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Arkansas Press Women

Founded in 1949, Arkansas Press Women (APW), initially called the Arkansas Newspaper Women’s Association, is a nonprofit professional association open to both men and women pursuing careers in communications. Among those eligible for membership are people in the fields of business, education, government, journalism, and public information. Membership is open to those who communicate in a variety of areas, including broadcasting and electronic media as well as print. Their common thread is a commitment to the rights expressed in the First Amendment, particularly freedom of the press. Within the APW organization, there are professional, retired, and student membership categories. The twenty-six women who were founding members of the organization were interested in promoting professionalism among journalists. APW’s founders and early …

Arkansas Prison Blood Scandal

The Arkansas prison blood scandal resulted from the state’s selling plasma extracted from prisoners at the Cummins Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC). Corruption among the administrators of the prison blood program and poor supervision resulted in disease-tainted blood, often carrying hepatitis or HIV, knowingly being shipped to blood brokers, who in turn shipped it to Canada, Europe, and Asia. Revelation of the misdeeds and the healthcare crisis it created in Canada nearly brought down the Liberal Party government in 1997. In 1994, Arkansas became the last state to stop selling plasma extracted from prisoners. Arkansas’s prison blood program began in 1964 as a way for both prisoners and the prison system to make money. (Arkansas law forbids …

Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists

The Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is an affiliate of the national Society of Professional Journalists, whose mission statement states that it is “dedicated to the perpetuation of a free press as the cornerstone of our nation and our liberty.” The national chapter was founded in 1909 as a journalistic fraternity known as Sigma Delta Chi. It was renamed the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) in 1988. The state chapter was chartered on December 15, 1961, as the Little Rock Professional Chapter of Sigma Delta Chi. Its fourteen charter members included J. N. Heiskell, publisher of the Arkansas Gazette, and Ernie Deane, who was known for his “Arkansas Traveler” column in the Gazette and later became …

Arkansas Project

The Arkansas Project was a reporting venture in the mid-1990s undertaken with the aim of discrediting President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Writers and investigators—who were paid from a fund of more than $2 million provided by Richard Mellon Scaife, owner of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and billionaire heir to the Mellon fortune—delved into matters such as the Whitewater land deal in the Arkansas Ozarks, the suicide of Vincent W. Foster Jr., mysterious deaths and drug schemes in Arkansas, and Governor Clinton’s alleged 1991 tryst with state employee Paula Jones. Much of the work was later discredited or else repudiated by the authors and others involved, including Scaife, who years later became an admirer of the former president and …

Arkansas Public Policy Panel

The Arkansas Public Policy Panel (APPP) is a statewide nonprofit organization based in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The mission of the APPP is to “achieve social and economic justice by organizing citizen groups around the state, educating and supporting them to be more effective and powerful, and linking them with one another in coalitions and networks” and to “bring balance to the public policy process in Arkansas.” The APPP grew out of an organization founded in 1963 as the Little Rock Panel of American Women (PAW). This group of volunteers, organized by Sara Murphy, spoke to community groups, relaying personal stories of the impact of discrimination on their lives in support of racial and religious diversity. As the organization grew, …

Arkansas Railroad Museum

The Arkansas Railroad Museum in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) grew out of an effort by the Cotton Belt Historical Society to preserve the last steam-powered locomotive built in Arkansas. It has since expanded to include other artifacts of Arkansas’s railroad heritage. The Cotton Belt Rail Historical Society, Inc., was organized on October 18, 1983, primarily for the purpose of saving the Cotton Belt steam locomotive SSW 819, a 4-8-4 Northern-type steam locomotive that was the last steam-powered locomotive constructed in Arkansas. The locomotive had been retired and donated to the City of Pine Bluff in 1955, when machines of its type were being replaced by diesel-burning locomotives. It was placed in a city park, later called the Martin Luther King …

