study of Arkansas history. The first two volumes of the Annals contain brief but informative historical entries on various subjects organized …

Anthony, Katharine Susan

Katharine Susan Anthony was suffragist, feminist, pacifist, socialist, and author of feminist and psychological biographies of famous women. Born in Arkansas, she lived and worked as a successful author in Greenwich Village, New York, for more than fifty-five years. She lived a life that was quiet, productive, and not within the parameters of what was considered a typical American woman’s experience. Katharine Anthony was born in Roseville (Logan County) in 1877. She was the third of four children born to Ernest Augustus Anthony and Susan Cathey Anthony. When Roseville’s economy declined, the family moved first to Paris (Logan County) and later to Fort Smith (Sebastian County). Anthony attended public schools in Fort Smith and taught elementary school in the same …

Appleby, Jack

aka: John Tate Appleby
Arkansas native John Tate (Jack) Appleby was a biographer of English kings of the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries and a long-time associate editor of the American Historical Review. He is best remembered in the Borough of St. Edmundsbury in southeastern England, where he served in the U.S. Army Air Force during the final months of World War II and traveled by bicycle then and just after the war. Appleby’s memoir of those times, Suffolk Summer, has remained in print since its publication in 1948. Jack Appleby was born on June 10, 1907, in Fayetteville (Washington County) to George and Gertrude (Baylor) Appleby. Along with his brother Charles, George Appleby owned a number of orchards and canning factories in and …

Arkansas Historical Quarterly

The Arkansas Historical Quarterly (AHQ) is the official publication of the Arkansas Historical Association (AHA), offering original research on Arkansas history subjects as well as relevant secondary resources. It is housed in the AHA offices in the history department of the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). The Arkansas Historical Association was organized in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on February 22, 1941. Its first project was “publication of a journal of state history.” David Yancey Thomas, one of the main proponents of creating the AHA, was its first editor. The first issue of the Arkansas Historical Quarterly was published in March 1942 and featured “a ‘Salutory,’ a ‘List of Charter Members,’ four leading articles, ten pages of ‘Documents,’ …

Arkansas Made [Books]

The Arkansas Made books are a two-volume set researched and written by two leaders of the Arkansas Territorial Restoration (which later became Historic Arkansas Museum) and originally published by the University of Arkansas Press in the early 1990s, with a second edition of the set released in 2021. The books document much of the art and material culture created in Arkansas between 1819 and 1870. The Arkansas Made books were largely researched and written by curator Swannee Bennett and director William B. Worthen of the Arkansas Territorial Restoration in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in an effort to identify the artisans and artists who plied their trades in Arkansas from the frontier period through 1870. According to the book’s introduction, the …

Arkansas Race Riot, The [Pamphlet]

“The Arkansas Race Riot” is a 1920 pamphlet that constitutes a critical source of information about the Elaine Massacre of 1919. Written by famed anti-lynching activist Ida B. Wells-Barnett, the pamphlet disputes the narrative offered by white political and economic elites in Phillips County—namely, that local African Americans had plotted to kill white residents in the area. Instead, Wells-Barnett recorded how Black sharecroppers and tenant farmers had formed a union, the Progressive Farmers and Household Union of America (PFHUA), for purposes of securing better payment for their cotton crop and explained how the massacre was a direct response to their union activities. Ida B. Wells had been born into slavery in Holly Springs, Mississippi, and, after both of her parents …

Arkansas: A Guide to the State

Arkansas: A Guide to the State was a book project of the Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a Depression-era federal relief program, that provided information about Arkansas, its people, and its culture, along with a variety of tour routes that explored every area of the state. It was first published in 1941. The Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) was created in 1935 as part of the WPA to provide work for unemployed writers and editors during the Great Depression. One of the best-known products of the FWP was a series of guidebooks to the various states in the Union. Work on the Arkansas edition began initially under the leadership of Bernie Babcock and Charles J. Finger, but …

Arnold, Morris Sheppard “Buzz”

