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 24 states across the country.
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 to request materials, contact USMM Director of Education Leslie Higgins.
Educator Resource Series:
Teacher Guides for Civic Literacy Enhancement
The Educator Resource Series (ERS), introduced in 2009, provides educators with primary and secondary resources related to the history of the U.S. Marshals Service, civic knowledge, and more. The series currently includes four titles- Origins & Early Days of the U.S. Marshals, Life and Law in 19th Century Arkansas, U.S. Marshals & the Civil Rights Movement, and High Profile Cases of the U.S. Marshals in the Late 20th Century. These resources are not meant to be stand-alone lessons, but to supplement the lesson plans already utilized by instructors. Each guide comes with a flash drive containing all primary source materials, so teachers have access to them for class sets or other purposes. ERS guides are currently being used by teachers and other educators in 24 states across the country.
Bill Cooper’s Safe Kids! Fair
Bill Cooper’s Safe Kids! Fair 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 Next Generation DNA Lifeprint kit – an indispensable tool for law enforcement in the case a child going missing. In 2018, the 11th year for the fair, Bill Cooper’s Safe Kids! Fair partnered with National Night Out, creating a better, richer event for our community. An estimated 500 people attended National Night Out: Featuring Bill Cooper’s Safe Kids Fair. In 2020, our Safe Kids Fair went virtual, and can be found on our Online Learning page. The fair hopes to return in person in the fall on 2021.
Talks on Tap
The spring lecture series is held the first Monday of each month from March-May. Established in 2014, previous lecture series titles include Guns of the Frontier (2014), , WANTED (2016), Modern Law Enforcement (2017), Jurisdiction and Judgment (2018), Power & Politics: Know Your Arkansas State Government (2019) and Facing Ourselves: Conversations on Civil Discourse (2020). The lecture series has brought in speakers from across the country, including historians, politicians, law enforcement officials, authors, and more.
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, including over 700 secondary students from area schools. Students who attended were invited to submit questions for Justice 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. Over 1200 people attended Congressman Gowdy’s presentation, including over 400 area students.
National History Day
National History Day (NHD) is a national education program that celebrates our nation’s history, highlighting pivotal moments in both U.S. and World History. The USMM has worked to reintroduce this proven program to the Fort Smith Public School District, with the first school signing on in 2015. USMM Director of Education, Leslie Higgins, was honored by History Day Arkansas as the 2019 Friend of History Day Arkansas recipient for her outstanding and productive efforts to promote and sustain National History Day (NHD) in Fort Smith area schools.
Each year on September 17, the U.S. recognizes Constitution Day, the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution. The USMM celebrates Constitution Week in conjunction with the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith chapter of the American Democracy Project. Each Constitution Week, approximately 100 volunteers from the University and the community visit classrooms in two grades in all elementary schools in Fort Smith and Alma. Each class is presented the book to keep, and each student receives a pocket Constitution or Constitution bookmark to take home (depending on grade level). Almost 3,000 students are reached each year in a week’s time.
An Evening in the Past
An Evening in the Past is the USMM’s annual holiday event. This time-period event brings high-quality historical actors to Fort Smith for an evening of history and elegance. Guests are treated to a time period inspired menu and activities, and have the opportunity to learn about the historical person’s life and times. Past guests have included George Washington from Mount Vernon, Thomas Jefferson from Colonial Williamsburg, Theodore Roosevelt and Harriet Tubman. While in Fort Smith, the historical actors also perform in select local schools.
Spring Break Camps
In 2017, the USMM hosted its first Spring Break Day Camps. These one-day camps focus on the history and law enforcement through STEM-focused activities. In 2019, almost 90 students attended three days of camps, which focused on analyzing crime scene evidence to figure out who “stole” artifacts from the Museum’s collection. For 2021 our spring break camp will be a virtual/at-home camp, complete with daily videos and take home activities!