The Arkansas State Archives is excited to announce they have digitized three significant Arkansas newspapers that are available for free online with Chronicling America.
The Arkansas State Press, a local newspaper started in 1941 by the Black civil rights activist couple Lucious and Daisy Gatson Bates, is now available to view for free.
The Press was an 8-page paper published every week on Thursday. It circulated in Little Rock and other Arkansas towns with significant Black populations, including Pine Bluff, Hot Springs, Helena, Forrest City, Jonesboro, and Texarkana.
The Press was unique, even among Black newspapers, in its strong campaign for civil rights. The paper endorsed political policies and candidates that worked toward equality in Arkansas. It also highlighted the achievements of Black Arkansans, along with social, religious, political, and sports news relevant to the Black community.
The Press also pushed for integration in the mid-1950s, celebrating the decision of Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, which led to Daisy mentoring the Little Rock Nine, the first Black students who integrated in Central High School in 1957.
The backlash from protestors of desegregation ended the Press’ eight-year run. The intimidation of Black news carriers during the desegregation protests, combined with the advertisers’ boycott, forced the Press to close in 1959.
Daisy Bates revived the Arkansas State Press in 1984 and dedicated the paper to the memory of her late husband, Lucious, who died in 1980.
Two other newspapers are women-owned and operated Little Rock papers: Little Rock Ladies’ Journal and Women’s Chronicle.
The first major publication to advocate for women’s suffrage in Arkansas was the Little Rock Ladies’ Journal started by Mary Ann Webster Loughborough in 1884. The Journal was also the first Arkansas newspaper started by a woman and written for a female audience.
The Journal was a lengthy publication, typically running at 12 or more pages, issued every week on Saturday. Mary Ann had several women writing for the paper, including her daughter, Jean Moore Loughborough, and Ellen Maria Harrell Cantrell. The Journal was unique among newspapers in the South for focusing not only on women’s concerns, but also advocating for political issues like women’s suffrage at a time when many were apathetic to women’s voting rights.
Although Loughborough had big plans for the Journal, the paper’s run ended unexpectedly in 1887 after her sudden illness and death.
Despite its early end, Loughborough’s newspaper inspired the opening of the Woman’s Chronicle (1888-1???) the next year, which Catherine Campbell Cuningham, Mary Burt Brooks, and Haryot Holt Cahoon created to continue Loughborough’s work for the women of the state.
This was the second newspaper dedicated to women in Arkansas. The Chronicle was an 8-page paper published every Saturday. The Chronicle, like the Journal, was a strong supporter of women’s suffrage. Unfortunately, like the Southern Ladies’ Journal, the Chronicle also lasted less than five years before it ceased due to Cuningham’s ill health in 1893.
These three papers are just the recent editions added to Chronicling America by the Arkansas State Archives. Go to www.ChroniclingAmerica.loc.gov to see these and many more.
For questions about these papers, contact Katherine Adkins at [email protected].