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Pine Bluff press. : (Pine Bluff, Ark.) 19??-19??
Place of publication:
Pine Bluff, Ark.
Geographic coverage:
  • Pine Bluff, Jefferson, Arkansas  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
A.R.D. Thompson
Dates of publication:
  • English
  • African Americans--Arkansas--Newspapers.
  • Arkansas.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01204809
  • Continues: Five star final (non-extant).
  • Description based on: July 20, 1940.
sn 93050474
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Pine Bluff press. June 22, 1940 , Image 1


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Pine Bluff Press

Pine Bluff is the Jefferson County seat in southeastern central Arkansas. It was one of the earliest European settlements in Arkansas Territory, strategically placed on the Arkansas River. Pine Bluff grew quickly due to its river port and fertile farmland, so that by 1890 it was the third largest city in Arkansas. Up through the 1920s the area had large farming operations, largely producing cotton. However, the area was heavily affected by the Mississippi River flood in 1927, drought in 1930, and the Great Depression, causing the population to stagnate around 20,000 for a few decades.

The Pine Bluff Press was founded in 1937 by A. R. D. Thompson. The paper noted that it was formerly the Five Star Final newspaper. The Press was published every week, with the masthead claiming that it was “Arkansas’ Greatest Colored Weekly.” The Press’s main office was located at 709 East 5th Street in Pine Bluff, with a publishing company consisting of Elsie Mae Thompson as the president-treasurer, Daniel C. Greathouse the assistant advertising manager, Willie White Johnson the circulation manager, and Mrs. J. B. Hamilton Jones the associate editor and manager of the McGehee office branch of the newspaper in Desha County.

The Press took an unbiased stance, labeling itself “nonpolitical, nonsectarian, independent, clean progressive, and constructive.” The paper was established to help all of the Black community, shown in the tagline: “Here to serve - for race uplift” and on the publisher’s block: “For those who are for us but not against those who are against us. Supports all things worth supporting.”

The Press focused on state news relevant to the Black community. On the second page in each issue the paper set aside a quarter page section each for “McGehee News” and “Pine Bluff News.” It also had a dedicated Woman’s Page and another page for Sports. The paper gave special focus to educational and religious news. This included multiple sections for religious content, like a Weekly Sunday School Lesson and an article by Mrs. E. C. Hatcher about hymns. Hatcher’s husband was the editor and manager of the Southern Christian Recorder (1889-1946), a newspaper by the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, published out of Little Rock at that time. Some issues of the Press also included a Church Directory page. The directory had the subheading “Go to Church Sunday” and provided a list of the Black churches in Little Rock and North Little Rock, along with their addresses, pastor names, and service times.

The Pine Bluff Press had a sister paper in the Twin City Press (193?-1940), another Black community newspaper published nearby in Little Rock, Pulaski County. The Presses had the same masthead, tagline, advertising rates, and layout. Despite the papers having entirely different staff and separate office locations, they coordinated and frequently shared editorials between them. The Pine Bluff Press had several articles from the editor of the Twin City Press, Emory Overton Jackson. The papers also worked together to obtain advertisers for their papers, with the Pine Bluff Press giving instructions for their supporters to make checks for the ads payable to the Twin City Press.

The last reports of the Pine Bluff Press list it as ending in 1942. The Twin City Press had already ceased publication in 1940 and their printing plant had been used to start the Arkansas State Press (1941-1959). After the Pine Bluff Press closed, its associate editor, Hamilton Jones, joined the State Press as a reporter. The State Press was left as the only major paper in the state providing news specifically for Black Arkansans.

As of this writing, there are only a few surviving issues of the Press. 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