by Susan Croce Kelly

Before the word Ozarks was synonymous with the idea of goofy hillbillies, fast boats, and family vacations, it was a place where real people lived their lives day-to-day and learned about the world from their local newspapers.

A new book from the University of Arkansas Press, Newspaperwoman of the Ozarks, the Life and Times of Lucile Morris Upton, is all about those times, those newspapers, and one of the people who made reading newspapers worthwhile.

Upton landed her first newspaper job 100 years ago (1923) in Denver the early 1920s, worked in El Paso, and eventually returned home to spend half a century reporting on the Ozarks world she knew best. Having come of age just as women gained the right to vote, she took advantage of opportunities available to women in the early twentieth century, and relished every minute. During her years as a journalist, Upton rubbed shoulders with presidents, flew with aviation pioneer Wiley Post, covered the worst single killing of US police officers in the twentieth century, wrote an acclaimed book on the vigilante group known as the Bald Knobbers, charted the growth of tourism in the Ozarks, and spearheaded a movement to preserve iconic sites of regional history. Following retirement from her newspaper job, she put her experience to good use as a member of the Springfield City Council and community activist.   

Told largely through Upton’s own words, this insightful biography captures the excitement of being on the front lines of newsgathering in the days when the whole world depended on newspapers to find out what was happening.

Ozarks writer, raconteur and folksinger Marideth Sisco says of the book, “Author Susan Croce Kelly grasps the importance of Lucile Morris Upton in the development of the Ozarks, charting the events of Upton’s life with an understanding of the characters involved in their historical context. This is an important and enjoyable read.”

Kelly, a former reporter at Upton’s own Springfield News-Leader, is the author of two award-winning books on the history of old US 66: Route 66: The Highway and Its People (University of Oklahoma Press), and Father of Route 66, the Story of Cy Avery. She is also managing editor of OzarksWatch Magazine for Missouri State University’s Ozarks Studies Institute.

Newspaperwoman of the Ozarks, the Life & Times of Lucile Morris Upton is available in local book stores, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and through the University of Arkansas Press at a 25% discount.

To talk with the author, arrange book signings, or set up speaking engagements, contact Susan Croce Kelly at, 573-569-1585 or at