Friday, April 26, 2019

Arkansas State Archives Announces New Collection

State Historian John L. Ferguson signs a contract for construction of a
bicentennial memorial at the Arkansas State Capitol in 1976.
Photo courtesy of Arkansas State Archives.
The Arkansas State Archives, along with the Department of Arkansas Heritage, is pleased to announce the acquisition of important documents from the family of Dr. John L. Ferguson, who was the longest-serving state historian and director of the Arkansas History Commission (now the Arkansas State Archives) from 1960 to 2005.

“The collection provides a glimpse into what life was like for farmers in southwest Arkansas in the 19th and 20th centuries,” said Julienne Crawford, curator.

Dr. Wendy Richter, state historian and director of the Arkansas State Archives, announced the acquisition to the Arkansas History Commission in March. The collection was donated by the Ferguson family earlier this year and is connected to the Ferguson, McCrary and Neece families.

“We strive to acquire and preserve Arkansas’s historical materials, including family collections, so that generations after us can benefit from them,” Dr. Richter said. “These records will now be accessible to the public. We want to thank the Ferguson family for donating these fascinating and significant records, the preservation of which will add to our understanding of our state’s people, heritage and culture.”

The collection, which includes photographs, provides insight into life in Howard County and surrounding areas. The collection contains letters between family members during World War I, the Great Depression and World War II.  Among the most interesting items in the collection are letters written by Hugh G. McCrary while he served in the U.S. and France during World War I, Crawford said.

“Family collections, like this one, provide unique information about the daily lives of Arkansans through letters, diaries, ledgers, photographs and other historic records,” Crawford said.

John L. Ferguson, who died in 2006, was an important figure in Arkansas. He was a historian, minister, author, archival administrator and historic preservationist who led the way in expanding the preservation of historically significant collections at the State Archives. Dr. Ferguson also started the state’s first agency devoted to saving historic sites and buildings, the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program.

The Arkansas State Archives collects the history of Arkansans from all over the state. Anyone interested in donating historical material may call Archives at 501-682-6900 or email