Clay Fulks Papers (MC 1473)
4 linear ft. (5 boxes)
About Clay Fulks
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 Arkansas’s political, social, and economic establishment. Affiliated with the Arkansas Socialist Party, sources indicate he ran as the party’s 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-Julius’s 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.
About the Collection
The Clay Fulks Papers were donated to the Special Collections Department on July 7, 2002, by Elizabeth Kaplan of Annandale, Virginia.
Materials in this collection are arranged in three groups. 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. Fulks’s 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. Fulks’s 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 college’s 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.).
Oversize materials from the three groups are located in Box 5.
Phillip Stephens, June 2008
4 linear feet (5 boxes)
- Biographical Materials, ca. 1918-1935.
- Biographical Materials: FBI Report, 2002.
- Correspondence, 1919 - 1924.
- Correspondence, 1925 - 1926.
- Correspondence, January 1927 - August 1927.
- Correspondence, September 1927 - December 1927.
- Correspondence, January 1928 - May 1928.
- Correspondence, June 1928 - 1929.
- Correspondence, 1932 - 1935.
- Correspondence, 1937 - 1938.
- Correspondence, 1939 - 1945.
- Correspondence, 1946 - 1949.
- Correspondence, 1950.
- Correspondence, January 1951 - June 1951.
- Correspondence, July 1951 - December 1951.
- Correspondence, 1952.
- Correspondence, 1953.
- Correspondence, 1954 - 1955.
- Correspondence, 1956.
- Correspondence, 1957 - 1960.
- Correspondence, 1961 - 1964.
- Correspondence, n.d. (1 of 2).
- Correspondence, n.d. (2 of 2).
- Miscellaneous Notes.
Clay Fulks Writings
- White County Newspaper Writings, ca. 1909-1916. Oversize; See Box 5.
- Newspaper Writings from The Milwaukee Leader (1920-1923) and Unidentified Sources. Oversize; See Box 5.
- Newspaper Writings, 1931-1937.
- Little Blue Books—By Clay Fulks (CF), #1313 Freedom vs. Fundamentalism (1928), #1403 The Voice of the Yokels (1929), #1577 Can Americans Be Made Good by Law? (1931).
- Little Blue Books—With CF Articles, #1263, #1265, #1267, #1268. Note: See Appendix for CF article titles.
- Little Blue Books—With CF Articles, #1297, #1300, #1317, #1373. Note: See Appendix for CF article titles.
- Other Haldeman-Julius Publications—CF, The Wisdom of Emerson, 1947; “What the Cold War Is About,” pages 10-14, in Alan E. Sessions, Why Must We Fight Russia?, 1949.
- Manuscripts, A - B.
- Manuscripts, C - E. Note: Includes “The Elaine Massacre.”
- Manuscripts, F - J.
- Manuscripts, L - M.
- Manuscripts, O - P.
- Manuscripts, R - T.
- Manuscripts, Untitled.
- Manuscript fragments.
- “An Errant Arkansan,” Pages 1 - 65.
- “An Errant Arkansan,” Pages 66 - 145.
- “An Errant Arkansan,” Pages 146 - 213.
James Fulks Materials
- Correspondence from Clay to James Fulks, 1938 - 1942.
- Correspondence to Clay and Mabel Fulks, 1937.
- Correspondence to Clay and Mabel Fulks, 1939 - 1940.
- Correspondence to Clay and Mabel Fulks, January 1941 - May 1941.
- Correspondence to Clay and Mabel Fulks, June 1941 - November 1941.
- Correspondence to Clay and Mabel Fulks, n.d.
- Correspondence from Al Tenant, 1939 - 1941.
- Correspondence to Various Persons, 1937 - 1940.
- Correspondence from Various Persons, 1938 - 1941.
- Postcards, ca. 1933.
- Telegrams, 1940 - 1941.
- War Department Correspondence, 1940.
