10 Years of UA Little Rock and CALS Collaborating on Arkansas History

UA Little Rock and the Central Arkansas Library System partnered 10 years ago to make accessible an extensive collection of Arkansas historical documents through a joint catalogue and a well-equipped research room in the CALS Roberts Library.

The UA Little Rock Center for Arkansas History and Culture and the CALS Butler Center for Arkansas Studies have worked together over the decade to provide more historical collections and expanded services to better serve Arkansans.

Celebrate with them at a reception in the Galleries at Library Square on March 8, 2019 from 5 pm until 8 pm.

Live music will entertain and celebratory cupcakes will be served.

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.

Cleveland County native Johnny Cash is focus of UALR exhibit, concert

cash-image1-1-204x264The Center for Arkansas History and Culture (CAHC) at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock has announced plans to premier a new exhibit on Johnny Cash’s relationship with Arkansas. The exhibit, “Johnny Cash: Arkansas Icon,” will open in the Underground Gallery at the Arkansas Studies Institute on October 10, 2014, and run through January 24, 2015. The physical exhibit will be accompanied by a virtual exhibit with educational materials for teachers.

Opening Night

The exhibit opens Friday, Oct. 10, in the Ron Robinson Theatre.

A free concert will be at 7:30 p.m. featuring the W.S. Holland Band, with special guests Jeff Coleman and the Feedersbeginning at 6:45 p.m. Seating is limited.

Johnny Cash: Arkansas Icon

The exhibit explores the musician’s Arkansas connections over the decades, covering his 1930s childhood in Dyess, Arkansas (though he was born in Kingsland in Cleveland County), through his comeback at the turn of the 21st-century. The exhibit places special emphasis on connections between his Arkansas roots and his music from his first performance in Little Rock in 1955 to a 2002 music video. Though Cash’s career took him far from Arkansas, the exhibit argues, he never quite severed his Arkansas roots. This exhibit tells that story through narrative and archival photographs from CAHC’s own collections, as well as others.

According to Colin Woodward, the CAHC archivist who proposed the exhibit and wrote its narrative, “While writing an article about Johnny Cash’s work with Governor Winthrop Rockefeller on prison reform, I began to see the thread of Arkansas in Cash’s music and life. He was such a dynamic artist, who persevered through many personal and professional challenges. He was a great Arkansan, and I wanted to show that through historical research and archival images.”

The exhibit will cover the walls of the unique Underground Gallery and immerse visitors in an artistic representation of Cash’s life in pictures and text. Designed by Bachelor of Fine Arts student Nick Sosnoski under the direction of Tom Clifton, Department of Art Chair, the exhibit makes use of key design elements like variety, unity, and texture on a large scale. The exhibit uses rare images from family albums and other sources and incorporates Cash’s lyrics into the design. According to Sosnoski, “The design is meant to reflect Johnny Cash as a man who never forgot his roots.”

The accompanying virtual exhibit will offer deeper exploration of the topics covered in the physical exhibit. The website will include a media gallery and behind-the-scenes information on the exhibit development. Educational materials, including full lesson plans and PowerPoint presentations, will be available for Arkansas teachers to use with students before and after visiting the exhibit. Stan James, an undergraduate Social Studies Education major, worked on the project and says, “It was really exciting to be able to prepare materials that will teach students important world concepts, and at the same time, expose them to one of Arkansas’ true treasures, Johnny Cash.  These materials, along with the exhibit and related events, will guide the students through an exciting journey towards learning about key issues in our state and nation, as well as how celebrities use their influence and talent to further issues that are important to them.”

On opening night, the W. S. Holland Band will perform a free concert in the Ron Robinson Auditorium. Holland spent 40 years performing with Cash’s band, Tennessee 3, and is the only band member to stay with the group until Cash’s retirement in 1997. In his long career, Holland has toured with Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, and Carl Perkins. The Holland Band performance will start at 7:30, following an opening performance by Jeff Coleman and the Feeders at 6:45. Seating is limited. Also on opening night, Shape Note Singers from Mountain Home, Arkansas, will perform for Second Friday Art Night visitors to the Arkansas Studies Institute.

This project is supported in part by a grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Additional funding provided by the Arkansas Community Foundation. The Arkansas Community Foundation is a nonprofit organization that fosters smart giving to improve communities. The Community Foundation offers tools to help Arkansans protect, grow and direct their charitable dollars as they learn more about community needs. By making grants and sharing knowledge, the Community Foundation supports charitable programs that work for Arkansas and partners to create new initiatives that address the gaps. Contributions to the Community Foundation, its funds and any of its 27 affiliates are fully tax deductible.

The UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture collects, preserves, and enables access to Arkansas records of enduring value; prepares students and the region for the 21st century through academic leadership and education on archival practices and technologies; and engages the community through outreach, programming, and exhibitions.

For more information on the exhibit or CAHC, contact us atcahc@ualr.edu or 501.320.5780.

LR Cultural Touchstone: Deborah Baldwin

9 Deborah BaldwinAs a historian, arts patron, and administrator, Deborah Baldwin has had a hand in shaping Little Rock’s cultural scene for nearly thirty years.   As Chair of the UALR History Department from 1986 to 1992, she lead the department as it created the History Institute which sponsors the “Evenings with History” lecture series.  At the time it was started, it was one of the few lecture series in Little Rock (if not the only one).

A member of the UALR faculty since 1980, Baldwin is a specialist in modern Mexican history with a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. She has published a book on the Mexican Revolution of 1910 and a variety of articles, primarily on Mexican social history topic.

As a History Department faculty member, she has lead the Public History seminar. This program has documented the history of several Little Rock cultural institutions over the years including the Arkansas Arts Center, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and Museum of Discovery.  The Public History program has trained many of the museum professionals working in Little Rock today.  The Central High Museum, a private forerunner of the National Park Service Central High National Historic Site Visitor Center, was lead in a large part by persons associated with the UALR Public History Program.

Starting in the mid-1990s, Baldwin led the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.  In that capacity, she oversaw the visual and performing arts programming at UALR.  Under her leadership, the Departments of Art, Music, and Theatre & Dance were all revitalized.  As a part of this, she ensured that cutting-edge technology was being integrated to arts curriculum.  She also led efforts to upgrade the performance facilities.  During her tenure as Dean, the College also played leading roles in the commemoration of the 40th and 50th anniversaries of the integration of Central High School, the centennial of the Mexican Revolution, and the “Life Interrupted” exhibit which highlighted the Japanese-American internment experience in Arkansas.  She also oversaw the creation of Finale!, an event each spring which celebrates the arts in Little Rock and honors arts patrons.

With the creation of the Arkansas Studies Institute (a collaboration between UALR and Central Arkansas Library System), Baldwin took on additional duties as UALR’s supervisor on the project.

In 2014, UALR underwent a campus-wide administrative and academic reorganization.  In conjunction with that, Baldwin became Associate Provost for UALR Collections and Archives.  In that capacity she oversees the campus library system, Center for Arkansas History and Culture and the Sequoyah National Research Center.  She continues to teach in the Department of History.

She is a past member of the board of the Arkansas Humanities Council and the MacArthur Military History Museum Commission.


Dr. Cal Ledbetter Collection opens at UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture

The UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture revealed its newest collection, donated by educator, scholar, and legislator Calvin R. Ledbetter Jr., at a reception held at the Arkansas Studies Institute Tuesday evening, April 30.

Calvin R. Ledbetter Jr.The 12-linear-foot collection covers Ledbetter’s life between 1964 and 1988. The papers document Ledbetter’s political career including the state’s legislative sessions from 1967 to 1977. A portion of the papers references his academic career at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Ledbetter, 84, led an accomplished political and educational career.

In addition to the collection housed at ASI, there is an online exhibit at ualrexhibits.org/ledbetter. The digitized collection includes photographs, video clips, and a selected bibliography on articles and books written by Ledbetter.

In 1960, Ledbetter joined the faculty at Little Rock University, now the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He has served as chair of the Department of Political Science and dean of the College of Liberal Arts, now the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. After retiring in 1997, Ledbetter was named professor emeritus of political science.

The gift of Dr. Ledbetter is not just his collection, ever the visionary, he has an eye on the future. In addition to donating his papers for research, Ledbetter has established the Cal Ledbetter Arkansas Legislative Institute Endowment to promote a better understanding of Arkansas through the scholarly study of legislators and legislative process.

Ledbetter served for five terms in the Arkansas House of Representatives between 1967 and 1977. In the course of his political career, he served three Arkansas’ governors, Winthrop Rockefeller, Dale Bumpers, and David Pryor. CAHC holds the collections of both Rockefeller and Bumpers.

The UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture is housed in the Arkansas Studies Institute, a partnership between UALR and the Central Arkansas Library System. For more information, go to ualr.edu/cahc.

In recognition of his contributions, the Arkansas House of Representatives passed HR1045 this session. It was sponsored by Rep. Ann V. Clemmer, a member of the UALR Political Science faculty.