McGimsey Preservation Award

John Hansard House

Dr. John Hansard House developed an interest in archeology in 1962 and as a high school student from Mountain Home participated in the inaugural AAS-UA Museum training program at the Shipps Ferry site in 1964. His first article on the Wayne House site in Baxter County appeared that year in Vol. 5, Nos. 5-6 of the Arkansas Archeologist.

Enrolling in the anthropology program at the University of Arkansas, House graduated in 1972 and worked for several years in the newly-emergent field of cultural resource management (CRM). This career took him to Georgia and Louisiana, and then back to Arkansas where he and Dr. Michael B. Schiffer gained national recognition for pioneering the application of scientific research designs in CRM as part of the famous Cache River Archeological Project. Moving on to the University of South Carolina’s Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, House conducted ground-breaking studies on the use of regional datasets in archeological surveys. Returning to Arkansas in 1978, House served as Dr. Skip Abernathy’s assistant at the UAPB research station until 1983, when Survey founding director Dr. Charles R. McGimsey III appointed him to serve as station archeologist at UAM.

In 1985, House moved to Carbondale, Illinois, to work on his PhD as a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow at Southern Illinois University. In 1988, he returned briefly to the UAM research station before relocating to UAPB, where he has served as station archeologist since that time.

During his long and illustrious career, Dr. House has focused mainly on eastern Arkansas, conducting extensive fieldwork complemented by study of several large and significant museum and private artifact collections from the region. The results of his long-term research are presented in landmark publications on major archeological sites, and on a diverse range of topics including ceramic typology and Native American ceramic history; household architecture; mound construction and utilization; subsistence economy and land use; cultural sequences and cultural development; Native American interaction with early European explorers and settlers, and the emergence of Quapaw ethnicity in the archeological record. House’s 2003 excavations at the contact-era Wallace Bottoms site were the first in Arkansas to involve full collaboration with the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma, for which he was formally honored by Quapaw administrators and elders.

From the very beginning, John has participated regularly in our archeology training program, frequently teaching the Basic Excavation seminar. For more than a half-century, he has worked hand-in-hand with countless Society members and local citizens, involving them in every aspect of his research—a practice that continues to this day.

Marvin Jeter

Dr. Jeter has been the driving force in archeology in southeastern Arkansas for 40+ years, most of which were in his role as Station Archeologist at the University of Arkansas-Monticello.  His contributions to prehistoric archeology of this region are unparalleled; his work covers a vast swath of prehistory, from early Archaic to protohistoric.  He has conducted numerous excavations on Poverty Point sites in this region, finding the “oldest little mound” in the state through his many contacts in the general public and his constant outreach.  Dr. Jeter’s enthusiasm for all things archeological is contagious; he was tireless in his outreach to the general public, and in particular to those amateurs who had an interest in archeology.  He recruited many individuals–including me and my family–into the Arkansas Archeological Society, and was able to focus their willingness to volunteer into a number of large-scale efforts.  This included the salvage of multiple mound sites that were in the process of being destroyed by agricultural operations.  These “saves” protected precious and fragile artifacts and documented important features that will be used by generations of archeologists now and in the future to continue to describe this poorly understood region.

I will let the credentialed archeologists speak to the significance of his professional contributions; I will advocate that Dr. Jeter deserves the McGimsey Preservation Award for his bringing into the fold both avocational and professional archeologists drawn to his enthusiasm and tutored under his vast experience.  I think it would be safe to say that over the years he engaged, encouraged, and focused the interests of dozens of the general public into “citizen scientists” that have made a number of contributions to Arkansas archeology and historical preservation on their own.  He has also mentored numerous professional archeologists, who have learned from his example how to be archeologists.  Many of his Station Assistants over the years have moved on to advanced degrees in archeology and are moving into position of professional influence.


To: Forest and Al Sargent

The late Forest Sargent, and his son Al Sargent and family received the McGimsey Preservation Award. The award recognizes Forest Sargent’s lifelong practice of responsible artifact collection and preservation, his help to the University of Arkansas Museum and the Arkansas Archeological Survey, and his efforts toward reporting nearly fifty sites to the state’s archeological site database. The award also recognizes Al Sargent and his family for their generosity in donating Forest Sargent’s meticulously recorded artifact collection, and the accompanying records, to the Arkansas Archeological Survey.