Arkansas Real Estate Bank

In 1836, the establishment of the Real Estate Bank of Arkansas became the initial act to pass the first state legislature. Momentum for a state-sponsored bank began during the territorial phase when planters and other lowland agricultural interests sought ways to enhance the availability of capital. The bank’s charter required the state to issue $2 million in five-percent bonds, the proceeds from which would serve as the bank’s capital. But the state held no authority for immediate supervision of the bank’s operations other than the appointment of a minority of the bank’s directors. From 1836 to 1855, when the state took over control, the Real Estate Bank proved to be a source of political corruption, financial mismanagement, and intense sectional …

Arkansas Register of Historic Places

The Arkansas Register of Historic Places is a state historic preservation program created by the Arkansas legislature in Act 155 of 1993 to recognize significant Arkansas properties that are ineligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places and to encourage the properties’ rehabilitation through grant programs administered by the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP). The staff of the AHPP was motivated to develop the Arkansas Register of Historic Places by the volume of applications for listing on the National Register of Historic Places for structures that were found ineligible for such things as replacement of historic windows with vinyl or aluminum substitutes, application of synthetic siding, enclosures of historic porches, and relocation to inappropriate sites. The AHPP sought …

Arkansas Repertory Theatre

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre (commonly called “the Rep”) was founded in Little Rock (Pulaski County) by Cliff Baker in 1976 and is the state’s largest nonprofit and professional theater company. The Rep’s mission is to “create a diverse body of theatrical work of the highest artistic standards. With a focus on dramatic storytelling that illuminates the human journey, the Rep entertains, engages, and enriches local and regional audiences of all ages and backgrounds.” The Rep first opened in the former Hunter Memorial Methodist Church at East 11thand McAlmont Streets. Its first play, The Threepenny Opera, was performed in November 1976. Approximately ten years after its founding, a major fundraising campaign was initiated in order to secure an almost $2 million loan …

Arkansas Research Alliance

A public/private economic-development organization, the nonprofit Arkansas Research Alliance (ARA) was established in 2008 with start-up funding from the State of Arkansas through the Arkansas Science and Technology Authority (ASTA). The organization evolved from the efforts of Accelerate Arkansas and its strategic plan of 2007. The ARA is modeled after the successful Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) that began under the leadership of Georgia governor Zell Miller in the early 1990s. The ARA’s primary focus is recruiting and retaining leadership in key research areas in which Arkansas has strong core competencies with long-term economic-development potential. The ARA has five university members: the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville …

Arkansas Research and Test Station

The Arkansas Research and Test Station site in Montgomery County was one of two stations constructed in the United States in the early 1960s capable of transmitting communications to satellites orbiting the Earth. Constructed in 1965–66 and in operation until 1969, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 21, 2017. The exact location of the site is restricted. The site was constructed by the Hughes Aircraft Company, founded by Howard Hughes. After initial efforts to place the site near Fayetteville (Washington County) to work with the University of Arkansas (UA) failed, the company struggled to find a suitable location. A location was finally chosen in rural Montgomery County that was located far enough from any …

Arkansas Review: A Journal of Delta Studies

Arkansas Review: A Journal of Delta Studies publishes creative and scholarly works focusing on the seven-state Mississippi Delta. It is assembled and published through the Department of English, Philosophy, and World Languages Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County). Each issue contains articles from several fields of study and offers literary, cultural, historical, geographical, and sociological perspectives on the Delta. It is published three times a year with a circulation of about 500. The Arkansas Review was originally the Kansas Quarterly (KQ), established in 1966 and published through Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas; but the journal ran out of funding in 1996. Kansas Quarterly originally focused on the culture and writing of the Midwest, but it became an …

Arkansas Rice Festival

The Arkansas Rice Festival, held during the second weekend of October in Weiner (Poinsett County), was founded to promote the consumption of Arkansas rice and to celebrate Arkansas’s status as the number-one rice-producing state in the nation. It coincides with National Rice Promotion Month and the final days of the rice harvest in Arkansas. In 1976, a rice-tasting and rice-farming history exhibit was organized as part of the state’s contribution to the country’s bicentennial commemoration. The success of the event inspired a group of local citizens to plan a two-day festival. The Arkansas Rice Festival Board was formed in 1977 and officially incorporated as a nonprofit organization. Nine board members, including rice industry representatives, millers, farmers, and financial officers, served …

