Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Arkansas State Archives November 2016 Newsletter

Look inside the November 2016 Issue of the Arkansas Archivist for these and other features:

The ASA Welcomes Students from Valley View Junior High School

Over the last few years, the ASA has been expanding its educational programs.  We have created lesson plans and held teacher workshops on the use of primary sources in the classroom.  The ASA considers the promotion of history education, in particular Arkansas history and how our state factors into national and global narratives, among its most important roles.

Black History Commission News

Anyone who has done much research knows that no research project is ever actually finished.  There are always new questions that come to light, new avenues to be explored.  This month we present just such a case.  A few months ago, we wrote about a Sykes grant winner’s project dealing with the historic Norwood-Mt. Olive Cemetery in Fort Smith and the life of Henry Norwood.  The South Sebastian County Historical Society, which was behind the original project, has returned to the topic to further examine the world of Henry Norwood, more specifically his early life in slavery. The new project, “Songs of Hope and Inspiration: The Hidden Meaning of Spirituals,” analyzes traditional songs that enslaved people sang and reveals the meanings behind these songs.  

From the Director

On November 11, the United States commemorated Veterans Day.  Here in Arkansas, we marked the occasion with a press conference of the World War I Centennial Commemoration Committee to preview the official website of the commemoration.  The website, which can be found at is sponsored by the Department of Arkansas Heritage, provides the public with a variety of ways to participate in Arkansas’s commemoration of the “Great War” between now and the end of 2018.

Native American Heritage Month

November is Native American Heritage Month.  The ASA holds a large collection of materials related to the history of Native Americans in Arkansas.  A number of our earliest records in our collection deal with some of the Native Americans who were living in Arkansas and those who  migrated here during the Trail of Tears.  The L.C. Gulley collection contains a number of letters from Native American leaders to Arkansas’s territorial officials discussing the treatment of Native Americans in the state.  There are also a number of maps that show Native American territorial lands. 

Wednesday's Wonderful Collection - K.W. rector papers, MS.000230

K.W. Rector was a successful farmer in the Mill Creek Township of Izard County, Arkansas. He was born in 1858 in Izard County. His parents, J. W. Rector and Ann E. Cooper Rector, were natives of Kentucky who came to Arkansas in 1852. K.W. Rector married Martha C. Bigham on September 25, 1879. Her parents were Samuel and Susannah Bigham of Tennessee. K.W. and Martha Rector had five children together, and by 1910, amassed a farm of nearly 500 acres in Izard County.

This collection contains journals and diaries kept by K.W. Rector and members of the Rector and Bigham families. It also contains deeds and United States land grants from members of the families and other residents of the Izard County area during the 1850s.

·         1. Journal, 1862 March 10 (Box 1)
·         2. Journal, 1884 August 21-November 19
·         3. Journal, 1885 November 28-1894 April 8
·         4. Journal, 1893 November 24-1900 October 22
·         5. Journal, 1896 February 15-1902 March
·         6. Journal, 1898 August 20-1902 December
·         7. Journal, 1899 January 1-1899 November 21
·         8. Journal, 1901 February 1-1902 March 29
·         9. Journal, 1902 December 31-1903 August 21
·         10. Journal, 1906 December 28-1907 March
·         11. Journal, 1912 January 30
·         12. Journal, 1912 March 8
·         13. Journal, "Earl Rector's Book," 1916 August 8-1917 November 4
·         1. Land grant, United States of America to Joseph A. Dillard, 1853 November 1 (Box 2)
·         2. Land grant, United States of America to Warren Johnson, 1853 December 10
·         3. Deed, T.W. Edmonson to Samuel L. Bigham and John Woods, 1853 February 10
·         4. Land grant, United States of America to William D. Bugbee, 1854 July 1
·         5. Land grant, United States of America to Thomas W. Edmondson, 1855 March 1
·         6. Land grant, United States of America to Thomas W. Edmondson, 1855 March 1
·         7. Land grant, United States of America to William M. Taylor, 1855 June 16
·         8. Land grant, United States of America to William Dillard, 1859 July 1
·         9. Land grant, United States of America to Joseph W. Rector, 1859 July 1
·         10. Land grant, United States of America to Samuel L. Bigham, 1859 July 1
·         11. Miscellaneous papers (9 items)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Arkansas State Archives Named One of 75 Best State Genealogy Websites

On November 10, the Arkansas State Archives was named to Family Tree Magazine’s list of 75 Best State Websites for Genealogy in 2016. Each year, the magazine honors the best websites across the country specializing in genealogical research. This is the second time the State Archives has been honored with this designation. In 2011, it was named by Family Tree Magazine as one of the top 101 best genealogical websites in the U.S.

Criteria for chosen sites includes providing a user-friendly website with a priority on digitized material.

Diane Haddad, editor of Family Tree Magazine says, “We wanted each state to be represented with at least one website, so we had to be more selective for states with many online resources. We hope that readers will see the types of online resources available at the state level and go looking for more sites beyond what’s on this list.”

Dr. Lisa Speer, state historian and director of the Arkansas State Archives, commented on the selection, “We are excited that Family Tree Magazine selected us to represent Arkansas archival repositories.   The State Archives just brought up a new website in June of this year. We really focused on making the site more user friendly, with a high priority on featuring our digital collections and services for researchers. I am grateful to have this work recognized.”

The list of all 75 websites will appear in the December 2016 issue of Family Tree Magazine and can be viewed online at

The Arkansas State Archives is an agency under the Department of Arkansas Heritage and is responsible for collecting and maintaining the largest collection of historical materials on Arkansas in the world.  The State Archives has two branch locations; the Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives is located in Powhatan and the Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives is located in Washington. Other agencies under the Department of Arkansas Heritage include the Arkansas Arts Council, the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, the Old State House Museum, the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, and the Historic Ark

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Acquisitions and Accessions for November 2016

Arkansas State Archives November 2016 Acquisitions

Standridge Kith an’ Kin Family History Newsletter, Vol. 13 no. 4, Fall 2016

Glenwood High School Class of 1962 Reunion:  54 Years

Basin Park Hotel:  Eureka Springs

Romancing Eureka:  We Found It!, by Dan Ellis

Glad News

Forty Years Missionary in Arkansas, by Father E.J. Weibel

Around the World with a Camera, by Leslie-Judge Company

Monday, November 21, 2016

Closed for Thanksgiving

The Arkansas State Archives and its branches, the Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives (NEARA) and the Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives (SARA), will be closed from Thursday, Nov. 24th - Saturday, Nov. 26th in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.  The State Archives will reopen with regular business hours on Monday, Nov. 28th.  NEARA and SARA will reopen with regular business hours on Tuesday, Nov. 29th. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Wednesday's Wonderful Collection - "Across the Horizon" manuscript, MS.000589

Cornelia Alice Kirkley was born November 14, 1904, in Norphlet, Union County, Arkansas, to James and Willie Murphy Kirkley. When she was six years old, her family moved to Grady, Arkansas, which is located along the Choctaw Bayou in Lincoln County, about twenty-five miles south of Pine Bluff.
In the early 1920s, she graduated with honors from Grady High School and attended what was then called Arkansas State Normal School in Conway. She moved to Chicago to study shorthand and business practices under John Robert Gregg, the inventor of the Gregg Shorthand Method. After completion of this course, Kirkley returned to Conway and received a bachelor's degree in education from her previous college, by this time known as Arkansas State Teachers College (now the University of Central Arkansas). She married William Floyd Foster, II, of Portland, Arkansas, in 1926 and they had one son, William Floyd, III. She began her teaching career at Draughon's Business College in Little Rock in the late 1920s, then went on to teach business classes at what is now Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia, Columbia County. In 1940, she opened Foster Business School in Camden, Ouachita County, which she operated for twenty-five years.
Foster began interviewing and photographing residents of the African American community of Grady, Arkansas, in the late 1930s. Her research led her to write a manuscript, which she finished in 1938 and entitled "Across the Horizon."
Cornelia Foster died on June 28, 1971, and is buried in Camden. In 2006, her son self-published "Across the Horizon" and donated its original pages and photographs to the Arkansas State Archives.
This collection consists of an original manuscript, written in 1938, and the self-published version, copyright 2006, along with additional photographs.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Wednesday's Wonderful Collection - Centennial Missionary Baptist Church records MG.00486

Centennial Missionary Baptist Church in Helena, Phillips County, Arkansas, was established on July 4, 1876. In August 1876, Reverend Robert Caver of Alabama was called to serve as the first pastor. Caver was followed by two other pastors who served brief periods. However, the church flourished under the administration and pastorate of Elias Camp Morris (1855-1922), who was called in June 1879. Morris later became a leading religious figure in the state and throughout the country. He was a founding member of the National Baptist Convention, and its president until his death in 1922. Morris served as pastor of Centennial for forty-three years.
Centennial Missionary Baptist Church with its Gothic Revival design was listed as a National Historic Landmark on July 31, 2003. The church, located at York and Columbia Streets, was built in 1905 by Henry James Price, an African American architect. Due to major deterioration of the structure, the congregation held its last worship service in 1999. The building still stands, however, and is owned by the E.C. Morris Foundation, comprised of former church members.
The documents in this collection were rescued by Phyllis Hammonds of the E.C. Morris Foundation, and her mother Thelma, who stored the records at the Delta Cultural Center, in Helena, Arkansas. The microfilming of the collection was part of a project made possible with a grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council and Black History Advisory Committee (now the Black History Commission of Arkansas).

The collection contains church programs, correspondence, minutes, financial reports, membership rosters, Women's Missionary Society, Sunday school, and Baptist Young People's Union records.
  • Administrative records
    • 1. Correspondence, 1909-1947 (Reel MG00486)
    • 2. Minutes, financial reports, etc., 1876-1983
    • 3. Membership register, 1941-1955
    • 4. Funeral programs, 1965-1991
    • 5. Church anniversary celebrations, 1919-1991 (Reel MG00487)
    • 6. Special program events, 1931-1997 (includes program of the eighty-second annual session, National Baptist Convention, Incorporated, 1962 September 4-9, Chicago, Illinois)
    • 7. Harvest homecoming, 1954-1989
    • 8. Reverend A.L. Woodson, personal papers (correspondence, receipts, and membership certificate to The Most Worshipful Sovereign Prince Hall Grand Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons, Jurisdiction of Arkansas, 1947)
  • Women's Missionary Society ledgers
    • 1912-1939
  • Baptist Young People's Union, record and roll book
    • 1900-1924
    • 1924-1941 (Reel MG00488)
    • 1940-1973 (Reel MG00489)
  • Sunday school reports, minutes and record books
    • 1900-1919 (Reel MG00490)
    • 1919-1932 (Reel MG00491)
    • 1932-1942 (Reel MG00492)
    • 1942-1953 (Reel MG00493)
    • 1954-1970 (Reel MG00494)
    • Sunday School records, 1971-1984 (Reel MG00495)
    • Class books, 1917-1947

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Wednesday's Wonderful Collection - Peter and Aileen McWilliam papers, SMC.0170.0005

Born on June 1, 1875, in Canada Peter McWilliam immigrated to America in 1880 and on September 7, 1896, became a naturalized citizen of the United States in Stark County, Illinois. He married Nelly May Jackson in Illinois on June 1, 1899, and by 1920 Peter moved his family to Polk County, Arkansas. McWilliam was a civil engineer, surveyor, highway commissioner on the Jefferson highway. He owned and operated a farm in Acorn, Arkansas. He also served on the County Board of Education, as well as the board of directors for the Mena Chamber of Commerce. McWilliam died on June 22, 1947, in Polk County, Arkansas, and is buried along with his wife in Pinecrest Memorial Park in Mena, Polk County, Arkansas. This collection contains a newspaper clipping about Peter, an abstract of title, correspondence, memorial records, receipts, printed ephemera, sympathy cards, legal documents, pocket diaries, and poems.
Transferred from the Cincinnati Museum Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2016.

  • File 1
    • Correspondence
      • 1926 April 8: Correspondence from Peter McWilliams, Chicago (IL) to Nelly McWilliams, Mena (AR)
      • 1927 April 7: Correspondence from Peter McWilliam, Chicago (IL) to Nelly McWilliam, Mena (AR)
      • 1928 December 20: Correspondence from Arkansas State Board of Health, Little Rock (AR) to Nelly McWilliam, Mena (AR)
      • 1983 August 8: Correspondence from Mena Memorials, Mena (AR) to Ethel Lester, Cincinnati (OH)
      • 1941 December 20: Correspondence from Mr. and Mrs. Peter McWilliam, Mena (AR) to Mr. and Mrs. James Jackson, Mena (AR)
      • 1947 June 22: Telegram from Aileen McWilliam, Mena (AR) to Wilbur Lester, Alexandria (VA)
    • Printed Ephemera
      • Poem by Aileen McWilliam "The Students Life"
      • Bates Brothers advertisement, Princeton (IL)
      • Elmira (NY) 100 years tag
      • 1908: Mena (AR) advertisement printed by the The Mena Commercial Club
      • 1866 October 11-13: Teachers' Association Twenty-second Annual Meeting
      • 1930 July: "The Inquiring Mind and the Seeing Eye" by Dr. A.S. Alexander"
    • Poems
      • "O, I am a donkey driver"
      • "Tam Gibb's Sowie"
      • "Our Goodman"
      • Untitled Poem
    • Newspaper clippings
    • Peter McWilliam memorial record
    • Sympathy card
  • File 2
    • Nellie Jackson autograph book, Stark County (IL)
    • Peter McWilliam autograph book, Stark County (IL)
    • Daily diary of R.T. Jackson, Osceola, Stark County (IL) 1866 August 15 - 1866 December
    • Legal Documents
      • Abstract of Title for Nellie McWilliam, Polk County (AR)
      • Naturalized Citizen record for Peter McWilliam, Stark County (IL)
    • List of names
    • 1884 January 1: Order of the Eastern Star receipt of dues