Morris Sheppard “Buzz” Arnold is a senior judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The U.S. Eighth Circuit comprises seven states: Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. From 1992 to 2004, Arnold and his older brother, Richard Sheppard Arnold, had the distinction of being the only brothers in U.S. history to serve simultaneously on the same federal court of appeals. Morris Arnold, known informally as Buzz, was born on October 8, 1941, in Texarkana, Texas, to Richard Lewis Arnold and Janet Sheppard Arnold. His father was a lawyer, as was his grandfather, William Hendrick Arnold, who founded the Arnold and Arnold law firm in 1883 in Texarkana (Miller County). Arnold received a …

Babbie, Earl Robert

Earl Robert Babbie of Hot Springs Village (Garland and Saline counties) is an acclaimed sociologist best known for his book The Practice of Social Research, which has been reprinted in fifteen editions and is acknowledged to be a standard text in the field of social research. In addition to social research, his other textbooks deal with communications, criminal justice, and social work and, like his social research texts, are reprinted in foreign language editions around the world. He is also known for the Earl Babbie Research Center, which was established in his name at Chapman University in California. In addition, he is recognized for his online project, “Solutions Without Problems,” for which he coined the term “SoluProbs.” Earl Babbie was …

Back Yonder, An Ozark Chronicle

Back Yonder, An Ozark Chronicle, published in 1932, is the autobiography of Charles Wayman Hogue (1870–1965), who grew up in Arkansas’s Ozark Mountains. Arkansas folklorist Vance Randolph wrote that Back Yonder was, “One of the finest nonfiction books ever written about the Ozark country. Hogue is a native of Van Buren County, Arkansas. He knows the truth about this region, and sets it down without any sentimental twaddle.” Hogue was the father of well-known Arkansas author Charlie May Simon. Her second husband, Howard Simon, illustrated Hogue’s book with exquisite woodcuts. As a young man in his early twenties, Hogue left the Ozarks to attend Little Rock University (now the University of Arkansas at Little Rock). It was there that he …

Barker, Catherine Sweazey

Catherine Sweazey Barker was a social worker and author who lived in Batesville (Independence County) in the 1920s and early 1930s. During the height of the Great Depression and shortly after President Franklin D. Roosevelt launched the New Deal in 1933, Barker took a position as a social services employee with the Batesville office of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) to help impoverished Ozarkers in Independence County and neighboring counties secure government aid and assistance. Drawing on observations from and experiences with rural families during her time as a FERA employee, she wrote a nonfiction book titled Yesterday Today: Life in the Ozarks, which was first published in 1941 and reprinted with a new introduction in 2020. Catherine Sweazey …

Becoming Free Indeed

Becoming Free Indeed: My Story of Disentangling Faith from Fear is a 2023 memoir by Jinger Duggar Vuolo, one of the stars of 19 Kids and Counting and Counting On, reality television shows focused upon the daily lives of the Duggar family. She was assisted in writing by Corey Williams. Published by W Publishing Group, an imprint of Christian publishing company Thomas Nelson, the book constituted the first memoir by a Duggar family member following brother Josh Duggar’s arrest on charges of possessing child pornography, but it deals with this scandal only in passing. The book was followed in 2023 by the release of the Amazon Studios documentary series Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets and the publication of Counting …

Blackmon, Douglas A.

Douglas A. Blackmon is an American writer and journalist who won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction and an American Book Award for Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II (2008). Douglas Blackmon was born in the fall of 1964 in Stuttgart (Arkansas County). The family later moved to Leland, Mississippi, where Blackmon penned his first newspaper story at the age of twelve for the town’s Progress. The family relocated to Monticello (Drew County), where he graduated from high school. He then attended Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County), graduating in 1986. After graduation, Blackmon was a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat and managing editor of the Daily Record in …

Boy Erased

Garrard Conley’s 2016 memoir Boy Erased recounts his experiences at the Memphis, Tennessee, “ex-gay” therapy program Love in Action, to which his parents sent him in 2004 upon learning that he was gay. A movie adaptation of the book was released in November 2018. Conley, who was born in Memphis and grew up in northern Arkansas—first in Cherokee Village (Sharp and Fulton counties), then in Mountain Home (Baxter County)—is the son of Hershel Conley and Martha Caudill Conley. His father served as a Missionary Baptist pastor in Mountain Home. Conley was a Lyon College freshman when another student outed him as gay. In response, his parents sent him to Love in Action. His memoir is a painful reflection on his …

