A Guide to Genealogy
Research in Arkansas

History of Arkansas

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


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.


France ceded the region to Spain.


Spain officially returned the land to France, although Spanish occupancy continued until 1802.


The United States acquired the area that is now Arkansas with the Louisiana Purchase and it became part of the Louisiana Territory.


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.


The territorial legislature established Arkansas County.


Arkansas became a separate territory.


Arkansas became a state.


Arkansas seceded from the Union. It was readmitted in 1868.

A useful source for studying the history of Arkansas is David Y. Thomas, ed., Arkansas and Its People, 4 vols. (New York: American Historical Society, 1930; FHL book 976.7 H2t; microfilm 934,821).

A brief bibliography of local histories of Arkansas is Georgia H. Clark and Bruce R. Parham, Arkansas County and Local Histories: A Bibliography (Fayetteville: Mullins Library of the University of Arkansas, 1976; FHL book 976.7 H23c).

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This page was compiled by Edward Hayden.

Copyright 1998 by Edward Hayden, Coordinator. All rights reserved.
This site may be freely linked to but not duplicated in any manner without written consent.