President's Report to the Membership, 2008

Article excerpt

2007 MARKED THE FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY of the crisis at Little Rock Central High School, and there were several conferences dedicated to that momentous episode. One of the most significant and best attended was the annual meeting of the Arkansas Historical Association, held April 26-28 in Little Rock. Laura Miller, Sarah Gadberry, Tim Nutt, and Susan Young put together an excellent program, and Gary Cox handled the local arrangements. Concurrent sessions met at the Central Arkansas Library System's main branch and the Historic Arkansas Museum. Former Senator Dale Bumpers gave the keynote address before a packed house at the Old State House Museum, and two members of the Little Rock Nine attended the closing session at Central High School. The awards banquet was held in the ballroom of the Clinton Library, affording a magnificent view of the city.

The 2008 meeting offers a real change of pace, both in location and theme. Eureka Springs, one of the state's most unique towns, hosts the event, and the program is entitled "Land of Eccentricity." Tim Nutt has lined up a varied selection of presentations that should make for one of our organization's most interesting gatherings. Susan Young is handling local arrangements. Because of scheduling conflicts, we moved this year's meeting up to March 27-29.

There was little change in the membership of the AHA board of trustees last year, but 2008 will see the most dramatic turnover in recent memory. In addition to losing several longtime members, we will have a completely new group of officers. I will be ending my second term as president, Ben Johnson is finishing his tenure as vice-president, and Jeannie Whayne is stepping down after eighteen years of distinguished service as secretary-treasurer. We have a promising slate of nominees to fill these positions, and I have no doubt that the board will be in very good hands as we head into the coming years.

The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, under the leadership of Patrick Williams, continues to be a first-class publication and one of the country's best state historical journals. In 2007, the Quarterly marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Little Rock crisis with numerous articles on civil rights and African-American history. This year's volume will see additional articles on these subjects but also studies of topics as varied as the early decades of the timber industry in Crossett, Native Americans' role in the drawing of Arkansas's western boundary, and congresswoman Effiegene Wingo, who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives even before Hattie Caraway went to the Senate.

Exciting things are happening at a number of our state's historical sites and institutions. …