Thursday, September 26, 2019

Submissions open for NEARA Research Award

POWHATAN, AR – The Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives (NEARA) is accepting original, unpublished manuscripts for the 2020 NEARA Award for Exemplary Archival Research. Manuscripts are due by Feb. 1.

Participants are eligible to win a $1,000 cash prize. A framed certificate will be presented for the best manuscript that uses NEARA’s archival records, particularly the Lawrence County territorial papers of 1815 to 1836. All submitted articles will be considered for publication in the Arkansas Historical Quarterly journal.  

Anyone is eligible to submit a manuscript. A three-person panel, which is comprised of representatives of NEARA and the Arkansas Historical Association, will pick the winner. The association reserves the right not to award a prize in a given year.

Entries must not have been submitted elsewhere or published previously and must be no longer than 35 pages. Papers must contain citations from documents housed at NEARA to qualify. NEARA documents posted online are acceptable.

The manuscript’s text, including quotations and notes, must be double-spaced. Footnotes must be numbered consecutively. Because manuscripts are evaluated anonymously, only the full title of the article can appear on top of the first page of the manuscript. Please include title, author’s name, complete physical mailing address, telephone numbers and email address on a separate page.

Submit three copies of the manuscript that are clear and readable. No copies will be returned but will be added to NEARA’s collections and to the Special Collections at the University of Arkansas Libraries in Fayetteville. Submission of an entry assumes permission for researcher use.

Please mail manuscripts postmarked by February 1 to: NEARA Award – Arkansas Historical Association; Department of History, Old Main 416, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701. The winner will be announced in April, during the Arkansas Historical Association’s conference in Conway.

The Arkansas Historical Association sponsors the award, which was established in 2013 to honor Lawrence County Historical Society volunteers who saved the territorial records for future researchers when the Powhatan County seat was abandoned in 1963. Volunteers also lobbied for a regional archives, which was established in 2011. The award is funded by the family of Eugene Sloan, a Jonesboro lawyer who was born in Powhatan in 1892.

NEARA staff are available to help researchers locate topics or delve further into works in progress. For more information about the award or for submission guidelines, visit the Arkansas Historical Association at To learn more about the Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives visit

Arkansas State Archives Presents Research at Ozark Studies Symposium

Stave yards of the H.D. Williams and Pekin Cooperage companies
operated in Leslie, Arkansaas, in the early 20th century. Photo
courtesy of the Arkansas State Archives, circa 1916. G3218.44 

Archival Assistant Darren Bell recently presented a lecture on the African American community of Leslie, Arkansas, during the 13th Annual Ozark Studies Symposium at Missouri State University-West Plains. Bell was among several experts to speak about Ozark culture and history.

Hundreds of people turned out Sept. 19 to 21 to hear special speakers discuss the history and heritage of the Ozarks. The symposium was free. The theme was “The Ozarks in Reality and Imagination.”

Bell focused his lecture on Leslie community residents, many of whom worked for cooperage factories and stave mills in the early 20th century.  “Much of what is known about the African American community in Leslie was compiled from folklore in the 1960s and 1970s,” Bell said. “The Ozarks symposium, which aims to foster preservation and understanding of the regions culture, was an excellent platform to present and broaden this little-known history.”

“There is an idea that one company introduced African Americans to Leslie from their previous location,” Bell explained. But, proving that theory is difficult because records are scant, Bell said. Bell used census records from 1900, 1910 and 1920 to develop a better understanding of the African American community in Leslie and where African Americans migrated from. 

Leslie, Arkansas, was home to the H.D. Williams Cooperage Co., which billed itself as the “world’s largest cooperage factory,” from 1906 to 1915. At one time, the company operated on 68 acres, employed 1,200 men and produced up to 5,000 wooden barrels per day. The company’s workers included African Americans, who lived in a section of town that included about 60 homes. The area was known as “Dink Town.”

The barrels were used for the storage of whiskey and shipped overseas for European wines. Other cooperages in Leslie at the time included the Pekin Stave Mill and the Mays stave mill and lumber company.  However, wooden barrels fell out of favor and were replaced by plastic. The companies have long since closed.

“The impact of the cooperage industry has become a statistical footnote in the in history of Leslie and Searcy County,” Bell said. 

For more information on Searcy County or Leslie, Arkansas, contact the Arkansas State Archives or 501-682-6900. Images of the H.D. Williams Cooperage Co.  and downtown Leslie are available on the State Archives’ digital catalogs at

A Taste of Greece: Foodways Symposium Melds Food and History

Opa! A History of Greek Foodways, 2019
Shannon Kardiak sat in the front row of the theater but still leaned forward to better see Eva Sargent and Peri Leake demonstrate how to make Greek pastries.

The Sept. 14 cooking demonstration was part of the Arkansas State Archives’ annual foodways symposium, “Opa! A History of Greek Foodways,” at the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute at the University of Arkansas – Pulaski Technical College in Little Rock.

This year’s symposium focused on Greek food and history in Arkansas. It combined lectures on past and present-day Greek life with a taste of Greek food. Jeanne Spencer gave a presentation on the history of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church and Greek communities in Little Rock, and Gus Vratsinas talked about Greeks in Arkansas and starting the Greek Food Festival, which is among the state’s most popular events.

