Arkansas Between the Wars

By Kahley Mitchell

Post War Arkansas

At the end of World War I, a new decade approached the people of America. This brought hope and a better economy to most Americans. The technology had improved and it drastically change people's live. Electricity, the telephone, the automobile, and other beneficial inventions made everyday life uncomplicated and more gratifying. People also had more spare time for entertainment and amusement.

Entertainment and Recreation

During the 1920's the economy looked as if it was booming. Therefore, people nicknamed the 1920's The Roaring Twenties. Cities grew larger when people quit the farms to work in factories. People also confronted original American values. Women called "Flappers" cut their hair, shortened their skirts, and wore makeup.

Some Entertaining Activities:

Oil and Boom Towns

The first big oil discovery in Arkansas happened near the small southern town of El Dorado in Union county. Early spectators didn't know how to capture or properly store the oil, so most of it was lost or wasted. Once word got out about the oil strike near El Dorado, people rushed to the area hoping to strike it rich. In a few short years, El Dorado was home to 59 oil companies and about 30,000 residents. But by the end of the century, the area's huge oil boom had died. Despite the dramatic decline, however, oil and natural gas production still remain and important part of the southern Arkansas economy.

Tenants, Sharecropping, & Growing Violence

In most cases, tenant farmers were poor white people who paid landowners a share of their crop as rent for a piece of land. Sharecroppers were similar to tenant farmers. However, even though sharecroppers were more black than white, there were still white sharecroppers and black tenant farmers. Competition for work made many white sharecroppers intimidated the black sharecroppers in order to scare them away.

People in the South were unhappy about the growing changes of America. Many disliked other races while others disliked other religions. A group called the Ku Klux Klan that had declined recently, started growing again. As support for the Klan ideals continued to grow, the membership in AR grew to nearly 50,000.

Flood of 1927

Despite promises that new levees would prevent future flooding along the Mississippi River, the area soon experienced one of the worst floods in our nation's history. The flood of 192 broke everything from levees to property in the states of Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Of all the states hit, Arkansas received the most damage. Along parts of the Delta, flooded land stretched for more than 50 miles. Many counties were buried in water up to 30 feet deep.