Beyond the Shelf: Digitized Books and Periodicals from the CALS Butler Center’s Collections 

Cover of Survey of Negroes in Little Rock and North Little Rock, 1941 .

To make our rich book and periodicals collection more accessible to researchers, the CALS Butler Center for Arkansas Studies at the Roberts Library has been working to digitize books from our collections not bound by copyright to make them accessible via the web. 

Items are scanned by our staff and then uploaded to our digital collections on the Arkansas Studies Research Portal at where users can use keyword searches to find information that may be relevant to their research. In the Butler Center’s book collection alone, we have digitized over 200 individual volumes.  

Some recent additions of note include the Survey of Negroes in Little Rock and North Little Rock. This report was compiled by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) with support from the Urban League of Little Rock in 1941. The report has a wealth of information about the resources, education, community facilities, and employment opportunities available to Central Arkansas’s Black citizens in the late 1930s.  

We have also digitized several items from the Quapaw Quarter Association records (BC.MSS.06.15) that document the history of Little Rock’s built environment. The Little Rock “City of Roses” souvenir booklet showcases residences, businesses, and government buildings in Little Rock ca. 1902 and features vignettes about prominent members of the Little Rock community. (The header image for this blog post is a bird’s-eye view from the top of the Masonic Temple in downtown Little Rock, looking north, from page 17 of the “City of Roses” booklet.)

Coverage on the 1906 Arkansas State Fair, Little Rock Sketch Book, Volume 1, Number 2, 1906.

Little Rock and Pulaski County Arkansas Illustrated contains similar content for ca. 1907-1908, including ads from local businesses and institutions of higher education in the city, as well as some landmarks in the wider county.

The recently digitized The Quapaw Quarter: A Guide to Little Rock’s 19th Century Neighborhoods features many private residences in the areas that are now known as the MacArthur Park Historic District and Governor’s Mansion Historic District. The book was published in 1976, so it features some structures that have since been demolished.  

Following the theme of books that document life in Little Rock in the early twentieth century, there are eight volumes of Bernie Babcock’s Little Rock Sketch Book available digitally as well. The publication was put out quarterly between 1906 and 1907 by author, socialite, and local activist Bernie Babcock. In addition to literary and artistic works, issues include opinion and humor columns, book reviews, photography and photographic portraits, and feature articles on cultural events like the Arkansas State Fair. Some issues also highlighted sites and events in other areas of the state such as Subiaco Abbey, Pine Bluff, and ostrich racing in Hot Springs. 

This is just a taste of the wide variety of publications available digitally. Access all of the digitized books from our collections here 

And come visit us in the Roberts Library research room to access digital materials on our computers or to look at our many as-yet-undigitized items.

By Danielle Afsordeh, community outreach archivist at the CALS Butler Center for Arkansas Studies/Roberts Library





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