Boys on the Tracks, The

Mara Leveritt’s 1999 book Boys on the Tracks: Death, Denial, and a Mother’s Crusade to Bring Her Son’s Killers to Justice is one of the most important examples of investigative journalism in modern Arkansas history. The book’s subject is one of the state’s most famous unsolved cases. At the heart of the case are events surrounding the deaths of two young men—best friends Larry Kevin Ives and Donald George (Don) Henry, both of Bryant (Saline County)—and the resistance encountered by their grieving parents as they searched for the truth. The book won the prestigious Booker Worthen Literary Prize in 2000. On August 23, 1987, at around 4:00 a.m., the bodies of two young men were spotted by the crew of …

Britt, Terri Utley Amos

Terri Britt, who was Terri Utley at the time, was named Miss Arkansas USA in 1982, going on to win the title of 1982’s Miss USA and compete in the Miss Universe pageant, in which she was a finalist. She remains the only Miss USA to come from Arkansas. When Elizabeth Ward, who was Miss Arkansas, was named Miss America in 1982, it became the first time both Miss America and Miss USA title holders were from the same state in the same year. After a career in the entertainment industry, Britt went on to become a successful motivational speaker and author. Terri Lea Utley was born on November 19, 1961. In her hometown of Cabot (Lonoke County), she was …

Broadside to the Sun

Broadside to the Sun is a 1946 book by Donald W. (Don) West recounting his family’s pursuit of subsistence farming in rural Washington County, Arkansas. West’s work was widely read in the northwestern Arkansas region and has become a valuable source for students of Ozarks farm ways and the impacts of twentieth-century social and economic change on the state. Published in 1946 by W. W. Norton & Company as part of its American Lives series, Broadside to the Sun was the first book published by West, an educator who had worked at the Museum of New Mexico. West’s account was part of a trend of books celebrating rural America and the uniqueness of the Ozarks region and culture. Although clearly …

Brown, Helen Marie Gurley

Helen Gurley Brown was a native Arkansan whose career includes landmark achievements in advertising and publishing. She was considered a spokesperson for the women’s liberation movement and sexual revolution in the mid-twentieth century as author of the bestselling book Sex and the Single Girl (1962) and editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine. Helen Marie Gurley was born on February 18, 1922, in Green Forest (Carroll County) to a family of modest means. Her father, Ira Gurley, finished law school in 1923 and was soon elected a state legislator. The family moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) and settled in the Pulaski Heights neighborhood. In 1932, as her father was preparing to run for Arkansas secretary of state, he was killed in an elevator …

Call, Cora Elizabeth Pinkley

Cora Elizabeth Pinkley Call was a popular Ozark writer, naturalist, herbalist, folklorist, and Eureka Springs (Carroll County) historian and booster. A lifetime resident of Carroll County, Call achieved statewide and national prominence as the founder and longtime president of the Ozark Writers-Artists Guild (OWAG), which held annual meetings in Eureka Springs. Born on April 28, 1892, to George Washington Pinkley and Mary Jane Harp Pinkley in Winona Township, Cora Pinkley was diagnosed with scleroderma (then called “Stone Disease”) at the age of twelve. Her prognosis was eventual paralysis and a short life expectancy. Unable to enjoy a normal childhood or sit still for more than a few minutes, she left school and educated herself through reading and walking in the …

Campbell, Tom Walter

Tom Walter Campbell was a well-known Arkansas attorney and political figure in the first half of the twentieth century. A member of the Arkansas General Assembly, he also sought election to higher office but was unsuccessful. In his later years, he authored some well-regarded historical works. Tom W. Campbell was born on September 7, 1874, to John Stone Campbell and Alice Hufstedter Campbell on a farm near the Eleven Point River in Randolph County. After receiving his early education in the local schools, he attended Add-Ran Christian University (now Texas Christian University) in Thorp Springs, Texas. Following his sophomore year in 1894, he returned to Randolph County, and, in 1895, he married Jenny Roberts, with whom he would have three …

Cash: The Autobiography

Published on November 1, 1997, Cash: The Autobiography was the second autobiography written by Johnny Cash. As was true of his previous memoir, Man in Black, this book contains numerous stories about his upbringing in Arkansas. Written amid Cash’s mid-1990s comeback, the book was a success among fans and critics. Cash was Johnny Cash’s third book. After the publication of Man in Black, Cash had published a novel, Man in White, about the apostle Paul. For writing his second autobiography, he had the help of English music critic Patrick Carr. Carr conducted extensive interviews with Cash and then transcribed what Cash said in narrative form, much of it verbatim. Cash is markedly different in tone and structure from Man in …

