History of Early Amateur Journalism in Arkansas


AN ATTEMPT TO ORGANIZE an interstate association in 1882 to include Arkansas, Kansas, and Missouri failed because of a combination of circumstances. But the interest aroused in Arkansas led to the organizing in November of an Arkansas Junior Journalists Association. The officers, chosen by mail, included Albert E. Barker as President and Robert E. Kimball as Official Editor. The second attempt to form the interstate association succeeded in 1884, as related under the heading of Kansas. Barker was chosen President. A local club was formed in Little Rock in 1883, with D. S. Bethune, President, and R. E. Kimball, Editor.


The first amateur journalist in Arkansas, as far as known, was David S. Bethune who in May, 1881, began the publication of the Wasp from Little Rock. His example was followed two months later by two brothers in Texarkana, named E. G. and E. W. Shaw, who issued the Youths' Journal. But in October their entire outfit was destroyed by fire, and this ended their amateur experience. In Hot Springs, in October of that year, a boy 14 years of age named George M. Baxter began the publication of the Argus, and in December Albert E. Barker began the amateur career which ended in his election as President of the National A.P.A. in 1888. His paper, issued from Judsonia, was at first called the Amateur News, and was later known as the Journal. Later it was combined with the Exchange, published by R. B. Teachenor of Kansas City, and the Exchange Journal became one of the foremost papers of its time. Next year, 1882, in Judsonia, Wiltshire Riley, Jr., issued the Blade, and in Hot Springs Robert E. Kimbell sent out the Spider, removing a little later to Little Rock. He became one of the leading amateur editors of the West.


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