Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Wednesday’s Wonderful Collection - Ed Reichardt store records 1859-1890, MS.000378

Edward Reichardt was born in Asch, Bohemia in 1844. He was the youngest of a large family that immigrated to the United States in 1854. A member of the City Council, he also served as director of the Little Rock Cotton and Produce Exchange from its creation, and was elected treasurer of the Electric Light Company. He was a retail grocer for many years as well as a cotton buyer. He was part owner of the Rock Street railway bridge that crossed the Arkansas River and part owner of the first street railway in Little Rock. He married Pauline Brandt in 1872.
This collection consists of accounting records for Ed Reichardt's grocery store, including a steamer log, cash books, trade names index, daily account books, yearly accounting records, receipt books, and cotton day books.

·         Steamer cargo and discharge list (Box 1)
o    1859-1866
·         Cash books
o    1871-1873
o    1876 June-1877 December
·         Trade names indexes
o    Undated
o    Undated
o    Undated
o    Undated
·         Day books
o    1872 April 18-1872 June 1 (Box 2)
o    1872 September 19-1872 November 9
o    1872 November 11-1873 September 31
o    1873 March 3-1873 April 24
o    1873 April 25-1873 June 26
o    1873 June 27-1873 August 27
o    1873 August 27-1873 October 31
o    1873 November 1-1874 January 2
o    1874 February 5-1874 March 7
o    1874 March 9-1874 May 9 (Box 3)
o    1874 May 11-1874 August 3
o    1874 September 23-1875 January 14
o    1875 January 15-1875 May 6 (Box 4)
o    1875 December 17-1876 May 10
o    1876 October 4-1877 April 16
o    1878 August 16-1879 January 4 (Box 5)
o    1879 January 6-1879 May 8
o    1879 September 1-1880 February 24 (Box 6)
o    1880 February 26-1880 October 22
o    1880 October 25-1881 June 10 (Box 7)
·         Receipt books
o    1879 October 9-1879 November 7
o    1881 March 16-1882 April 18
o    1882 January 20-1882 October 12
o    1882 October 13-1882 November 9
o    1882 December 22-1883 April 3
o    1882 October 28-1883 February 3
o    1883 April 3-1883 July 23
·         Account ledgers
o    1871-1873 (Box 8)
o    1875-1876 (Box 9)
o    1876-1877 (Box 10)
o    1878-1879 (Box 11)
o    1880 June 17-1880 December 30 (Box 12)
o    1890 (Box 13)
·         Cotton day books (Box 14)
o    1875 October 4-1875 December 16
o    1876 September 9-1877 November 7
o    1877 November 9-1878 March 22
o    1878 March 23-1879 January 2
o    1880 November 12-1881 April 27

Friday, March 27, 2020

Genealogy Tips: Researching Immigrants

Photos: 1918 registration documents, courtesy of the Arkansas State Archives.

Researching your immigrant ancestors’ stories can be a long, drawn-out process. For many researchers, it helps to have a strong oral family history to use as a starting point. However, in some cases, such stories have been lost over time.

So, how do genealogists reconstruct immigration stories?

The key is to start with an individual’s life after coming to the United States. But, what if the immigration date, or the immigrant’s country of origin is not known?  This information can often be discovered by referring to the genealogist’s old standby – census records.

From 1850 to 1940, one of the key questions asked by the U.S. Census Bureau was: “Where were you born?” This question gives researchers a starting point, to discover countries of origin in the census data. From 1900 to 1930, the Census also asked, if an individual was naturalized (that is, being granted citizenship) and from 1910 to 1920, the Census included arrival dates.

Most importantly, these records can be used to find where the individual was living at a particular point in time. This clue can help researchers find documents at the local level.  Perhaps surprisingly, such documents can include naturalization. Before 1906, any municipal, county, state or federal court could grant U.S. citizenship. Even now, there exists no comprehensive, nationwide index for these early naturalizations.

For Arkansas, the earliest naturalization records date back to when the state was part of the Louisiana Territory in the early 1800s. The Arkansas Territory was formed in 1819 from the southern portion of Missouri Territory and became a state in 1836. Knowing where an individual lived, and when, will help narrow the choices of where to look for possible naturalization and immigration records.

