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Title:
Arkansas survey. : (Little Rock, Ark.) 1923-1935
Place of publication:
Little Rock, Ark.
Geographic coverage:
  • Little Rock, Pulaski, Arkansas  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Publisher:
Arkansas Survey Co.
Dates of publication:
1923-1935
Description:
  • Began in 1923; ceased in 1935?
Frequency:
Weekly
Language:
  • English
Subjects:
  • African Americans--Arkansas--Newspapers.
  • African Americans.--fast--(OCoLC)fst00799558
  • Arkansas.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01204809
  • Little Rock (Ark.)--Newspapers.
Notes:
  • Description based on: Vol. 2, no. 14 (Sept. 20, 1924).
LCCN:
sn 92050012
OCLC:
25133882
Succeeding Titles:
Holdings:
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Arkansas survey. September 20, 1924 , Image 1

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Arkansas Survey, Arkansas Survey-Journal, and The Arkansas World

By the early 1900s, Black Arkansans in Little Rock had created a "city within a city" along West 9th Street comprised of Black businesses, churches, and social halls. Due to Jim Crow laws, Black Arkansans had to run their own businesses, newspapers, and schools. The Mosaic Templars of America (MTA) was one such business founded on 9th Street. This Black fraternal organization offered services like insurance, loans, publishing, schools, and a hospital. By the 1920s, the MTA was one of the largest Black businesses in the United States. As with the rest of the South, Little Rock went through major contested changes during the civil rights movement and in the 1950s; became the center of national attention during the Desegregation of Central High School.

Across the South, segregation meant Black communities had to produce their own newspapers as well, since white papers rarely covered news written for a Black audience. William Alexander Scott, a Black newspaper entrepreneur in Atlanta, Georgia found success publishing advertisement flyers in the city and in 1928, he established the Atlanta World (192?-1932), (later the Atlanta Daily World (1932-current). Unlike the other national Black newspaper at that time, the Chicago Defender (1906-1966), which had a more militant stance, the Atlanta Daily World was more moderate in its outlook, advocating for basic rights for Black Americans, but stopping short of calling for racial equality.

After the Atlanta World was successfully established, Scott devised the idea of a chain of Black newspapers covering the American South from his base in Atlanta. Knowing the cost of running a newspaper was prohibitive, his plan encouraged the creation of newspapers in small towns by printing the chain newspapers in Atlanta and distributing them to each syndicate member. Members would write local news for their paper and supplement it with stories from the World. In 1931, his plan came to fruition with the creation of the Southern News Syndicate (later also referred to as the Scott Newspaper Syndicate). In 1934, in the midst of growing his successful Syndicate, Scott was murdered on his doorstep in Atlanta. After a brief void in the Syndicate's leadership, members of Scott's family took over to keep the Newspaper Syndicate running. Thanks to the Syndicate, several Black newspapers were able to operate out of Little Rock, including the Arkansas Survey-Journal and the Arkansas World.

While some newspapers were explicitly created as part of the Syndicate, many had already been in publication for years before joining. The Arkansas Survey is an example of one such newspaper. Percy Lipton Dorman, a Black educator, was appointed by Governor Charles Hillman Brough to oversee Arkansas's Black schools in 1917. In 1923, Dorman established the Arkansas Survey in part to advocate for Arkansas's Black schools. The one issue that survives from the Survey on September 20, 1924, called for better facilities for Black students. Dorman was a moderate when it came to the civil rights struggle. Acting as Supervisor of Negro Schools in Arkansas, he was expected to keep the racial status quo, which fit with the Syndicate's overall racial outlook at the time. During his time at the Survey, Dorman also worked at the Mosaic Templars of America. After leaving the Survey, he served as editor for the Arkansas World.

The Survey's financial struggles prompted it to later join the Syndicate in 1935, when it was renamed to the Arkansas Survey-Journal. The Survey-Journal retained its base in Little Rock but had offices in Pine Bluff and Helena as well, towns with large Black communities. By 1940, the paper's business and circulation managers were George W. Scott and Thomas Watson respectively. The rest of the staff were women, several of whom served as the editors. These include Mrs. E. W. Dawson, Alice Young, Sallie Buchanan, Mrs. Ludy Clinkscales, Mrs. F. E. Doles, and Louise Thornton.

Also in 1940, Augustus G. Shields, Jr. created the Arkansas World with Dorman as contributing editor. Shields was an entrepreneur and cofounder of the National Negro Publishers Association. In the one existing issue of the Arkansas World, Shields wrote that the paper was "non-sectarian and non-partisan … supporting those things it believes to the interest of its readers and opposing those things against the interest of its readers."

Though Syndicate members maintained a moderate political and social stance, as the 1940s progressed and Black Americans became more vocal about voting rights, the Atlanta Daily World began to call for equality. Other Syndicate papers soon followed this new editorial policy. The Syndicate remained strong until the mid-1950s when many of the smaller papers began to close. In Arkansas, the Arkansas World closed in 1957 and the Survey-Journal also closed sometime in the 1950s.

As of this writing, there are only a few surviving issues of the Survey and World. This is the case for many Black newspapers, as past archival organizations were often neglectful of preserving the Black community’s written heritage, and the newspapers did not survive. When newspapers disappear, Black voices are forever lost, leaving a large gap in the understanding of our history.

Provided by: Arkansas State Archives