After the presentations, more than 75 people lined up at a buffet to sample Greek food prepared by students and staff at the college’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute. Dishes on the menu were: chicken soulvaki, pastitso, spanakopita, tzatziki, dolmades, Greek green beans, lemon roasted potatoes, Greek salad, baklava and a Greek cake.

Sargent and Leake, both of whom cook for the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church’s annual Greek Food Festival, passed out a Greek recipe for spanakopita and let audience members participate in making pastries. Kardiak was among the volunteers who learned how to fold the spinach and cheese pastries in phyllo dough to form a triangle. The demonstration was hands on, which helped Kardiak learn the technique, she said.

“I have a real interest in different cultures and history, and then you add in some food – it’s great!” Kardiak said. This year’s event was among the best symposiums the Arkansas State Archives has organized, she added.

Greek families attended the symposium and told their family stories and explained Greek food and restaurants, and Greek dancers performed during the event. The symposium helped connect Arkansans with Greek heritage, culture, history and food in a new way, said Julienne Crawford, interim director of the Arkansas State Archives.

“Our annual foodways symposium celebrates the historical, cultural diversity in Arkansas by showcasing our state’s rich heritage through food,” Crawford said. “This year’s event continued the tradition of bringing people together to better understand our state’s history, heritage and people.”

The Arkansas State Archives has presented foodways symposiums for the past six years. Past symposiums are: Everything Old is New Again: The Arkansas Foodways Movement (2014), The Roots of African American Foodways in Arkansas (2015), Southern Fried Schnitzel: German Food and Culture in Arkansas (2016), Fruit of the Vine: Arkansas’s Italian Communities and Foodways (2017) and From China’s Farmland to Arkansas’s Delta: A History of Arkansas’s Chinese Immigrants (2018).

For more information about the foodways symposium, contact the Arkansas State Archives at or 501-682-6900.

Arkansas History Commission Explores El Dorado History

Arkansas History Commission, Sept. 12, 2019,
Photo courtesy of Chairman Jason Hendren

The Arkansas History Commission explored some southern Arkansas history during its most-recent quarterly meeting Thursday, Sept. 12, at the South Arkansas Historical Preservation Society’s Gallery of History and the Newton House Museum in El Dorado.

“The Commission decided early on to hold meetings in various locations around the state to gain a broader appreciation of Arkansas history,” said Jason Hendren, chairman.

The Commission held its May 2019 at Powhatan Historic State Park in Lawrence County. Previous quarterly meetings also occurred at the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History and the Arkansas Department of Heritage.

Commissioners and ASA staff discussed the excellent programs and projects of the Arkansas State Archives. They also talked about ways to expand the preservation of important state records and historical resources at the Arkansas State Archives for the future. A subcommittee of the Arkansas History Commission plans to review the issue and make recommendations to the full Commission at the next quarterly meeting. 

After the meeting, commissioners toured the museum, learned from a living history re-enactor about the historic Newton House and enjoyed an antebellum-inspired meal complete with mayhaw jelly. The Arkansas History Commission and the Arkansas State Archives greatly appreciate the South Arkansas Historical Preservation Society sharing the intriguing history of El Dorado.

The Arkansas History Commission meetings are open to the public. The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, at the Arkansas State Archives in Little Rock.

ASA Staff Goes to Washington

The Log Cabin Democrat,
1917, Chronicling America
Arkansas State Archives staff recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to take part in an annual meeting as part of a grant that has allowed the Arkansas State Archives to digitize hundreds of thousands of historical newspaper pages.

“We learned a great deal about the grant and newspaper project from our meeting,” said Brian Irby, archival assistant and project director.  “It was good to spend time with others who had received grants from the program. Some of them were on their sixth cycle, which meant they had been in the program for almost 12 years. They had a lot of advice they freely gave to us.” 

Arkansas State Archives staff learned in August the division had again received a grant from the National Endowment from the Humanities to be part of the National Digital Newspaper Program’s Chronicling America. The program is a joint effort by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress and aims to make historically significant newspaper articles available to the public. Archives was awarded a $250,522 grant for a two-year cycle of 2019-2021 to continue to be part of the program, which focuses on articles published between 1690 and 1963.

In 2017, the Arkansas State Archives received a NEH grant of $208,128 for the grant cycle covering 2017-2019. That grant funded digitizing more than 103,000 pages from 40 Arkansas newspapers, which were submitted to the Library of Congress. The grant period ended on Aug. 31, 2019.

As part of the grant program, Irby and Archival Assistant Darren Bell traveled to Washington, D.C., Sept. 10-12. The meetings were held at the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Irby and Bell attended sessions on topics that included cataloging, microfilming procedures and public outreach. 

Representatives from institutions across the country attended, which allowed attendees to exchange ideas and network. The newspaper project includes 48 states and two territories and has made 15 million newspaper ages available online since starting in 2007, according to a news release from NEH.

“We are pleased to continue to be included in a project that will make historically significant newspapers in Arkansas accessible to people nationwide,” Irby said.

