Wednesday's Wonderful Collection - "Across the Horizon" manuscript, MS.000589
Cornelia Alice Kirkley was born November 14, 1904, in Norphlet, Union County, Arkansas, to James and Willie Murphy Kirkley. When she was six years old, her family moved to Grady, Arkansas, which is located along the Choctaw Bayou in Lincoln County, about twenty-five miles south of Pine Bluff.
In the early 1920s, she graduated with honors from Grady High School and attended what was then called Arkansas State Normal School in Conway. She moved to Chicago to study shorthand and business practices under John Robert Gregg, the inventor of the Gregg Shorthand Method. After completion of this course, Kirkley returned to Conway and received a bachelor's degree in education from her previous college, by this time known as Arkansas State Teachers College (now the University of Central Arkansas). She married William Floyd Foster, II, of Portland, Arkansas, in 1926 and they had one son, William Floyd, III. She began her teaching career at Draughon's Business College in Little Rock in the late 1920s, then went on to teach business classes at what is now Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia, Columbia County. In 1940, she opened Foster Business School in Camden, Ouachita County, which she operated for twenty-five years.
Foster began interviewing and photographing residents of the African American community of Grady, Arkansas, in the late 1930s. Her research led her to write a manuscript, which she finished in 1938 and entitled "Across the Horizon."
Cornelia Foster died on June 28, 1971, and is buried in Camden. In 2006, her son self-published "Across the Horizon" and donated its original pages and photographs to the Arkansas State Archives.
This collection consists of an original manuscript, written in 1938, and the self-published version, copyright 2006, along with additional photographs.