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Founded in the fall of 1951, the Pulaski County Historical Society (PCHS) is the second oldest county historical society in Arkansas.
The PCHS’s founders were James H. Atkinson, a history teacher at Little Rock Junior College (now the University of Arkansas at Little Rock); Claude Rankin, state land commissioner; C. C. Allard, editor of the Arkansas Democrat’s magazine section; and Louise Porter, head of North Little Rock High School’s social science department. Membership increased rapidly due to publicity given the society by the local press. The society originally held its meetings in the Little Rock Public Library at 7th and Louisiana. After it was demolished in 1963, the society met at various places, including the new public library and the Arsenal Building in MacArthur Park. In 1993, the PCHS began meeting in the Quorum Court Room on the fourth floor of the Pulaski County Administration Building, with some meetings convening at historic sites—a longstanding tradition from the days when the group gathered at the library. Since 2006, PCHS meetings have been held at the Darragh Center in the Main Library of the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) in downtown Little Rock.
The first issue of the society’s quarterly, the Pulaski County Historical Review, edited by Margaret Smith Ross, appeared in June 1953, and the journal has been published without interruption since. Martha Rimmer served as editor of the review from 1980 to 2001, and published a forty-five-year index in 1998. In 1980, F. Hampton Roy, an ophthalmologist and local history enthusiast, endowed the F. Hampton Roy History Awards to encourage research and writing on Pulaski County history for publication in the Review.
In 1979, due to the lobbying of members Tom Dillard and William Worthen, Pulaski County Judge W. E. Beaumont and the Pulaski County Quorum Court voted to assist the society with an annual subsidy of $5,000. This continued until 1987, when the county could no longer afford the grant.
The cooperative relationship between the county and the society has been a benefit to both. The society aided in the county’s project to restore the 1887 courthouse, annex, and clock tower; acquired portraits of past Pulaski County judges back to James C. Anthony (1840–1842), which are on display in the Quorum Court Room; and serves as co-sponsor with the county for Pulaski County Day, held each May.
The society has also placed many markers commemorating important events and sites. Signage was placed at the entrance to Little Rock’s Mount Holly Cemetery in 1956. Markers were placed at the graves of Sanford C. Faulkner, who is reputed to have written the tune “The Arkansas Traveler,” in 1955, and Edward Washbourne, the artist who painted the “Arkansas Traveler,” in 1958. In 1998, the society placed a plaque on the bust of Revolutionary War general Count Casimir Pulaski, which sits beside the Pulaski County Administration Building.
In 2005, the PCHS established the Annual Peg Smith-Mary Worthen Award to be presented at the Pulaski County Day celebration for the most outstanding article in the previous year’s Review.
James H. Atkinson
David D. Terry
Walter L. Pope
Sidney S. McMath
1968, 1969, 1970
Arthur L. Mills
Fred O. Henker III, M.D.
C. Fred Williams
Tom W. Dillard
William B. Worthen
Richard B. Dixon
Rev. R. E. L. Bearden
Col.A. J. Almand
Aubrey F. Williams
Mary F. Worthen
Richard B. Clark, M.D.
James W. Bell
Sandra Taylor Smith
Nutt, Timothy G. “A History of the PCHS: 1974–2001.” Pulaski County Historical Review 49 (Winter 2001): 92–95.
Pulaski County Historical Society. http://www.pulaskicountyhistory.org/ (accessed February 5, 2014).
James W. BellPulaski County Historical Society
Last Updated 9/7/2017
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