Arkansas Right to Life

Arkansas Right to Life is a nonprofit organization whose stated purpose is to “educate through the presentation of detailed and factual information about fetal development, abortion, alternatives to abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, and related issues, upon which individuals and the general public may make informed decisions.” The organization is mainly known for its stance against abortion, but members also actively oppose stem-cell research, euthanasia, and assisted suicide. Arkansas Right to Life is a state affiliate of National Right to Life, which was founded in 1968. The Arkansas chapter was officially incorporated as a nonprofit public organization in 1974, the year after the Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision, which legalized abortion in the United States. National Right to Life and …

Arkansas River

The Arkansas River originates high in the Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains near Leadville, Colorado, and it ends in eastern Arkansas at the confluence with the Mississippi River where the town of Napoleon (Desha County) once stood. The river is 1,460 miles long and flows across three states before making its way into Arkansas. The Arkansas River is the second-longest tributary in the Mississippi-Missouri river system, the sixth-longest river in the United States, and the forty-fifth-longest river in the world. Three major cities are situated along the banks of this river that drains nearly 160,500 square miles of land: Wichita, Kansas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Little Rock (Pulaski County). Significance to Arkansas The Arkansas River, flowing east and southeast across …

Arkansas River and Prairie Grove, Skirmishes at

Two related skirmishes that took place in northwestern Arkansas, these events were part of Confederate efforts to disrupt Union occupation activities. While ultimately inconsequential, these actions frustrated Federal commanders and led to more active campaigning in the state in an effort to stop Confederate forces. On the night of April 6, at least 500 Confederates crossed the Arkansas River near Fort Smith (Sebastian County). Colonel William Judson of the Union District of the Frontier claimed that they were Missourians working to disrupt agricultural efforts in the state. Union troops from the Fort Smith area engaged the Confederates that night, with six Federals being killed. On the evening of April 7, 1864, a party of Federal soldiers from the First Arkansas …

Arkansas River Blues Society

The Arkansas River Blues Society (ARBS), based in Little Rock (Pulaski County), began its life as the Arkansas Blues Connection (ABC) in June 1984 as Arkansas’s first chapter of the National Blues Foundation. Based in Memphis, Tennessee, the National Blues Foundation seeks to “preserve blues heritage, celebrate blues recording and performance, expand worldwide awareness of the blues, and ensure the future of the uniquely American art form.” The Arkansas River Blues Society seeks to preserve the legacy of Arkansas blues and to provide a place for budding musicians to keep the blues alive. What became the Arkansas River Blues Society began in a Little Rock blues club. A group of local blues enthusiasts—including John Craig, Steve Logan, Jeff Weeden, and …

Arkansas River Valley Area Council (ARVAC)

When President Lyndon Johnson took office in 1963, he declared war on poverty. The nation’s poverty rate was at nineteen percent. Over the course of his term, he initiated more than 200 bills and ushered in many of the federal programs active today, including the Medicare and Medicaid programs, early Head Start programs, a host of rural and small-business loan programs, and the VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) program. One of the most successful of these VISTA programs is the Arkansas River Valley Area Council (ARVAC), an agency continuing to serve a low-income citizens in a nine-county region in rural central Arkansas. The VISTA program was created with the passage of the 1964 Economic Opportunity Act, which also gave …

Arkansas River Visitor Center

The Arkansas River Visitor Center, dedicated on August 20, 1985, was designed to acquaint visitors with the Arkansas River, its history and culture, and its transformation into the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System. The visitor center is located in Russellville (Pope County) on Lock and Dam Road, three miles west of Highway 7. The visitor center was designed and constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Little Rock District, at the site of the Russellville Project Office. It overlooks the Dardanelle Lock and Dam and is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Russellville Project Office. The Dardanelle Lock and Dam was a logical choice for the center as it is located near the mid-point of the navigation …

