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Arkansas State University Heritage Sites

Arkansas Heritage Sites This office at Arkansas State University develops and operates historic properties of regional and national significance in the Arkansas Delta. These sites provide educational resources for formal and informal learning, including serving as living laboratories for students in the university’s Heritage Studies Ph.D. program. In addition, they serve as economic catalysts in communities where they are located by attracting heritage tourists from around the world.

Arkansas State University Museum: Located on the Jonesboro campus, the Arkansas State University Museum serves both the university and the general public and provides opportunities for lifelong learning. The museum focuses on the natural history and cultural heritage of Northeast Arkansas and the Mississippi River Delta region.  Part of the Arkansas Discovery Network, it is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.

Lakeport Plantation, Lake Village, AR: The Lakeport Plantation house is the only remaining Arkansas plantation home on the Mississippi River and still retains many of its original finishes and architectural details. Today you can tour it, thanks to a gift in 2001 to Arkansas State University from the Sam Epstein Angel family.  Restored as a museum, the site researches and interprets the people and cultures that shaped plantation life in the Mississippi River Delta, focusing on the Antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction periods. 

Historic Dyess Colony: Boyhood Home of Johnny Cash, Dyess, AR: Historic Dyess Colony: Boyhood Home of Johnny Cash-The Dyess Colony was created in 1934 aspart of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal to aid in the nation’s economic recovery from the Great Depression. As a federal agricultural resettlement community, it provided a fresh start for nearly 500 impoverished Arkansas farm families, including the family of music legend Johnny Cash. The Colony is being resurrected through restoration of several historic buildings, including the Dyess Colony Administration Building and the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home.

Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center, The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center in Piggott, Arkansas includes a barn studio associated with Ernest Hemingway and the family home of his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer. Pauline’s parents, Paul and Mary Pfeiffer, were prominent citizens of Northeast Arkansas and owned more than 60,000 acres of land. During the 1930s the barn was converted to a studio to give Hemingway privacy for writing while visiting Piggott. Portions of one of his most famous novels, A Farewell to Arms, and several short stories were written in this studio. Both the home and the barn studio were named to the National Historic Register in 1982. The properties have been renovated, focusing on the 1930s era. Areas of emphasis for the Museum and Educational Center include literature of the period, 1930s world events, agriculture, family lifestyles and relationships, and development of Northeast Arkansas during the Depression and New Deal eras.

Rohwer Japanese American Relocation Center, Rohwer, AR: Between 1942 and 1945, up to 8,000 Japanese Americans were interned at Rohwer—a 500-acre camp surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards. Today all that remains is a cemetery and the smokestack from the camp’s hospital. Though most physical evidence has been wiped from the landscape, important stories remain to be shared. The Arkansas Heritage Sites office has installed interpretive exhibits along the gravel road adjacent to the cemetery.

Southern Tenant Farmers Museum Resources

The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture: The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture (EOA) is a project of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies at the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) in Little Rock, Arkansas. It is the only state encyclopedia in the country to be produced by a library system.

“Out Yonder on the Road”: Working Class Self-Representation and the 1939 Roadside Demonstration in Southeast Missouri: Jarod Roll (University of Sussex) revisits the 1939 roadside demonstration of sharecroppers in southeast Missouri, when more than fifteen hundred men, women, and children piled their belongings on the highway shoulder to protest the deleterious effects of New Deal agricultural policy. Images of these impoverished, desperate families — African American and white — shocked the nation and attracted the attention of the White House. Using archival material, including documentary photographs, the essay excavates the longer history of this dramatic event and considers how the demonstrators successfully manipulated the cultural narratives and iconography of rural poverty to force government action. These grassroots, working-class activists participated in what scholars have termed the 1930s “Southern Front” of political protest. The essay was selected for the 2009 Southern Spaces series “Documentary Expression and the American South,” a collection of innovative, interdisciplinary scholarship about documentary work and original documentary projects that engage with regions and places in the US South.

Oral History Interview with Clay East, September 22, 1973: Oral History Interview with Clay East, September 22, 1973. Interview E-0003. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).

In the Voice of a Sharecropper, John L. Handcox (1904-1992): About Peonage: Involuntary servitude secured by force and manipulation: After slavery through the 20th Century.

