Recreational Organizations

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Entries - Entry Category: Recreational Organizations

Aesthetic Club

The Aesthetic Club is one of the oldest women’s clubs west of the Mississippi River. It began when a group of young women wishing to start a reading club organized on January 16, 1883, in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Aesthetic Club founders Cynthia Polk, Sallie Martin, Ida Martin, Fannie Jabine, Jane Georgine Woodruff, Mary Knapp, Gertrude Hempstead, Harriet Jabine, and Virginia Hamilton immediately expanded their objectives “to present programs of a literary, artistic, musical, and timely trend” in order to “assist in educational uplift, and to bring its members together for social enjoyment.” The name, proposed by Knapp, was borrowed from the Aesthetic Movement, which was “emulous of cultivating ‘the beautiful’ in all things.” Inspired by Oscar Wilde’s comments on …

Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism (ADPT)

aka: State Parks
aka: Arkansas State Parks
The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism (ADPT) manages the state’s fifty-two state parks and promotes the state of Arkansas as a tourist destination for people around the country. The department is composed of three divisions: 1) Arkansas Tourism, which promotes tourism and economic development in the state, 2) Arkansas State Parks, which develops and manages the actual state parks, and 3), Keep Arkansas Beautiful, which promotes keeping Arkansas litter-free. Arkansas’s first state park, Petit Jean State Park, was established in 1923 after the passage of Act 276, which authorized the commissioner of state lands to accept land donations for state parks and reservations. However, the state did not have an agency overseeing the development of state parks until 1927, …

Arkansas Unit, Herb Society of America, Inc. (AU-HSA)

The Arkansas Unit of The Herb Society of America (AU-HSA), founded in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1966, has approximately forty members spread from the Little Rock area throughout the state. Its logo incorporates a cotton boll, symbolizing the regional historic importance of this herbal plant. AU-HSA is dedicated to promoting the knowledge, use, and delight of herbs through educational programs, research, and sharing the experience of its members with the community, and it lives up to this mission partly through its three gardens. The Territorial Medicinal Garden at the Historic Arkansas Museum features plants used in Arkansas’s territorial days, such as boneset, ground ivy, garlic, native senna, pokeweed, and selfheal, as researched by Mary Worthen. The Garden of Exploration …

Camp Joyzelle

Camp Joyzelle was a summer camp for girls that operated for nearly three decades at Monte Ne (Benton County). Summer camps emerged in the late 1800s as a way to provide urban youngsters with wholesome, outdoor activities during the long summer vacation. Summer camping for girls became popular after World War I. Some camps were run by organizations such as the Girl Scouts, while others were similar to private schools and served mostly well-to-do families. Camp Joyzelle was a typical example of the latter. The camp was founded by Iris Armstrong, who at the time had a private dramatic academy in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Armstrong’s goal was to start a camp at which girls could be instructed in drama …

Camp Ouachita National Historic District

Camp Ouachita was the hearthstone for outdoor- and social-skills development and a path through adolescence for two generations of Arkansas Girl Scouts who seasonally camped there between 1937 and 1979. The Works Progress Administration (WPA), a federal New Deal agency, constructed Camp Ouachita from 1936 to 1940 for the Little Rock Area Girl Scout Council (LRGSC) in the Ouachita National Forest, twelve miles south of Perryville (Perry County) and some thirty-six miles west of Little Rock (Pulaski County). Camp Ouachita, the nation’s only surviving WPA-constructed Girl Scout camp complex, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The camp is currently undergoing renovation. Prior to Camp Ouachita, the LRGSC had only limited, seasonal use of the Boy Scouts’ Camp …

Central Arkansas Radio Emergency Network (CAREN)

The Central Arkansas Radio Emergency Net (CAREN) is the oldest of several amateur radio clubs in the central Arkansas area. CAREN’s focus is on providing public service event support and emergency communications. To facilitate these services, CAREN operates VHF/UHF radio repeater sites throughout the central region of the state. Ham radio operators are licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 97 (Amateur Radio Service), after passing an examination for one of several classes of license. The Amateur Radio Service has five main purposes: 1) providing emergency communications as a noncommercial service, 2) advancing the radio art, 3) advancing communications and technical skills, 4) expanding a pool of trained operators, …

