Arguably no other Arkansas governor pushed through more progressive legislation in a four-year period than Dale Bumpers. During his two-term leadership from 1971 until 1975, he managed to reorganize state government, enact a more progressive state tax rate, expand the state park system and undertake a major construction initiative among the state's universities.
In late October, the UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture celebrated the public opening of Bumpers' gubernatorial papers. The massive collection, housed in the Arkansas Studies Institute, includes all the documents related to that legislation, transcripts of every speech Bumpers gave as governor, campaign materials, news clippings, notes from staff meetings and most, substantially, correspondence.
We asked Stephen Boyd, a graduate student in UALR's history program, to dip his toe into the governor's general correspondence. What he found reveals that even during the most momentous times, the state's highest public servant is assaulted with a barrage of trivialities. Excerpts from some of the most colorfully inconsequential below:
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