Centennial History of Arkansas

Dallas Tabor Herndon’s three-volume Centennial History of Arkansas (1922) was created in the early days of the Arkansas History Commission (AHC), now the Arkansas State Archives. Herndon, the AHC’s first director, wrote that “the state had no history that could be relied upon as authentic,” and he saw a need for a more “comprehensive state history” to aid him in his work with researchers at the AHC. Herndon believed that his history would be more reliable and accessible than any other before it, such as Little Rock (Pulaski County) native Fay Hempstead’s multi-volume Historical Review of Arkansas, published in 1911, when Herndon first began work at the AHC. Unlike Hempstead, Herndon was not from Arkansas, and thus he believed his …

Cleaver, Leroy Eldridge

Leroy Eldridge Cleaver was one of the best-known and most recognizable symbols of African American rebellion in the 1960s as a leader of the Black Panther Party and the Black power movement. In the 1970s, he became a born-again Christian and later an active member of the Republican Party. Eldridge Cleaver was born on August 31, 1935, in Wabbaseka (Jefferson County). His father, Leroy Cleaver, was a nightclub entertainer and waiter; his mother, Thelma Hattie Robinson Cleaver, taught elementary school. Many accounts portray Leroy Cleaver as a violent man who beat his wife. Eldridge Cleaver recalled those beatings as the beginning of his “ambition to grow up tall and strong, like my daddy, but bigger and stronger than he, so …

Coal to Diamonds

Coal to Diamonds: A Memoir (2012) was written by Beth Ditto, singer and songwriter for the band Gossip, and co-written by queer popular fiction writer Michelle Tea. In the memoir, Ditto writes about growing up poor in Judsonia (White County) with five siblings, as well as the rampant sexual abuse her female family members experienced. She also discusses coming into her own as a singer, femme-identified lesbian, and feminist. As Ditto recounts, her youth was often turbulent. She frequently lived with her aunt Jannie, along with her aunt’s two children and three cousins placed there by social services. Despite the fact that she was often left with the responsibility of cooking, cleaning, and looking after the children, Ditto describes the …

Cohn, Morris M.

Morris M. Cohn was a nationally recognized lawyer, an author who published articles on a wide variety of subjects, and a Little Rock (Pulaski County) civic leader. Morris M. Cohn was born on March 14, 1852, in New Albany, Indiana, to Mathias Cohn—a businessman, newspaperman, educator, and lawyer—and Theresa Cohn; sources differ on the number of siblings he had, from seven to ten. Cohn received his early education in the grammar schools of Cincinnati, Ohio. He later received private instruction in German, Hebrew, and law. At some point, the family settled in Arkansas. In 1873, he moved from Woodruff County to Little Rock, where he met Addie Mary Ottenheimer, whom he married on September 16, 1886; they had three children. …

Command and Control

Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety is a 2013 book by investigative journalist Eric Schlossser that explores the history of the United States’ nuclear weapons, efforts to control them, and accidents involving them, focusing particularly on the September 1980 Titan II Missile explosion in Arkansas. The book was the basis for a 2016 documentary film directed by Robert Kenner. Author Eric Schlosser previously wrote the New York Times bestsellers Fast Food Nation (2001) and Reefer Madness (2003). The 632-page Command and Control, published by Penguin Press, explored the United States’ development of nuclear weapons and national policy regarding them from their origins in World War II into the twenty-first century. It also documented …

Cone, James Hal

James Hal Cone became known as the father of black liberation theology, which he described as a “theological identity that was accountable to the life, history, and culture of African-American people.” Cone often discussed the impact that growing up in Bearden (Ouachita County) and attending the Macedonia African Methodist Episcopal Church had on his life. Both powerfully influenced his thinking: Bearden for the pain and suffering inflicted on African Americans, and Macedonia as a place where he encountered Jesus. Cone published numerous books on black liberation theology and lectured at more than 1,000 universities and community organizations throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Born to Charles and Lucy Cone in Fordyce (Dallas County) on …