“Off the Grid” tonight at the CALS Williams Library.

Tonight at 6pm Theo Witsell and Dr. Story Matkin-Rawn will present “Off the Grid: Nature, Black Power, & Freedom on the AR Frontier.”

The program will take place at the Sue Cowan Williams Library.

Through images, stories, and botanical specimens from the field, historian Story Matkin-Rawn and ecologist Theo Witsell will share their research on the challenges of frontier life and use of wild resources among newly freed African Americans in the Natural State following the Civil War.

Story Matkin-Rawn serves as vice-president of the Arkansas Historical Association and is an associate professor of history at the University of Central Arkansas, where she teaches courses on Arkansas, Southern, and Civil Rights history. She received her PhD in history from the University of Wisconsin in 2009. Her article “The Great Negro State of the Country: Arkansas’s Reconstruction and the Other Great Migration,” which appeared in the Arkansas Historical Quarterly in 2013, won the Violet B. Gingles Prize. This presentation on African American life on the Arkansas frontier is part of her current project, a book manuscript titled “A New Country: An African American History of the South’s Last Frontier, 1865–1940.”

Theo Witsell is the ecologist and chief of research for the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, a division of the Department of Arkansas Heritage. Prior to that, he served as a botanist for the agency for nineteen years, researching and protecting rare species and habitats across the state. His research interests include the historical ecology of Arkansas and the intersections of human history and our natural heritage.

For more information, please contact 320-5744

Off the Grid: Nature, Black Power, & Freedom on the AR Frontier is topic of today’s CALS Legacies & Lunch

Image may contain: tree, outdoor and waterLegacies & Lunch kicks off 2020 with a program today at 12 noon, entitled “Off the Grid: Nature, Black Power, & Freedom on the AR Frontier.”

Through images, stories, and botanical specimens from the field, historian Story Matkin-Rawn and ecologist Theo Witsell will share their research on the challenges of frontier life and use of wild resources among newly freed African Americans in the Natural State following the Civil War.

Story Matkin-Rawn serves as vice-president of the Arkansas Historical Association and is an associate professor of history at the University of Central Arkansas, where she teaches courses on Arkansas, Southern, and Civil Rights history. She received her PhD in history from the University of Wisconsin in 2009. Her article “The Great Negro State of the Country: Arkansas’s Reconstruction and the Other Great Migration,” which appeared in the Arkansas Historical Quarterly in 2013, won the Violet B. Gingles Prize. This presentation on African American life on the Arkansas frontier is part of her current project, a book manuscript titled “A New Country: An African American History of the South’s Last Frontier, 1865–1940.”

Theo Witsell is the ecologist and chief of research for the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, a division of the Department of Arkansas Heritage. Prior to that, he served as a botanist for the agency for nineteen years, researching and protecting rare species and habitats across the state. His research interests include the historical ecology of Arkansas and the intersections of human history and our natural heritage.

Legacies & Lunch is a free monthly program of CALS Butler Center for Arkansas Studies about Arkansas related topics. For more information, please contact 320-5744.

This evening at the Clinton School – Theo Witsell discusses his Bicentenary interpretation of Thomas Nuttall’s exploration of the Arkansas Territory

Image result for theo witsellThe year 2019 marks the 200th anniversary of the great botanist and naturalist Thomas Nuttall’s year-long journey of discovery through the Arkansas Territory, present day Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Tonight at 6pm, as part of the Clinton School Speaker Series, Theo Witsell will discuss Nuttall’s trek and the implications it has for today.

Nuttall would be the first trained naturalist to record observations and collect specimens in most of the territory. His first-hand account of this trip, later published as “A Journal of Travels into the Arkansas Territory in the Year 1819,” provides some of the earliest reliable information on the natural history of the region. These observations and his surviving botanical specimens are central to our understanding of what the region was like before it was forever altered by the ravages of human progress.

To commemorate the bicentennial of Nuttall’s trip, Theo Witsell, Ecologist and Chief of Research for the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission and the Curator of the ANHC Herbarium, worked for the past several years on a “200 years later” reinterpretation of all the natural history observations he made in Arkansas Territory.

This included retracing his route using both historical and modern geospatial datasets, updating the nomenclature and taxonomy of all the plants and animals he mentions, and weaving his own observations gained over the past 24 years conducting field work for the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. The aim is to provide a fairly detailed interpretation of Nuttall’s natural history observations, and discuss changes in the landscape since his trip, specifically as they relate to ecological and biological diversity.

All Clinton School Speaker Series events are free and open to the public. Reserve your seats by emailing publicprograms@clintonschool.uasys.edu or by calling (501) 683-5239.

Lunch and Learn at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center today at noon

As part of their ongoing Lunch and Learn series, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center today presents: “Off the Grid: A History of Nature, Black Power and Freedom on the Arkansas Frontier.”

The program starts at 12 noon at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center and is free.

Through images, stories and botanical specimens, historian Story Matkin-Rawn and ecologist Theo Witsell will share their research on the challenges of frontier life and use of wild resources among African Americans in the natural state.