Arkansas History

Mosaic Templars
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, which tells the story of African-Americans in Arkansas, is striving to raise $3 million to renovate its educational exhibit space. The museum opened in 2008 in a spot that was once the heart of Little Rock’s black community.

During a ceremony Monday with Gov. Asa Hutchinson at the state Capitol, backers of the fundraising campaign accepted the museum’s largest-ever corporate donation. Union Pacific Railroad, which employed about 2,600 people in the state as of last year, gave $300,000 toward the campaign.

Encyclopedia Of Arkansas Minute: Sentinel Of Freedom

Jul 2, 2019

Arkansas artist Adrian Brewer was initially reluctant to accept a commission on what became his most famous painting. Little Rock insurance man Clyde E. Lowry approached Brewer about painting the American flag “when the wind had died down and the gentle folds took their natural place.” Brewer had a thriving practice painting commissioned portraits of prominent Arkansans, but ended up accepting Lowry’s offer.

Encyclopedia Of Arkansas Minute: Matt Rothert Sr.

Jul 2, 2019

A Camden furniture merchant was responsible for a phrase we see every time we open our wallets. Matt Rothert, Sr., was born in Indiana in 1904 and moved to Camden twenty years later. He founded the Camden Furniture Company, serving as its president until he retired in 1975. But his true love was coin collecting, a passion he developed when he found his father’s old coins.

Encyclopedia Of Arkansas Minute: Grand Army Of The Republic

Jul 2, 2019

Union Civil War veterans formed a fraternal organization after the war that had a surprisingly strong presence in Arkansas. The first Grand Army of the Republic post was founded in Illinois in 1866, and African American veterans formed some of the earliest posts in Arkansas around the same time.

Encyclopedia Of Arkansas Minute: Ozark Golden Wedding Jubilee

Jul 2, 2019

While it was likely a stunt to promote tourism in the area, the short-lived Ozark Golden Wedding Jubilee did recognize long-term marriages as couples renewed their vows. Sponsored by the Rogers Chamber of Commerce, the jubilee celebrated fifty-year marriages while also recognizing a newlywed “honor couple” that would get a week-long honeymoon in Rogers.

Encyclopedia Of Arkansas Minute: Arkansas Married Woman's Property Law

Jul 2, 2019

Arkansas was one of the first states to recognize a married woman’s right to own property, but it took a half century. Common law held that a married woman’s property would pass to her husband, which concerned fathers who feared their daughters’ bequests could be squandered by worthless husbands. The Territorial Legislature recognized women’s rights to own property in 1835, but the law did not pass into statehood. Governor Archibald Yell vetoed a property law in 1840, fearing that giving women rights would destroy the family.

Encyclopedia Of Arkansas Minute: Anti-Miscegenation Law

Jul 2, 2019

Arkansas law barred interracial relationships from the territorial period up to the twentieth century, when the U.S. Supreme Court overruled such laws. The Arkansas General Assembly banned miscegenation in 1837, but the law was laxly enforced because of the small number of free blacks in the state. That law was overturned during Reconstruction, and many interracial couples married during the period.

Suffrage In Sixty Seconds: Woman’s Chronicle Established

Jul 1, 2019

In March of 1888, Kate Cuningham launched the Woman’s Chronicle in downtown Little Rock. With associate editors Mary Brooks and Haryot Cahoon, page one of the first edition announced the paper’s deep dedication to Temperance, but in the same paragraph coyly asked, “Is suffrage essential to happiness? Who can decide? Who indeed – save time?”

After the passing of Lizzie Fyler, there appears to have been a three-year lull in suffrage activity in Arkansas. It was not until February of 1888 that Little Rock resident, Clara McDiarmid founded the Arkansas Equal Suffrage Association. In her announcement in the national Woman’s Journal, McDiarmid described their activities. “We are distributing leaflets,” she wrote, and “have a committee on program[e] and are to have two papers at each monthly meeting. Innumerable obstacles to overcome, but ‘onward’ is the catchword.”

Suffrage In Sixty Seconds: Women’s Rights In Magnolia

Jul 1, 2019

Although the struggle for the right to vote began in Eureka Springs and would be centered in Little Rock, women throughout Arkansas were agitating for suffrage. Unfortunately, documentation of these activities is scarce. We know that women in Magnolia were active because of this brief note in a February 1882 issue of the Arkansas Gazette. It reads, “We are sorry to hear that some of our ladies are advocating women’s rights, which has been a consuming cancer on the body politic of our country for many years. Can’t the curse be eradicated?”

Suffrage In Sixty Seconds: Lizzie-Dorman-Fyler Obituary

Jul 1, 2019

The year 1885 saw a number of serious blows to the suffrage movement in Arkansas. That year, the Arkansas Woman Suffrage Association established by Lizzie Dorman Fyler in 1881 had dissolved. Reporting in the November 21st issue of the national Woman’s Journal, Fyler laments the absence of an organized suffrage society and speculates that the state is not yet ready for it.

In March of 1884, Eureka Springs resident Lizzie Dorman Fyler became the first Arkansan to attend the annual National American Woman Suffrage Association convention. Fyler, one of the first female lawyers in the state, took the lectern on the fourth day of the convention and detailed the extensive legislation recently passed expanding the rights of women in Arkansas.

The “crowning glory,” Fyler believed, was the 1882 act giving Arkansas women the right to vote on the prohibition of alcohol.

Suffrage In Sixty Seconds: Woman's Christian Temperance Union

Jun 24, 2019

The Arkansas branch of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union was founded in Little Rock in 1879 as part of the national drive supporting the prohibition of alcohol.

Because of the link between drunkenness and domestic violence, temperance was considered a women’s issue and was an obvious partner for the women’s suffrage movement. The Temperance Union had a national organizational network that suffragists could both emulate and draw on for support. At the same time, suffrage would give women the opportunity to vote for temperance legislation.

Suffrage In Sixty Seconds: The Arkansas Ladies' Journal

May 22, 2019

The voices of Arkansas women were amplified significantly with the establishment of The Arkansas Ladies’ Journal in June of 1884.

Founded and edited by Little Rock resident Mary Loughborough, the Journal featured an all-female writing staff of seven.

Suffrage In Sixty Seconds: Arkansas Woman Suffrage Association

May 22, 2019

In September of 1881, Lizzie Dorman Fyler established the Arkansas Woman Suffrage Association in Eureka Springs.

Fyler used her announcement of the formation of the Association in the national Woman’s Journal to address the women of Arkansas.

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