Alice and the Atlas

You might call it falling down a rabbit hole, but I like to think of it as jumping. You know what I mean…you look at something on the internet and your mind starts churning with questions. Falling implies no control or decision on your part. Jumping is definitely your decision. You are in complete control!

The other day—Or maybe it was a few weeks ago at this point… Who knows? With the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve lost all track of time—a friend and co-worker decided to jump down a history rabbit hole. Let’s call her Alice.

It all started when a group of us library types were chatting about what we wanted to highlight on social media from the CALS Butler Center for Arkansas Studies collection. Our chief archivist suggested a couple of possibilities and emailed us links right then. Well, Alice chose to open the email right at that moment and take a look. The Atlas of Pulaski County Arkansas (1906) caught her eye. She looked up an area of town she knew well to see what was there in 1906. Here’s the play-by-play of what she found:

Alice’s interest was sparked by the names Runyan and Shinault. Apparently these two men were doctors and founders of St. Luke Hospital on Schiller. And Runyan was the founding dean of what is now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).

Page 4 of Little Rock and Pulaski County Arkansas Illustrated, 19071908 showing the highlights from a word search at ARStudies.com.

A search for “Runyan & Shinault” on GoogleBooks led Alice to William Lindsey’s A Family Practice: The Russell Doctors and the Evolving Business of Medicine, 1799–1989. In the endnotes (page 242, note 93), Alice discovered details about Runyan. And in The Journal of the Arkansas Medical Society (1916), she found Runyan and Shinault listed as members of medical society committees. In The Journal of the American Medical Association (1913), she found a paragraph about Runyan’s and Shinault’s roles as president and secretary, respectively, of a new board of medical examiners. They graduated together as doctors in 1904 and opened St. Luke Hospital in 1911-1912. Runyan lived at 1514 S. Schiller Street in a house he built in 1901. He was also a railroad surgeon who was sued for malpractice at least a couple of times; those decisions were cited in a case in 1990.

Fay Hempstead’s Historical Review of Arkansas gives a detailed account of Shinault’s life. He owned Trapnall Hall in the early 1900s and did a lot of modernizing. He ran the sanitarium in Helena before moving to Little Rock. He was originally from Tennessee. And he shot and killed another doctor over a disagreement about how to set a patient’s leg.

All this from a chat among co-workers about what needed to be on social media! Why don’t you take a look at the Atlas, find a part of Pulaski County you know well, and see what rabbit hole you fall (or jump!) down? Then let us know on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages what you found down there.

By Heather Zbinden, CALS Roberts Library outreach coordinator

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