Though the physical building that will house the U.S. Marshals Museum is not yet open, we already provide the educational programming of a fully functioning museum. Essentially, we currently operate as a “museum without walls.”
With a growing object collection of over 1,000 artifacts, frequent seminars and events, as well as expansive educational materials for teachers and students, our educational programs reach out to our community and also communities in 22 states across the country.
Educator / Student Resources
Our Museum actively supports civic literacy and education throughout our country. A few of the events and teaching materials we provide are listed below. To discuss these and other programs or materials, contact Education Director Leslie Higgins.
Educator Resource Series
The Educator Resource Series (ERS) was first introduced in 2009, with the USMM Primary Source Tool kit. This was followed in 2012 with Life and Law in 19th Century Arkansas, in 2016 with U.S. Marshals and the Civil Rights Movement, and High Profile Cases of the Late 20th Century in 2017. The ERS provides primary and secondary source materials to teachers pertaining to the history of the USMS. These resources are not meant as stand-alone lessons; they are intended to supplement the materials already utilized by instructors. ERS guides are currently being used by teachers in 22 states across the country.
Safe Kids! Fair
Safe Kids! Fair has been provided by our Museum for more than 11 years. It is an annual event that brings safety related agencies around the community together in one place, where children and parents can meet with them face to face. All attending children can receive a DNA Lifeprint kit, an indispensable tool for law enforcement in the case a child going missing.
In 2018, Bill Cooper’s Safe Kids! Fair is partnering with National Night Out, creating a better, richer event for our community. National Night Out Featuring Bill Cooper’s Safe Kids Fair will take place on Tuesday, October 2nd, from 4-8 p.m. at Harry E. Kelley Park located at 121 Riverfront Drive in Fort Smith. Check back with us for more details as the event gets closer.
Life & Law in 19th Century Arkansas
This event involves a full-day field trip planned in conjunction with groups like the Fort Smith National Historic Site, Fort Smith Museum of History, and the Clayton House to provide education on life and law in Western Arkansas and the Indian Territory in the late 19th century.
Spring Lecture Series
This lecture series was established in 2015 with Guns of the Frontier. The four part series brought historians from major gun companies- Colt, Winchester, and Smith & Wesson – to Fort Smith to discuss their companies’ roles in the development of the Western Frontier, particularly Indian Territory. Other lecture series have followed, including The Gallery Lecture Series (2015), WANTED (2016), Modern Law Enforcement (2017), and Jurisdiction and Judgment (2018).
Winthrop Paul Rockefeller Distinguished Lecture Series
In 2015, the USMM introduced the Winthrop Paul Rockefeller Distinguished Lecture Series featuring the late Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. Over 1500 people attended the lecture, include over 700 secondary students from area schools. Students who attended were invited to submit questions for Scalia, and the top three were invited to have lunch with him and ask their questions at the beginning of the question and answer session. The second lecture of the series was held in 2017, and featured U.S. Representative Trey Gowdy. Plans are now underway to bring a third speaker to the area in 2018.
National History Day
National History Day is a national education program that celebrates our nation’s history, highlighting pivotal moments that enacted change. The USMM brought this much needed program back into the Fort Smith Public School District in 2015, starting in Spradling Elementary school (grades 5 and 6). Partnering with State Representative George McGill’s Golden Knights and the Spradling Jewels and with the help of state National History Day coordinator Pat Ramsey out of Arkansas Tech, the students created presentations that were judged regionally in Alma, AR. This program is still going strong and is being started in Spradling’s “feeder” schools: Kimmons Junior High School and Northside High School.
Constitution Week activities began in Fort Smith schools in 2015, with a program in conjunction with the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith chapter of the American Democracy Project. We the People, by Lynn Cheney, was read in all 4th and 5th grade classrooms in Fort Smith by over 90 volunteers. Each class was presented the book to keep, and each student received a pocket Constitution to keep. Over 2000 students were reached in a week’s time. Constitution Week has continued to grow, and plans are already underway for the coming year.
An Evening in the Past
The first annual An Evening in the Past in 2015 was an evening of history and elegance. George Washington from Mount Vernon attended, captivating guests with his presence and wisdom. Guests were treated to an 18th century inspired menu, 18th century dance lessons, and carriage rides, while learning from General Washington about his life, and his appointment of the original 16 Marshals. While in Fort Smith, General Washington visited both Fort Smith high schools, presenting to over 300 students. Since that inaugural event, the Museum has hosted both the older Thomas Jefferson (2016) and the younger Thomas Jefferson (2017) from Colonial Williamsburg. In 2018, the Museum will feature the early 20th century and welcome Theodore Roosevelt.
Spring Break Camps
In 2017, the USMM hosted its first Spring Break Camps. These one-day camps focused on the history of law enforcement through STEM-focused activities. Approximately 30 students attended the two days of camps. In 2018, almost 90 students attended three days of camps which focused on the colonial period, the Wild West, and the modern Marshals. Camps also included walking “field trips” to points of interest in downtown Fort Smith, guest speakers, and more. Plans for next year’s camps are already underway.