Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Volunteer Day Resounding Success at NEARA

Eighteen volunteers turned out June 14 to help NEARA celebrate Volunteer Day.

POWHATAN – Eighteen volunteers came out for Volunteer Day at the Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives on June 14 and helped preserve pieces of the region’s history.

“The turnout was incredible,” said Dr. Fatme Myuhtar-May, archival manager. “The community cares deeply about learning and preserving its history.”

Volunteers came from Paragould, Black Rock, Strawberry, Newport, Hoxie, Salem, Ash Flat, Jonesboro, Pocahontas, Evening Shade, Horseshoe Bend, Charlotte, Smithville and even Little Rock, which is about two hours away. Many volunteers arrived around 8:30 a.m. and stayed past 3 p.m. to work on Walnut Ridge court records.

Volunteers carefully unfolded records, removed rusty staples, paperclips or stick pins, and then placed the documents in folders and archival boxes. Once a cubic-foot box was full of unfolded records, a volunteer labeled the folder with the box number, folder number and name of the collection. 

During Volunteer Day, at least 12 cubic feet of material was unfolded and labeled. NEARA staff will index the material before it is made available to researchers. Some volunteers also worked on indexing records by typing the information into a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet will allow patrons to search the information by name or keyword.

Several attendees said they intend to become regular NEARA volunteers. The Volunteer Day was so successful, archives staff are considering holding another one. Volunteers help preserve records and make them more accessible to the public, Dr. Myuhtar-May said.

“Volunteer days are very important for NEARA because it takes a lot of time to unfold and index records,” she said. “With only two full-time staff members whose time can be filled by reference tasks and administrative duties, having outside help to process records is essential.”

Dr. Myuhtar-May said she is grateful to each person who came to help NEARA. She was especially moved by the presence of 91-year-old Jack Sloan from Powhatan, who came to help unfold records with his daughter Lesia Sloan Phillips and his young great-grandson. 

“NEARA Volunteer Day 2019 showed that there is a strong sense of community in Northeast Arkansas, that the community cares about history and that residents are willing to help make records available to researchers,” Dr. Myuhtar-May said.

For more information on ways to volunteer at NEARA, contact Fatme Myuhtar-May at 870-878-6521 or