A Binge on Arkansas History and Culture by EOA editor Guy Lancaster

 

by EOA editor Guy Lancaster

I know that it’s popular to binge-watch series on streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu. And I have friends who binge-read authors—if they find a book they like, they immediately start reading everything else by the same author. But I’ve never been one who binges. My eyes burn out if I stare at a screen too long, and if I like a particular book, I tend to want a bit of space before tackling another of the author’s offerings.

However, I do sometimes binge on the Encyclopedia of Arkansas database, where we store records for entries, both those that have been written and those that need to be. I’m always thinking of new ways that we can expand EOA content, and this is where I do my bingeing. During the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial, I went through the 1963 Arkansas Historical Quarterly article that lists all the military events that occurred in Arkansas during the war and added them to our database, and we found authors for most of them. Later, I spent a week with a road atlas, adding every small town I could see into said database—more than 2,000 different records—and we are slowly chipping away at them, county by county. Last year, I surveyed the listing of state legislators in the Historical Report of the Secretary of State of Arkansas and added any legislator who has served more than ten years or in any special capacity, such as Speaker of the House (and someday I’ll add the others).

Recently, I’ve binged on lists of local library systems, shopping malls, Little Rock city parks, county fairs, books set in Arkansas, and more, adding them to our ever-growing list of entries needing authors. Of course, our own readers contribute their suggestions, too, and we also glean entry possibilities while reading books, articles, the newspaper, or even other entries.

As I write this, that list of entries needing authors currently stands at more than 5,400 entries, while we have nearly 5,900 entries already online. In other words, the EOA has the potential still to nearly double in size based upon what is already in our database. But the more we have, the more we find we need. So it goes.

If you want to write an entry, or simply suggest a topic, please do contact us. We need your input and your knowledge. Email me at glancaster@cals.org.

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