Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in History (PhD)

Degree Level





Jeannie Whayne

Committee Member

Daniel Sutherland

Second Committee Member

Elliott West


Arkansas, Arkansas River, Environmental History, floods, human culture, natural disasters


The Arkansas River molded the history of Arkansas. It also shaped human to human interactions and human relationships with the physical environment. Since humans first encountered the river their lives have been influenced by it. The river played a significant role in creating the environmental conditions that contributed to a specific existence within the river valley. It affected what types of flora and fauna existed, the quality of the soil, and the climate. The river was a vital component in the evolution of the cultures and societies that developed in the river valley. Conversely, humans affected the river. The ways humans perceived and used the river impacted the physical characteristics that defined the river. Ever since the first humans interacted with the river there has been a dialectic relationship put into motion, a cycle of constant change where humans and the environment renegotiated their understandings and relationship with one another. Throughout every time period of Arkansas history, prehistoric through the 1970s and on, the river has been a vital factor in the existence of the river valley and state.