Sam Dellinger


Raiders of the Lost Arkansas
Robert C. Mainfort, Jr.
229 pages, 162 illustrations. photographs
978-1-55728-886-8 (cloth)


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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.

Robert C, Mainfort Jr. is an archaeologist with the Arkansas Archeological Survey and professor of anthropology at the University of Arkansas. He is the author of a number of books, including Arkansas Archaeology and Ancient Earthen Enclosures of Eastern North America.

“A beautiful volume. . . . Presents a useful historic perspective of archaeology within the state and samples of the fine collection obtained by Dellinger.”
Missouri Archaeological Society Quarterly
“A potent reminder of how much we still owe the state-level, nonprofessional field archaeologists and museum pioneers of the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century.”
Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology
“A beautiful book . . . a delight to peruse.”
Arkansas Review
“This is a picture-book that every Arkansan should have . . .. It also serves as an important study tool for archaeologists working in the area.”
Plains Anthropologist
“Both an exhibition catalog and an important research and teaching tool.”
Journal of Southern History
“Belongs on every Arkansas bookshelf.”
Arkansas Historical Quarterly