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Ozark Folk Center Collection

 Collection
Identifier: ASTATE-2021-10-05

Scope and Contents

The Ozark Folk Center Collection is a thematic subseries within the much larger collection from John E. Miller’s archival materials.

The Ozarks Folk Center Collection has three series: Correspondence, Legislative Materials, and News Clippings. The Correspondence series includes 8 folders, the Legislative Materials Series contains 3 folders, and the News Clippings Series contains 2 folders.

Dates

  • 1967 - 1996

Conditions Governing Access

This manuscript collection consists of physical materials. This collection has not been digitized. This collection is open for research use only in the Reading Room. It is not available for request through Interlibrary Loan. Please contact the archive via email (archives@astate.edu) at least a week in advance of your arrival to ensure the availability of the material.

Biographical / Historical

John E. Miller

John Eldon Miller was the son of Green H. Miller and Annie Gray Miller of Izard County, Arkansas. He was born on March 2, 1929 in Melbourne, Arkansas and died on June 18, 2014. John E. Miller served in the Arkansas House of Representatives from 1959-1998 as a Democrat representing Izard County and portions of Sharp County and Independence County. Miller was known for his competence with budgeting and served at various times on the House Revenue and Taxation Committee, the House Insurance and Commerce Committee, the Joint Committee on Advanced Communications and Information Technology, and the Joint Committee on Energy. Miller also served as the House chairman of the Joint Budget Committee. He is also remembered for his work to secure a technical college in Melbourne, Arkansas and for his part in the establishment of a correctional facility in Calico Rock, Arkansas. Miller was also known as a dedicated community leader who helped boost local businesses in the counties he served. John E. Miller was involved in the legislative process for the establishment of the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Stone County, Arkansas and held ties to and interest in the Center during the first two decades of its operation. Notably, John E. Miller introduced a House Concurrent Resolution commending Jimmy Driftwood for his service at the Center in 1976. During his service in the Arkansas House of Representatives, Miller was also involved in the establishment and upkeep of the Blanchard Springs Caverns in Fifty-Six, Arkansas in Stone County. Further, Miller was also sometimes involved in the Arkansas Folk Festival held yearly in Mountain View, Arkansas each April since 1963. This collection is composed of materials referencing the Ozark Folk Center, the Arkansas Folk Festival, and the Blanchard Springs Caverns, which are all connected by proximity, key players, and chronology.

The Ozark Folk Center

The Ozark Folk Center is opened seasonally each year from April through October; the yearly Spring opening is planned to coincide with the Arkansas Folk Festival; the idea for a Folk Center grew from the success of the Folk Festival.The Ozark Folk Center was opened as a state park with a mission to preserve and continue Ozark and Upland South folk traditions and culture. The Ozark Folk Center's attractions of note include the Craft Village, the Heritage Herb Garden, and Ozark Highlands Radio, a weekly program featuring live music, jam sessions, and interviews recorded from the Center. The Ozark Folk Center opened to the public in 1973. A year after the park opened, a support group known as the "Committee of 100" was created by educator Dr. Bessie Moore. Women from each of the state's seventy-five counties, plus twenty-five at-large members, volunteer each year to support and raise funds for educational programs of the center. The materials in this collection refer to members of the Committee of 100 and other early leaders at the State Park such as Jimmy Driftwood, Joel Breeding, and Tommy Simmons. During the early years at the Ozark Folk Center there were multiple controversies with leadership and the management changed multiple times during the first years of its operation. There are references to multiple leaders and conflicts in these materials.

The idea for the folk center grew from the success of the Arkansas Folk Festival, which debuted in April 1963 in Mountain View under the sponsorship of the Ozark Foothills Handicraft Guild (later known as the Arkansas Craft Guild) and the Rackensack Folklore Society. Notably, Jimmy Driftwood, a local folk musician, also helped begin the Arkansas Folk Festival and would later direct the music programming at the Ozark Folk Festival. The festival was meant to allow local craftspeople to sell their products and to stimulate the local economy in Mountain View. Due to Driftwood's popularity, the first festival hosted somewhere around 10,000 people with 4,000 attending the music show that featured only local artists. The festival continued to grow during the 1960s and early 1970s with over 100,000 people attending some years and is still held annually. John E. Miller was sometimes involved in the Arkansas Folk Festival and was often invited to attend.

Blanchard Springs Caverns is located in Fifty Six, Arkansas, in near proximity to the Ozark Folk Center. Blanchard Springs Caverns is a magnificent limestone cave system starting more than 200 feet underground in the Sylamore Ranger District of the Ozark–St. Francis National Forest. Blanchard Springs Caverns is the only cave administered by the U.S. Forest Service. The Caverns were opened to the public in 1973, offering only 1 trail for visitor use until 1977. During the establishment of this portion of the National Forest, local landowners were obligated to follow state and federal government's land acquisition requirements. Constituents wrote to Miller about Blanchard Springs Caverns and issues with their creation.

Extent

0.5 Linear Feet : The Ozark Folk Center Collection comprises 0.5 Linear Feet (This series is made up of 13 folders contained within 1 document case.)

Language

English

Arrangement

These materials are from the much larger John E. Miller Collection; this thematic subseries is arranged as a collection.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The John E. Miller Collection was donated to Arkansas State University after his death in 2014. This thematic subseries is arranged as a collection and is a part of the larger John E. Miller Collection.

Accruals

No further additions to this collection are expected.

Title
The Ozark Folk Center Collection Finding Aid
Status
Completed
Author
Lauren Adams Willette
Date
2021-10-05
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the Archives & Special Collections - Dean B. Ellis Library Repository

Contact:
Arkansas State University
Dean B. Ellis Library
P.O. Box 2040
State University AR 72467 United States
870-972-2960
870-972-3199 (Fax)