The Arkansas State Capitol, first home of the Arkansas History Commission, under construction at Little Rock, Arkansas.
One of the oldest existing state agencies, the Arkansas History Commission was created by the General Assembly in 1905. Inspired and guided during its early years by John Hugh Reynolds, the Commission is the official archives of the state, responsible for collecting and preserving the source materials of the history of Arkansas.
Dallas T. Herndon, the first director, was employed in 1911 and served for forty-two years. During most of his tenure the offices and archives were located in the present State Capitol. In 1951, when the Old State House was restored, the History Commission was moved into a part of the west wing of that building. Under Herndon's successor, Ted R. Worley, a three-story annex was added to the west wing. Dr. John L. Ferguson became director of the History Commission in 1960 and served through April 2005. Dr. Wendy Richter became director in May 2005.
The agency continues the tradition of organizing and maintaining the state and local history of Arkansas by collecting manuscript materials, census records, military records, family histories, and various county, state and federal records. The History Commission, which in 1971 became part of the Department of Parks and Tourism, moved into its present quarters in the One Capitol Mall Building in 1979. The Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives became a branch of the Arkansas History Commission in 2005.
As the Commission has grown, so has its patronage, serving over 14,000 persons annually in recent years. The history of Arkansas can be researched through manuscripts, books, microfilm, newspapers, maps, and photographs.
The History Commission is composed of seven members appointed by the Governor with the approval of the State Senate. Members serve seven-year terms staggered so that one expires each January. Members may be appointed for additional terms.
Contact the Arkansas History Commission at 501.682.6900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SARA was founded in 1978 as a project of the Hempstead County Historical Society with assistance from the Arkansas History Commission, Historic Washington State Park, and the Pioneer Washington Restoration Foundation. Its mission is to serve the twelve counties in southwest Arkansas formed from the original Hempstead County: Columbia, Hempstead, Howard, Lafayette, Little River, Miller, Nevada, Ouachita, Pike, Polk, Sevier, and Union. In 1980, SARA became an independent entity governed by a board of directors composed of two representatives from each of the twelve counties.
On October 1, 2005, the Arkansas History Commission and State Archives acquired the Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives (SARA). A ceremony transferring SARA to the Arkansas History Commission and State Archives and celebrating its twenty-seven year history was held on October 29, 2005.
Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives is located in the former Washington Elementary School, 201 Highway 195 South, Washington, Arkansas, 71862, adjacent to Historic Washington State Park. Contact SARA at 870.983.2633, or email email@example.com.
A branch of the Arkansas History Commission (State Archives), NEARA's mission is to collect, preserve, and make available, source materials pertaining to the history of northeast Arkansas and its people. The development and operation of NEARA occurred through a partnership between Arkansas State Parks and the Arkansas History Commission. Arkansas State Parks provided funding for the facility's design and construction, and will provide ongoing maintenance; the Arkansas History Commission will manage the facility's day-to-day operations.
The new structure (open Spring 2011), designed to blend with historic buildings in Powhatan, contains approximately 4,000 square feet overall, and includes a large, fire-proof vault, an archival processing room, and a public research room. The vault features Spacesaver movable records storage shelving, as well as state-of-the-art environmental control and fire suppression systems. The building also includes an office area, a vestibule, and restrooms. The restrooms serve visitors to nearby historic structures within the park. As a special component of the building, a time capsule is incorporated in the vestibule to preserve memorabilia for future generations.
NEARA offers a variety of research resources related to northeast Arkansas. Holdings include traditional archival material such as letters, diaries, maps, photographs, newspapers, and broadsides. Books, periodicals, and other print resources create a general Arkansas history reference library. The core of NEARA's initial holdings included approximately 500 cubic feet of Lawrence County government records, donated by the Lawrence County Historical Society. These county records are among Arkansas's earliest documentary resources. Records from numerous counties in the region are also available on microfilm. As the "Mother of Counties," Lawrence County was established in 1815, prior to the creation of Arkansas Territory (1819). The county encompassed most of north Arkansas, and was later subdivided into more than thirty modern counties in both Arkansas and Missouri.
NorthEast Arkansas Regional Archives is located at 11 Seventh Street, Powhatan, Arkansas, 72458, near the historic Powhatan Post Office. Contact NEARA at 870.878.6521, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.