Territorial Arkansas: The Wild Western Frontier will be displayed at Williams Baptist University October 6 – 14. The traveling exhibit tells the story of the Arkansas Territory, and it will be on display in WBU’s Felix Goodson Library. 

The exhibit consists of 15 panels that explore the history of Arkansas Territory though the collections of the Arkansas State Archives and their branch archives, the Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives in Powhatan and the Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives in Washington. 

On March 2, 1819, President James Monroe signed a congressional act that established Arkansas Territory from the southern portion of Missouri Territory. The new territory was a wild frontier on the western edge of the United States, where politicians settled debates by deadly duels. 

Formerly a colony of France and Spain, the land had only become part of the United States 16 years prior as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. After its creation, Arkansas Territory had an influx of settlers who established small communities and isolated homesteads. 

Territorial and county governments were set up, businesses opened, and workers of various trades moved to the territory to help it flourish. Initially Arkansas Territory included what is now Oklahoma, but through changes in boundary lines and the relocation of Native Americans further and further west, the territory’s land was reduced to its present size in 1828. After 17 years as a territory, Arkansas was admitted to the Union on June 15, 1836, as the 25th state. 

“I am very pleased that Williams Baptist University is sharing Territorial Arkansas: The Wild Western Frontier with their visitors and community,” said Dr. Wendy Richter, the Arkansas State Archives’ Director. “Created to commemorate the Bicentennial of Arkansas Territory, this exhibit allows us to bring the incredible Arkansas Territory resources of the Arkansas State Archives to local communities throughout the state.” 

Admission is free, and the exhibit will be open during regular library hours.   Felix Goodson Library is located at 91 W Fulbright near the west entrance to the WBU campus. For more information, contact Joel Olive at (870) 759-4139or jolive@williamsbu.edu.

Williams is a private, Christian university in Walnut Ridge.