The nascent Ozark Studies Association held its first conference at the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History in Springdale, AR, on May 17, 2019. The theme for the daylong conference was “Histories of the Buffalo National River.” Presenters covered Buffalo River and Ozarks region topics pertaining to geology and early cultures, the Civil War, historic cemeteries, the New Deal and dam-building in the Ozarks, the painter Thomas Hart Benton, small farms in the Buffalo watershed, cultural resource threats in the Buffalo National River, and controlling the fate of rivers in the Ozarks.

Ozark Society President David Peterson gave a talk that included an overview of the formation of the Society and a description of several of the major environmental issues that OS has been involved in during its existence, including the current hog farm debate. Other presenters were Dr. Rebecca Howard, Lone Star College; Abby Burnett, independent historian; Dr. Black Perkins, Williams Baptist University; Steve Sitton, Thomas Hart Benton Home State Historic Park; Dr. Jared Phillips, University of Arkansas; Dr. Caven Clark, independent contractor (retired from Buffalo National River, National Park Service); and Dr. Brooks Blevins, Missouri State University.

The Ozark Society Highlands Chapter pitched in to provide lunch for the 70 or so attendees and there was lively discussion during the meal, the breaks, and the presentations. It was a great mix of lay and academic historians, environmentalists, cavers, hikers, staff from the Buffalo National River, general public, etc.
The Ozark Studies Association is a new organization being formed primarily by historians and others who are interested in promoting research and collaboration on things Ozarks. If you are interested in more information about that association, contact Jared Phillips at or Becky Howard at