New Accessions in September

"The Ouachitonian," yearbook, 1929,
Courtesy of the Arkansas State Archives

New Accessions in September
Our new accessions include a wicker chair from the Arkansas Building at the 1904 World's Fair, charcoal drawings of Bradford-Eagle family members of Lonoke, soda bottled and produced in Arkansas and postcards from Arkansas. We also received new books that showcase the township of Saline, a six-term sheriff in Garland County, tombstone inscriptions in Garland County cemeteries and the work of a renowned Hot Springs artist! We house more than 20,000 books connected to Arkansas history and countless stories and news articles. Come see us soon!

Archival and Artifact Collections

·         Jeanne McDaniel collection accretion:  James McDaniel, the son of Jeanne McDaniel, donated an addition to other collections related to the Bradford-Eagle family of Lonoke and the McDaniel family of Clarksville. The recent donation includes a wicker chair from the Arkansas Building at the 1904 World's Fair with an old photo of chair; seven charcoal drawings of Bradford-Eagle family members, including Joseph Eagle,  Sarah Eagle,  Hattie Bradford Apple and four children of H.T. Bradford, all of Lonoke; a photographic print of Everett Matthis as baby; three Shrader photographs of one Hattie Bradford Apple; old iron from the McDaniel family in Clarksville;  two military signs for Major E. L. McDaniel, who served with the 153rd Infantry; one sign from the  153rd Infantry from 1960; and a series of artifacts related to President Bill Clinton and the Clinton Presidential  Library.
·         James F. Abbott collection: James F. Abbot donated a Dr. Pepper glass bottle produced in Blytheville, Arkansas; an Eye-SE glass bottle produced in Blytheville, Arkansas; an Orangette-Lemonette glass produced in Camden, Arkansas; and a Swan’s Rainbow Resort postcard.
·         State Capitol and Confederate Monument (Little Rock, Ark.) postcards: Ross Griffiths donated a postcard of the Arkansas State Capitol and a postcard of the Confederate Monument at the Arkansas State Capitol. The date of the postcards is unknown.

Printed Materials

·         “The Ouachitonian,” Ouachita Baptist University yearbook, 1929. The book was donated by Julie Edrington of Memphis, Tenn.
·         “Down These Roads: Schools and Post Offices of Saline Township, 1867-1949,” and “NGS Research in the States Series: Arkansas,” were donated by Lynda Suffridge. “Down These Roads” was compiled by James Burford and Lynda Childers Suffridge and privately published in 2018. “NGS Research in the States Series: Arkansas” is a second edition by Suffridge that was published by the National Genealogy Society in 2019.

Seven book were donated by the Friends of the Arkansas State Archives. They are:
·         “Calvary Cemetery Tombstone Inscriptions,” Compiled by Gail Ashbrook and Elizabeth C. Davis, Garland County Historical Society, 2006. The historic cemetery contains tombstones of early Irish immigrants dating back to the 1870s. 
·         “Carved in Stone, Cast in Metal, Final Tributes, Sad Farewells,” compiled by Gail Ashbrook, Elizabeth C. Davis, Lana Donoho and Joe Thomas, Garland County Historical Society, 2008. The book includes selected epitaphs gathered from tombstones in the cemeteries in Hot Springs.
·         “Friendship Cemetery Tombstone Inscriptions,” compiled by Gail Ashbrook, Lana Donoho and Elizabeth C. Davis, Garland County Historical Society, 2007.
·         “Greenwood Cemetery Tombstone Inscriptions,” compiled by Gail Ashbrook and Elizabeth C. Davis, computer consultant, Garland County Historical Society, 2005.
·         “Jewish Rest Cemetery and Beth Jacob Cemetery Tombstone Inscriptions,” compiled by Gail Ashbrook and Elizabeth C. Davis, Garland County Historical Society, revised edition, 2006.
·         “Lawman: The Story of Clay White - A Life of Service,” by Orval E. Allbritton, Garland County Historical Society, revised edition, 2017.
·         “The Art of History: Catherine Thornton’s Hot Springs,” by Catherine Thornton, Garland County Historical Society, 2012.

A Conversation with Elizabeth Freeman

Elizabeth Freeman, archival assistant
Elizabeth Freeman, an archival assistant, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Central Arkansas before joining the Arkansas State Archives in 2008. She has experience as a library technician, researcher and leader of outreach projects. Freeman also has been instrumental in helping inspect, preserve and transport historical county records that otherwise might have been lost. She is an experienced researcher and lecturer who has made presentations for associations, groups and individuals. Freeman recently took time from her busy schedule to answer a few questions about her work at the Arkansas State Archives. 

Q: What’s your job title, and how long have you worked at the Arkansas State Archives?

A: I’m an archival assistant who is in charge of various reference and outreach projects and programs. I have worked at the Arkansas State Archives for more than 10 years.

Q: What do you do on a typical day at Archives?

A: My day typically starts with checking our social media pages. I post historical facts and photos daily to both Facebook and Twitter. I also update our website with the latest news and events. After that, I respond to research requests from patrons. Part of our work at the Arkansas State Archives includes answering questions about Arkansas history and helping people research their family histories. We offer limited research services that help connect people with historical records. As part of that service, I process all of our image and document reproduction orders. Also, several days a week, I work in our research room, where I help patrons find records.

