Visitors Guide to the
Southern Tenant Farmers Museum
117 Main Street
Tyronza, Arkansas


Accessible Parking Accessible Interpretive Exhibits Accessible Arkansas Historic Site Accessible Area Information Available Accessible Gift Shop Accessible Restrooms

The Southern Tenant Farmers Museum (STFU) opened in 2006 and focuses on the tenant farming system of agriculture in the South and the farm labor movement that arose in response to this system. The museum is owned and operated as an educational program of Arkansas State University and is housed in the historic Mitchell-East Building, which served during the 1930s as a dry-cleaning business for H. L. Mitchell and a service station for Clay East, two of the principal founders of the Southern Tenant Farmers' Union. The museum was created after the Tyronza community approached ASU for assistance in saving the rapidly deteriorating Mitchell-East Building and in utilizing it to tell the story of the tenant farming movement. After receiving the building as a gift from the city, ASU utilized grants to acquire additional property, restore the building, and create the exhibits.

The Mitchell-East building served as unofficial headquarters for the union during its formative period. Established in 1934 by eleven white and seven African American people at Sunnyside School near Tyronza, the union grew into a national organization and was a forerunner of later labor and civil rights movements. The union achieved its peak membership during the late 1930s, when its leadership claimed about 35,000 members in Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Oklahoma.

The union was unusual for its time in that both black and white members, and both women and men, served in leadership positions. While it experienced limited success in the 1930s it ultimately collapsed due to power struggles, migration of members to the north and the mechanization of agriculture in the early 1950s that made tenant farming unnecessary. The STFU went out of existence in the 1960s. The historic union and its Tyronza roots remained largely obscured to the general public until development of the museum.

The building facade has been restored to its 1930s appearance, while the interior includes exhibition space, a reception area, a gift shop, and a classroom. The museum features many exhibits that interpret tenant life in the turbulent 1930s. Stories are told through historic photographs, artifacts related to tenant farming, oral history excerpts, 1930s news reel footage, and interactive exhibits featuring STFU songs, poems, and interviews with former union leaders.

The Southern Tenant Farmers Museum is listed on the Arkansas Delta Music Trail due to its involvement with John Handcox. Handcox was born and raised in the Arkansas Delta. He served as the minstrel of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union and the voice of southern sharecroppers as expressed through his songs and poems written for the union and the cause. Listen to Handcox’s songs and see the influence of music on the agricultural labor movement in the South at the museum. Learn more about the Arkansas Delta Music Trail.

Visiting the Southern Tenant Farmers Museum
Monday - Friday: 9 am - 3 pm
     Saturday: Noon - 3 pm
     Special arrangements may be made for after hours tours. Please call the museum for details

Admission charged: $5 for adults and $3 for children, senior citizens, and groups.

Southern Tenant Farmers Museum is located at 117 Main Street in the north end of downtown Tyronza.

GPS Coordinates
5° 29.481'
W 90° 21.538'

Learn more about the Tyronza area.

Southern Tenant Farmers Museum
The official website of the Southern Tenant Farmers Museum.

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