Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives Celebrates Six Years

The Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives (NEARA) will be celebrating its sixth year anniversary with an open house from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Fri., March 3, 2017, at the Male and Female Academy in Powhatan, announced Department of Arkansas Heritage Director Stacy Hurst.

The open house will feature presentations by staff members and past recipients of the NEARA award for historical scholarship and tours of the facility. Light refreshments will be served.

NEARA is a branch of the Arkansas State Archives. NEARA’s mission is to collect and preserve primary and secondary source materials pertaining to the history of northeast Arkansas. Its collections span a 16-county region dating back to 1806. The opening of NEARA in 2011 marked the return of the original Lawrence County court records to Powhatan from Arkansas State University, where they had been housed for several years.  These records constitute some of the earliest records on Arkansas, dating back to the early 19th century. Lawrence County was created in 1815 as part of Missouri Territory and was the second of five large counties in what became Arkansas Territory in 1819.

NEARA’s holdings include traditional archival material such as letters, diaries, maps, photographs, newspapers, as well as broadsides, books, periodicals, and other print resources. The core of NEARA's holdings includes approximately 500 cubic feet of Lawrence County government records, including court cases, marriage records, probate records, and pension records, donated by the Lawrence County Historical Society.

“Arkansas is fortunate to have these early territorial papers,” remarked State Archives Director Dr. Lisa Speer, “and we are grateful to the foresight of the Lawrence County Historical Society members who saved these historical records from destruction.” With the bicentennial of Arkansas Territory coming up in 2019, Speer noted that she expects these records and NEARA to receive increased attention and use.

The Arkansas State Archives is an agency of 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 of the Department of Arkansas Heritage include the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, the Arkansas Arts Council, the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, the Old State House Museum, the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, and the Historic Arkansas Museum.