Collections from Arkansas National Parks

In celebration of the National Park Service Centennial in 2016, this exhibit showcases one object from every national park museum collection in Arkansas.

Bowl Plain with Punctated Rim, 900-1600 CE, From the collection of: National Park Service, Museum Management Program
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Shell tempered

Pottery first appeared in Arkansas around 500 BCE. The use of burned shell as a tempering material became widespread in the region circa 900 CE and allowed potters to create thinner and lighter vessels with a wider variety of shapes.

This nearly intact pot was discovered during a cave mapping training exercise. Approximately 85% of the pot was recovered from the site. Although pottery fragments have been recovered from numerous sites inthe park, this is the most complete example in the park's collection.

Buffalo National River, BUFF 30982

Segregationist Trade Card, ca 1957, From the collection of: National Park Service, Museum Management Program
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“Remember Little Rock," as stamped on this trade card, became a rallying cry for the Association of Citizens Councils, a segregationist group that vowed to fight integration by all legal means. They protested President Dwight D. Eisenhower's use of the U.S. Army and federalized Arkansas National Guard troops to escort the ”Little Rock Nine” African American students into Central High on September 25, 1957. The segregationists claimed Eisenhower 's actions were an abuse of federal power and a violation of state's rights. The slogan, accompanied by illustrations of bayonets mounted on federal rifles and soldiers pointing their bayoneted rifles at the backs of white students, were made into ink stamps segregationists used on trade cards, as well as stationary, bumper stickers, newspaper ads and protest signs.

Other segregationist trade card designs ridiculed and threatened the Little Rock Nine, civil rights leaders such as Daisy Gatson Bates, and Little Rock School District administrators.

Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, CHSC 336

Portrait of Isaac C. Parker, 1870, From the collection of: National Park Service, Museum Management Program
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This early and rarely seen photograph of Isaac C. Parker was taken in 1870, as he was beginning his career as a freshman congressman from Missouri. After two terms in Congress, President Grant appointed him Federal Judge for the Western District of Arkansas. He arrived in Fort Smith on May 4th, 1875, probably looking very much like this image. The judge held court for the first time on May 10th, 1875.

Parker quickly gained a reputation as a “hanging judge,” even though he had serious reservations about the use of the death penalty as a deterrent to crime. His real reputation as a jurist was far more interesting. During his 20 years in office his jurisdiction covered over 60,000 miles of Indian Territory and parts of Arkansas. He held court six days a week and heard an estimated total of 13,490 criminal cases. Out of 160 individuals sentenced to death, only 79 were executed. One particularly difficult case resulted in Parker having to give instructions to a deadlocked jury. This move by Parker is known today as the Allen Charge and it is still used in our court system today.

Parker was a well-respected and involved member of the Fort Smith community. He supported education, women’s right to vote and hold office, and the rights of Native Americans and blacks. Fort Smith is a better community today because of Isaac C. Parker.

Fort Smith National Historic Site, FOSM 87

Collapsible Drinking Cup, ca 1910, From the collection of: National Park Service, Museum Management Program
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The purpose of Hot Springs National Park is to protect its unique geothermal spring water and associated lands for public health, wellness, and enjoyment. The park is the only unit of the National Park Service that is mandated to provide its primary natural resource to the general public in an unaltered state. Over the years, health-seeking visitors used a wide assortment of metal, glass, or paper containers to drink the spring water as they hiked the park trails or bathed in the various bathhouses. This ornate silver-plated collapsible drinking cup was purchased about 1910 by Daniel DeYoung (1872-1958) and used to drink from the thermal water fountains during his many trips to Hot Springs. Some park visitors carried similar "traveling cups" in their pockets, although most were not this decorative. This object was donated to the park in 1990 by his family.

This drinking cup represents the park's museum collection because it elegantly symbolizes the primary reason Hot Springs National Park was created and continues to exist: so people can take in the pristine thermal water. In the early years, a trip to Hot Springs was usually not a resort vacation, but rather a medical odyssey to try to cure a personal affliction. Today, thousands still trek to the park to enjoy the water. This remarkable artifact speaks eloquently from the park 's past about one person's attempt to improve his life by partaking of our water.

Hot Springs National Park, HOSP 3799

Union Brigadier General Samuel Ryan Curtis’s Frock Coat, From the collection of: National Park Service, Museum Management Program
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Brigadier General Samuel R. Curtis had this US Model 1861 colonel's frock coat custom made at the beginning of the Civil War when he commanded the 2nd Iowa Infantry. Curtis was quickly appointed Brigadier General and wore this coat during the Battle of Pea Ridge in northwest Arkansas on March 7 and 8, 1862. Curtis's victory at Pea Ridge helped the US maintain physical and political control of the state of Missouri throughout the war and earned Curtis a promotion to Major General.

Pea Ridge National Military Park, PERI 4089

“Counterattack”, Sidney E. King, From the collection of: National Park Service, Museum Management Program
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“Counterattack” is one of four art pieces created by Sidney E. King for an exhibit on Colbert’s Raid, the Revolutionary War skirmish at Arkansas Post on April 17, 1783.

Under the Spanish Captain Jacobo Dubreuil’s orders, Sergeant Alexo Pastor and thirteen men threw open the gates of Fort Carlos III, gave a war whoop, and charged the raiders. Captain James Colbert’s larger band of partisans fell back in retreat.

Arkansas Post National Memorial, ARPO 8847

Credits: Story

Park museum staff from: Arkansas Post National Memorial, Buffalo National River, Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, Fort Smith National Historic Site, Hot Springs National Park, and Pea Ridge National Military Park.

National Park Service, Museum Management Program Staff: Amber Dumler, Stephen Damm, Ron Wilson, and Joan Bacharach.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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