Another helpful tip is to learn about U.S. immigration history and its process before diving into individual research. Immigration laws changed over time, so knowing the history of immigration will help you understand what documents existed and where those records may be kept.

In the U.S., citizenship historically has been a two-step process. Immigrants first completed and filed a declaration of intent, then completed a petition for naturalization. Those documents led to orders granting citizenship, which were generally approved five years or more after the filing of the declaration of intent. This may sound straightforward, but complications showed up in practice. An immigrant might file his or her declaration in one state, then finish the petition in another state, or another district within the same state. Records might not be kept in one location, and counties often did not create separate, dedicated registers or ledger books to record such documents. That means immigration documents can be found recorded in virtually any municipal, county, state or federal court record book.

No complete nationwide index for early naturalizations exists, but there was an attempt made in the 1930s to create one. It was the work of the Immigration and Naturalization Records Indexing Project, a service division for the Works Progress Administration. The project was ambitious but not complete. It covered the years 1810 to 1906 and listed every immigration document that its staff could find. The information was organized in three categories: counties with records; name of the book where documents were recorded or filed; and the page number of the record. This process created an index of record cards phonetically organized through the Soundex system; a searchable database of this resource is available through The project covers immigration records up to the date that the federal government took over the naturalization process on Sept. 27, 1906, but be advised: Even then, it took lower courts time to stop approving naturalization documents.

The Arkansas State Archives holds many county records created before the Indexing Project. They include declarations of intent that reveal where the person came from and when they arrived in the U.S. The State Archives also has some petitions, which includes information about the petitioner’s family.

Records for after 1906 can be found on, a research database the Arkansas State Archives offers for free at its Little Rock facility. Immigration records are also available at the National Archives. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services may also have duplicate records, including certificates of citizenship granted from 1906 to 1956.

Other records may be available, including enemy alien registrations. Following the U.S. entry into WWI, non--naturalized individuals born in the Central Powers nations, including Germany, Turkey, Austria and Bulgaria, were required to register with the U.S. government as a national security measure. The information on these Enemy Alien Registration affidavits included: the non-naturalized resident’s name, date and place of birth, parents’ names and their birthplaces, parents’ residences, the resident’s place of residence, U.S. arrival date, spouse’s name and birthplace and maiden name, if applicable.

The Arkansas State Archives preserves many alien enemy registration affidavits from immigrants who had moved to eastern Arkansas. Alien registration records may also be found online at FamilySearch and the National Archives.

Some naturalization records may be available in Pulaski County for foreign-born soldiers who were naturalized at Camp Pike during World War I. Many foreign-born men signed up to serve the U.S. during World War I in the hopes of earning their citizenship. To encourage immigrant enlistments, the U.S. Congress passed laws that expedited military naturalizations. The measure worked – about 18 percent of WWI soldiers in the U.S. Army were foreign-born.

For more information about Arkansas history, visit Although the Arkansas State Archives is closed to the public due to COVID-19, staff are still accepting research requests and answering questions. Research requests are available online or by calling 501-682-6900.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Letter from the State Historian

Dr. David Ware, state historian and
director of the Arkansas State Archives

As I write this message, I have been in this post for a little over two months.  Over the last 20 years I have approached the Archives or, as it was called, the Arkansas History Commission, as a patron and, periodically, a collaborator; I have always been delighted with its wealth of holdings and by the helpfulness and expertise of its staff. Two months “on the inside” have only deepened my appreciation of the Archives’ collections and the professionalism of those who are my colleagues.

The developments of recent weeks have forced some changes in how we conduct our work, but rest assured, we are still at work and serving our patrons. Like many of you, the Archives staff of our three physical locations have been authorized to work remotely. Our research room, as well as our NEARA and SARA facilities, are closed to the public, but managers and administrative staff are answering queries that reach us by telephone, email, social media and, of course, conventional mail. New blog posts will appear regularly and as for our newsletter – well, here it is!

