Things You Need to Hear gathers memories of Arkansans from all over the state with widely different backgrounds. In their own words, these people tell of the things they did growing up in the early twentieth century to get an education, what they ate, how they managed to get by during difficult times, how they amused themselves and earned a living, and much more.
Some of Margaret Bolsterli’s “informants,” as she calls them, are famous (Johnny Cash, Maya Angelou, Levon Helm, Joycelyn Elders), but many more are not. Their vivid personal stories have been taken from published works and from original interviews conducted by Bolsterli. All together, these tales preserve memories of ways of life that are compelling, entertaining, and certainly well worth remembering.
Margaret Jones Bolsterli is the author of Born in the Delta and During Wind and Rain and the editor of Vinegar Pie and Chicken Bread and A Remembrance of Eden. She is professor emerita of English at the University of Arkansas.
“Margaret Bolsterli … has provided not only the informants’ stories but also a manner to convey them as an historical aggregate, combining the personal and historical in such a way that neither is diminished. A fine accomplishment and an entertaining read.”
—Michael Hodge in Arkansas Review, August 2013
“A richly textured sense of everyday life and how it changed — or on some fronts, failed to change — over time… a unique piece of social history that other states would do well to emulate.”
—John C. Inscoe in Arkansas Historical Quarterly
“An engaging and accessible collection of photographs and oral history interviews with forty-one Arkansans … just might convince some suburban Arkansas teenager to turn off his or her computer for a minute and to listen to these ‘things you need to hear.'”
—Journal of Southern History, November 2012
“Margaret Bolsterli’s judicious selection of the memories of dozens of Arkansans provides fascinating glimpses into what it meant to grow up in a poor rural state. It is a story of hard work, humor, friendship, and talking around the dinner table. These reminiscences remind us of our own childhood and help readers better understand that sense of community we Arkansans continue to share.”
—Bobby Roberts, director of the Central Arkansas Library System
“Margaret Jones Bolsterli has a knack for locating interesting and knowledgeable people to interview, and she also asks the right questions of her informants, questions that delve deeply into the lives of Arkansans in the last century. This is an important book, and it adds considerably to the knowledge of our state.”
—Tom Dillard, author of Statesmen, Scoundrels, and Eccentrics: A Gallery of Amazing Arkansans
Adopted at: University of Central Arkansas
Course: HIST 4355/5355, The Role of Arkansas in the Nation
Course Description: Students examine United States history as reflected in the history of Arkansas. Emphasis on the ways Arkansas reflects or departs from national trends.
Professor: Dr. Story Matkin-Rawn
Term: Spring 2016