Q: How did you become interested in Arkansas history or working at the Arkansas State Archives?

A: It was an easy decision for me to major in history in college because I’ve always been fascinated by history. When I graduated from the University of Central Arkansas, I planned to work in public libraries, but when I was hired at the Arkansas State Archives, I found a career that combined my love of history with being able to work with the public. 

Q: What’s the most important or interesting thing you’ve discovered while working at Archives? Why?

A: The most interesting item I’ve discovered while working at the State Archives is definitely the Marion Reed Biddle diary! The diary covers Marion’s time in basic training for the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) during World War II. She was an interesting lady, as was her experience in basic training. It was a great read!

Q: Why do you think the Arkansas State Archives is important for Arkansans?

A: The Arkansas State Archives provides the public with access to historical records, which gives people the opportunity to discover their family stories. Our stories are personal histories that are important for understanding where we came from, who we are and how we are part of the collective heritage and identity of Arkansas. In fact, interest in genealogy is growing in Arkansas and across the nation. People from out of state are traveling here to discover or rediscover their Arkansas roots!

Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?

A: I love the variety of projects and topics I get to work on, but my favorite thing about my job is helping a patron find the missing piece to their research. It’s very fulfilling to be able to help people and see the exhilaration on their faces. My job is very rewarding because of our patrons.

Q: How do you see archiving evolving in the future?

A: I believe the focus of the Arkansas State Archives will be more and more on digital records. People want to be able to access more collections online, and we are and have been working toward putting more of those records, including recent acquisitions, online in an easily searchable format. We are also working with other entities, such as the Library of Congress, to make sure more records are available to researchers, no matter where they are.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Wednesday’s Wonderful Collection - Dabbs Brothers records, MSNE.0001

Today, Hulbert is an old section of town in West Memphis, but one hundred years ago, it was its own little community. In 1909, Brothers H. Rupple Dabbs and E.O. Dabbs built the first general store in Hulbert. Unfortunately, the little wooden structure could not stand up against the spring floodwaters of 1912. Determined to stay in Hulbert, the Dabbs brothers rebuilt with the aid of a Little Rock architect. By the end of 1912, a new brick Dabbs Brothers General Store opened on higher ground.
Because the structure was lauded as permanent, it became a host to the community. A school met in the store until the one-room school was built across the railroad tracks. It served as the first Post Office from 1923-1948. The Dabbs brothers were deeply invested in Hulbert. In addition to serving as merchants, they owned a cooperage company, lent money to residents to purchase land and homes, and E.O. Dabbs held elected offices, including Justice of the Peace and County Coroner.
The original brick building is still standing in West Memphis and today functions as an office for Pat Kelley Magruder Architects. Rupple sold the store to Pat Magruder, Sr. in 1979. The new owners placed the building on the National Register of Historic Places and expertly renovated the space, preserving the majority of the original structure and details.
Along with the papers and books, a small box of store inventory was donated. These items included a pair of pants, buttons, sew-on snaps, cookware hole repair, bobby pins, and embroidery patterns. Because these items added no value to the collection, they were removed.
This collection contains ledger books for the Dabbs brothers' various businesses and undertakings, sales advertisements, tax assessments, mortgages, court cases, magazines, and school books. Included is an informational brochure about the Dabbs Brothers store and a copy of the National Historic Register of Places application for the building.
·         Historic Dabbs Store materials (Box 1)
·         Sales advertisements
·         State of Arkansas v Sanders, John
·         State of Arkansas v Davis, Julius
·         Spratlin, Cleveland v Spratlin, Walter
·         Wilson-Ward Company v Young
·         County Coroner letter
·         1904 Tax Assessments
·         1905 Tax Assessments
·         1905.1 Tax Assessments
·         1906 Tax Assessments
·         Mortgages
·         Magazines
·         School books (Box 2)
·         Hulbert Cooperage ledger
·         E.O. Dabbs Justice of the Peace ledger
·         General Account book No.29
·         General Account book 1916-1917
·         General Account book No.30
·         General Account book No.32
·         General Account book No.33

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Governor’s Illness Leads to Lieutenant Governor Position

Gov. John Sebastian Little

Among Arkansas’s 46 elected governors, Gov. John Sebastian Little stands out, not for his accomplishments, but because his time as governor was crippled by illness that led to voters approving the office of lieutenant governor.

On Jan. 18, 1907, Arkansas inaugurated John Sebastian Little as the state’s 21st governor. Little had a distinguished public career, having served as a state lawmaker and as a United States congressman for years. Voters hoped Little would usher in an era of calm by replacing Gov. Jeff Davis, who was controversial. Davis’s time at the Capitol had been turbulent, so by the time Little was elected to the U.S. Senate, Arkansans desired tranquility.

During Little’s inaugural speech, he promised to reform the state’s education system, to end the controversial system of leasing prison labor to private companies and to enact financial reforms. In all, it was a bold agenda that offered a vision for progress in the state. But, it was not to happen.

Three days after his inauguration, Little stepped from his car in front of the Old State House for his first full day of work and collapsed on the sidewalk. Immediately, his son, Paul Little, rushed to his side. The governor was unresponsive, but Paul Little and several other people helped him to his feet and carried him to his office. Once there, his staff laid him on a couch and called a doctor.