As importantly, our website and digital collections, effectively our “fourth location,” are available and ready for researchers and browsers alike. The current health emergency has underlined for us the need to refine and expand our online offerings, so several Archives staff members are at work preparing new content to be uploaded for access, beginning this summer, on our new website and digital collections platform. Our aim is to be able to offer more information – documents, images, lesson plans and other materials – through an accessible and intuitive portal.

Other important work continues during this period of semi-closure.  In recent weeks, we have received or retrieved significant items and collections. Our microphotography staff continue work on preparing our contributions to the National Digital Newspapers Program, an undertaking of the Library of Congress in cooperation with the National Endowment for the Humanities. This is a long-term effort to develop an Internet-based, free searchable database of U.S. newspapers with descriptive information and select digitization of historic pages, which will be permanently maintained at the Library of Congress. The ASA, with its unmatched microfilmed collection of early Arkansas imprints, is the state’s NDNP partner. Good things will come of this, and we will keep you abreast of progress in newsletters to come.

Our staff have other projects in hand as well, including transcribing our venerable and still-useful card-based Biographical into a searchable digital format. This involves staff members trying to translate previous compilers’ sometimes obscure abbreviated citations for newspapers, magazines and other publications: What seemed perfectly clear to archivists of decades ago may be a little less so for their present-day successors, but the Archives staff are game for this challenge!

It may seem as though the world has ground to a near-halt, but we are here – both to carry on the day-to-day work of the Archives and to serve those who depend upon us. We’ll do our best to share information with you through social media and other outlets. We look forward to hearing from you and, hopefully sooner rather than later, welcoming you back to our “brick and mortar” locations in Little Rock, Washington and Powhatan.

Thank you for caring about Arkansas, past and present!

David Ware

A Conversation with Rebecca Ballard

Becky Ballard, archival assistant. Photo courtesy of
the Arkansas State Archives.
Rebecca “Becky” Ballard is an archival assistant at the Arkansas State Archives. She has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Central Arkansas. Before joining the Archives’ staff, she worked 15 years as a quality control auditor for a local computer connector manufacture and held a part-time position with the Archives. Ballard took a moment from her busy day to talk with us about her role at the Arkansas State Archives.

Q: What’s your job title, and how long have you worked at the Arkansas State Archives?
A:  I’m an archival assistant.

Q: What do you do on a typical day at Archives?
A: On a typical day at the Archives, I will process collections and assist patrons with research either in person or by doing research requests.

Q: How did you become interested in Arkansas history or working at the Arkansas State Archives?
A: As far back as I can remember, I have loved history; I believe this comes from my dad who is a big history buff. This love for history led me to explore jobs that dealt with history other than teaching. When I first heard about the Archives, I was amazed there was a place other than a museum where historical materials were assessable or available for the public to view. My junior year of college, I was fortunate to receive an internship at the Archives and just felt at home among all the historical materials housed here. I am in awe daily that I get to do something that I love, and in a sense, go back in time daily while working with the materials here at the Archives.

Q: What’s the most important or interesting thing you’ve discovered while working at Archives? Why?
A:  There are several interesting things I have discovered while working at the Archives. One particularly interesting discovery would have to be the vast quantity of artifacts the Archives hold. This was interesting to me in that individuals don’t always think of the Arkansas State Archives as having artifacts because artifacts are usually associated with museums. Well, in my mind they were.

Another important thing I have discovered while working at the Archives is that all the employees take great care in preserving the historical materials held here. This is important in my opinion because it illustrates to the people of Arkansas that the state’s history is important.

Q: Why do you think the Arkansas State Archives is important for Arkansans?
A: The staff at the Archives care about preserving the historical materials and know the history of Arkansas is important. Without the Archives and other agencies like us around the state, Arkansas’s history could very well be lost. Fifty years from now, I want my great-grand kids to have the ability to examine records-materials from now and know what life was like for us and those who came before us. Without the Archives this won’t be possible.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
A: The most rewarding part of my job is seeing the face of a patron (no matter age) when they see a historical document that gives them insight into their past – whether it be a deed record, an obituary of a relative or a family diary.

