Bill Worthen, son of one of Arkansas’ most notable pioneering families--remember the Worthen Bank building--was the director of the Historic Arkansas Museum (HAM) for 40 years. After teaching high school in Pine Bluff for three years, Worthen became director of what was then known as the Arkansas Territorial Restoration in 1972. In 1981, the organization became the first history museum in Arkansas to be accredited by the American Association of Museums. The museum was renamed the Historic Arkansas Museum in 2001 to reflect its expanded facility and mission. During his lengthy tenure at HAM, he implemented the restoration, reconstruction and interpretation of significant historic buildings on HAM’s campus, including the Plum Bayou Log House, the Brownlee lot and Log House, and the William E. Woodruff print shop. He also published numerous articles and books on the subject of Arkansas history, including works on the bowie knife, the Arkansas Traveler and the Little Rock. He says he’s most proud of the two-volume study he did with Swannee Bennett on Arkansas’ creative legacy: Arkansas Made.
He received the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas Parker Westbrook Lifetime Achievement Award for his preservation efforts in The Natural State. Bill Worthen’s enthusiasm for Arkansas history and preservation is palpable.
The Bill Worthen Future of History Fund is dedicated to “Inspiring the Next Generation of Arkansas History Lovers.”
The Fund’s first project was to offer free education programs and field trips to any school that wanted to come to the museum during the entire 75th anniversary year in 2016. The fundraising success of the initiative helped extend this program through the end of the 2016-2017 school year.
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