This archive began in April 2020 as a way to fill a void in the historical record: most of the newspapers of these two towns in the years leading up to WWII have not survived. Fortunately, modern-day online newspaper databases and microfilm make it possible to search for and collect articles about Walnut Ridge and Hoxie that were newsworthy or quirky enough to publish in other newspapers across the state and the country. Other historical sources such as photographs, Sanborn fire insurance maps, postcards, and documents have been added to supplement and enrich the collection, and more sources will be added in the future. As other facets of Lawrence County history are already well-preserved in institutions such as Western Lawrence County's Black Rock Museum, Powhatan Courthouse State Park, and the Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives (and Old Davidsonville State Park) on the one hand, and Eastern Lawrence County museums such as the Wings of Honor Museum and the upcoming Hoxie: The First Stand Museum that focus on major events in Walnut Ridge and Hoxie after 1941, it made sense to focus in on the history of Walnut Ridge and Hoxie in the years leading up to WWII. Though this archive focuses on the sources themselves, rather than scholarship on those sources, an aggregation of links to scholarly research on the two towns and related subjects can be found at the end of this website: View Research on Pre-WWII WR & Hoxie.
This archive has one combined media collection-- 1000+ news clippings, photographs, and documents in total-- and to aid navigation of this enormous collection there are four ways to view it. The most specific division is by the sources' themes, and there are multiple overlaps between the respective themes. For instance, take the 1882 article about the three-month-old owl, "Solon," who was kept in a room in Walnut Ridge for curious individuals to look at (for a fee of ten cents, of course): this article is included in the collections of bird tags, stores & services tags, saloons & alcohol tags (since the owl viewing took place in response to a prohibition law), and fairs and gatherings tags (since the bird was donated to a St. Louis fair association). Additionally, it can be found in categories in the other divisions, such as by place (Walnut Ridge), source type (newspaper), and timeline. Of course, fitting 1000 sources into only 90 tags means that some themes and approaches are necessarily left out: currently there are no tags for individual citizens mentioned in sources, for instance. Feel free to reach out via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any comments, critiques, or additional sources you may have.
In this archive are stories ranging from the joyous to the tragic, and occasionally a mixture of both, such as the tale of a Walnut Ridge man who had manufactured ice cream for 40 years but had never tasted any of it. I hope that you find WHOA informative, thought-provoking, and even at times, entertaining!
- Edward Harthorn, Curator
As a fuller introduction to the wider context of Lawrence County and its inhabitants during this era, here are the Lawrence County-related excerpts of the 1889 book Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Northeast Arkansas, featuring numerous character sketches and an overview of the county at that time: