The University of Arkansas at Little Rock recently created an endowed scholarship in the name of retired history professor C. Fred Williams in recognition of his wide-ranging achievements. A titan in the world of Arkansas history, Williams has spent more than 40 years as a teacher, mentor, and advocate, expanding the knowledge of our state far beyond its borders.
As a professor at UALR, Williams not only attended to the scholarly aspects of the discipline of history, but devoted himself to educating a wider audience. Nowhere is this more evident than in his brainchild, “A Documentary History of Arkansas,” which he published in 1984 with departmental colleagues. The collection of articles, letters, speeches, and government documents dating back to the 17th century is still in use today at schools across the state.
Williams wore many hats while at UALR: professor of history, chair of the History Department, associate dean of the then-College of Liberal Arts, associate vice chancellor for education programs, and president of the University Assembly.
“It has been thanks to his support and encouragement that our department has been at the forefront of the study of the history of our state,” said Ed Anson, Williams’ longtime friend and UALR history professor. “During his term as chair, Dr. Williams oversaw the greatest growth in the size of the department, hiring 10 faculty members, most of whom either completed their academic careers at UALR or are still in the department.”
Not just an academic, Williams ensured that his scholarly pursuits remained accessible to the public. He played a pivotal role in bringing Arkansas history to life while preserving it for future generations, speaking to numerous community groups, securing more than $2 million in grant funding for local public schools, and holding leadership positions in several historical societies.
Williams led the Pulaski County Historical Society in 1974 and 1975, was secretary-treasurer of the Agricultural Historical Society, and president of the Arkansas Association of College History Teachers.
Williams embraced his adopted state, authoring several books on Arkansas, including “The Bear State Image: Arkansas in the Nineteenth Century” and “Understanding the Little Rock Crisis: An Exercise in Remembrance and Reconciliation” with Elizabeth Jacoway.
Among his many honors are the Arkansas Historical Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the UALR Faculty Excellence Award for Service, Humanist of the Year by the Arkansas Humanities Council, and the Gladys Baker Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Agricultural History Society.
Williams earned his bachelor’s degree in history from East Central State College in Ada, Okla., in 1965; his master’s degree at Wichita State University in 1966; and his doctorate in American History from the University of Oklahoma in 1970.
To contribute to the C. Fred Williams Endowed Fund, send a check payable to the UALR Foundation at 2801 South University, Little Rock, AR 72204-1099 or go online at https://ualr.edu/development/give/. Designate the gift to the C. Fred Williams Endowed Fund in the “Other” section on this page.