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George Washington Donaghey, 1856-1937

Miscellaneous Material, 1870-1947

MS D714m


Born in Union Parish, Louisiana, George W. Donaghey (July 1, 1856-December 15, 1937) worked variously as a cowboy, farmer, and school teacher in Texas and Arkansas before settling in Conway (Faulkner County) in 1883. After laboring as a carpenter and cabinet maker, Donaghey achieved a considerable fortune as a building contractor and architect. In 1899 he was appointed  to the commission supervising the building of a new state capitol. Controversy surrounded its construction, and in 1908 Donaghey won election to the governorship on the campaign pledge of completing the structure.

Donaghey served as governor of Arkansas from 1909 to 1913. As well as successfully overseeing the building of the state's new capitol, the Donaghey administration had a number of other achievements, most notably in public education and public health. Donaghey's most celebrated act, however, was his mass pardoning in 1912 of 360 state penitentiary inmates. The pardons were designed to focus sufficient public attention upon the corrupt convict-lease system to destroy it, and in that Donaghey succeeded.

Donaghey lost his bid for a third term to Congressman Joe T. Robinson. After leaving politics, however, Donaghey remained in the public eye through service on various state boards and commissions and by high profile business activities.


The collection, a gift of Donaghey's heirs c. 1960,  is arranged in four series: Correspondence (29 items), Photographs (148 items), Miscellaneous (95 items) and material pertaining to the personal, family, and social affairs of Martha Louvenia Wallace Donaghey, 1862-1947 (84 items). Finding aids include calendar of correspondence, series inventories, index to correspondents, index to photographs.

Activities to which the material specifically relates include: Donaghey's role in the construction of
the Arkansas state capitol; his work as governor and as member of the state Capitol Arts
Commission, Centennial Commission, Board of Charities and Corrections, and Planning Board; his work as member of the (Little Rock) Broadway-Main Street Bridge Commission and of the National Board of Finance of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South; creation of the Donaghey Foundation and endowment of Little Rock Junior College.

356 items.

Finding aid revised by Leon C. Miller, Special Collections Division, University of Arkansas Libraries, 
Fayetteville, Arkansas, in March 1988.

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