Skip to main contentSkip to main navigationSkip to footer content
Woman working outside the Wilhauf House

While a student at UAFS, Anna Vincent worked at the Wilhauf House in Van Buren.

Bell TowerOctober 03, 2023

Grad Preserves History at Home

Written By: Ian Silvester

“What are the odds,” Anna Vincent asked herself on the morning of March 1, 2023, her first day as the historical facility manager at the Spiro Mounds Archaeological Center – her first day working to preserve her hometown slice of history.

The job is a dream come true for Vincent, a 2017 University of Arkansas – Fort Smith history graduate. Originally from Spiro, OK, Vincent finds herself back home, just a mere 20 miles from the campus that ultimately led her to a place where history and culture are buried in time.

The Spiro Mounds date back more than 1,200 years and were once home to the Caddo Mississippian people. Today, all that remains are the mounds of earth that denote the location of dwellings and the once artifact-filled burial site.

According to Vincent, overseeing the history of those who were among the first settlers on the land “was just pure dumb luck.”
“I was visiting my mom in Fort Smith and lying on the couch one Sunday morning,” Vincent recalled. “I decided to check the Oklahoma jobs board, see what’s going on, I do it periodically, and I just happened to see it, and I was like, ‘you got to be kidding me?’ and I applied to it.”

She credits studying history and minoring in anthropology at UAFS as what opened the door for the job she always wanted.

Through Vincent’s studies, she received a first-hand account of what it means to preserve history. Hired in 2015, Vincent began working for the Arkansas Archaeological Survey (AAS) thanks to the help of Professor Tim Mulvihill of the AAS’s research station at UAFS.
“Most of my work was done in the lab on campus, cleaning and cataloging artifacts from various digs conducted through the Survey’s UAFS station. I also assisted with excavations the station was carrying out at the Wilhauf House (in Van Buren), where we uncovered a huge cellar and found various artifacts, including dominoes and a really cool 19th-century pharmacy bottle.
“To me, it’s the golden virtue of being a historian or anyone working in public history or historic preservation,” Vincent said. “You are responsible for making sure that a place is just as accessible to future generations as it was to you so that they can appreciate it like you did.”
Through her work with the AAS, Mulvihill witnessed Vincent’s love for history grow. He said her experiences and coursework at UAFS have made Vincent “uniquely qualified for the job at Spiro Mounds Archaeological Center.”

Vincent manages a site that became part of the National Registry of Historic Places on Sept. 30, 1969, some 30 years after it was nearly wiped out.
Treasure hunters came through the area, running a track right through the middle of Brown Mountain and pillaging the Craig Mound – the site’s burial mound – finding one of the world’s largest collections of artifacts. With trade linked from Mexico to the Great Lakes, the Caddo Mississippian people who called the mounds home left a history scattered around the globe.

Today, visitors can see replica artifacts and learn about the Caddo Mississippians. With Vincent in charge, lessons will be fueled by a love for her community and the history she grew up learning about in her backyard. Mulvihill reinforced this idea, stating that Vincent was a dedicated student who brought that same enthusiasm to the field.
“Even though you may not have known that this place existed, it did exist, and incredible things happened here,” she said. “Incredible things were found here, and more people should be aware of it.”

  • Tags:
  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • Alumni
  • Arts and Sciences

Media Relations

The UAFS Office of Communications fields all media inquiries for the university. Email for more information.

Send an Email

Stay Up-to-Date

Sign up to receive news and updates.


Rachel Rodemann Putman

  • Director of Strategic Communications
  • 479-788-7132
Submit A News Tip