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Harlan Hobbs Papers

Identifier: MC 1356

Scope and Content Note

The collection includes significant materials pertaining to celebrities such as Bob Burns, Chester Lauck, Gail Patrick, and others. Also, significant materials pertain to the relationship between President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Kevin McCann. Materials pertaining to Dr. Thomas Dooley, famed for his volunteer work in Laos and co-founder of MEDICO, the Medical International Cooperation Organization, include items related to his visit to Winnetka, Illinois, in 1959, as well as efforts to establish a Tom Dooley memorial fund. Materials pertaining to Charles F. Schreiner and Ada Wrigley Hagenah highlight the scandalous affair of the Wrigley family heiress with Schreiner, a married man and rector of Christ Church in Winnetka. Hobbs designated the affair The Case of the Wretched Rector; Harlan and Jean Hobbs were friends of Schreiner's wife, Dorothy, and members of the church. Materials related to Hobbs's trip to Little Rock in November 1957 include primarily items related to his itinerary. Cassette tape interviews include information on Hobbs's visit to Little Rock in 1957 to investigate the Central High crisis as well as Hobbs's experience during a race riot in Little Rock [Note: Although Hobbs relates the event as occurring in the early 1930s, the event in question was most likely the lynching of John Carter in 1927, which set off a riot by whites in the black business section of town]. Images include numerous photographs of celebrities dating primarily from Hobbs's time in Hollywood. Also included in the collection is the story board of a film, This World of Glass, drawn by artists of the Walt Disney Company for Owens-Illinois Glass Company.

Materials include personal and professional papers. Personal papers include biographical materials, calendars and monthly planners, financial and legal documents, and drafts and notes related to Hobbs's writings. Many of his writings are available as published newspaper clippings. Other personal papers include materials pertaining to family members and friends, and correspondence. Professional papers pertain to Hobbs's multifaceted career. In many cases, business relationships developed into personal relationships, and related materials are grouped by subject. The collection includes photographs, negatives, and slides, as well as photograph albums. The story board of This World of Glass is comprised of more than 240 illustrated plates featuring original artwork; plates 61-63 are missing. The collection includes five audio-tape interviews with Hobbs, recorded in 1997. Finally, artifacts in the collection include campaign buttons, jewelry, and other items supporting the Eisenhower-Nixon ticket in the 1950s.


  • Creation: 1926-2002


Access Information

Items featuring the original signature of American presidents have been separated for security reasons; access photocopies are available for use.

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

Use Information

Use restrictions apply: Materials in Series 5, Story board, This World of Glass, are fragile and must be handled with care. To view these materials, researchers may remove them from their mylar sleeves. However, gloves must be worn while handling these materials.

No Interlibrary Loan.

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

Biographical Note

Harlan Stephen Hobbs was born in Paragould, Arkansas, on August 27, 1911, the son of Wiley and Anna Milner Hobbs. Harlan graduated from Little Rock High School in 1928. He attended Little Rock University in 1929-1930, and the University of Arkansas in 1931. A Journalism major, he apparently did not complete his studies. Rather, he worked as a feature writer for newspapers including the Arkansas Democrat and Arkansas Gazette, resulting in valuable experience and the development of key contacts. In 1936, he was named publicity director for the state of Arkansas, working with the Arkansas Centennial Commission Publicity Department. Resigning later that year, he worked with the Arkansas Democrat as feature editor until he was hired as publicist and special exploitation representative for Paramount Pictures in Hollywood, California, in 1938.

In Hollywood he developed working relationships with numerous celebrities, including Arkansas-born actors Bob Burns, Dick Powell, Chester Lum Lauck, and Norris Abner Goff. Through actress Gail Patrick he met Jean Edwards; they married on August 17, 1940, and had two children: Mary Gail and John.

In 1940 he teamed with Cliff Lewis, his supervisor at Paramount, to form the public relations firm of Lewis and Hobbs. For the next four years he remained with Lewis and Hobbs, and also served as special assistant to General Joseph F. Battley of the Office of Secretary of War in Washington, as well as the Los Angeles consultant to Owens-Illinois Glass Company. In 1945 he was hired by Owens-Illinois as its corporate advertising and public relations manager, moving to Toledo, Ohio. He remained with Owens-Illinois until 1960, serving in 1948-1955 as Sales Promotion and Division Sales Manager for Kimble Glass Company, an Owens-Illinois subsidiary. While in Toledo he became involved in organizations such as the Red Cross and Planned Parenthood, and also served on the board of the Toledo Zoological Society. He also organized the Ohio Citizens for Eisenhower, serving as its executive secretary in 1951-1952. A trustee of Defiance College, he befriended Kevin McCann, president of the college and a close associate of President Eisenhower. In 1955 Hobbs became president of Owens-Illinois subsidiary Glasco Products Company, and moved to Winnetka, Illinois. Hobbss association with McCann and Eisenhower led to him taking a trip to Little Rock in November, 1957, to investigate the Little Rock integration crisis.

Resigning from Owens-Illinois in 1960, he worked privately as a management consultant, coordinating businesses in the United States, Canada, and Europe. In 1962 he became vice-president and general manager of Canadian operations for Seiberling Rubber Company in Toronto, Canada. In 1963 his wife Jean died from cancer. He had a brief marriage to Cynthia Green Dierks that ended in divorce in 1974, and later to Nona, about whom little is known.

In 1965 he became vice president in charge of marketing for Interstate United Corporation in Chicago. In 1966 he served as a consultant to Winthrop Rockefeller, moving to Hot Springs, Arkansas. Afterwards he joined Chester Lauck in forming Lauck and Hobbs, and then he became employed with Jess Odom Enterprises. In 1977 he relocated to El Campo, Texas, where he served as manager of the El Campo Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture. He also wrote The Observer, a column for the El Campo Leader-News. He left El Campo in 1995, moving to St. Louis. He finally relocated to Tulare, California, where his son lived. He died at the age of 90 on January 24, 2002, following an unspecified illness.


19.31 Linear Feet (15 boxes)

Language of Materials


Arrangement of the Papers

Material is arranged and described in seven series:

  1. Harlan Hobbs Personal and Family Materials
  2. Correspondence
  3. Subject Files
  4. Images
  5. Story board, This World of Glass
  6. Audio Tapes
  7. Artifacts and Oversize Materials

Acquisition Information

The Harlan Hobbs Papers were donated to Special Collections by Harlan Hobbs on January 6, 1997.

Processing Information

The collection was processed by Todd E. Lewis, 2010.

Harlan Hobbs Papers
Todd E. Lewis
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