The Online Encyclopedia of Wyoming History

A New Deal lawyer and a dentist-politician

A New Deal lawyer and a dentist-politician

February 2021

This month, we feature articles on a Laramie attorney who achieved national prominence, and one of Wyoming’s wartime governors. To honor Black History Month, we’ve assembled links to content on Wyoming’s African-Americans. And we’ve recently learned that a long-running, searchable database of early Wyoming newspapers has become a lot more user-friendly.

Wyoming lawyer serves in Washington D.C.

Laramie-born attorney Thurman Arnold became head of the U.S. Justice Department’s Antitrust Division in 1938. Later he served as a federal judge in Washington, D.C. Earlier, Arnold had practiced law in Laramie, served in the Wyoming House of Representatives and helped found the University of Wyoming College of Law. Read more in Dee Pridgen’s article “Thurman Arnold, Laramie Lawyer and New Deal Trustbuster.

Lester Hunt’s struggle

Democrat Lester Hunt, a charismatic wartime governor in heavily Republican Wyoming, won a U.S. Senate seat in 1948. There, he clashed with Sen. Joseph McCarthy. After Hunt’s son was convicted for soliciting homosexual contact, Hunt was blackmailed by Republican senators and committed suicide—circumstances that remained largely unknown for three decades. Read more in Rodger McDaniel’s article “Baseball, Politics, Triumph and Tragedy: The Career of Lester Hunt.”

Black History Month updates and links 

February is Black History Month and a good time to remember contributions of African-Americans to making Wyoming what it is today. Over the last 12 months we’ve added a number of new articles that, as it happens, all touch on violence against Black Americans—either real or advocated. Dr. John Finfrock, Army physician, witnessed a lynching at Fort Halleck in 1864. Four years later, the stridently racist, Reconstruction-era Frontier Index began publication here, moving west with the fast-building Union Pacific Railroad. Joe Martin was lynched outside the Albany County courthouse in Laramie in 1904.  And in 1968, after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., editorial reactions in Wyoming newspapers were all over the map. See:

For further reading about Black history, see these previous articles on WyoHistory.org:

Check out wyomingnewspapers.org

History buffs, genealogists, scholars and students will all be interested to know the Wyoming Digital Newspaper Collection has been upgraded to a new platform that is much easier to search than it used to be. It’s still most useful when searching Wyoming newspapers before about 1930; results are spottier after that. But the total content has increased dramatically and will continue to do so.
The effort was begun years ago by the Wyoming State Library; more recently the University of Wyoming library system has joined up. The new version went on line this past fall, when the State Library moved the initial content of 850,000 pages to the new platform. By the time the expansion is finished, UW libraries will have contributed another 4 million pages, according to UW’s Brian Ricupero. The project is in cooperation with Colorado Virtual Libraries, which hosts and manages the platform, Veridian. Click on the link above, search for names, places, dates—or just browse away.