Date Original



Ben T. Laney papers contain correspondence, information on boards, commissions, and colleges, sanatoriums and hospitals. Many of these files deal with returning World War II Veterans and reforms.

Biographical/Historical Note

Benjamin Travis Laney, Jr., was born in Jones Chapel, Ouachita County, on November 25, 1896, to Benjamin Travis and Martha Ella Saxon Laney. He attended Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, leaving to serve in the Navy during World War I. After the war, Laney attended Arkansas Teachers' College and earned his degree in 1924. After graduating, Laney settled in Conway, opening a drugstore with one of his brothers and working in a local bank. On January 19, 1926, he married Ethel Lucile Kirtley, and the couple went on to have three children: Benjamin Travis, Phillip E., and William David. Laney moved to Camden, Arkansas, in 1927 where he farmed and ran several businesses. He was elected Mayor in 1935 and re-elected in 1937. In 1941, Governor Homer Adkins appointed Laney to the Arkansas Penitentiary Board. He would remain there until he was elected Governor in 1944. Laney would go on to be re-elected in 1946, but chose not to seek re-election in 1948. During his tenure as governor, Laney accomplished several initiatives including the Stabilization Act, which pooled most separate tax funds into one operating fund. Laney also ensured the public school fund increased by more than 6 million dollars and reduced the number of school districts from 1,500 to fewer than 500. His administration also made provisions for the construction of a Governor's Mansion, War Memorial Stadium, and for the restoration of the Old State House. In 1950, Laney was frustrated with Sidney McMath and McMath’s lack of support for states’ rights, and chose to run for governor again. He was defeated in the Democratic Primary by Sidney McMath. After his loss, Laney remained in politics taking on a supportive role, helping the re-election campaigns of both Senators John L. McClellan and J. William Fulbright. Laney also managed Winthrop Rockefeller’s Arkansas rice farms during the 1960s. In the 1970s, Laney returned to Magnolia. On January 21, 1977, he suffered a heart attack at his home. Laney is buried at Memorial Park Cemetery in Camden, Ouachita County, Arkansas.

Physical Description

Document, 8.5" x 11"

Geographical Area






Resource Type



Ben T. Laney papers, MS.000413


Arkansas State Archives

Contributing Entity

Arkansas State Archives

Recommended Citation

Ben T. Laney papers, Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas.


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United States History