Chi Omega

Chi Omega, the largest women’s fraternal organization in the world, was founded at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) on April 5, 1895. As of 2012, more than 300,000 women have been initiated into Chi Omega. The national headquarters are in Memphis, Tennessee. In 2011, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), UA, and Arkansas State University (ASU) had Chi Omega chapters, and there were sixteen alumnae chapters in Arkansas. Contrary to popular usage, Chi Omega has always referred to itself as a fraternity rather than a sorority. The first members, referred to as the Five Founders, included Ina May Boles, Jobelle Holcombe, Alice Simonds, Jean Vincenheller, and Dr. Charles Richardson, a Fayetteville dentist and a …

Freemasons

aka: Masons
History of Freemasonry The history of Freemasonry in Arkansas is closely linked to the history of Arkansas. Many of the founders of the state were the leaders and founders of Freemasonry, and the early impact of the fraternity was in education and government. The Grand Lodge established one of the state’s first institutions of higher education, St. Johns’ College, in 1859, and in 1853, it established the second public library in Arkansas; both institutions were in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Many of the state’s early governors, judges, representatives, and senators were members of the fraternity. Freemasonry has been described as a system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols, the goal of which is to take good men …

General Federation of Women’s Clubs of Arkansas (GFWC)

The General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) is an international organization dedicated to volunteerism and social reform. The Arkansas Federation of Women’s Clubs (AFWC) was admitted to the General Federation of Women’s Clubs in May 1897. Clubs belonging to AFWC have been leaders in fundraising and lobbying efforts to improve Arkansas. Some accomplishments include the establishment of libraries across Arkansas and the preservation of the Old State House in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The AFWC was formed at a conference held on April 22–23, 1897. Forty-six representatives from twenty-five clubs around the state met at the Capital Theater in Little Rock after being called together by Mrs. William C. Ratcliffe, who was there elected to lead the organization as president. …

Girl Scouts

Headquartered in New York City, Girl Scouts is a nonprofit organization that seeks to make the world a better place by encouraging confidence, courage, and character in its members. Since its founding in 1912, Girl Scouts has empowered millions of girls and women to become leaders in all fifty U.S. states, including Arkansas, where it has been active since 1927. It is the largest educational organization for girls in the world, and more than 59 million women in the United States are Girl Scout alumnae. Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low founded what is now Girl Scouts of the USA in 1912 in Savannah, Georgia. Low—a world traveler, athlete, and artist—spent several years searching for something useful to do with her life …

Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas

The Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas (ICSA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, public-service organization based in Little Rock (Pulaski County). It was founded in 1996 to develop and enhance local interest in the culture of Ireland and its people, familiarize the general public with the culture of the Irish people and the richness of their contribution to America, reacquaint Arkansans of Irish descent with their culture and ethnic history, and publicize the presence of an active Irish community in the Little Rock area. During the 1980s, as the result of a surplus of women in the nursing profession in Ireland, many Irish women immigrated to the United States and settled in Arkansas, which faced a shortage of qualified nurses at the …

Ozark Mountain UFO Conference

aka: Ozark UFO Conference
The Ozark Mountain UFO Conference takes place each year on the second weekend of April at the Inn of the Ozarks Conference Center in Eureka Springs (Carroll County). As many as 700 attendees hear national and international researchers discuss their findings regarding unidentified flying objects (UFOs) and related topics. A typical three-day conference begins at 1:00 p.m. on Friday and ends at noon on Sunday, featuring between nine and twelve speakers, a speakers’ panel discussion, and the showing of documentary films. Nationally known speakers in attendance have included Dr. John Altshuler, Peter Davenport, Dr. James Deardorff, Richard Dolan, Linda Moulton Howe, Antonio Hunneus, Dr. David Jacobs, Dr. John Mack, Kathleen Marden, David Marler, Jim Marrs, Ted Phillips, Wendelle Stevens, and …