Arkansas River, Scout to

aka: Skirmish at Threkeld's Ferry
  While northwestern Arkansas was tentatively under Union control by early 1863, many Confederate partisan units still maintained a noticeable presence in the area. Large-scale campaigning in the region had evolved into regular scouting and reconnaissance missions, which many times developed into brutal small-scale skirmishes. On February 5, 1863, a force under the command of Lieutenant Colonel James Stuart consisting of 100 troopers from his own Tenth Illinois Cavalry and an additional 125 men from the First Arkansas Cavalry moved out of Fayetteville (Washington County) on a scouting expedition south to the Arkansas River. When the force reached the river (probably on February 7), approximately four miles below the mouth of Frog Bayou, it received intelligence revealing that a small Confederate force was …

Arkansas Scholarship Lottery

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery is a system of games of chance, implemented to generate revenue to fund the state’s Academic Challenge Scholarship program for qualified high school graduates. The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery was made possible by the 2008 passage of Proposed Constitutional Amendment No. 3, which amended the state constitution to make a statewide lottery program legal. By fall 2016, more than 200,000 students had received an Academic Challenge Scholarship to attend a two-year or four-year institution of higher education in the state of Arkansas. Although it was not until 2008 that Arkansas voters passed a constitutional amendment to allow the creation of a lottery, the topic had been debated in the state for a number of years. In 1990, …

Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts

Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts (ASMSA) in Hot Springs (Garland County) is the only public residential high school in the state and one of only fourteen state-supported residential math and science schools in the nation. Its mission is to educate gifted and talented eleventh and twelfth grade students in Arkansas who have an interest and aptitude in mathematics, sciences, or the fine and performing arts. In addition, the school is expected to develop curricula and materials to improve instruction of mathematics, sciences, and fine and performing arts for all students in the state. As of 2015, the school educates approximately 230 students on its residential campus and more than 3,000 students in 60 counties through its distance …

Arkansas School for the Blind (ASB)

The Arkansas School for the Blind (ASB) in Little Rock (Pulaski County) teaches blind and visually impaired students to become productive citizens. The enriched curriculum, covering birth through age three and pre-kindergarten through the twelfth grade also offers a home-like setting to meet all students’ needs. ASB was founded as the Institute for the Education of the Blind in 1859 by the Reverend Haucke, a blind Baptist minister. Otis Patten was the school’s first official superintendent. The campus was originally located in Arkadelphia (Clark County) but was moved to Little Rock in 1868, which made the school more accessible to students across the state. The first Little Rock campus was located at 1800 Center Street. The institute was renamed the …

Arkansas School for the Deaf (ASD)

The Arkansas School for the Deaf (ASD), located on Markham Street in Little Rock (Pulaski County), is a publicly funded state agency that provides academic and life skills education for Arkansas students from age three to twenty-one who are deaf or hard of hearing. The school offers both residential and day-school services and includes outreach services to families and public schools. In July 1867, the City of Little Rock opened a school for deaf children. The next year, the state government took over the struggling school, naming it “The Arkansas Deaf Mute Institute.” Ground was broken in August 1869 for a brick building, which was ready for occupancy in February 1870. By 1892, the State School for the Deaf, as …

Arkansas Science and Technology Authority (ASTA)

The Arkansas Science and Technology Authority (ASTA) was created in 1983. Its mission is to bring the benefits of science and advanced technology to Arkansas. The legislation creating the authority was based on the growing interest in replicating the technology-based economies of Boston, Massachusetts; California’s Silicon Valley; and Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. For most states, the justification for establishing mechanisms similar to Arkansas’s was faith that investment in science and technology would lead to the creation of high-tech jobs. The first programs were implemented in 1986, and more have been added. The programs are grouped into three broad categories: research and commercialization, technology and manufacturing extension, and management services. In the research programs, ASTA provides funds and technical support …

