An interview with Ray and Steven Hanley

Q. How did you and your brother amass your collection of postcards?
Ray Hanley: When we first started collecting them in the early 1970's, we looked mostly in flea markets. Then, we went to postcard shows around the country. We also buy 'on approval' by mail from dealers around the country.

Q. What about buying postcards on-line?
Ray Hanley: Actually, this has become our main source for acquiring them. We just don't have time to go to the shows in distant cities. What we’re finding out is that the dealers buy the best ones there and then put them on-line. Ebay is our main source now.

Q. What kind of cards do you specialize in?
Steven Hanley: Ray focuses on Arkansas postcards only. I’m interested in a few other topics, especially the Alamo, my true passion.

Q. How did you get interested in postcards?
Steven Hanley: We picked up a few at the I-30 flea market starting about 1973. Then, we bought a few more and then we were hooked. Our archives today contain more than 25,000 postcards.

Q. How long have you been doing the postcard feature for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette?
Ray Hanley: We started in 1986 after I made a proposal to the Arkansas Gazette for Arkansas’s Sesquicentennial year. It was so popular that, by the end of that year, it was running five days a week. When the Gazette folded, John Robert Starr (Managing Editor of the Arkansas Democrat) picked up the feature and it's been running ever since. Now, it's in its 23rd year. More Arkansas historical images have been put into public print through this feature than all the Arkansas history books combined, I believe.

Q. How many other books have you done?
Steven Hanley: The first one we did was with the University of Arkansas Press in 1997. It was called Wish You Were Here. Since then, we’ve done twelve more books, all published by Arcadia Publishing.

Q. Why did you want to do a book on main streets only?
Ray Hanley: There is little that provides more of a window into Arkansas history than the main streets of its cities and towns. All of that is slipping away now in so many places. We hope this book will help reawaken an awareness of the heritage treasure of this state.

Q. What are some of your favorite cards?
Ray Hanley: I'd say the ones of the 1911 United Confederate Veterans reunion hosted by Little Rock. The city of then 45,000 swelled to 150,000 over this three days. I researched the event extensively and wrote a cover story on it for Civil War Times magazine in 1992. About three years ago, Steven and I did an entire book entitled Remembering Arkansas’s Confederates and the Reunion of 1911. Other favorites would certainly be the real photo cards of main streets and people doing various kinds of work in the early part of the 20th century. Steven did a book entitled Arkansas At Work: 1900 to 1925 on this theme.