Q: How do you see archiving evolving in the future?
A: The major evolution of archiving I see in the future is that everything will be digitalized. At the Arkansas State Archives, we are working diligently to increase our online collections.

Q: What do you wish people knew about Archives?
A: The Archives is so much more than a place that houses “old” papers. The Archives, in a way, is a window to the past – not just for history buffs or people who like to examine “old” papers, but for families’ pasts and, most importantly, the state’s history.

New Accessions for March

Virginia E. Pryor herbarium, 1855
Our new accessions include a 1968 Winthrop Rockefeller gubernatorial campaign lapel pin (Rockefeller, who was Arkansas’s 37th governor and its first Republican governor since Reconstruction, held the office  from 1967 to 1971); vintage photographs from the estate of Margaret Smith Ross, an Arkansas archivist, history advocate and preservationist; and an 1855 herbarium (collection of dry plant mounts) with well-preserved Arkansas flora. We know Arkansas history, and we have two centuries and more for you to explore.

Visit our digital collections or find our research services at Let us inspire you to discover your Arkansas history.
Archival Materials
·         William E. Russell photographs: Two photographs of Hard Shell Baptist Church and a lumber mill located near Sparkman, Arkansas, in Dallas County were donated by Donna M. Russell of Columbia, Missouri.
·         Margaret Smith Ross collection: 5 cubic feet of documents, books and photographs from the estate of the late Margaret Smith Ross were donated by Jennifer Charlebois of Charles Town, West Virginia. Ross was active in the Arkansas history community and was formerly an associate editor for the Arkansas Historical Quarterly. She also worked, during the 1950s, for the Arkansas History Commission, which is now the Arkansas State Archives.
·         Harriet Wall letters: [digital] letters and transcript of the letters were donated by Dr. Denise L. Baskind.
·         Various publications, photos and maps: Items mostly related to Little Rock were transferred to the Arkansas State Archives from the Historic Arkansas Museum.
·         Winthrop Rockefeller 1968, gold-plated lapel pin: The pin was donated by Arkansas History Commission Chairman Jason B. Hendren of Bentonville, Arkansas.
·         Virginia E. Pryor herbarium: An herbarium collected by Virginia E. Pryor in 1855, in the vicinity of the White Sulphur Springs in Jefferson County, was donated by Mrs. Mary V. Norfleet of Montrose, Colorado. The herbarium was a family heirloom.

100 Years Ago, Quarantine Stopped Deadly Flu

 A hundred years ago, Arkansans found themselves in the grip of fear over a deadly influenza.

Beginning in 1918, a deadly flu hit worldwide and earned the name, “Spanish flu,” because people mistakenly thought it originated in Spain. The flu struck during World War I and decimated troops and civilians alike. 

Between 1918 and 1919, the pandemic killed at least 50 million worldwide, including about 675,000 Americans. In 1919 alone, Arkansas had about 450,000 cases of the flu and about 7,500 deaths. Unlike other flus, the “Spanish flu” often killed apparently healthy, young people within only a few days.

In the spring of 1920, Arkansans were nervous. Communities worked to combat any new outbreak and keep their residents safe. No one wanted to see a repeat of 1919.

Fort Smith, particularly, had reason to worry. Flu cases began to mount in the middle of January 1920, and while officials assured residents there was nothing to fear, simultaneously they were planning their strategy to deal with the epidemic. Dr. H.C. King, a local doctor, told a panel of physicians with the Arkansas Board of Health, “I believe in locking the stable before the horse is stolen. There may be no danger of the disease spreading alarmingly, but necessary precautions should be taken before the disease gets away from us.”

On Feb. 3, Fort Smith officials noted 119 new cases of the flu. The next day, officials announced 90 new cases. Overall, there were 335 new cases statewide on Feb. 4.

Greenwood in Sebastian County was especially hard hit. Greenwood’s health workers found themselves outpaced by the illness. Of the town’s two doctors, one contracted the flu while caring for Greenwood patients, leaving the other to deal with the mounting caseload. On Feb. 4, Greenwood Mayor John McCord sent Dr. C.W. Garrison, state health officer, an urgent request for nurses and doctors to care for the 200 cases in the town’s hospital. Doctors rushed to Greenwood to aid in the care for the sick.