Forest Sargent’s site reporting activity and generosity in sharing his collection with the Survey’s archeologists has had a substantial impact on the last 50 years of research in the Ouachita River basin of southwest Arkansas. Forest Sargent was born January 29, 1914. A lifelong resident of Garland County, he worked for the U.S. Postal Service after a stint in the U.S. Army during WWII. Even before his army service, Mr. Sargent took great interest in the prehistoric artifacts and sites in his part of Arkansas. For more than 30 years, he would regularly visit sites and make surface collections. Many of these important sites are no longer accessible, and the Museum and Survey have only limited artifacts from them. When the University of Arkansas Museum began to collect information about sites across Arkansas, Mr. Sargent sent in site forms, along with illustrations of the artifacts that he had found, for nearly 40 site sin Clark, Garland, Montgomery, and Hot Spring Counties. Most of these sites were the first to be recorded in this part of Arkansas, and some have subsequently been the locations for excavation projects undertaken by the Survey and the Society. Before he shared his information with the Museum, Mr. Sargent created his own catalog system, and kept careful record of the discovery locations for his artifacts. When he received State site numbers, he added that information to his records and he maintained his collections and records in a private exhibit area in his home. When the Archeological Survey was formed, Mr. Sargent shared his knowledge of the region with the new regional archeologists, James Scholtz and Frank Schambach, taking them to sites and giving access to his collections. This assistance was instrumental in getting the two research stations knowledgeable about the region, and was helpful to Scholtz and Schambach in their personal research. Frank Schambach dedicated his PhD dissertation in part to Mr. Sargent in gratitude for the assistance. Forest Sargent was also an active member of the Garland County Historical Society, writing an article about the region’s prehistory for ‘The Record’ in 1966, and speaking to the group about the subject in 1968.

Forest Sargent passed away on November 13, 1983. His son, Al, became the caretaker of his father’s collections and records. For the last 30 years, the collection of several thousand objects has been safe and intact. In July of 2015, the Sargent family donated the collection and records to the Arkansas Archeological Survey, and through the Survey, to the state of Arkansas. The collection has been processed and will be kept intact for research and educational purposes. 



To: Dr. Leslie “Skip” Stewart-Abernathy

Dr. Stewart-Abernathy joined the Survey in 1977 as he was finishing his PhD in Anthropology from Brown University. He has served as Research Station archeologist at the UAPB, ATU, and WRI stations. From the beginning, Skip has been a tireless advocate for the application of archeological methods to the study of Arkansas’s rich cultural heritage from the European Exploration to recent periods of history. He has conducted research on early contact sites in the Arkansas River Valley, pre-Removal Cherokee sites in Arkansas, antebellum sites at Old Washington State Park, 19th century farmsteads in Northwest Arkansas, African-American cemeteries across the state, and boat wreck sites along the Mississippi River, to mention just a few of his larger projects. The respect our organization enjoys among Arkansas historians is in no small measure the result of Skip’s many research contributions. Skip has also been a staunch supporter of public archeology, involved in far too many activities to quickly summarize here but including participation in every annual “Society Dig” from 1977 – 2013. Notably, in 2012 Skip was awarded the prestigious National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman’s Commendation for his contributions to Arkansas history. In anticipation of his pending retirement, it is fitting to honor Skip’s many contributions to the Arkansas Archeological Society and to Arkansas archeology and history with the McGimsey Preservation Award.  


To: Senator Steve Bryles, Blytheville

Senator Steve Bryles has been a consistent supporter of the Arkansas Archeological Society and the Arkansas Archeological Survey during his many years in the Arkansas  General Assembly. He was the original sponsor of legislation to create the Blytheville Research Station, and due to his efforts the Blytheville Research Station has acquired the facilities and equipment to conduct state-of-the-art archeological research in Northeast Arkansas. However, his support extends beyond the Blytheville Research Station as he secured special legislation to provide much needed funding for the Survey in general, and he consistently has supported legislation aimed at preserving archeological sites in the state. This is all part of his legacy to provide better education to the youth and citizens of Arkansas.


To: Representative Roy Ragland, Marshall

Representative Ragland sponsored Legislation to update the 1967 State Antiquity Law (Act 58 of 1967). It was approved by the Full House and became Act 217.  The law took effect July 1, 2007 and strengthened penalties for vandalism and removal of archeological material from public and private land.

To: James Johnston, Fayetteville

James Johnston instigated the updating of the state law regarding antiquities by talking to State Rep. Roy Ragland. Roy Ragland sponsored legislation that resulted in the passing of HB1068 which updated the 1967 Antiquity Law.


To: Martha A. Rolingson, Arkansas Archeological Survey

Dr. Rolingson first came to Arkansas in 1968 as a Station Archeologist for the Arkansas Archeological Survey at Arkansas A&M College (now the University of Arkansas at Monticello). In 1972 she transferred to Fayetteville to work at the Survey’s Central Office. While there she worked with numerous government agencies, the general public in northwest Arkansas, organized the publishing of research reports, served as the Certification Program administrator, and taught anthropology courses. She also served as interim State Archeologist in 1975. Shortly thereafter she began research into the Toltec Mounds near Little Rock and later became the first Station Archeologist located at a state park. She remained there until her retirement in 2005. Rolingson’s varied achievements have greatly added to Arkansas archeology and raised awareness of archeology by the general public.

