Thursday, August 29, 2019

A Conversation with April Goff

April Goff, administrative specialist
April Goff is an administrative specialist at the Arkansas State Archives. She attended Arkansas State University before joining the U.S. Army in the military intelligence field. She was stationed in Germany before she and her husband settled in Arkansas. Goff joined the Arkansas State Archives in 2003 and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in history at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She has transcribed articles and combed through countless records at the State Archives. Several authors recognized her work and abilities with special thanks in the forwards of their books. Goff has worked on historical projects with the MacAuthur Museum of Arkansas Military History and the Central Arkansas Library System Encyclopedia of Arkansas. She took time from her busy schedule to talk about the Arkansas State Archives.

Q: What’s your job title, and how long have you worked at the Arkansas State Archives?
A: I’ve been with the Arkansas State Archives 16-and-a-half years and am currently the administrative specialist III.

Q: What do you do on a typical day at Archives?
A: I handle business paperwork, including purchasing, accounts receivable, time entry and other records. I help make sure operations run smoothly and efficiently. Part of my job, too, is to make sure the Black History Commission of Arkansas and the Arkansas History Commission have all the budget information they need. Also, I am part of the Special Projects Team, which meets to talk about ideas for and execution of new projects, events or initiatives at the State Archives. I also help out with assorted archival projects that the director assigns me. For example, I am currently helping make the U.S. Western District Court of Arkansas records, which we acquired this year, easily accessible and searchable for the public. These records are related to “Hanging Judge” Isaac Parker’s court in Fort Smith.

Q: How did you become interested in Arkansas history or working at the Arkansas State Archives?
A: I started out 23 years ago as a researcher here, and I stuck around long enough that they decided to give me a job. I’m joking, but I know my work here before I was hired made the rest of the staff understand how much I love this place.

Q: What’s the most important or interesting thing you’ve discovered while working at Archives? Why?
A: As a veteran military, military records interest me. I was looking at something called “company orders” but realized the orders were just the first couple of pages of the material. The rest was the journal of a Missouri man who was a captain in the Confederate Army and who spent most of the Civil War at locations here in Arkansas. After the Civil War, Capt. Henry Brockman and his family settled in Arkansas. The State Archives ended up publishing his journal, which had been in our collection since we opened in 1905. The publication is now online at the Arkansas State Archives.

Q: Why do you think the Arkansas State Archives is important for Arkansans?
A: The Arkansas State Archives is a valuable resource. It has the important job of preserving documents and making them accessible to the public. The State Archives maintain records on the history of our state and its people.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
A: The most rewarding part of my job is when I come across one of our treasures – information that fills in a gap in someone’s research. I love helping people find what they’ve been searching for.

Q: How do you see archiving evolving in the future?
A: I think there will be a fine line between giving people instant access to records versus preservation of historical records. Everyone wants things at the click of a mouse, but we have to balance that with the best long-term plan for the preservation of items. We want records to be accessible, but we also want to make sure records are maintained for future generations.

Q: What do you wish people knew about Archives?
A: I wish people understood more about what we do and where we are located. We are here to preserve historical material, not just documents, but also a wide variety of artifacts, including World War I items collected from battlefields. Also, we are located on State Capitol grounds. When I travel the state, I constantly meet people who have no idea that we are here and what we can offer. I want the public to know they are welcome to come to our research room, which has recently installed new equipment, and start researching the fascinating history of Arkansas.