Evenings with History

You have a unique opportunity to share in the excitement of historical discovery through the thirtieth annual Evenings with History series.

The Evenings with History series, sponsored by the University History Institute, features presentations by UA Little Rock faculty members sharing their current research and teaching interests. These talks offer insight into the real workings of historical scholarship and cover a variety of times, areas, and subjects. Many of the presentations illuminate current affairs. The format allows for questions and discussion. Refreshments and an informal atmosphere encourage the interchange of ideas.

Venue and Parking

Ottenheimer Auditorium in the Historic Arkansas Museum at 200 E. Third Street in Little Rock. Historic Arkansas’s downtown location and the museum’s adjacent parking lot at Third and Cumberland make the sessions convenient and pleasant to attend.


The six sessions of the 2019-2020 Evenings with History series will be held on the first Tuesdays of October, November, December, February, March, and April. Refreshments are served at 7:00 p.m., and the talk begins at 7:30 p.m.

Come experience the joy of history in a truly historic setting!

The Talks

October 1, 2019 – Katrina Yeaw
Beyond Benghazi: A Brief History of Modern Libya

In September 2012, members of the Islamic militant group Ansar al-Sharia, carried out coordinated attacks against the American diplomatic compound and another government facility in Benghazi, Libya, resulting in the deaths of four Americans. This tragedy has become central to American understanding of contemporary Libya as well as debates in American politics, resulting in 10 investigations. Going beyond these events, this talk will offer an overview of modern Libyan history with particular emphasis on the colonial period, the founding of Libya as a modern nation state, and, more recently, the Arab Spring.

November 5, 2019 – Special Guest Speaker: Kelly Houston Jones (Arkansas Tech)
Absentee Plantations in the Mississippi Valley

Throughout the Mississippi Valley, including Arkansas, the actual owners of many plantations did not live on-site. This talk examines these operations, asking questions about their management and similarity to absentee-owned plantations in the Caribbean. Perhaps most important, what was life like for enslaved people on places with no white family in the “big house”?

December 3, 2019 – Andrew Amstutz
A (Publishing) House Divided: The End of Empire and the Partition of India and Pakistan

When the British empire in India ended in 1947, the Indian subcontinent was violently divided into the independent nation-states of India and Pakistan. During the Partition of India, at least fourteen million people were displaced across the new international border between India and Pakistan. The Partition of India was one of the largest moments of mass violence after World War II, yet the governments of India and Pakistan have done little to commemorate Partition and its victims. In contrast, individual Indians and Pakistanis have found alternative ways to memorialize and mourn the divisions of Partition across families and communities. This talk tells the story of Partition through the division of a popular publishing house between India and Pakistan and the efforts of individual readers to renew connections across the new international borders.

February 4, 2020 – John Kirk
What Is the Civil Rights Movement?

To mark the publication of his ninth book, The Civil Rights Movement: A Documentary Reader (New York and London: Wiley, 2019), Kirk reflects on the ways in which historians’ approaches to and understandings of the civil rights movement have changed since the 1960s. Initially focusing on the 1950s and 1960s, and on the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights studies have expanded chronologically and thematically to paint a very different picture of a black struggle for freedom and equality. This talk outlines and examines the nature and context of those changes, and assesses how historians view the civil rights movement today.

March 10, 2020 – David Baylis
Where the Sidewalk Never Begins: Race, Class, Accessibility, and Wellness in Little Rock, AR

In some circles, questions of accessibility hardly come up. If they do, they tend to be discussed with respect to leisure or convenience (e.g. “wouldn’t it be nice if we could stroll down the block to get a cup of coffee?”). For others, however, accessibility is a matter of well-being and perhaps even survival (e.g. “how will I get to work today?” or “where can my children go to play outside?”). While there are many ways to approach the topic of accessibility and numerous modes of transportation to highlight, perhaps none are more ostensibly simplistic than walking. Yet, a cursory view of sidewalk conditions and even presence in Little Rock’s neighborhoods reveals a highly uneven geography of pedestrian access. How did it get this way? What are the pathways forward? This talk will consider the past, present, and future of pedestrian accessibility in Little Rock, AR.

Postponed – Nathan Marvin
Rethinking the Legend of Petit Jean: History and Memory of French Colonization in Arkansas

The legend of “Petit Jean,” an 18th-century French woman who disguised herself as a soldier to accompany her lover on an expedition to North America, is a beloved piece of Arkansas lore. But is there any truth to the story? What, precisely, are its origins? This talk explores what Petit Jean and legends like it reveal about the many ways communities in Arkansas and across the U.S. have remembered their French-colonial roots.


Evenings with History is one of the primary means used by the History Institute to raise the funds necessary to carry out its mission. All funds collected by the University History Institute are used to further historical research at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The UA Little Rock Foundation Fund is also a nonprofit Arkansas corporation and holds U. S. Internal Revenue Service tax-exempt status. For additional information about the Institute, call 501-569-3236.
Subscribers to the series support
historical scholarship!

  • Individual Subscription: At $50 annually, includes admission to all six lectures.
  • Joint Subscription: At $90 annually, offers couples and friends a savings of $10.
  • Fellow of the Institute: At $250 annually, receives joint subscription benefits, plus access to special presentations for Fellows only. See more below.
  • Life Membership: At $1,000, includes the benefits of a Fellow.
  • Corporate Sponsorships: Available with a $250 minimum contribution.
  • Regular Registered Undergraduate and Graduate Students at UA Little Rock may attend the lectures free of charge.

Fellows and Life members are invited to sessions held for them only. These delightful and intimate occasions involve a brief presentation by a special guest, and then an open discussion among those attending. It’s a kind of history-in-the-making that is a rare opportunity. The events feature distinguished scholars or significant historical figures themselves. In the past, that has included noted author Dee Brown; UA Little Rock law professor Lynn Foster; celebrated journalist Ernie Dumas; former Senator David Pryor; early Clinton observer Steve Smith; Native American Press collector Dan Littlefield; and others.

If you’re interested in becoming a major donor, contact any officer or board member of the University History Institute email or call us at: historyinstitute@ualr.edu or 501-569-3236

Thank You to Corporate Sponsors for the 2018-2019 Season.

The generosity of Friday, Eldredge, & Clark and the Union Pacific Railroad help make these lectures possible. Thanks also for support and gifts in kind from the Ottenheimer Library, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; Historic Arkansas Museum, a museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritage; UA Little Rock Public Radio—KUAR-KLRE; UA Little Rock public television; and Grapevine Spirits.

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About the University History Institute

The University History Institute is a nonprofit Arkansas corporation created to provide public support for the Department of History at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Funds raised by the Institute are used primarily to provide assistance to faculty members in pursuing their scholarly research. To this point the History Institute, in conjunction with Ottenheimer Library and other outside organizations, has provided over a hundred thousand dollars in grants for the purchase of archival and library materials to promote this research. Our current Board of Directors represent a cross section of the Central Arkansas community and include:

Frederick Ursery, President
Dr. Joe Bates, Vice President
Lee Johnson, Treasurer
Delia Prather, Secretary

Craig Berry | Bob McKuin
Judge Ellen Brantley | James Metzger
Dr. Joe Crow | Terry Rasco
Kathryn Fitzhugh | Elaine Scott
Dr. Betty Hathaway | Dr. David Stricklin
Patrick Goss