- War Department Correspondence, 1942 - 1956.
- “Testing the Good Neighbor Policy” by James Fulks.
- “Bataan Relief Organization” Bulletins, 1945.
- Estate Materials (1 of 2).
- Estate Materials (2 of 2).
- Mexican Trip Materials, 1938.
- Prisoner-of-War Bulletins, 1944 - 1945.
- School Notebook, n.d.
- University of Arkansas Materials, 1938 - 1939.
- War Claims Materials, 1945 - 1948.
- Newspaper Clippings, 1944 - 1945.
- Newspaper Clippings—“Bataan Diary,” 1942.
- Bryan Fulks Materials, 1960 - 1964.
- Commonwealth College Fortnightly, Volume 2, 1926.
- Commonwealth College Fortnightly, Volume 3, 1927.
- Commonwealth College Fortnightly, Volume 4, 1928 - 1929.
- Commonwealth College Fortnightly, Volume 5, 1929.
- Commonwealth College Fortnightly, Volume 6, 1930.
- Commonwealth College Fortnightly, Volume 7, 1932.
- Commonwealth College Fortnightly, Volume 8, 1932.
- Commonwealth College Fortnightly, Volume 9, 1933.
- Commonwealth College Fortnightly, Volume 10, 1934.
- Commonwealth College Fortnightly, Volume 11, 1935.
- Commonwealth College Fortnightly, Volume 12, 1936.
- Commonwealth College Fortnightly, Volume 13, 1937.
- Commonwealth College Fortnightly, Volume 14, 1938.
- CF Writings—Manuscripts,
- CF Writings—Newspaper Articles, 1935-1937.
- Newspaper Articles—The Kansas City Star (1940); David W. Hacker Articles, The Arkansas Gazette (1954). Oversize; See Box 5.
- Newspaper Clippings—Orval Faubus, 1954.
- Newspaper Clippings—Miscellaneous., 1926, 1955.
- Photographs (Images 1 - 26), ca. 1930 - 1937.
E. Haldeman-Julius, Girard, Kansas
- Materials, 1927, 1951.
- Publications—The American Freeman, 1947-1951. Oversize; See Box 5.
- Publications—The Critic and Guide, 1949 - 1951.
- Publications—Harry Elmer Barnes, A Sane Foreign Policy for the United States (1931); E. Haldeman Julius, Third Series Questions & Answers (1946).
- Publications—T. Swann Harding, The Social and Economic Lies of Our Civilization (n.d.); Albert Mordell, Haldeman-Julius and Upton Sinclair(1950).
- Publications—Little Blue Books, Titles on Religionand Skepticism, #26 (G.B. Shaw), #236 (R.G. Ingersoll), #1215 (J. McCabe), #1599 (M. Shipley), #1637 (C. Darrow), ca. 1927 - 1931.
- Publications—Little Blue Books, Miscellaneous Titles and Catalogs, #4 (T. Paine), #1397 (R. Peery), n.d.
- Court Document—Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. H.L. Menken, n.d.
- The American Mercury, July 1926.
- The American Mercury , September 1927.
Scott Nearing, Washington, D.C.
- Materials, ca. 1944.
- World Events, Interpreted by Scott Nearing (Washington, D.C.), 1951 - 1952.
George Seldes, Editor, New York City
- In Fact, 1946 - 1947.
- In Fact, 1948.
- In Fact, January 1949 - July 1949.
- In Fact, August 1949 - February 1950.
- In Fact, March 1950 - October 1950.
Other Critics and Publications
- The Age of Reason (New York City)—Joseph Lewis, Editor, June 1952.
- The Atomic Era/The Comet (Weissport, Pennsylvania)—Gus A. Horack , Editor, 1947 - 1950. Oversize; See Box 5.
- Lydia Burnham (Prescott, Arizona)—Letters to the Editor, Arkansas Gazette, ca. 1960.
