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Clay Fulks Papers

Identifier: MC 1473

Scope and Content Note

The first group of materials pertains to Clay Fulks and his family. Biographical materials consist primarily of newspaper clippings, which include information on the Arkansas Socialist Party. The FBI report contains documents released to Stephen Smith relating to the investigation of Clay Fulks from 1941 to 1952. Fulkss newspaper writings include columns, news features, and letters to the editor. Among them is an article on Arkansas entrepreneur Harvey Couch (1932). His writings also include essays published by E. Haldeman-Julius, either as separate pamphlets or as part of an anthology with other authors. Two volumes of The American Mercury from 1926 and 1927 containing essays by Fulks are in Box 4 with other H.L. Mencken materials. Fulkss writings also include draft manuscripts. With the exception of An Errant Arkansan, an unpublished novel detailing the life of Carl Fuller, these manuscripts are arranged alphabetically by title. Several of the manuscripts date from his tenure at Commonwealth College, and topics include Arkansas culture, democracy, debt peonage, Christian fundamentalism, and Russia-U.S. relations. One manuscript is titled The Elaine Massacre. Manuscripts and other writings by Fulks concerning Commonwealth College are grouped with related materials. Items relating to James Fulks, including correspondence, are grouped separately. Bryan Fulks materials consist of newspaper articles by him as well as essays published in the United Secularists of the World publication Progressive World. It is not clear who Bryan Fulks was, though he may have been one of Clay's five brothers.

The second group of materials pertains to Commonwealth College in Mena, Arkansas. Copies of the colleges newspaper, Commonwealth College Fortnightly, comprise the bulk of these materials. Materials include writings by Clay Fulks on the college, including draft manuscripts and newspaper articles. Materials also include several copies of a three-part feature on the college by David W. Hacker published in the Arkansas Gazette in 1954. Orval Faubus materials concern the controversy over his past connections to Commonwealth College that developed during his race against Governor Francis Cherry during the Democratic gubernatorial primary in 1954.

The third group of materials includes items from the alternative press of the 1920s through the early 1960s as represented by H.L. Mencken, E. Haldeman-Julius, and others. The Atomic Era, edited by Gus A. Horack, changed its name to The Comet in January 1949. The item concerning Operation Dixie is an anti-CIO pamphlet by Joseph B. Kamp. The item concerning Joseph Shoemaker is a pamphlet put out by the Committee for the Defense of Civil Rights in Tampa, claiming that Shoemaker was murdered through the collusion of the Ku Klux Klan and law enforcement officers. Highlander Folk School (Monteagle, Tennessee) was a private, racially integrated adult learning center verbally attacked by Arkansas Attorney General Bruce Bennett in 1959; materials include editorials, letters, and other documents related to the controversy. The Arkansas newspaper clippings include information on a commission to investigate farm tenancy established by Governor J.M. Futrell (1936); a constitutional amendment to abolish the poll tax (ca. 1937); and a promotion of the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce (n.d.)


  • Creation: 1909-2002


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Access Information

Please call (479) 575-8444 or email at least two weeks in advance of your arrival to ensure availability of the materials.

Use Information

No Use Restrictions Apply.

No Interlibrary Loan.

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Biographical Note

Clay Fulks was born on January 28, 1880, in Pearson, Cleburne County, Arkansas, the son of Whitman Whifield and Martha Ellen Thompson Fulks. One of ten siblings, including five brothers and four sisters, he graduated from Heber Springs High School (Cleburne County) in 1903. From 1909 to 1915 he wrote articles for newspapers in White County, and in 1916 he edited a column titled Department of Economics in The Searcy Daily News; he also contributed to The Milwaukee [Wisconsin] Leader in 1920-1923. In 1911-1912 he studied law via the American Extension University in Los Angeles, and then in 1921-1922 he studied journalism via the American Extension University in New York City. Fulks married Mabel Grace Coe of Fayetteville, and their son James was born circa 1923. By 1927 they had settled in Mena, Polk County, Arkansas, with both teaching at Commonwealth College. Clay Fulks retired from teaching in 1932, after which he worked as a farmer.

Fulks was an outspoken critic of Arkansass political, social, and economic establishment. Affiliated with the Arkansas Socialist Party, sources indicate he ran as the partys gubernatorial candidate in 1918, 1928, and 1932. In January 1927 he appeared before the Arkansas state legislature as a witness opposing the adoption of a law banning the teaching of evolution in public schools. Fulks wrote numerous articles and tracts critiquing Southern culture and American capitalism, several of which were published in The American Mercury, edited by H.L. Mencken, and E. Haldeman-Juliuss Little Blue Books series. With the dissolution of Commonwealth College in 1941 for its radical teachings, Fulks became the subject of an FBI investigation from 1941 to 1952.

Clay and Mabel Fulks relocated to California in 1942, settling in Burbank in April 1943, where he worked for the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation. Afterwards they lived in several places, including Portland, Oregon (ca. 1947-October 1949), San Antonio, Texas (ca. November 1949-March 1950), and Ink, Arkansas (ca. April 1950), near Mena. Later in 1950, they settled in Neosho, Missouri, where the 84-year-old Clay Fulks died in 1964.

James Fulks received his high school education from his parents, and attended the University of Arkansas in 1938-1939. He enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps in September, 1940, and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in April 1941. Stationed in the Philippines, he was captured by the Japanese on Corregidor in 1942 and became a prisoner-of-war. He died aboard a prisoner transport to Japan on January 28, 1945.


4 Linear Feet (5 boxes)

Arrangement of the Papers

Materials in this collection are arranged in three groups.

Oversize materials from the three groups are located in Box 5.

Acquisition Information

The Clay Fulks Papers were donated to the Special Collections Department on July 7, 2002, by Elizabeth Kaplan of Annandale, Virginia.

Related Materials

Clay Fulks Articles Appearing in Haldeman-Julius Little Blue Book Anthologies:

"The Serpents Tooth," pages 5-28, in #1263, Clay Fulks, The Serpent's Tooth, 1928.

"The Religious Revival," pages 56-63, in #1265, L.M. Birkhead, Is Elmer Gantry True?, 1928.

"Notes on the Fundamentalist Insurrection," pages 57-64, in #1267, Ray Runnion, Are Americans Standardized?, 1928.

"The Hundred Percenter at Bay," pages 30-42, in #1268, Nelson Antrim Crawford and Others, Are You a Babbitt?, 1928.

"'Tornado Jack,' Evangelist," pages 58-64, in #1297, W.G. Clugston and Others, Facts You Should Know About Arkansas, 1928 Note: Also includes Fred Bair, "Clay Fulks and the Culture of the Ozarks."

"Sources of Intolerance in America," pages 5-11; "Minds Muddled by Emotion," pages 12-19; in Clay Fulks, Sources of Intolerance in America, 1928.

"Is Republican Government Breaking Down in America?", pages 53-62, in #1317, Nicholas Murray Butler, The Meaning of the U.S. Constitution, n.d.

"The Plight of the South," pages 5-34, in Clay Fulks, The Plight of the South, 1929.

Processing Information

Processed by Phillip Stephens, Special Collections Division, University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville, Arkansas, June 2008.



Clay Fulks Papers
Phillip Stephens
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Department Repository

University of Arkansas Libraries
365 N. McIlroy Avenue
Fayetteville AR 72701 United States
(479) 575-8444