Arkansas Scottish Festival

The Arkansas Scottish Festival is held every April on the campus of Lyon College in Batesville (Independence County). It began as the Ozark Scottish Festival in 1981 at what was then known as Arkansas College. The festival has grown significantly and evolved over the years but remains emblematic of the college and its Presbyterian roots. The Arkansas Scottish Festival is now known as one of the premier Scottish festivals in the southern United States. Established by Dr. Ralph Graham during his tenure as vice president of institutional advancement, the festival was initially held on the athletic field in conjunction with homecoming but was later moved to April. Over time, it attracted more and more participants from all over the country. …

Arkansas Securities Department

Securities regulation in the United States started with state laws known as Blue Sky Laws, the first one enacted in Kansas in 1911. Arkansas enacted its first such law in 1913. Administration of that law was initially put under the Insurance Commissioner but almost immediately moved to the Bank Commissioner. Securities regulation remained under the auspices of the Bank Commissioner until the passage of Act 254 of 1959, the Arkansas Securities Act, which still governs securities regulation in the twenty-first century. The act created the position of Securities Commissioner as the head of the Securities Division of the State Bank Department, who reported to the Bank Commissioner. In 1973, the Arkansas General Assembly removed the Securities Division from the Bank …

Arkansas Senior America Pageant

The Arkansas Senior America Pageant is Arkansas’s preliminary for the Ms. Senior America Pageant, which is held annually in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Ms. Senior America Pageant was created in 1972 to spotlight women who have reached what organizers call the “Age of Elegance,” exemplifying the dignity and value of all senior Americans. The Arkansas pageant, generally held in June, has been produced since 1988. Until 2018, it was presented annually at the Alma Performing Arts Center in Alma (Crawford County). In 2019, the pageant moved to its new home in Hot Springs Village (Garland and Saline counties), where it attracted a sold-out audience of several hundred people in its first presentation. The Arkansas pageant is open to all …

Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre

The Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre (AST) in Conway (Faulkner County) is Arkansas’s only professional Shakespeare theater company and is based at the College of Fine Arts and Communication at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA). Its mission is to enrich the community of central Arkansas through creating professional productions of William Shakespeare’s works and making them accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds. The AST was founded on December 1, 2006. The main catalyst behind the creation of the theater was Rollin Potter, who became dean of Fine Arts at UCA in 2004 and had previously served as professor of music and founding director of the School of the Arts at California State University at Sacramento. Potter appreciated the important …

Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches

Arkansas Sheriffs’ Boys Ranch, Inc., was founded in 1976 as an exclusively charitable and educational organization for “the prevention of cruelty to boys, by providing a home, ranch, and training school for underprivileged boys.” The organization was created to provide a non-governmental residential childcare program for boys from all Arkansas counties. Today, Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches, Inc., provides residential and non-residential services to both boys and girls. The organization was incorporated on January 6, 1976, after two years of planning. In the early 1970s, a group of sheriffs asked the seventy-five-member Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association (ASA) to help develop a children’s home that would rely on the generosity of Arkansans. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, some of these sheriffs …

Arkansas Sky Observatories

Arkansas Sky Observatories (ASO) is a network of four observatories that conduct studies of near Earth asteroids (NEOs), objects that pose a danger of impact at some point to planet Earth. ASO began in 1971, located on the south brow of Petit Jean Mountain. ASO was one of the first five contributing observatories to the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics network and continues to be a major contributor to the Harvard Minor Planet Center today. This relationship has resulted in more than 50,000 contributed orbital measurements of comets and asteroids. ASO was established by P. Clay Sherrod and his brother, Brian Sherrod. P. Clay Sherrod has authored seventeen books in astronomy, archaeology, and the environmental/biological sciences, and has patented numerous inventions …

Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center

The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center (ASBTDC) had its beginnings in 1979 as part of the former Industrial Research and Extension Center. Originally named the Arkansas Small Business Development Center, it has been a separate entity since the mid-1980s, when it was transferred to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), where it has become more comprehensive. The center is now a part of UALR’s College of Business in the Donald W. Reynolds Center for Business and Economic Development. In addition to this central office, ASBTDC has six regional offices, all linked to universities. The 2003 annual report sets out the center’s mission: to provide quality consulting, training, research, and technology services to the small-business community through …

Arkansas Soft Pine Bureau (ASPB)

Founded in 1912 by executives of a dozen prominent Arkansas timber firms, the Arkansas Soft Pine Bureau (ASPB) spent decades promoting its members’ southern pine lumber. American Lumberman ad salesman Robert H. Brooks originally conceived of the ASPB, using his previous experience with these firms to convince them to try a one-year advertising campaign funded by an assessment of five cents per 1,000 board feet of lumber manufactured in their Arkansas mills. The first ASPB advertisements appeared in October 1912 and proved successful enough that, by the spring of 1913, the ASPB principals initiated a national campaign and coined the term “Arkansas Soft Pine”—a description patented in 1921 as a registered trademark. Brooks, a Kansan with previous experience in the …

Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board

Arkansas ranks in the top ten of U.S. states for soybean production. Products made from soybeans can be found in almost every aisle of the supermarket and even in most hardware stores. Soybeans, sometimes called “miracle beans,” deliver essential nutrients and high-quality protein to people and farm animals. The Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board was established to support this important industry in the state. Act 259 of the 1971 Arkansas General Assembly established the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board to provide producers in the state with an organization that works to improve the soybean industry. The board consists of nine unpaid soybean producers nominated by various agricultural organizations within Arkansas (including the Arkansas Farm Bureau, the Arkansas Soybean Association, the Agricultural Council …

Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame

The Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the history of sports in Arkansas while honoring those who have played or coached in the state. The organization began in February 1958 when a group of prominent Arkansas businessmen began discussing the need for such an entity. On August 16, 1958, the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame was incorporated, with Little Rock (Pulaski County) construction executive Jack Pickens as its president. Pickens was the force behind the Hall of Fame in its early years, serving as president from 1958 to 1971. Other officers in 1958 were Milton Green as vice president, Cliff Shaw as treasurer, Warren Wood as legal counsel, and Allan Berry as secretary. The first …

Arkansas State Archives

aka: Arkansas History Commission
The Arkansas State Archives, located in Little Rock (Pulaski County), is the official state archives of Arkansas and houses the state’s largest collection of documents, publications, photographs, and other material relating to Arkansas history. The Arkansas History Commission, as the institution was originally named, was established by the Arkansas General Assembly in 1905 as part of the burgeoning state archives movement that swept the South shortly after 1900. It was created largely through the efforts of John Hugh Reynolds, a history professor at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). “The Commission exists,” Dallas T. Herndon, the first executive secretary and director wrote in 1911, the year the legislature finally appropriated funding for the commission, “to gather the …

Arkansas State Bank

The Arkansas State Bank (1836–1843) was one of two banks created by the newly formed Arkansas state legislature. It provided some funding for commercial projects, though most of its funds facilitated land sales. Its greatest legacy, however, was saddling the new state government with a burdensome debt and instigating several accounts of political corruption. In the end, the bank’s failure jeopardized both public and private banking in Arkansas due to the public outcry against its operation. Banking was one of the most prominent political issues of the early nineteenth century. Waves of banking mania spread across the country as advocates sang the praises of increasing available currency and spurring on economic development. On the western frontier, demands for banks ran …

Arkansas State Boundaries

Arkansas’s boundaries have been the subject of international treaties, treaties with Native American tribes, acts of Congress, and a multitude of decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court. Generally, Arkansas is bordered on the north by Missouri; on the east by Tennessee and Mississippi; on the south by Louisiana; and on the west by Texas and Oklahoma, but that is not entirely correct. Arkansas is also bordered on the east by Missouri and the south by Texas, but parts of the state are also north of Missouri, east of Mississippi, north of Oklahoma and west of Texas. Tennessee-Mississippi BoundaryAs early as the Treaty of Paris of 1763 ending the French and Indian War, the middle of the Mississippi River was established …

