Friday, April 26, 2019

ASA Creates Traveling Exhibit on Arkansas Territory

"Territorial Arkansas: The Wild Western Frontier" 
moves to Hot Springs National Park,
May 18 through June 18.
Photo courtesy of ASA.

The Arkansas State Archives is creating a second copy of the traveling exhibit on the Arkansas Territory to meet demand!

The Arkansas State Archives debuted its new traveling exhibit, “Territorial Arkansas: The Wild Western Frontier,” at the Arkansas Territory Bicentennial Celebration at the Arkansas State Capitol on March 1. The exhibit explores the creation of Arkansas as a U.S. territory in 1819 and what life was like in the territory though the collections of the Arkansas State Archives and its branch archives, the Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives in Powhatan and the Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives in Washington. Arkansas Territory, which included part of Oklahoma, was on the western frontier of the U.S. and was known as a rough-and-tumble place.

Hundreds of people came to the Capitol to celebrate and view the exhibit when it opened in March, and a little more than a month later, the exhibit was reserved well into 2020. Only a few weeks of next year are left open, said Curator Julienne Crawford, who spent more than a year researching and producing the exhibit. The second copy of the traveling exhibit will be completed in May and will be available for booking at additional locations.

“We are looking forward to being able to bring our traveling exhibit to more communities statewide,” said Dr. Wendy Richter, state historian and director of the State Archives. “The second copy of the exhibit will allow more people to have the chance to learn about the Arkansas Territory and our collective identity as Arkansans.”

The traveling exhibit is available to museums, libraries, archives, universities, schools, historical societies and other educational or cultural institutions around the state. The State Archives makes its traveling exhibits available at no cost. Traveling exhibits must be picked-up and returned to the Arkansas State Archives, but can be transported in most vehicles.

“This exhibit allows us to bring the incredible Arkansas Territory resources of the State Archives to local communities. Our traveling exhibits are very popular with museums, libraries, universities and schools. Many institutions eagerly await the next exhibit we produce, and I am always being asked when the next one will be available,” Crawford said.

The popularity, in part, is because of how convenient the exhibit is to set up and show, Crawford said. The 15 roll up banner style panels can be set up in a variety of ways and can accommodate different size spaces. This flexibility allows large and small entities, including schools, to use the exhibit. The panels collapse down into cases for easy transport. The number of panels displayed can be scaled back; however, Crawford said it’s best for all panels to be shown to provide a more complete interpretation of the history of Arkansas Territory.

Since its debut in March, “Territorial Arkansas: The Wild Western Frontier” has already traveled to the Arkansas Historical Association in Stuttgart, Harmony Grove School in Benton, the Saline County Library  and Fulbright Junior High School in  Bentonville. 

 The exhibit is currently on display at Brackett Library at Harding University in Searcy until May 10, 2019. Then, it will be at the Hot Springs National Park, May 17- June 19; the Boone County Library in Harrison, July 1-22; and the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History in Little Rock in August.

Anyone interested in reserving the traveling exhibit can fill out a form at or can contact Crawford at or 501-682-6978.

A visitor reads the Arkansas Territorial exhibition during its debut at
the Arkansas State Capitol in March.