Dr. Ed. Dibrell arrived minutes later and attempted to revive the governor with no success. Believing the governor’s condition to be the result of a nervous breakdown, the doctor ordered total silence and rest. An hour later, the governor’s staff loaded him into a car and drove him to his home a few blocks away.

Dr. Dibrell ordered more rest and quiet and prohibited Little from trying to attend to his government duties until he had totally recovered. The next day, his son drove him to his second home in Greenwood, far away from the stress of political life.

Those who knew Gov. Little’s past knew he had suffered from mental health issues previously. While running for congress in 1890, Little abruptly withdrew from the race citing illness, which according to press coverage of the time may have been a nervous breakdown. This illness kept him out of the public eye for four years before he felt well enough to return to the political stage.

The governor’s son, acting as the governor’s secretary, told the press the governor was improving but would remain in Greenwood. The legislature was in session, however, and the governor would need to sign bills issued.

Paul Little seemingly organized a system that would ensure the governor would be able to sign the appropriate legislation. The system seemed to work, with Paul Little shuttling bills from Little Rock to Little’s home in Greenwood. Every morning, Paul Little would follow all the news in the legislative session. At the end of the day, he would forward the bills to Greenwood with information about the day’s debates. 

But, questions remained about Gov. Little’s health. The governor’s staff informed the press he was resting nicely and would likely return to work before the end of the session. However, staff was adamant no one from the press bother the governor. They said any stress might cause a relapse, therefore the press was banned from talking to him. The doctor even ordered the telephone at the governor’s Greenwood residence be removed so as to not jar Mr. Little’s delicate disposition.

As the weeks rolled by without any public appearances, the state’s political rumor mills went into action. Some of the rumors claimed that the governor was an invalid, and some even went so far as to claim that the governor was dead. His true condition was further clouded by claims made by the governor’s staff that he was improving.

By May 1907, it was clear that the governor’s condition was likely worse than his staff had told the press. It was especially apparent when the governor, through his son, appointed John Ike Moore, president of the Senate, to take the reins of government while he recuperated at a resort in Corpus Christi, Texas.

His time in Corpus Christi was filled with walks on the beach and lots of medication. The governor’s doctor, W.P. Hailey, wrote Paul Little on March 24, 1907, “He is better than at any time since I have been here…. This improvement makes me feel more confident than ever that he will soon be his old self again.”

However, the press learned the governor’s condition was far worse than what his son had told them. Gov. Little’s mental illness was physically apparent. The governor had gone from 170 pounds to just under 100 pounds in a matter of a few weeks. He was unable to walk without help. An observer wrote to the Arkansas Democrat, “[Little] is mentally and physically a wreck… his condition will never be improved. He appeared like a little child; at times, he hardly appeared to know that there were people with him, and at other times he would speak about the big crowd.”

When Little did not return by May 14, 1907, the president pro tempore of the state senate took over as acting governor, followed by a string of other short-term acting governors. The number of acting governors created tension and revived the discussion to elect a lieutenant governor in case the governor became incapacitated. Voters approved the new position in 1914, which was confirmed by the state Supreme Court in 1926.

Little died on Oct. 29, 1916, at the State Hospital for Nervous Diseases. Despite hopes his administration would bring stability to state government, it only added confusion. Politics remained tumultuous until 1909, when a new governor, George Washington Donaghey, was elected and began enacting the reforms Governor Little had promised.

For more information on Arkansas history, visit the Arkansas State Archives at 1 Capitol Mall, Suite 215, or call 501-682-6900.

Free Symposium to Spotlight History of Territorial Arkansas

The Arkansas State Archives will present a free symposium, “1819-1836: A History of Territorial Arkansas,” from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, at MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History in Little Rock.

Special speakers at the symposium are: Theo Witsell, chief of research and inventory of the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, who will discuss Thomas Nuttall’s exploration of Arkansas; Dr. Charles Bolton, history professor emeritus at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, who will present "Federal Aid and the Infrastructure of Arkansas Territory;” Callie Williams, education and outreach coordinator with the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, who will talk about Territorial era buildings; and local author and historian Gary Pinkerton, who will talk about Trammel’s Trace. The traveling exhibit, “Territorial Arkansas: The Wild Western Frontier” will be on display.

The event is free and lunch is provided, but reservations are required by Oct. 20. Teachers can earn up to four professional development hours by attending. To make reservations, visit or call 501-682-6900.

The symposium is among several events the Arkansas State Archives are presenting as part of National Archives Month this October. Arkansas Archives Month is meant to celebrate and raise awareness of the work archives and archivists do in preserving Arkansas historical records and artifacts and in making them accessible to the public.

The Arkansas State Archives has been preserving material for more than 100 years. The agency was founded as the Arkansas History Commission in 1905, when people were concerned that documents related to Arkansas history would be lost. One of the first collections received by the commission included government correspondence from Territorial Arkansas. The commission's name changed to the Arkansas State Archives and became a division of Arkansas Heritage in 2016. The Arkansas State Archives has been instrumental in preserving Arkansas's history, collective identity and heritage.

Arkansas State Archives to Celebrate Archives Month this October

The Arkansas State Archives, along with archives across the U.S., will celebrate the work of archives and archivists during Archives Month this October.

