Historic exhibit at UCA’s Torreyson

“Territorial Arkansas: The Wild Western Frontier,” a traveling exhibit that tells the story of Arkansas Territory, will be on display at the University of Central Arkansas’s Torreyson Library from through Sunday, Sept. 28.

The traveling exhibit consists of 15 panels that explore the history of Arkansas Territory through the collections of the Arkansas State Archives and their branch archives, the Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives in Powhatan and the Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives in Washington.

On March 2, 1819, President James Monroe signed a congressional act that established Arkansas Territory from the southern portion of Missouri Territory. The new territory was a wild frontier on the western edge of the United States, where politicians settled debates by deadly duels.

Formerly a colony of France and Spain, the land had only become part of the United States 16 years prior as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. After its creation, Arkansas Territory had an influx of settlers who established small communities and isolated homesteads. Territorial and county governments were set up, businesses opened and workers of various trades moved to the territory to help it flourish. 

Initially, Arkansas Territory included what is now Oklahoma, but through changes in boundary lines and the relocation of Native Americans further west, the territory’s land was reduced to its present size in 1828. After 17 years as a territory, Arkansas was admitted to the Union on June 15, 1836, as the 25th state.

“The UCA History Department and the Torreyson Library are happy to have the ‘Territorial Arkansas’ exhibit on campus for the month of September,” said Buck Foster, UCA history professor and exhibit coordinator. “This 15-panel display is a great informational piece and does an excellent job with interpreting a part of Arkansas history that is mainly forgotten. Many of the events and personalities who shaped Arkansas during the territorial period laid the foundation for our statehood.”

Torreyson Library is open continuously from 2 p.m. Sunday to 5 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. For more information about the exhibit, contact Foster at 501.852.2274 or [email protected].

To learn more about the Arkansas State Archives and its collections visit http://archives.arkansas.gov.

This exhibit was produced in part by a grant from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council, funded by the Arkansas Real Estate Transfer Tax.