To: Bill Gatewood, Old State House Museum

One of the primary objectives of the Society is to educate the general public about Arkansas’ rich heritage. Perhaps no individual has better accomplished this goal than Bill Gatewood of the Old State House Museum. Gatewood along with his staff created an outstanding exhibit entitled “Sam Dellinger and the Raiders of the Lost Arkansas” to honor Arkansas’ first archeologist. The exhibit showcases the career of Dellinger as the curator of the University of Arkansas Museum and defender of the state’s antiquities. In addition to the narrative on Dellinger, Gatewood arranged for an extraordinary collection of Arkansas’ prehistoric artifacts to be on display at the Old State House Museum for much of 2006 and 2007. Almost certainly the exhibit will raise awareness of Arkansas’ past and the historic value of preserving archeological sites.


To: Hester A. Davis, Arkansas Archeological Survey

The first professional archeologist to have won the award, Hester Davis has contributed to the knowledge of Arkansas archeology and preservation of archeological sites for well over 40 years.  Her tireless devotion to the training of amateurs has helped create a strong network of volunteers committed to protecting archeological sites in Arkansas.  Hester was instrumental in the passage of burial protection laws by the Arkansas legislature.  Perhaps her greatest contribution to the preservation of Arkansas’ archeological heritage was in helping to establish the state funded Arkansas Archeological Survey in 1967.


To: Arkansas Post National Memorial and White River National Wildlife Refuge

Over many decades, these two Federal agencies have made, and continue to make, vital contributions to the preservation of archeological resources in the Arkansas Delta. The Arkansas Delta is a region uniquely rich in both history and archeological resources. The Delta, however, is also the region of Arkansas that continues to experience the most severe site destruction from farming, flood control, and pothunting. Larry Mallard, White River National Wildlife Refuge, and Ed Wood, Arkansas Post National Memorial, accepted the award for their respective agencies.


To: Dr. Thomas L. Hodges and Charlotte Hodges, Bismarck, Ark. (posthumous)

This award celebrates their lifetime interest in the history and prehistory of Arkansas, which included sponsoring the excavation of the Hardin Mound, purchasing and preserving the Menard Site, contributing to the founding of the Arkansas Archeological Society, and preserving their large and important collection. The Hodges’ daughter, Lois Hodges Canfield, accepted the award in their names.


To: Charles Witsell Jr., Architect with Witsell, Evans & Rasco, Little Rock, Ark.

Charles Witsell Jr. combinined his work in historic preservation with the recognition of the potential for archaeology to contribute to history, and acted on that realization by continually seeking input from archeologists in trying to understand the history of a given property. He sought funding, encouraged and facilitated the investigation of the archeological record, not only for its interpretive value, but for the preservation of information important to the history of Arkansas. Charles is an architect whose firm specializes in the restoration of historic buildings.


To: Betty Sloan and John Sloan, Jonesboro, Ark.

Betty and Joahn Sloan provided the opportunity to study the Buffalo Head Slough Site, which they own, in Greene County. They stopped landleveling on the site, posted No Trespassing signs to discourage looters, granted permission to excavate, loaned equipment, and arranged for backfilling.


To: Linda and Donald Wallace, Tichnor, Ark.

Linda and Donald Wallace were nominated for their longtime stewardship of the Menard-Hodges Site, a National Historic Landmark; and for putting the Lake Dumond Site into pasture, agreeing to a conservation easement, and allowing research excavation.


To: Dr. and Mrs. R.K. Harrison, Texarkana, TX, and Larry and Judy Head, Wake Village, TX

Dr. and Mrs. R.K. Harrison received the award for their active and long-term protection of their portion of the Crenshaw Site in Miller County. This important Caddo site is on the National Register of Historic Places.


To: The Archeological Conservancy

The Archeological Conservancy encourages preservation through purchase of the Boones Mounds Site in Calhoun Co., the Menard-Hodges Site in Arkansas Co., and the Parkin Site in Cross Co. The Conservancy is a nationwide, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of important archeological sites through acquisition. These Arkansas sites might not have been preserved were it not for the Conservancy. Since 1991, the Conservancy has also purchased the McClelland Site.


To: Anna Parks, Batesville, Ark.

Anna is celebrated for her one-woman historic preservation efforts in Independence County, Ark. In 1989-1990, for example, she reported 700 sites, all indicated by the GLO surveyors on their maps or notes.

The Preservationist Award (renamed in 1990 for Dr. Charles McGimsey)


To: Dwayne Cox, Mayor of Norman, Ark.

Dwayne Cox was awarded for his efforts in negotiating the preservation of a small prehistoric Caddo farmstead in that town.