On Thursday, Feb. 5, the Little Rock City Board of Health met to discuss the outbreak. The board thought imposing a citywide quarantine was unnecessary, but by the next morning, conditions had worsened. Statewide, there were 910 new cases of influenza. Fort Smith led the pack with 138 new cases. Star City had 125 new cases, and Arkansas City had 100 new cases.

Alarmed, Little Rock and North Little Rock officials placed the cities under quarantine. School systems, churches and all city theaters shut down. Stores and businesses could remain open only if they left their doors and windows open. Floor walkers in the store were ordered to make sure customers did not bunch up into groups. Customers were asked to move quickly, make their purchases and then leave.

Bible studies and indoor lectures were canceled. Streetcars could only operate if all the windows were left open. Children were discouraged from riding streetcars altogether.

Additionally, all houses with an influenza case had to be placarded to announce the infection to the public and discourage visitors. Any house that had a flu victim was required to notify public health officials within 24 hours or risk a $25 fine. Funerals were now private affairs open to the immediate family only.

Those seeking entertainment in Little Rock would search in vain because all the theaters and pool halls were closed. Instead, people took walks through the city. Main street was crowded with pedestrians, possibly violating social distancing laws.

Fort Smith continued to see an alarming number of new cases. The City Board of Health reported Feb. 9 the city had 107 new cases. The number was down considerably from the previous Friday’s report but still cause for concern. In response, the City Board of Health decided to become more stringent in its quarantine orders.

Hotel operators were required to remove chairs from their lobbies to prevent people from congregating. Coach Earl Quigley of the Little Rock High School Tigers announced he was canceling the game between the Tigers and Pine Bluff High School and possibly the rest of the season.
Pine Bluff followed suit and established a strict quarantine. The city closed all public buildings except for grocers and meat markets. The city also made it illegal for a child to be on the street without a permit. More cities enacted quarantines Feb. 9.

Social life among college students at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville ground to a stop. University officials banned student dating as well as any gatherings at soda fountains.

Meanwhile, Dr. Harrison Hale, a chemistry professor, thought chlorine gas could be a solution to kill the flu virus. He observed towns with chlorine gas factories seemed to have avoided flu outbreaks in 1919. Additionally, no students or professors in the chemistry department caught the disease. 

Perhaps, chlorine was a good preventative against the flu, he thought. He invited students to come inhale 1/1000th of 1 percent of chorine solution daily for one week as part of his experiment. As many as 250 students signed up for the experiment.

By Feb. 11, it was clear the quarantines were working. Fort Smith, which had seen at least 100 new cases a day, had a dramatic drop in new cases. The city reported only 53 new cases. Little Rock, which also had a fall in new cases, decided to lift its quarantine at midnight Feb. 12. Schools, theaters and poolhalls reopened. Even Fort Smith, where the flu epidemic had been so horrible, lifted its quarantine Feb. 15.

By the time quarantines ended, the economic impact had already been felt across the state. Theaters in Little Rock, for example, lost an estimated $6,000 overall during the quarantine.

As Arkansans face a similar situation in 2020, it is interesting to look at the past. The lesson from 100 years ago is that sacrifice is necessary to keep communities safe. Quarantines and social distancing worked in 1920 to reduce the spread of the flu and the likelihood of death. Those measures, once again, will help keep Arkansas communities safe.

For more information on Arkansas history, call 501-682-6900 or email The Arkansas State Archives is closed to the public as part of a widespread effort to reduce COVID-19. Some research services are available by calling the Arkansas State Archives or by visiting

Philanthropic Program Boosts Education for African American Communities

Ila Upchurch, 1950,
Photo courtesy of the
Arkansas State Archives. 

African Americans have fought for their rights to education for centuries. In Arkansas, the goal of equal access to education was helped by the establishment of a program that funded teaching supervisors in rural, African American schools.

