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From the Publisher's Desk


Dear Readers,

As the publisher of the West Plains Daily Quill and West Plains Gazette, I've always believed in the power of storytelling, in its ability to connect us, to teach us, and most importantly, to preserve the essence of who we are. It's this belief that resonates deeply with the recent generous donation by local historian and collector Toney Aid to the Ozarks Heritage Research Center (OHRC) at Missouri State University-West Plains (See Pages A2-A3 of today’s Gazette). Nearly 1,500 images, a legacy from Aid's personal collection, now find a new home where they can speak volumes of our shared history.

The OHRC serves as a safekeeping spot for the area's history and culture, storing a collection of resources connected to the south-central and southeast Missouri Ozarks. This assortment of documents and visual materials, which capture the essence of the region's cultural heritage, is accessible to researchers, those passionate about regional history, and students.

Aid's collection, a result of years of careful curation, offers a visual journey through West Plains and Howell County as they stood around the turn of the 20th century.

Aid's donation is not just a collection of images; it's a gateway to understanding the everyday lives, the pivotal moments, and the evolving landscapes of West Plains and Howell County around the turn of the 20th century.

But what makes this collection even more invaluable is how it complements the historical archives of the West Plains Daily Quill. Last year, we placed our treasure trove of newspaper archives, some dating back to the early 1900s, on loan to the OHRC. When combined, Aid's visual histories and our written records create a fuller, richer picture of the Ozarks' heritage than either could alone.

Imagine exploring the vibrant life of West Plains through the eyes of those who lived it. Street scenes bustling with horse-drawn buggies, the aftermath of the Dance Hall Explosion in 1928, or the solemn assembly of World War I soldiers. Then, diving into the Quill archives to read about the events, the people, and the societal changes that these images capture. It's like having a conversation with the past, where each photograph prompts a story and each article paints a picture.

This blend of visual and written history allows anyone with a curiosity for our region's past to gain a comprehensive understanding of the Ozarks' heritage. It's a testament to how preserving our history in all its forms enriches our present and informs our future.

The OHRC, with its commitment to safeguarding the region's history and culture, plays a crucial role in this endeavor. By housing both the Aid collection and the Quill archives, the center ensures that these invaluable resources remain accessible for exploration, education, and inspiration.

We are indeed fortunate to have the OHRC as a guardian of our shared history. Its dedication to preserving the cultural heritage of the south-central and southeast Missouri Ozarks is a gift to us all. As we move forward, navigating the challenges and opportunities of our times, let us remember the importance of looking back. Through the windows of our past, we find the strength, wisdom, and inspiration to build a better future.

To Toney Aid, our heartfelt thanks for sharing your collection with the community. And to the OHRC, our continued admiration for your stewardship of our region's history. Together, we ensure that the stories of the Ozarks, in all their forms, will be told for generations to come.

Warm Regards,
Chris Herbolsheimer
West Plains Daily Quill & West Plains Gazette