Robert Willoughby

Robert Willoughby

History, Geography and Political Science Department Chair


Dr. Robert Willoughby joined the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith faculty in 2006 as a visiting professor in the Department of History, Geography, and Political Science and is currently associate professor and chair of the department. He is from St. Joseph, Mo., a city with many historical similarities to Fort Smith.


Dr. Willoughby has a wide range of teaching experiences, ranging from public middle and high school to small, private colleges and state universities. The primary focus of his research and writing is the antebellum American West. He has authored three books -- an urban biography of St. Joseph, Mo., titled "Robidoux's Town: A Nineteenth Century History of St. Joseph, Missouri,"  "The Great Western Migration to the Gold Fields of California, 1849-1850” and “The Brother’s Robidoux and the Opening of the American West." He has also published articles and delivered numerous papers at history conferences in the Midwest and England.


Dr. Willoughby earned his bachelor's degree from Missouri Western State College, his master's degree from Northwest Missouri State University, and his doctorate in history and political science from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.




Development of the Western Fur Trade

In this talk, Willoughby will provide background of the Western fur trade, specifically the trade developed in the trans-Mississippi after the Lewis and Clark expedition and extending into the 1840s. He can also speak on any number of important trappers and traders or Western personalities associated with that period.


Native American Relations in the Trans-Mississippi West

The national government made considerable efforts to save the Indian population by assimilating them into American society. While those efforts were undertaken with the best intent, they often failed to remedy critical problems faced by Native Americans. Hear about these issues and Native American policy from the speaker, who has presented a number of conference papers on the topic.


Runaway Slave Cases

Prior to the Civil War, the American court system had to deal with numerous cases brought by runaway slaves, and the courts had to attempt to both apply existing slave laws and human justice on equal terms. This talk is of personal interest to the speaker, who has researched the topic and has also been published in the Missouri Historical Review regarding it.


Urban Development of the Great Plains Region

Learn about town and city building in the trans-Mississippi West, particularly along the edge of the Great Plains, and discover the role of cities as jumping-off points for migration and economic development in the West. This talk is derived from the speaker's own book published on this topic.