“The Arkansas State Archives is instrumental to preserving Arkansas’s heritage, cultural identity and history,” said Julienne Crawford, interim director. “The month of October traditionally has been set aside as a way to raise awareness about the importance of archival collections and the work our staff do. In honor of Archives Month, the Arkansas State Archives will host several events, including a symposium celebrating the bicentennial of Arkansas becoming a territory.”

The Arkansas State Archives’ duties include preserving historical documents, artifacts and materials, providing research resources and equipment, creating educational programs and material for teachers, digitizing records and holding workshops and lectures. Archives Month is meant to recognize and raise the public’s awareness about the Arkansas State Archives and the importance of historic documents and records, Crawford said. The Arkansas State Archives has celebrated Arkansas Archives Month, as part of the national event, since its creation in 2006.

The Arkansas State Archives' touring exhibit, 
"Territorial Arkansas: The Wild Western Frontier"
kicked off earlier this year at the Capitol. The exhibit 

will be on display during as part of Archives Month 
at the MacAurthur Museum of Arkansas Military History.

As part of Arkansas Archives Month, the State Archives will present “1819-1836: A History of Territorial Arkansas” from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, at MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History in Little Rock. Special speakers at the symposium include: Theo Witsell, chief of research and inventory of the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, who will discuss the Thomas Nuttall exploration of Arkansas; Dr. Charles Bolton, history professor emeritus at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, who will present “Federal Aid and the Infrastructure of Arkansas Territory;” Callie Williams, education outreach coordinator with the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, who will talk about Territorial era buildings; and local author and historian Gary Pinkerton, who will talk about Trammel’s Trace.

The Arkansas State Archives’ traveling exhibit, “Territorial Arkansas: The Wild Western Frontier,” will be on display at the event. Teachers can earn up to four professional development hours by attending. The event is free and lunch is provided, but reservations are required by Oct. 20. To make reservations, visit or call 501-682-6900.

Also as part of Archives Month, Melissa Nesbitt, archival manager of the Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives, will present a free genealogy workshop from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, at Queen Wilhelmina State Park. This workshop is a great opportunity to learn the basics of researching family history.  Reserve a ticket before Oct. 3 at

The Arkansas State Archives will participate in national “Ask An Archivist Day” for the general public via Twitter on Wednesday, Oct. 2, and Electronic Records Day on Thursday, Oct. 10.  The National Archives also will host a virtual Genealogy Fair on Wednesday, Oct. 23.

“We encourage Arkansans statewide to investigate their Arkansas roots and family stories and to discover the trove of historical artifacts, material and records our Arkansas State Archives holds,” said Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism and state historic preservation officer. “Join us in celebrating your Arkansas State Archives.”

Arkansas Territory map, drawn and published by Fielding Lucas Jr., of Baltimore, Maryland,
B.T. Welch & Co. in 1823. Map 1543, courtesy of the Arkansas State Archives

Free Genealogy Workshop Set for Oct. 5

Col. John E. Phelps and his wife, who is unnamed, 
courtesy of the Arkansas State  Archives, G4599.3 
The Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives will present a free, genealogy workshop 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, at Queen Wilhelmina State Park.

SARA Archival Manager Melissa Nesbitt will present “Behind the Scenes: How to Start Researching Your Family History.” The workshop is an introduction into basic genealogy research. Attendees can bring family information, such as family members’ full names, place of residency and dates of birth, marriage and death for help researching. Participants will have the chance to ask questions and practice research skills gleaned from the workshop!

Nesbitt is a skilled genealogy researcher whose methods bring results. She has a bachelor’s degree in history from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, was the curator at Ace of Clubs House at Texarkana Museums System and is a board member of the Arkansas Genealogical Society. She has held genealogy research lectures, workshops and symposium events for years.

The workshop is in partnership with Queen Wilhelmina State Park, which is part of the Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.

For more information about the workshop or SARA, contact Nesbitt at or 870-983-2633. Tickets are on sale via Eventbrite. More information about Queen Wilhelmina State Park is available at

This 1905 photo shows members of the Moses A. Clark family:
 Clifford Clark, Mrs. Georgia Anna (Coursey) Clark and Julia (Clark) Stringer, G5603.2;
courtesy of the Arkansas State Archives

Pen to Podium to Feature Joe David Rice

LITTLE ROCK, AR – Author and former tourism director Joe David Rice will speak about his book, “Arkansas Backstories: Quirks, Characters, and Curiosities of the Natural State,” at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, at Arkansas Heritage at 1100 North St. in Little Rock.

“The stories involving robber barons, scoundrels and wannabe politicians are fascinating,” Rice said about his book. “I think even non-history buffs will enjoy learning about some of the incidents and characters that have helped shape this state.”

Rice’s lecture is part of the quarterly “Pen to Podium: Arkansas Historical Writers’ Lecture” series, which is sponsored by the Arkansas State Archives and Friends of the Arkansas State Archives. Tickets are available online at

The event is free and includes a reception with refreshments provided by the Friends. The reception starts at 5:30 p.m.

