Mary Heady & Mark Spencer

Dr. Mark Spencer, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, and Mary Heady, special collections and reference librarian at UAM’s Taylor Library and Technology Center, have collaborated to produce a book about the history of Monticello that is part of the popular national series Images of America.

Images of America: Monticello is being published by Arcadia Publishing of Charleston, S.C., the largest publisher of local histories in America, and will be available in bookstores October 10. The book consists of 210 historical images and approximately 18,000 words. The earliest images date to the 1870s with the most recent from the past decade.

Spencer, who has previously published three novels, two short story collections and one nonfiction novel, was contacted by Arcadia Publishing last November about doing a book about Monticello for the Images of America series. He asked Heady to be his co-author and began working on the project last December, completing the book in April. Images for the book were collected from the Drew County Museum, the UAM photo archives, and from private sources.

The theme of the book is Monticello’s role as the hub of opportunity and economic development in southeast Arkansas, with significant space given to Monticello’s “Golden Age” of 1890 to 1920 when it was generally considered the most prosperous community in Arkansas. Another theme is the relationship of the town and the university and the importance of education to the culture and economy of Monticello.

The book consists of six chapters: “The Golden Age” (1890-1920), “The Roaring Twenties” (the 1920s), “A New Deal” (the 1930s), “The World at War” (the 1940s), “Rock ‘n Roll” (the 1950s), and “The Winds of Change, the March of Time” (1960-2010). Throughout the book, the authors highlight local events and tie them to national and world events.

Royalties from the book sales will go to the Drew County Historical Society.