Little Rock Look Back: Aluminum Bowl


Courtesy of Paul Edwards to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture

On December 22, 1956, Little Rock played host to the first (and only) Aluminum Bowl.  It was the NAIA national championship game between Montana State University and St. Joseph’s College (of Indiana).  This was the first time the NAIA had a football championship.

Originally the game was set to be played in Shreveport, Louisiana.  But because some NAIA schools were integrated, it was forbidden by a state law passed by the Louisiana legislature.  The Little Rock Chamber of Commerce and others worked to bring the game to War Memorial Stadium.  Because of the importance of the aluminum industry in Central Arkansas, the name Aluminum Bowl was chosen.  Both ALCOA and Reynolds were major sponsors of the event.

The game, which was aired on CBS TV and radio, was played on a rain-soaked muddy field and turned into a defensive slugfest. Both teams only got close to scoring once.  The score ended up a 0 to 0 tie.  Both teams were declared co-champions.  The rain kept the crowds away as only 5,000 people showed up leaving 33,000 empty seats in the stadium.  Miss Arkansas Barbara Banks, who had been wearing a dress made entirely out of aluminum, spent the game covered up to keep the dress dry.

The next year, the game went to Saint Petersburg, Florida, where it was rechristened the Holiday Bowl.  The Little Rock outing would mark the only appearance by either team in the NAIA championship game.  Both teams subsequently switched to NCAA competition.  As of the spring of 2017, St. Joseph’s has suspended operations because of financial shortcomings.

It has been said that Little Rock leaders had wanted to get the Aluminum Bowl game to showcase that Little Rock was a progressive Southern city when it came to race relations. By 1956 the buses and the public library were integrated.  However, both teams were faced with their African American players having to stay at separate hotels while in Central Arkansas (one in Little Rock, the other team in Hot Springs).

For more on the Aluminum Bowl, visit the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture.


Black History Month Spotlight – Arkansas Studies Institute

ASI CALS UALRThe new Arkansas Civil Rights History Audio Tour was launched in November 2015. Produced by the City of Little Rock and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock allows the many places and stories of the City’s Civil Rights history to come to life an interactive tour.  This month, during Black History Month, the Culture Vulture looks at some of the stops on this tour which focus on African American history.

The Arkansas Studies Institute building is a Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) facility. It houses both the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies (a CALS department) and the Center for Arkansas History and Culture, a department of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR).

Exterior and interior panels are featured showing Arkansas African American life through historic photographs. Both archives offer genealogy and photography collections, and visual, audio and reference materials relating to African American history and civil rights topics in Arkansas. The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture, a Butler Center project, has many entries on African American history.

The Arkansas Sounds music collection contains materials relating to black musicians William Grant Still, Florence Price, Louis Jordan, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Al Bell. The Butler Center’s galleries feature local art, jewelry and crafts, many by Arkansas black artists.

The UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture contains extensive archives, including virtual exhibits relating to the Civil War, Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller, and the city of Little Rock. Adding another dimension to the struggle for civil rights are documents and art from the World War II Japanese American Relocation Camps at Rohwer and Jerome, Arkansas, and two large Jewish history collections.

The app, funded by a generous grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council, was a collaboration among UALR’s Institute on Race and Ethnicity, the City of Little Rock, the Mayor’s Tourism Commission, and KUAR, UALR’s public radio station, with assistance from the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Two authors feted at tonight’s CALS “A Prized Evening”

prized_eveningTwo Arkansas authors, Guy Lancaster and Davis McCombs, will be honored at A Prized Evening, the annual awarding of the Worthen and Porter Literary Prizes, on Thursday, October 1, at 6 p.m. in the Central Arkansas Library System’s (CALS) Main Library’s Darragh Center, 100 Rock Street. A book signing and reception will follow the presentation, which is free and open to the public.

Reservations are appreciated, but not required. RSVP to or 501-918-3033.

