“We the People: The Constitutional Heritage of Arkansas,” an exhibit by the Arkansas History Commission, is on display at the State Archives throughout the month of May. “We the People” examines the history of the five constitutions that have governed Arkansas. Each of the five constitutions symbolizes a change in the state’s political status: statehood in 1836, joining the Confederate States of America during the Civil War in 1861, military occupation near the end of the Civil War in 1864, Reconstruction in 1868 and reaction to Reconstruction in 1874. Although several attempts have been made to draft a new constitution, the 1874 document currently remains the basis for state laws in Arkansas.
Established in 1905, the Arkansas History Commission is the official archives of the state, responsible for collecting and preserving the source materials of the history of Arkansas. The Commission continues the tradition of organizing and maintaining the state and local history of Arkansas by collecting manuscript materials, census records, military records, family histories, and various county, state and federal records.