Arkansas State Capital, Folkloric Relocations of the

There are a few staples of local history and folklore in the state of Arkansas repeated widely throughout numerous different communities. One such oft-repeated phrase is “Hernando de Soto went through here,” which many communities were able to claim more authoritatively before more modern and scientific reconstructions of the route of the de Soto expedition narrowed down the possibilities. Other stories deal with the location of Indian mounds or villages in the area before white settlement, or the presence of noted outlaw Jesse James, or a visit from Civil War guerrilla William Quantrill. Also among the legends presented in many local histories is that any number of towns were almost designated the state capital. Much of the confusion as to …

Arkansas State Capitol Building

The Arkansas Capitol building is the seat of the state’s government, housing its legislature as well as the staffs of six out of Arkansas’s seven constitutional officers. The monumental neo-classical structure gave rise to political controversy during its construction but has generally been praised since its completion in 1915. The current building is the second capitol built in Little Rock (Pulaski County). It replaced the State House (today’s Old State House Museum) erected in the 1830s between Markham Street and the banks of the Arkansas River in downtown Little Rock. During the 1890s, calls were raised for a new capitol, but sentiment and financial considerations, coupled with the lack of a suitable site, effectively blocked the project. By 1899, the …

Arkansas State Capitol, Desegregation of the

In 1964, Ozell Sutton, an African-American man, sought to exercise his right to eat at the Arkansas State Capitol cafeteria. Initially turned away, he later successfully sued in the courts for service without discrimination. The state’s attempt to privatize the cafeteria and thereby avoid desegregation was ruled unlawful. Nonviolent direct action demonstrations by students and a petition from local white clergy helped to speed the case through the courts. On July 15, 1964, Sutton attempted to eat a meal in the Arkansas State Capitol cafeteria in the basement of the building. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which required the desegregation of public accommodations, had become national law just two weeks earlier. However, Sutton was refused service. On July 21, the capitol cafeteria …

Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce

aka: Associated Industries of Arkansas (AIA)
The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Industries of Arkansas (AIA) was founded in 1928. Almost immediately, it became the foremost private organization for the promotion of economic interests, and the state chamber established research agencies and agencies to promote its interests to public bodies. After World War II, business leaders saw the need for a coordinated effort to develop the state’s economy. Each region had unique attributes and needed local development groups. The state chamber was to be the body coordinating the efforts of the various local chambers organized along city or county lines. Associated Industries of Arkansas, the purpose of which was to provide political support to business and industrial interests, was organized at the same …

Arkansas State Crime Laboratory

The Arkansas State Crime Laboratory was established by Act 517 of 1977, Act 864 of 1979, and Act 45 of 1981. The laboratory offers services to state law enforcement agencies in forensic pathology, toxicology, physical evidence (serological and trace evidence), drug analysis, latent fingerprint identification, firearms and toolmarks, digital evidence, and DNA. The laboratory also participates with several federal agencies in the collection of data in the areas of DNA, through the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS); latent fingerprints, though the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS); and firearms, through the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN). In 2019, the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory was placed under the newly created umbrella agency the Arkansas Department of Public Safety (ADPS), along …

Arkansas State Fair and Livestock Show

aka: Arkansas State Fair
The Arkansas State Fair and Livestock Show (usually just called the Arkansas State Fair) is an annual event sponsored by the Arkansas Livestock Show Association and held in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The fair features a midway/carnival, music concerts, a rodeo, commercial exhibits and displays, free shows (from exotic animals to acrobats and magicians), arts and crafts competitions and exhibits, food competitions and demonstrations, and various livestock competitions. It runs for ten days, usually in October, starting on a Friday and running through two weekends, ending on a Sunday night. The current Arkansas State Fair began in 1938, but there had been several other efforts over the years to establish a state fair. On November 6, 1867, the Arkansas State …