The Plight of the Sharecropper, by Norman Thomas and William Ruthrauff Amberson: A pamphlet on the problems facing share croppers in Arkansas during the ’30s.

Honor & Sacrifice: Honor & Sacrifice is a recent movie about Roy Matsumoto, a Japanese American who was interned in Jerome Arkansas during WWII and later joined the U.S. Army’s Military Intelligence Service where he served with Merrill’s Marauders. While serving as a linguist and combat soldier in Burma, Roy used his Japanese lnguage skills to save his surrounded, starving battalion and became a war hero. The film won the 2014 Erik Barnouw Award from the Organization of American Historians and the History In Progress Award from the American Association for State and Local History.

Interview with Clay East: Interview with Clay East , conducted by Blackside, Inc. on September 26, 1992, for The Great Depression. Washington University Libraries, Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.

The Elaine Race Riot: Part 1: This engaging 20 minute documentary, narrated by Ossie Davis, tells the story of the 1919 race riot in Elaine, Arkansas. Through this important early chapter in the Civil Rights Movement, African American farmers in the Delta region experienced great tragedy, fought for social justice, and ultimately found vindication in the US Supreme Court.

The Elaine Race Riot: Part 2: This engaging 20 minute documentary, narrated by Ossie Davis, tells the story of the 1919 race riot in Elaine, Arkansas. Through this important early chapter in the Civil Rights Movement, African American farmers in the Delta region experienced great tragedy, fought for social justice, and ultimately found vindication in the US Supreme Court.

The Sunken Lands

Sunken Lands Cultural Roadway: The Sunken Lands Cultural Roadway is a part of the national scenic Arkansas Delta Byways nestled in between the Crowley’s Ridge Parkway and the Great River Road, and this website provides information about trails, tours, regional attractions, festivals and events, and more. Be sure to visit the Sunken Lands Facebook page!

Arkansas Resources

Arkansas Delta Byways: This website provides information on attractions, restaurants, lodging, and shopping in the 15-county Eastern Arkansas region known as Arkansas Delta Byways.  The region features two National Scenic Byways:  Crowley’s Ridge Parkway and the Arkansas segment of the ten-state Great River Road.

Arkansas–The Natural State: Information on attractions, festivals and events throughout Arkansas can be found on this official website of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission: Hunting and fishing enthusiasts will find information here on licenses and permits, hunting seasons, and boating information.  The Game and Fish Commission also operates education and nature centers around the state.

Department of Arkansas Heritage: This department’s mission is to identify Arkansas’s heritage and enhance the quality of life by discovering, preserving, and presenting the state’s cultural, historic and natural resources.  Programs include the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Main Street Arkansas, Arkansas Arts Council, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, Delta Cultural Center, Historic Arkansas Museum, Old Statehouse Museum, and Mosaic Templars Cultural Center.

Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas: This is the only statewide nonprofit organization focused on preserving Arkansas’s architectural and cultural resources. The Alliance’s mission is to educate, advocate and assist preservation efforts across the state.

I Drive Arkansas: This Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department website provides information for travelers related to construction areas, live traffic conditions, and weather conditions, along with locations of Welcome Centers and rest areas.

Other Preservation Resources

National Trust for Historic Preservation: The National Trust provides preservation information, education, and technical support to help people protect, enhance and enjoy the places that matter to them.

Other Tourism Resources

The Great River Road: This ten-state route along both sides of the Mississippi River, from Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico, provides an opportunity for motorists to experience the natural and cultural heritage shaped by the nation’s mightiest river.  Designated a National Scenic Byway, this collection of roads and highways is considered one of the best scenic drives in America.

Mississippi River Trail: This trail offers approximately 3,000 miles of on-road bikeways and pedestrian and bicycle pathways for the recreational enjoyment, health, conservation and tourism development of river communities.  This website enables you to order a guidebook for the best cycling maps and trip planning information.

National Scenic Byways: America’s Byways® is the umbrella term used for the collection of 150 distinct and diverse National Scenic Byways and All-American Roads designated by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. Eastern Arkansas contains two of these National Scenic Byways:  the Crowley’s Ridge Parkway and the Arkansas portion of The Great River Road.