Date Original



This collection documents J.H. Atkinson's dedication to Arkansas history and his active involvement in creating interest in that field for over 40 years. The papers are arranged according to subject.

Biographical/Historical Note

James Harris Atkinson, long-time educator and historian, was born June 7, 1888, in Columbia County, Arkansas. He began his teaching career in Hempstead County in 1908, two years before his graduation from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. After serving in World War I, he became principal of schools at Nashville and Foreman, and after that, superintendent at Wilmot (Ashley County). He also taught at Little Rock High School until he received a master's degree from the University of Chicago in 1927. Atkinson was then named chairman of the History Department of the new Little Rock Junior College (LRJC) and remained in that position until his retirement in 1957. His involvement in school activities through the years was varied: he helped organize the Classroom Teachers Association and served as its president; he acted as sponsor for the Delta Kappa fraternity for 20 years; he was debate coach at Little Rock Junior College; he was in charge of student employment at LRJC for many years; and, he was one of the pioneers in establishing the Teacher Retirement System. Atkinson was one of the organizers of the Arkansas Historical Association when it was formed in 1941, and was thereafter active in its affairs. He frequently wrote articles for the "Arkansas Historical Quarterly" and served as associate editor for many years. On several occasions he headed membership drives to increase membership and procure financing for the struggling organization. Atkinson served as the Association's president for 1952-53. He organized the state's second historical society (Pulaski County Historical Society) in 1951. Atkinson served as president of that group and edited its publication for 13 years. He also provided leadership in the move to organize other local historical societies across the state. Appointed to the Arkansas History Commission by Governor Sid McMath in 1949, Atkinson served 12 years, the last eight as chairman. Under his leadership, the History Commission selected and hired long-time Director and State Historian, Dr. John L. Ferguson. With Ferguson, Atkinson co-authored a textbook, "Historic Arkansas," which was used in the public schools for many years. Almost fifty years earlier, Atkinson had written an Arkansas history text which the state adopted for use in all public schools for six years, 1917-1923. J.H. Atkinson was married to the former Zora Langston for over 50 years. He died September 17, 1973.

Physical Description

Document, 8.5" x 11"

Geographical Area

Little Rock, Pulaski County (Ark.); Arkansas





Resource Type



J.H. Atkinson papers, MS.000014


Arkansas State Archives

Contributing Entity

Arkansas State Archives

Recommended Citation

J.H. Atkinson papers, Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas.


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United States History