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Kenneth O. Warner Papers

Correspondence and Documents, 1933-1966

Manuscript Collection 720


Born in Illinois in 1904, Kenneth Oren Warner received his A. B. from the University of Washington (1926); his M. A. (1927) and Ph. D. (1931) in political science were from the same institution.  Warner was a research fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington from 1929-31, where he came into contact with Charles Beard.  Warner taught in the Department of Political Science at the University of Arkansas from 1931-34, an experience reflected in his textbook, Arkansas State and Local Government.  He was the author of other works as well, including An Introduction to Some Problems of Australian Federalism:  A Study of the Relationship  Between the Australian States and the Commonwealth, with a Special Reference to Finance;  and Problems of Arkansas Government, and he was the editor of Management Relations with Organized Public Employees:  Theory, Policies, Program.  Further biographical information can be found in Who's Who in the South and Southwest for 1978-79.

Warner's specialty was state and local government, but it was in the arena of political action that he made his mark, and it is on this action that the present collection focuses.

A founder of the Arkansas Municipal League and its executive director in 1934-35, Warner was involved in writing the law that permitted the city-manager form of government in Arkansas.  He also took part in the Arkansas Peoples' Conference (1933), as well as in the introduction into Arkansas of the city manager form of government .  He participated as well in the Institute for County Officials (March 9-11, 1936).  Warner later served as Executive Director of the Northwest Regional Council in Portland, Oregon, 1938-41, and was Professor of Political Science at the University of Tennessee, 1941-42.  He has also held other significant administrative posts.  But it was as the Director of Personnel of the Arkansas Civil Service Commission (ACSC) under Governor Carl E. Bailey that Warner enjoyed his greatest public achievement.  Warner was responsible for translating the Arkansas Civil Service Law of 1937, repealed in 1939, into a workable and equitable system.


The present collection contains material relevant to Warner's early work with the Arkansas Municipal League and other activities of local government, concentrating, however, on his work with the Arkansas Civil Service Commission.  The collection which includes correspondence, financial data, and newspaper clippings, is particularly valuable as a primary source for the "inner workings" of Arkansas government.

Kenneth Oren Warner of Mammoth Spring, Fulton County, Arkansas, donated his records and papers to Special Collections on September 24, 1986.

Prepared by Janet G. Tucker, Special Collections Division, University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville, Arkansas, in February, 1988.

4 linear feet (3 containers)

Volume 1.  Scrapbook of Newspaper Clippings, c. 1937-39.

Series l.  Correspondence, 1933-66.   (Box 1)

Series 2.  The Arkansas Civil Service Commission, 1937-66. (Boxes 2-3)

Series 3.  State and Local Government, 1934-36.  (Box 3)

Volume 1.  Scrapbook of Newspaper Clippings, c. 1937-39

This scrapbook is a collection of short articles and editorials from Arkansas newspapers relevant to the ACSC, with one clipping on Elizabeth Thompson Warner, at that time an employee of the Arkansas State Welfare Board, who married Warner during his tenure as Personnel Director of the ACSC.  The clippings are from newspapers from all over Arkansas.

Series 1.  Correspondence (Box 1)

Warner's central concerns during the early period of the correspondence in the collection (1933-36) were with the Arkansas Peoples' Conference and the Institute for County Officials at the University of Arkansas.

Because his duties as Personnel Director of the ACSC involved the cooperation of those serving under him, Warner left a voluminous professional correspondence.  Letters pertaining to this and other aspects of his professional career, such as his letter of resignation from his post as Personnel Director and a body of correspondence with Brooks Hays, are included as well.  Letters dealing with Warner's textbook, Arkansas State and Local Government constitute a portion of the collection.  Warner's correspondence includes some letters that are professional, and others that are personal, such as those exchanged with his successor William Finan, who became Acting Personnel Director upon Warner's resignation from that post.

