The Jim Davis Hot Springs Collection, purchased by the Butler Center in 2009, contains more than 900 images of the Hot Springs area, as well as documents related to the promotion of Hot Springs. Davis, an Arkansas native and a resident of Hot Springs since 1994, began assembling the collection when he opened an antique store in 1996.
The collection includes photographs of buildings, scenes, people, events, and natural disasters, dating from the 1890s to the 1960s. A large portion of the photographs record the fires of 1905, 1913 and 1923, including images of the fires and of the ruins of the city after the fires. Other special events pictured include the Arkansas State Fair, a parade and the visit of President Franklin Roosevelt to the city.
The larger Hot Springs hotels such as the Arlington and the Majestic are shown, as are a number of smaller hotels and rooming houses, many with the group of guests standing in front of the building. These include the Cozy Hotel, the Home Hotel, the Jefferson and the Rockafellow Hotels. Other group pictures show hotel employees such as waiters and kitchen staff.
The collection also includes numerous photographs taken at McLeod's Happy Hollow, a popular amusement park in Hot Springs, as well as photographs of other tourist attractions such as the Arkansas Alligator Farm, the Ostrich Farm, and the Hot Springs Observation Town. Of course no collection of Hot Springs photographs would be complete without images of the bath houses themselves, both interior and exterior views.
Four boxes of related documents contain promotional brochures and souvenirs by railroads, government agencies, and tourism groups. These range from a photo-gravure dated 1893, through the 1912 souvenir yearbook and parish guide for the Church of St. John the Baptist, to the 1974 Miss Hot Springs Pageant Program and a management plan and assessment done for the Hot Springs National Park in 1985.