Arkansas State Guard

The Arkansas State Guard was a military force that performed homeland defense, disaster relief, and search-and-rescue duties during World War II while the Arkansas National Guard was in federal service. From 1942 to 1946, this volunteer military force helped fight floods along the Arkansas and Ouachita rivers, looked for missing persons, and assisted in recovery efforts following devastating tornadoes around the state. The State Guard was authorized by Act 85 of 1929 of the Arkansas General Assembly, which allowed for its organization whenever at least seventy-five percent of the Arkansas National Guard was called into federal service. The need for this type of unit was proven during World War I when, after the three Arkansas National Guard regiments were federalized, …

Arkansas State Horticultural Society (ASHS)

The Arkansas State Horticultural Society (ASHS) is a horticultural crop producers’ organization whose primary purpose is to provide its members, through annual meetings, with information to enhance their horticultural enterprises. The Arkansas State Horticultural Society was formally organized on May 24, 1879, by nineteen men meeting in the council chamber of the city of Little Rock (Pulaski County). The organizers were engaged in horticultural pursuits and were aware of a growing interest in horticultural crops being grown on lands adjacent to the land-grant railroads then expanding through Arkansas. News of the May 24 meeting was published in area papers, extending an invitation for all interested to attend. The object of the society is “to collect and disseminate information relative to …

Arkansas State Hospital

The Arkansas State Hospital is the only state-owned and -operated facility for the treatment of mental illness in Arkansas. The structure, function, and name of this facility have changed with the development of new technology and more progressive views for treating individuals suffering from mental illness, epilepsy, birth defects, learning disabilities, and the effects of old age. The Arkansas Lunatic Asylum was created by legislative act in 1873. In 1905, the name was changed to Arkansas State Hospital for Nervous Diseases; it was changed to Arkansas State Hospital in 1933. A facility known as the State Hospital still exists today, but what was historically encompassed by the “State Hospital” is now part of the Division of Behavioral Health Services of …

Arkansas State Library

The Arkansas State Library (ASL) in Little Rock (Pulaski County) is the state agency charged with the task of administering state and federal funds for Arkansas libraries and their development. The library also offers library services to the public and provides administration and leadership to improve public libraries and library services. The director of the agency has the title of state librarian. The Arkansas State Library was founded by the Arkansas Library Commission. This commission was established by the Arkansas General Assembly in 1935 through Act 139. However, state funds for operation were not provided until 1937. The ASL became a division in the Arkansas Department of Education through Act 489 in 1979. This transition allowed for the duties of …

Arkansas State Medical Association (ASMA)

The Arkansas State Medical Association (ASMA), organized in 1870, was Arkansas’s first statewide professional organization for regular physicians (meaning those within the regular medical mainstream). A dispute over ethics erupted in 1873, which contributed to the ASMA’s eventual dissolution in 1879. In nineteenth-century America, regular physicians engaged in professional organizing and advocacy. In 1866, a group of Arkansas’s regular physicians, including Dr. Philo Oliver Hooper of Little Rock (Pulaski County), formed the Little Rock and Pulaski County Medical Society (PCMS). Encouraged by their success, PCMS members looked to establish a state organization for regular physicians. At a meeting held in Little Rock in 1870, a group of regular physicians organized the Arkansas State Medical Association. The ASMA, whose members were …

Arkansas State Police

A division within the umbrella agency of the Arkansas Department of Public Safety (ADPS), the Arkansas State Police is the state’s primary statewide law enforcement agency. Although it has had many duties since its inception, the primary functions of the agency remain criminal investigation, traffic safety, and highway patrol. As a state agency, the State Police is overseen by a director bearing the rank of colonel who serves at the pleasure of the governor. The State Police’s main headquarters are located in Little Rock (Pulaski County), with the highway patrol organized into twelve regional “troops,” each commanded by a captain, and the criminal investigation division organized into six regional “companies,” each commanded by a lieutenant. The creation of a centralized, …