Box 1
     1.  Correspondence, Jan-June, 1933.
     2.  Correspondence, July-Sept, 1933.
     3.  Correspondence, Oct-Dec, 1933.
     4.  Correspondence, Jan-Mar, 1934.
     5.  Correspondence, Apr-May, 1934.
     6.  Correspondence, July-Dec, 1934.
     7.  Correspondence, Jan-June, 1935.
     8.  Correspondence, July-Dec, 1935.
     9.  Correspondence, 1936.
    10.  Correspondence, Jan-June, 1937.
    11.  Correspondence, July-Sept, 1937.
    12.  Correspondence, Oct-Dec, 1937.
    13.  Correspondence, Jan-Mar, 1938.
    14.  Correspondence, Apr-June, 1938.
    15.  Correspondence, July-Sept, 1938.
    16.  Correspondence, Oct-Dec, 1938.
    17.  Correspondence, 1939-66.
    18.  Correspondence, n.d.
    19.  Formal black and white portrait of Ewing P. Pyeatt, Vice-President and Cashier of the McIlroy Bank and Trust Company of Fayetteville, Arkansas.
1937, 4 1/2" x 3 1/8".   Warner asked Pyeatt, a member of the ACSC 1937-38, to submit the photograph.

Series 2.  Arkansas Civil Service Commission (Boxes 2-3)
In 1937, Arkansas was the first state in the South to enact a Merit System, the Arkansas Civil Service Commission (ACSC), only to repeal that system in 1939.  The spoils system which had been in effect until the creation of the ACSC had led to serious abuses, with turnovers of almost one hundred per cent in state offices common.  Carl E. Bailey, an attorney from Missouri, made reform of the system a political issue when running for governor in 1936.  With Bailey's victory, Dr. Kenneth O. Warner, consultant with the American Municipal Association, assisted the governor-elect with technical advice on how to set up the ACSC.  Bailey named G. DeMatt Henderson, Louis McDaniel, and E. P. Pyeatt as commissioners on the ACSC, with Kenneth O. Warner as Personnel Director.  The Plan became law on July 1, 1937.

The death of Senator Joseph T. Robinson in 1937 was to have a disastrous effect on the ACSC.  Bailey wanted to inherit Robinson's seat, but the new law forbade state employees to donate money and to campaign.  Bailey, defeated in a senatorial race by Congressman John E. Miller, resented the ACSC bitterly and was determined to have it repealed.   It was in fact repealed in 1939.

Box 2
     1.  Civil Service Law, Rules, 1937-38.
     2.  Affidavits, Sept 7, 1938.
     3.  Classification  Plan  for the State of Arkansas - Apr 1938.
     4.  Job Descriptions, c. 1937-38.
     5.  Report  to  the  Civil Service Commission - 1st Quarter, July 1, 1937-Oct 1, 1937.
     6.  Report  to  the  Civil  Service Commission - 1st Quarter, July 1, 1938-Sept 30, 1938.
     7.  Report to the Civil Service Commission - 1st Annual Report, July 1, 1938.
     8.  Report of the Organization and Installation of a System for Personnel Administration, June, 1938.

Box 3
   1.  Financial Data, 1937-38.
   2.  Decrees, c. 1937-38.
   3.  Minutes of Meetings, 1937-38.
   4.  J. J. Donovan, draft of address re. ACSC, incomplete, c. 1937-38.
   5.  Louis McDaniel, "What Civil Service Means to Arkansas," draft of address, c. 1937-38.
   6.  Kenneth O. Warner, "The Arkansas Story," draft of address before Southern Region of the Public Personnel Association in Hot Springs, Apr or May, 1966.
   7.  Press Releases, c. 1937.
   8.  Clippings, photocopies, 1937-38.

Series 3.  State and Local Government (Box 3)

Warner's interest in state and local government is exemplified by his leadership in the ACSC and in the Institute for County Officials, in his teaching activities, and in the publication of his textbook, Arkansas State and Local Government.

Box 3 (cont'd)
     9. Arkansas State and Local Government, Table of Contents, reviews.
    10.  Institute for County Officials, tentative programs, c. 1936.
    11.  Projected, edited centennial history of Arkansas women.
    12.  League of Wisconsin Municipalities, resolution.

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