- Farm Research, Incorporated (New York City)—Facts for Farmers, Charles J. Coe, Editor, 1947 - 1949.
- The Freethinker (London)—Chapman Cohen, Editor, November 26, 1950.
- T.L. Huggins (Farmersville, Texas) Materials, n.d.
- Corliss Lamont Materials, 1951 - 1954.
- Latin American Research Bureau—Latin America Today, 1953.
- Liberal-Friendship League, Incorporated (Philadelphia)—The Liberal, 1951 - 1954.
- Walter Lippman—Newspaper Columns, 1952.
- Robert S. Lynd Materials, ca. 1937 - 1949.
- Meyer’s Letter (Phoenix, Arizona)—Walter C. Meyer, Editor, 1963.
- Trends and Tides (Milford, New Jersey)—Louis Adamic, Editor, 1949.
- United Secularists of America—Progressive World, July-August 1959.
- Dorothy Thompson—Newspaper Columns, n.d.
- Bonny Wood Materials, 1948-1953.
- F. P. Wortman (Albany, Georgia) Materials, 1939-1949.
- Broadsides—Monthly Review Proof, The Roots and Prospects of McCarthyism, n.d.; Reprint, National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, New York Times, November 15, 1957. Oversize; See Box 5.
- Committee for Truth and Honesty (Petaluma, California), 1949.
- Communism—Miscellaneous Materials, ca. 1946 - 1953.
- Communism Publications—A. Green, The Deportation Terror (1950); E.L. Howard, America Tomorrow (1946); E.L.D. Turner, The Exit of Capitalism (n.d.).
- Foreign Policy Materials, ca. 1949 - 1961.
- The Friends of the Saloon, 1926.
- Fundamentalist Christian Newspapers—Militant Truth, 1947; The Trumpet, 1946-1947. Oversize; See Box 5.
- Highlander Folk School (Monteagle, Tennessee) Materials, 1954, 1959.
- Labor Movement—Hugh Bryson Trial, San Francisco, n.d.
- Labor Movement—Congress of Industrial Organizations, Operation Dixie, 1946.
- Labor Movement—Joseph Shoemaker (Tampa, Florida), ca. 1935.
- Labor Movement Materials, ca. 1937 - 1951.
- Obituaries—Irvin Goodman, John Daniel Rust, n.d.
- Religion—Miscellaneous Materials, n.d.
- School Integration—Miscellaneous Materials, 1958.
- Science League of America Materials, ca. 1927 - 1928.
- Howard W. Smith (Virginia)—Smith Act (1940), 1951-1952.
- Newspaper Clippings, 1949-1953, 1959, 1963.
- Newspaper Clippings, n.d.
- Newspaper Clippings—Arkansas, ca. 1936-1937.
- Miscellaneous Materials, n.d.
Box 5 Oversize Materials
- Clay Fulks White County Newspaper Writings, ca. 1909-1916.
- Clay Fulks Newspaper Writings from The Milwaukee Leader (1920-1923) and Unidentified Sources.
- Commonwealth College Newspaper Articles—The Kansas City Star (1940); David W. Hacker Articles, The Arkansas Gazette (1954).
- Haldeman-Julius Publications—The American Freeman, 1947-1951.
- Gus A. Horack (Weissport, Pennsylvania)—The Atomic Era/The Comet, 1947 - 1950.
- Broadsides—Monthly Review Proof, The Roots and Prospects of McCarthyism, n.d.; Reprint, National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, New York Times, November 15, 1957.
- Fundamentalist Christian Newspapers—Sherman A. Patterson, Editor, Militant Truth, (Chattanooga, Tennessee), January 1947; “Parson Jack” Johnston, Editor, The Trumpet, (Columbus, Georgia), December 13, 1946; February 7, 1947.
Appendix: Clay Fulks Articles Appearing in Haldeman-Julius Little Blue Book Anthologies
- “The Serpent’s 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
- “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 KnowAbout 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.
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