Samuel C. Dellinger (1892–1973) made it his life’s work to ensure that future Arkansans would remember their state’s pre-historic past. He gathered nearly eight thousand prehistoric artifacts in order to keep them from going to out-of-state museums—including Harvard’s Peabody, the Field in Chicago, and the Smithsonian Institution—and private collectors. This collection of prehistoric Native American artifacts is now recognized as one of the finest in the country.
Dellinger was professor and chairman of the zoology department at the University of Arkansas and curator of the university museum from 1925 to 1960. In 1928 Arkansas voters passed an act that prohibited teaching evolution in the schools. He was one of only five faculty members who signed a resolution calling the antievolution bill unconstitutional. He continued to teach his anthropology class, and in 1968 the U.S. Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional in the case of Epperson v. Arkansas.
This book grew out of an exhibition about Dellinger’s life and work that was curated by Bob Mainfort at the Old State House Museum in Little Rock. The book includes a detailed biography of Dellinger, as well as a discussion of his work, an overview of major collecting efforts in Arkansas by out-of-state institutions, and a history of the University of Arkansas Museum. Lavishly illustrated with over two hundred images of artifacts, this book will now permit archaeologists to see some of the pieces Dellinger’s lifetime of work saved and preserved.