Ted Raymond Worley (1906–1969)

Ted Raymond Worley was a historian, teacher, editor of the Arkansas Historical Quarterly, and executive secretary of the Arkansas History Commission, as well as a prolific writer.

Ted R. Worley was born on June 1, 1906, in Pope County to Ernest C. Worley and Dollie Koone Worley. After graduating from Russellville High School, he attended Arkansas State Teachers College (which later became the University of Central Arkansas) in Conway (Faulkner County), earning his degree in 1934. He received his master’s degree at the University of Texas in 1939. Worley taught at a rural Pope County school and schools at Pottsville (Pope County) and at Bald Knob (White County) while working on those degrees. He also worked toward a doctorate at the University of Texas in 1949–50, although he apparently did not finish. He married Beatrice L. Connell of Conway in 1929; they had no children.

Worley began teaching at Arkansas State Teachers College (ASTC) in 1940 but joined the U.S. Navy in 1942 to serve during World War II. He left the service in 1945, having risen to the rank of lieutenant commander. He returned to ASTC after the war and taught there until 1953.

That year, Worley was hired to serve as executive secretary of the Arkansas History Commission (now the Arkansas State Archives), which was then based in the Old State House in Little Rock (Pulaski County). That same year, he became editor of the Arkansas Historical Quarterly, the Arkansas Historical Association’s official publication. While at the Quarterly, he promoted the study of history by younger Arkansas students with a section titled “The Junior Historian.” Worley also advocated for the collection of oral histories, writing, “There are still Arkansans living who know quite well how log-houses were raised, roofs put on without nails, how boards were ‘rived,’ how muzzle-loading rifles were loaded, how soap and hominy were made, and how bees were traced to their stores of honey.”

Worley was a prolific writer whose books included At Home in Confederate Arkansas (1955), The War Memoirs of Captain John W. Lavender, C.S.A. (1956), and Pete Whetstone of Devil’s Fork (1957). He also wrote dozens of journal articles that appeared in publications both big and small, including the Arkansas Historical Quarterly, the Mississippi Valley Historical Review, the Journal of Southern History, the Pope County Historical Quarterly, the Independence County Chronicle, Wagon Wheels, the Newton County Homestead, and Faulkner County Facts and Fiddlings (he was a charter member of the Faulkner County Historical Society).

Ill health forced Worley to leave his duties at the Arkansas History Commission and Arkansas Historical Quarterly in 1960. He died on January 1, 1969, and is buried at Pleasant Valley Cemetery in Naylor (Faulkner County). The Arkansas Gazette eulogized him: “His mortal days have ended, but his work remains his monument. The people of Arkansas, more than many of them realize, are in his debt for his devoted labors in collecting and recording and preserving the annals of their state.”

For additional information:
“History Panel Ex-Official Dies at 62.” Arkansas Gazette, January 2, 1969, p. 12B.

Park, Hugh. “Ted R. Worley.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 28 (Spring 1969): 86–92.

“Ted R. Worley.” Arkansas Gazette, January 3, 1969, p. 6A.

“Ted R. Worley, Historian, Dies at 62.” Arkansas Democrat, January 1, 1969, p. 2A.

Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System

Last Updated: 07/03/2021