Rice, a well-known writer, researcher and adventurer, has investigated Arkansas’s unique and lesser-known historical facts, places and people. “Arkansas is a complex place — part Old South, part Old West and part traditional hill country – that has shared an amazing array of people and products with the world,” according to the back of Rice’s book.

Rice’s delves into tidbits like how the first sitting member of Congress was shot to death in Monroe County and how the CIA used secret contracts with an Arkansas organization to train animals for clandestine activities. During the lecture, Rice plans to talk about how his book came about and what he has learned from the experience of researching, writing and publishing historical works.
Rice first published “Arkansas Backstories” in 2018. A companion to his original book was published this past April. Both books, volumes 1 and 2, are available through stores online. Rice will have books available for sale at the lecture.
For more information, contact the Arkansas State Archives at or 501-682-6900.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Wednesday’s Wonderful Collection - Laurence Watts Harvison papers, MS.000571

Laurence Watts Harvison was born in Newark, Arkansas, on November 15, 1893, to William Hiram and Emma Watts Harvison. Hiram later became terminally ill with tuberculosis and the family moved to Sulpher Rock, Arkansas. Laurence was four years old when his father died. His mother moved the family close to her sisters at Junction City, Arkansas. There, Emma met and married Samuel Lee Muse, who owned and operated a general store.
Laurence Harvison attended school in Junction City and in 1908, entered Arkansas College (now Lyon College) in Batesville, Arkansas. He graduated in 1912. The next year he taught in Clarendon, Arkansas, and then entered Austin Theological Seminary in Austin, Texas. By 1916, he received his Bachelor of Divinity and enrolled in McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois. In 1917, Harvison was ordained as a minister of the Presbyterian Church. He served as minister at the Mount Pleasant Church in Kingston, Ohio. When the United States entered World War I, Harvison joined the United States Army and the Chaplain Corps. He was discharged on February 20, 1919.
After the war, Harvison served as the minister at Murdoch and Pleasant Plain churches in Ohio. He married Lydia Barr Crouse in Kingston, Ohio, on May 7, 1920. In 1922, he pastored the Sixth Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati. Harvison received a Master of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Cincinnati in 1925. A daughter, Nancy, was born the same year. In 1930, Harvison became minister of the First Federated Church of Cincinnati, a merger of the Sixth Presbyterian Church and the McKendree Methodist Church. His last church was the Federated Church of Harvey, Illinois, in 1941. He died in Chicago on February 2, 1949.
This collection contains correspondence, both personal and professional, writings, photographs, and memorabilia of Laurence Harvison.
·         Personal
o    1. Undated: Harvison-Watts family history (Box 1)
o    2. Undated: Midwest Who's Who Biography, Laurence Watts Harvison
o    3. 1933: Diary, trip to New York, New York
o    Correspondence
§  4. 1908
§  5. 1909
§  6. 1910
§  7. 1911
§  8. 1912 January-June
§  9. 1912 July-August
§  10. 1912 September 5-22
§  11. 1912 September 22-30
§  12. 1912 October
§  13. 1912 November 2-18
§  14. 1912 November 18-30
§  15. 1912 December and undated
§  16. 1913 January
§  17. 1913 February
§  18. 1913 March
§  19. 1913 April-May
§  20. 1913 June-August
§  21. 1913 September-November
§  22. 1914 January-February (Box 2)
§  23. 1914 March-May
§  24. 1914 June
§  25. 1914 July
§  26. 1914 August 3-11
§  27. 1914 August 16-25
§  28. 1914 October
§  29. 1914 November
§  30. 1914 December
§  31. 1914 undated
§  32. 1915 January
§  33. 1915 February
§  34. 1915 March
§  35. 1915 April
§  36. 1915 May-September
§  37. 1915 October 2-10
§  38. 1915 October 13-25
§  39. 1915 November
§  40. 1915 December
§  41. 1916 January (Box 3)
§  42. 1916 February
§  43. 1916 March
§  44. 1916 April-May
§  45. 1916 June
§  46. 1916 July-August
§  47. 1916 September-October
§  48. 1916 November-December
§  49. 1917 January-February
§  50. 1917 March-April
§  51. 1917 June-July
§  52. 1917 August-September
§  53. 1917 October-December
§  54. 1918
§  55. 1919
§  56. 1922
§  57. 1925-1926
§  58. 1933 October 6 and 1935 September 24: Letters to and from Franklin D. Roosevelt
§  59. 1943-1945
§  60. 1949: To Mrs. Harvison on the death of Laurence W. Harvison
§  61. Undated
o    Other
§  62. 1899-1949: Photographs (photocopies)
§  63. 1908-1912: Arkansas College, Batesville, Arkansas
