Thursday, April 13, 2017

AHA article about Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives

We're sharing an Arkansas Historical Association newsletter article (Spring 2017) about our branch archives, the Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives.  A big thank you to them for the article!

Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives, Powhatan

In March 2011, the Northeast Arkansas Regional Archive (NEARA) became the second regional branch of what is now the Arkansas State Archives. NEARA, located on the grounds of Powhatan Historic State Park, collects and preserves historic resources primarily documenting northeast Arkansas.

The collections at NEARA include the original Lawrence County records. Lawrence County, the “Mother of Counties,” was established in 1815 by the Missouri territorial legislature. Saved by the Lawrence County Historical Society, the approximately 500 cubic feet of court cases, marriage records, probate records, and pension records are some of Arkansas’s earliest documentary records.

Kitty Sloan, whose family has deep roots in Powhatan, endowed the Arkansas Historical Association’s NEARA Award in 2013 in honor of her grandfather Eugene.

The $1,000 prize is awarded to the best manuscript article using archival records from NEARA, particularly the Lawrence County territorial papers (1815-1836). Past winners include:

2016 Edward Harthorn, “‘Pushing him back over the pulpit’: David Orr and Religious Conflict in Early Arkansas.” 2015 Blake Perkins, “Women, Early Settlement, and the Making of Territorial Lawrence County, 1815-1820.” 2014 Steve Saunders, “Dissecting Davidsonville 1815 – 1829: A Postmortem of Arkansas’ First Nine Blocks.”

According to NEARA’s archival manager, Meredith McFadden, significant collections for the region include the Townsend Papers, the Mammoth Spring State Park Collection, and the Tom McDonald Collection. The latter collection contains the work of Jonesboro-based studio photographer Tom McDonald. From the mid-1960s until 2011, he photographed families, weddings, baptisms, and natural disasters. Hanging on the wall at NEARA, is McDonald’s portrait of Rufus and Caroline Laine, the last mule farmers in Craighead County. The finding aids for these collections and others can be found on NEARA’s website,, under the research tab.

NEARA, located at 11 7th Street on the grounds of Powhatan State Park, is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 8 am to 4:30 p.m. Staff can be contacted by email,, or by phone 870-878-6521.