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“Dreamland Ballroom” - Dan Dons a New Hat

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  • Dan Koops
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As a long standing member of AETN's Marketing and Outreach team, I'm continually thrilled at the opportunities this job gives me to wear so many different hats. I'm Dan Koops. I'm 53 years old and have been at this job for over 26 years, and I still marvel at the projects we do here and the never ending chance for this "old dog" to learn new tricks.

That said, I was recently asked by AETN's senior producer Tanisha Joe Conway to help locate and secure the rights to archival photography and stories that we could use in a documentary currently in production focusing on the historic Dreamland Ballroom (located on the 3rd floor of Taborian Hall) and downtown Little Rock's W. 9th Street business district that was at the heart of Little Rock's African American community in early to mid 1900s.


I'm just beginning the process and I'm finding myself knee-deep and white gloved in the archival worlds of Arkansas state agency websites, microfiche, bound photography books, online digital and "old school" library card catalogs, large scale negatives and so much more. My search starts with the great folks at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center (thanks Bryan!) and with Elizabeth and Crystal at the Arkansas History Commission who have shown remarkable patience helping this old dog find his way.


So far and excitedly I say I'm finding pure GOLD on my first round out! Amazingly rich images portraying Arkansas's African American history exist in these well preserved treasure troves. Images of rural and urban life in the 40s and 50s, images of churches, businesses, fashion ... images that will beautifully illustrate their undeniable zest for life through both good and bad economic swings. 

I'm having a blast! And I still have so many more stones to upturn ... the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, the University of Arkansas's Special Collections, Philander Smith College, the Mann Dunbar Alumni Association, just to name a few. So stay tuned, watch for the AETN documentary to premiere sometime in 2015, and please feel free to give me a call if you know of any images or stories that would help us tell this story in the best way possible.

Dan Koops
AETN Outreach