The Booker Worthen Literary Prize will be awarded to Guy Lancaster, editor of the online Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, for his book Racial Cleansing in Arkansas, 1883-1924: Politics, Land, Labor, and Criminality. Lancaster, a native of Jonesboro, holds a Ph.D. in Heritage Studies from Arkansas State University and currently serves as the creative materials editor of the Arkansas Review: A Journal of Delta Studies. He edited Arkansas in Ink: Ghosts, Gunslingers, and Other Graphic Tales (illustrated by Ron Wolfe) and, with Mike Polston, co-edited To Can the Kaiser: Arkansas and the Great War, both published by Butler Center Books.

Davis McCombs, director of Creative Writing and Translation at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, will receive the Porter Fund Literary Prize in recognition of his substantial and impressive body of work. McCombs has published two volumes of poetry, which have won numerous awards, and his work has appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, American Poetry Review, The Pushcart Prize Anthology, and many other publications.

The Worthen Prize was established by the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) in 1999 in memory of William Booker Worthen, a longtime supporter of the public library and a twenty-two-year member of CALS Board of Trustees. It is presented annually for the best work by an author or editor living in the CALS service area. The Porter Fund was established in 1985 by Jack Butler and Phillip McMath in honor of Dr. Ben Drew Kimpel, who requested the prize be named for his mother, Gladys Crane Kimpel Porter.

Tonight at Arkansas Rep – UALR History Professor Carl Moneyhon will discuss the South at the end of the Civil War

Carl_Moneyhon_smIn conjunction with the current production of The Whipping Man, UALR History Professor Dr. Carl Moneyhon will be speaking at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre this evening. His remarks are entitled “The World Turned Upside Down: The South at The End.

Dr. Moneyhon is a specialist in the history of the American Civil War and the South and is widely published in his field. He is faculty liaison with the University History Institute, an organization that develops closer ties between the department and the community. He serves on editorial boards of the Arkansas Historical Quarterly & the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture. He has won the UALR Faculty Excellence Award for Research and the UALR Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching.

The program is at 6:00 tonight in Foster’s at the Arkansas Rep.  The doors open at 5:30; a cash bar will be available.  Admission is free for members of the Rep and $10 for non-members.  Registration is required and can be made by calling the Rep Box Office at 501-378-0405.

New Illustrated Arkansas History book launched tonight

cals launchArkansas in Ink: Gunslingers, Ghosts, and Other Graphic Talesa special print edition of the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture (EOA), edited by Guy Lancaster and illustrated by Ron Wolfe, provides an entertaining look at Arkansas’s history through stories and cartoons.

It will take place in the Darragh Center inside the CALS main building on Rock Street.  The party will start at 6pm.

At the launch party, Lancaster and Wolfe will speak about the book and sign copies, which will be available for purchase at the event. A “drawing for a drawing” will also be held, in which one attendee will win a signed, framed, original illustration by Wolfe from the book. Beer, wine, and light refreshments will be served.

This event is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact 501-918-3033.

Arts & Humanities Month: Central Arkansas Library System

Just over 100 years ago, a Carnegie library was founded in Little Rock as the first Public Library. After ebbing and flowing in two different locations on Louisiana Street in downtown, it has now blossomed into the Central Arkansas Library System.

In addition to the Main Library, which was a catalyst for the redevelopment of the River Market District, there are currently eleven other branches in Little Rock, other parts of Pulaski County, and one in neighboring Perry County.

Not content with merely being a place for people to check out books, CALS also houses the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture, the Cox Creative Center, the Darragh Center, the Arkansas Studies Institute, Butler Center Books and the Arkansas Literary Festival. Among the annual programs presented by CALS are the Rabbi Ira Sanders Lecture, and the Booker Worthen Literary Prize.

Under the leadership of Dr. Bobby Roberts, CALS has become a living, breathing entity with dynamic programming for patrons from pre-school to well-seasoned. A perfect example is that on October 27 at the Main Library there is a Halloween costume contest for kids as well as a lecture entitled “Was There Really a Female Pope?”