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ASU's Heritage Studies PhD program presents 'Pfeiffer Country' author Dr. Sherry Laymon Oct. 15

Oct. 6, 2009 -- ASU alumna Dr. Sherry Laymon, Heritage Studies, will sign copies of her boDr. Sherry Laymon, who received the second PhD in Heritage Studies awarded by Arkansas State University in 2005, will be speaking and signing copies of her book, "Pfeiffer Country," on the third floor of ASU's Dean B. Ellis Library on Thursday, Oct. 15, at 4 p.m.ok, "Pfeiffer Country," on Thursday, Oct. 15, at 4 p.m. on the third floor of the Dean B. Ellis Library, 108 Cooley Drive, Jonesboro. Dr. Laymon’s appearance is sponsored by the Heritage Studies PhD program. Admission is free, and the public is invited. Laymon’s “Pfeiffer Country” was published by the Butler Center for Arkan­sas Studies and distributed by the University of Arkansas Press.

"Pfeiffer Country" is the compelling story of how Paul Pfeiffer transformed Clay County in Northeast Arkansas during the first half of the twentieth century. His successful tenant farming model contrasted with other agricultural operations throughout the Mississippi River Delta region and included providing two-story homes and barns for his tenants and allowing them to use land to grow food for their families and livestock. Pfeiffer bought his first property in Clay County in 1902 and eventually owned 63,000 acres.

Sherry Laymon, an independent scholar and author, earned her doctoral degree in Heritage Studies in 2005. Laymon wrote her doctoral dissertation on Pfeiffer’s farming model and was encouraged to convert it into a book because Pfeiffer’s farming model contrasted significantly from the prominent sharecropping and tenant farming operations in the South.

Dr. Clyde Milner II, professor of history and director of the Heritage Studies PhD program at ASU notes, in his introduction to “Pfeiffer Country,” “Sherry Laymon applies her multiple talents as a scholar, writer, and artist in examining Paul Pfeiffer and his contributions to Clay County. She knows the old buildings, especially the houses and barns, that Pfeiffer placed on his farms…She also has examined the financial records of Pfeiffer’s enterprises and found a remarkable story of business acumen and humane generosity in hundreds of warranty deeds, sales documents, and other transactions. She has done numerous interviews, read dusty newspapers, and compiled statistical evidence. Most tellingly, she knows the story of this land and how it became a place for extensive farming only after its swamps were drained and its timber cut. . . after her examinations, Paul Pfeiffer remains a good man who did many good deeds. This excellent study is an appropriate recognition of a very fine life. Readers will benefit greatly from learning about Paul Pfeiffer and his vision for improving one part of Arkansas in the first half of the twentieth century.”

Dr. John M. Giggie, assistant professor of history and African American studies at the University of Alabama, said, “Richly researched and expertly written, “Pfeiffer Country” offers unusual access to the Southern past. Painstakingly searching through the documentary paper trail left by Pfeiffer himself, Laymon brings to life a little-glimpsed version of history in which society evolved under the strong hand of a leader committed to sharing his bounty and good fortune with his fellow white citizens. It stands as a useful reminder that southern counties have distinctive trajectories and should not be viewed through any universal prism of interpretation.”

Dr. Laymon has completed research and writing for a bibliography of Arkansas’s Senator John McClellan. She taught math and social studies classes in Arkansas schools and colleges for seventeen years and now lives in Hot Springs, Ark.

To purchase Dr. Laymon’s “Pfeiffer Country” and to learn more about her work and life, visit her Web site at, or call (870) 598-3487.


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