The EOA at 15: CALS Staffers Pick Their Favorite EOA Entries

To help celebrate 15 years of the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas—the only state encyclopedia produced and supported by a public library—we asked 15 staff members from around the Central Arkansas Library System to pick their favorite EOA entries. They picked some good ones! Like everyone else, these CALS staffers use it for research, for work, and for fun.


Square-Shooters Club Card handed out by “Cactus” Vick at his Famous Wonder Circus Parties.
Ellen Bard, CALS Readers’ Advisory Coordinator, says: “My personal favorite is ‘Cactus’ Vick. I like being able to gaze back at something I remember fondly from childhood. In the cold light of day I realize that he was just a corporate shill, but back then he was wondrous.  I mean, Vick was an influencer way before it was cool.”
Elton and Betty White.
Mark Christ, CALS Head of Adult Programming (who, by the way, has written hundreds of entries for the EOA over the years), says: “As part of my job with CALS, I have the pleasure of recording three Encyclopedia of Arkansas Minutes each month with our friends at KUAR (they are also shared with public radio stations KUAF in Fayetteville and KASU in Jonesboro). EOA Editor Guy Lancaster chooses several entries each month for consideration, which has broadened my knowledge of Arkansas history and culture considerably, since they have ranged from pop culture figures like Elton and Betty White to supernatural phenomena like the Gurdon Light to truly bad movies like Fighting Mad.
Blanchard Springs Caverns.
Jessi Clark, Library Assistant, Main Library, Level 4: Teens, picks the famous Blanchard Springs Caverns for her favorite entry.
Joe Hudak, Head of the Main Library, says: “CALS recently created a system-wide series of Earth Month programs for April. While planning parks programs, I came across the EOA entry for Gillam Park. Visiting the park now, it looks like it’s always been parkland, but there’s a lot of twentieth-century history packed into those 400 acres.”
I-630 under construction in 1982 and blocked by racial justice protestors in summer 2020.
Tameka Lee, CALS Director of Communications, says: “The EOA team does an amazing job of incorporating all aspects of Arkansas history, including entries that illustrate the state’s connection to national events. There are stories that many people aren’t familiar with, such as the history of Interstate 630. We shared a link to that entry on our CALS social media last summer when peaceful demonstrations were held on the major thoroughfare in response to the killing of George Floyd. It had the highest engagement of any post last year. Another recent entry, on Black Lives Matter, is relevant and timely. It’s important to me, personally and professionally, that the library system makes this information available to the public from a historical standpoint.”
Lisa Donovan, CALS Deputy Executive Director, says: “Over the past year, I have spent a considerable amount of time strolling through my neighborhood, which has led to a newfound interest in the work of architect Max Mayer. He designed numerous houses in Little Rock in the early 1900s, including several in Hillcrest where I live. Mayer was also commissioned to create the Arkansas Territorial Restoration (now Historic Arkansas Museum), including the restoration of the Hinterliter Grog Shop. Reading about Mayer’s work gives me a glimpse into early twentieth-century Little Rock, which I find fascinating! I also hear that the EOA has an entry on Mayer himself in the works…”
Jasmine Jobe, EOA Editorial Assistant, says: “My favorite entries are the ones with tables of writers, like winners of the Porter Prize, winners of the Pulitzer Prize, and members of the Arkansas Writers’ Conference – so many to be inspired by!”
Dogpatch USA billboard on Route 62, east of Harrison (Boone County); 1980.
Brad Mooy, CALS Six Bridges Book Festival Coordinator, says: “Whenever I need to research information on Arkansas, the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas is one of the first places I look. Of course, I visit it when verifying information about many work-related items, but it also has many entries that are simply fun and educational, like the entry on Dogpatch USA.  The EOA is a wonderful resource and a terrific launching pad for the intellectually curious.”
Kay Kay DeRossette, CALS Grants Coordinator, says: “As Grants Coordinator at CALS, I ask businesses and foundations to fund programs and services that address economic, social, educational, health, and racial disparities in our community. EOA entries like West Ninth Street in Little Rock and Interstate 630 help me understand our community’s past and make the case for programs that attempt to address disparities through innovative programming. One of CALS’s strategic goals is to provide more resources and services to the Latinx and Black communities. These EOA entries provide historical context to CALS’s efforts to provide resources and services to under-resourced neighborhoods within our community. I also appreciate the entries on Taborian Hall in Little Rock and the Elaine Massacre of 1919.”
Rhonda Stewart, Genealogy and Local History Specialist, Roberts Library, likes the entry on Riley “Doc” Johns. She says: “Earliest description of an ‘athletic trainer’ I’ve read; he’s a paradox of ‘southern life’ in real terms.”
C. R. and Katherine Breckinridge in a small sleigh in front of their residence in St. Petersburg, Russia; circa 1896.
Heather Register Zbinden, Outreach Coordinator for the Roberts Library, chooses the entry on Clifton Rodes Breckinridge as her favorite. She says, “I wrote my master’s thesis on Clifton’s wife, Katherine Carson Breckinridge, so this entry is near and dear to me!”
Stewart Fuell, CALS Public Relations Specialist and Social Media Coordinator, says: “This is hard because there are SO MANY great stories from Arkansas history represented in the EOA, but I’m putting my support behind Rhonda Lee Oglesby Coullet. Her talent and spirit were too big for the box Arkansas foolishly tried to force her into, and I think the EOA entry about her serves as a fabulous introduction to her wild story. I also like that the entry links to Belle Starr, another of my personal favorite figures from Arkansas’s past.”
Little Rock, painting by Adrian Louis Brewer. From the collection of the Central Arkansas Library System
Colin Thompson, CALS Art Administrator, says: “I really like the EOA entry on Adrian Louis Brewer. He was very influential in the creation of an artistic environment in Arkansas. Brewer was a founder of the Arkansas Art League (along with his son Edwin Brewer) and helped with the formation of what is now the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts. His work covers a lot of genres, but I really admire the watercolors he created from the sketches of Charles Alexandre Lesueur, a French explorer who traveled through Arkansas in the 1800s. Reproductions that CALS holds in its art collection are on display in the Roberts Library.”
Building that supposedly housed Bartleby Clown College in downtown Jonesboro (Craighead County); 1964. This composite photograph was used in conjunction with our annual April Fool’s Day entry in 2008.
Kate Matthews, CALS Branch Services Coordinator, says: “I love the April Fool’s Day entries. I think Bartleby Clown College is my favorite, even though I don’t even especially like clowns.”
Main branch of the Central Arkansas Library System in Little Rock.
Nate Coulter, CALS Executive Director, chooses as his favorite entry, of course, the entry on the Central Arkansas Library System!

To celebrate 15 years of the EOA and to make sure the EOA keeps having YOUR favorites, consider making a one-time or recurring donation that will help us grow and maintain the EOA into the future.

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