Polk County Possum Club

The Polk County Possum Club (PCPC) began with a challenge issued to local hunters of opossums (commonly called “possums”) in 1913 and henceforth hosted yearly banquets of opossum meat and side dishes until 1947, though it was active again for five years in the 1990s. The PCPC began when attorney J. I. Alley wrote a letter, dated December 11, 1913, to Mena (Polk County) mayor John H. Hamilton that read, in part: “The undersigned has recently seen and heard of much of your boastful conduct and self praise with reference to possum hunting. In fact I learned from reliable sources that you claim great credit to yourself as chief of all such sportsmen in these parts. Therefore believing that others …

Quapaw Area Council of the Boy Scouts

The Quapaw Area Council of the Boy Scouts began in 1913 and is the largest (in terms of area) in the state. It also serves the largest number of Arkansas boys. The Boy Scouts of America began in the United States in 1910, and three years later, the Little Rock Council was chartered by the National Boy Scout Council as a second-class council—that is, one directed by a volunteer commissioner. In 1920, the Little Rock Council was reclassified as a first-class council, and in 1921, W. G. Moseley became the first council executive. Two years later, the Little Rock Council was renamed the Pulaski County Council to include membership in a wider area. By 1927, the council was renamed the …

Rotary Club of Little Rock

The Rotary Club of Little Rock is the oldest civic club in Arkansas. It is the ninety-ninth oldest and sixth largest of more than 32,000 Rotary Clubs in more than 200 countries and geographic regions. Although the official name of the club is the Rotary Club of Little Rock, it is frequently referred to as “Club 99,” because of the number on its charter, or as the “Downtown Little Rock Rotary Club” to distinguish it from other Rotary Clubs in the city. The club traces its origin to the 1911 arrival in Little Rock (Pulaski County) of Sidney M. Brooks (1886–1985), a Memphis, Tennessee, native who had graduated from Harvard University and moved to Little Rock to establish the state’s …

Shriners

aka: Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine
Shriners International, formally known as the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, is a fraternal organization commonly known as the Shriners. The order inducted its first two Master Masons on August 13, 1870, and the remaining eleven charter members on June 16, 1871. Arkansas has two chapters: Sahara Shrine in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), founded in 1889 and chartered the next year; and Scimitar Shrine in North Little Rock (Pulaski County), founded in Little Rock (Pulaski County) as Al Amin Temple in 1904 and chartered early the next year. Historically, to become a noble of the Shrine, a potential member had to complete three degrees and a series of tests to become a Master Mason of …

Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV)

The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) is a historical, patriotic, and non-political organization established to honor the memory of soldiers who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. In Arkansas, there are eighteen camps of the SCV (as of 2010), and the organization works to commemorate Arkansas’s Confederate heritage through annual memorial events and more. The SCV is a direct offshoot of the United Confederate Veterans (UCV), a voluntary organization of many veterans who fought for the Confederacy during its brief existence (1861–1865). The SCV was organized at Richmond, Virginia, in 1896 at the convention of the UCV. Initially, the SCV was charged with two duties: assisting the UCV and its elderly members at their conventions and other activities, …

United Sons of Ham of America

aka: Sons of Ham
United Sons of Ham of America (USH) was a popular African-American secret society in the South during Reconstruction. In Little Rock (Pulaski County), the Sons of Ham was established on October 7, 1865, and was considered the city’s first black benevolent fraternal organization, starting with twenty members meeting in a wood-frame building. The goals of the society were to encourage industry, brotherly love, and charity by providing support to the widows and orphans of its deceased members. The Sons of Ham enforced a strict moral code that included no gambling or drinking. Although the organization proclaimed itself to be non-political, an annual convention held in 1871 closely resembled a state legislative session in which bills were introduced and passed and …

XV Club

The fifteen members of the XV Club meet fifteen times a year for dinner and discussion of various important and interesting issues. Since 1904, more than 100 prominent citizens of Pulaski County have been part of this select organization. The original XV Club (the name, derived from the Roman numeral fifteen, is pronounced “ex-VEE”) was organized in 1879 in Bowling Green, Kentucky. One of the founders of this group, Reverend John L. Caldwell, moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1892 and then, four years later, relocated to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), where he organized another XV Club. The Little Rock (Pulaski County) incarnation of the XV Club was organized January 7, 1904, at the suggestion of Carl E. Voss, a …