In 1907, Philadelphia philanthropist Anna T. Jeanes endowed $1 million for “The Fund for Rudimentary Schools for Southern Negroes.” The endowment would be used almost exclusively to fund the salaries of teachers who would be supervisors in black schools.

The aid was very much needed among rural, African American communities. In the early 20th century, Booker T. Washington, a renowned African American educator, noted black schools in cities and towns were in much better shape than their rural counterparts. He said rural schools were “wretched, the teacher poorly paid and terms last only three to five months.”

Much of the problem stemmed from a lack of will among white politicians to improve the schools. At times, some white politicians demanded taxes paid by white citizens fund white schools exclusively. African Americans should pay for their own schools with their own tax money, they said. The campaigns to segregate funding for schools ultimately failed, but Arkansas’s support for black schools remained paltry.

Under the new program, county school superintendents chose teachers, referred to as “Jeanes supervisors” or “Jeanes teachers,” to work in rural schools, mostly in the South. The program paid the salaries of Jeanes supervisors. After the supervisors had been in place for several years, program funding was expected to slowly dissipate. The idea was to show politicians the benefits of funding African American schools and to create a will among governments to take over funding teachers’ pay.
To qualify as a supervisor, a teacher must have skill in the “practical arts,” such as domestic skills in cooking or sewing or industrial skills in farming or construction. Jeanes supervisors monitored instruction in schools and supported other teachers while promoting homemaking projects and lobbying for better school facilities. They attended local churches, met community leaders and families, and inquired about local health concerns.

Much of the program’s focus on “practical” education was meant to ease the concerns of white communities. Some white landowners, for example, worried African Americans were too focused on education outside of domestic and farm work, the labor landowners needed to operate their properties. To allay these fears, some African American schools advertised the lack of any nonessential educational subjects. For instance, the Hampton Institute in Virginia prohibited the teaching of Greek, Latin and Algebra at their school.

Still, the program caught on quickly in Arkansas, and by 1913, nine counties had their own Jeanes teacher. J.A. Presson, state agent for African American schools, estimated Jeanes supervisors traveled 11,251 miles and visited 156 school in 1917 alone.

One of Arkansas’s most prominent teachers in the program was Ila Dedia Upchurch, who was born in Buena Vista, Mississippi, in 1892. As a teenager, she entered Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute and later attended Shorter College, Philander Smith College and Arkansas A&M University, which today is the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. She completed summer training sessions and received higher education credits. In 1925, Upchurch became a Jeanes supervisor in Nevada County. During a typical year, she supervised up to 58 teachers and taught home economics at Yerger High School in Hope during the summer. For all of this, she was paid $1,350 annually.

By the 1940s, Upchurch had so strongly impacted education in southwest Arkansas that she was named assistant supervisor for African American schools in Nevada County. A teacher training school also was named after her. After retiring from education and opened a sewing and alteration shop. She remained active in the community until her death in 1989.

In another example, Mary Robinson, who worked as a Jeanes supervisor in Fordyce, Arkansas, encouraged members of the African American community to donate money to the local school. She was so persuasive she was able to get the community to donate enough money to buy a range and cooking stove, a dining table, six chairs and three sewing machines.

The program improved the quality of education, access to schools and aid for teachers in rural communities, where resources had been systemically denied. The efforts meant more schools, more teachers and more resources for African Americans in Arkansas. For example, during the 1925-1926 school year, the number of African American high schools and teachers doubled, and the graduation rate increased 68 percent over the previous four years’ totals.

By the mid-1930s, the original Foundation was expanded after receiving money from several well-known educational funds. The move created even more opportunities for more schools to have Jeanes teachers.

The program’s accomplishments were achieved despite the anemic financial support among white communities. This lack of support is best illustrated at the state level, where, in 1921, Arkansas invested an average of $31.74 per student in white schools and $8.92 per student in African American schools.

The program also helped to educate those who would become leaders in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s. The program continued until 1968, after which some counties took over the program and paid teachers’ salaries.

For more information on Arkansas history, contact the Arkansas State Archives at 501-682-6900 or at Information is also available via the website at