Walter J. Lemke (1891-1968) was born in Wausau, Wisconsin. He moved to Arkansas when he was recruited by then the University of Arkansas President John C. Futrall. Lemke served as head of the Journalism Department at the University of Arkansas from 1928 until his retirement in 1959. He adopted the culture of his new state, involving himself in events, such as the founding of the following organizations: Arkansas Historical Association serving on the editorial board; the Arkansas Genealogical Society; the Washington County Historical Society, in which he served as president; the Prairie Grove Battlefield Development; and the Butterfield Overland Mail Centennial Celebration.
In the 1930s leading up to the Arkansas State Centennial, Lemke illustrated a series of drawings and articles depicting significant people and events in Arkansas history. Throughout the entire year of 1936, he combined some of his previously published drawings with many new ones to create a daily column about Arkansas history related to specific dates. The Walter J. Lemke Collection at the Arkansas State Archives includes 447 of his original drawings.