Arkansas History

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The following important events in the history of Arkansas affected political jurisdictions, family movements, and record keeping.


  • 1686: The French established Arkansas Post, the first white settlement in what is now Arkansas. It was the administrative center for the French, Spanish, and United States governments until 1821 when Little Rock became the capital.
  • 1763: France ceded the region to Spain.
  • 1800: Spain officially returned the land to France, although Spanish occupancy continued until 1802.
  • 1803: The United States acquired the area that is now Arkansas with the Louisiana Purchase and it became part of the Louisiana Territory.
  • 1810: Osage and Quapaw ceded land.
  • 1812-1819: Arkansas was part of Missouri Territory
  • 1818: Quapaw Indians give up lands between the Arkansas and Red Rivers to the United States
  • 1812: The Missouri Territory was established, including Arkansas in its boundaries. After the War of 1812 the Indian population decreased, and white settlers arrived to claim bounty land.
  • 1813: The territorial legislature established Arkansas County.
  • 2 March 1819: Arkansas became a separate territory.
  • 1820: First Federal Census, all reported missing
  • 1825-1826: Quapaw and Caddo removed to Red River Agency on Red River west of Arkansas.
  • 1835: Most Indian tribes had been removed to Oklahoma.
  • 15 June 1836: Arkansas became a state.
  • 1837: Settlers from southern states began arriving.
  • 1861: Arkansas seceded from the Union. It was readmitted in 1868.

Local Histories

  • Clark, Georgia H. and Bruce R. Parham, Arkansas County and Local Histories: A Bibliography. Fayetteville, Arkansas: Mullins Library of the University of Arkansas, 1976. FHL book 976.7 H23c.

State Histories

  • Arkansas History A list of books and microfilm particular to Arkansas history which are available through the Family History Library.

United States History

The following are only a few of the many sources that are available:

  • Schlesinger, Jr., Arthur M. The Almanac of American History. (Greenwich, Conn.: Bison Books, 1983.) At various libraries (WorldCat), FHL book 973 H2almThis book provides brief historical essays and chronological descriptions of thousands of key events in United States history.
  • Dictionary of American History, Revised ed., 8 vols. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1976.) At various libraries (WorldCat), FHL book 973 H2adIncludes historical sketches on various topics in U.S. history, such as wars, people, laws, and organizations.
  • Van Doren, Charles Lincoln; Robert McHenry, Webster's Guide to American History: A Chronological, Geographical, and Biographical Survey and Compendium. (Springfield, Mass.: G and C Merriam, 1971.) At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL book 973 H2v Includes a history, some maps, tables, and other historical information.

Family History Library

To access histories available through the Family History Library Catalog, use the Place-names Search for:


Online Resources