§  64. 1914: "The Historical Christmas and the Biblical Christmas" by L.W. Harvison
§  65. 1918: World War I
§  66. 1920: Marriage certficate
§  67. 1925: Masters thesis, "The Dualistic Structure of Experience" draft copy
§  68. 1949: Obituary
o    Diplomas
§  69. 1904 December 16: In recognition of faithful study of the Shorter Catechism (Box 4)
§  70. 1912 June 5: Arkansas College
§  71. 1916 May 11: Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Bachelor of Divinity
§  72. 1925 June 13: University of Cincinnati, Master of Arts
·         Professional
o    Correspondence
§  73. 1914 (Box 5)
§  74. 1915
§  75. 1936
§  76. 1947
o    Contracts and licenses
§  77. 1912: Teacher's license, Union and Monroe counties
§  78. 1912: Teachers contract, Monroe County, Arkansas
§  79. 1917: Certificate of Licensure, Minister's License
§  80. 1920: February 29, Call for pastor, Bethel Presbyterian Church
§  81. 1922 June 18: Call for pastor, Sixth Presbyterian Church
o    First Federated Church
§  82. 1930-1965: Notes from the first meeting to newsclippings on the closure
§  83. 1934-1935: Correspondence
§  84. 1936-1938: Correspondence
§  85. 1939: Correspondence
§  86. 1940: Correspondence and sermon
o    Other
§  87. 1934: John Dewey's "A Common Faith," includes writing of L.W. Harvison
§  88. 1938: Writings, L.W. Harvison
§  89. 1940: Writings, L.W. Harvison
§  90. 1940: University of Cincinnati, Ohio, Teachers College bulletin
§  91. 1941-1946: Federated Church, Harvey, Illinois
§  92. 1942-1949: Sermons
§  93. 1948: "Sesquicentennial History of the Mt. Pleasant Presbyterian Church"
§  94. Undated: Writings, L.W. Harvison
·         Photographs
o    95. Photograph copies
o    96. Photographs 0001-0007
§  PH.LWH.0001 Laurence Watts Harvison, Margaret Ray Harvison, Arline Ramsay, Edwin Ramsay, John Watts Harris in front row. Junction City, Arkansas, c. 1899.
§  PH.LWH.0002 Margaret Ray Harvison pushing John Watts Harris, Junction City, Arkansas, c. 1899.
§  PH.LWH.0003 Arline Ramsay, Margaret Ray Harvison, Edwin Ramsay, holding John Watts Harris. Laurence Watts Harvison in back row. Junction City, Arkansas, c. 1899.
§  PH.LWH.0004 One of a number of photographs taken by Mr. Kilmer, a member of the Harvey Federated Church in January of 1949. These were the last pictures taken of Laurence Watts Harvison before he died on February 2, 1949.
§  PH.LWH.0005 Federated Church, Harvey, Illinois, 1946.
§  PH. LWH.0006 Laurence Watts Harvison, the Ford coupe, the Presbyterian Church, Murdock, Ohio, c. 1920.
§  PH.LWH.0007 The Manse and the Church at Murdock, Ohio, c. 1920.
o    97. Photographs 0008-0015
§  PH.LWH.0008 Junction City, Arkansas, c. 1949. Back row: Stella Harris, Marie Watts, Emma Watts, Harvison Muse, Vera Hammett Ramsey, Edwin Ramsey, Winslow Watts. Front row: Stella Caroline Edwards
§  PH.LWH.0009 Marie Watts, first cousin of Laurence Watts Harvison, c. 1912.
§  PH.LWH.0010 Unidentified group, possibly Young Men's Christian Association at Arkansas College. Laurence Watts Harvison is in the second row, second from the left. circa 1911 or 1912.
§  PH.LWH.0011 Three pictures of Laurence Watts Harvison during the Arkansas College years.
§  PH.LWH.0012 Laurence W. Harvison
§  PH.LWH.0013 A pastel drawing of Emma Watts Harvison Muse, done in 1940 by Caroline Estelle Harris.
§  PH.LWH.0014 Austin Theological Seminary. Laurence Watts Harvison, first row, seated, third from right. Edward Paisley, Laurence Watts Harvison's lifetime friend, back row, standing, third from left.
§  PH.LWH.0015 Photograph of Laurence Watts Harvison, November 1914 (twenty-first birthday picture).
o    98. Photographs 0016-0018
§  PH.LWH.0016 Reverend Laurence Harvison, taken for his twenty-first birthday, November 15, 1914.
§  PH.LWH.0017 John Watts Harris looking at the band and audience on the porch of the Interstate Hotel, Junction City, Arkansas, c. 1905.
§  PH.LWH.0018 Two images on one print: Laurence Watts Harvison, holding his nephew, Alexander Smith, Junction City, Arkansas, c. March 1919. Laurence Watts Harvison, holding his nephew, Alexander Smith, Emma Watts Harvison Muse, Margaret Ray Harvison Smith, Junction City, Arkansas, c. March 1919
o    99. Photographs 0019-0027
§  PH.LWH.0019 Clarendon (Ark.) Public School, L.W. Harvison, third from right. 1913
§  PH.LWH.0020 Senior class of the Austin Theological Seminary.
§  PH.LWH.0021 "We are seven," Senior class A.C. 1912, L.W. Harvison, Hazel Alexander, Thos Smyley, Christine Murphy, Ray Hinkle, E. Sloan, and P. Ward.
§  PH.LWH.0022 Erosophic Literary Society, 1908-09.
§  PH.LWH.0023 Young Men's Christian Association, Arkansas College, 1909.
§  PH.LWH.0024 Index Staff, A.C. 1912.
§  PH.LWH.0025 Index Staff, 1910-1911.
§  PH.LWH.0026 Erosophic Literary Society, 1910-11.
§  PH.LWH.0027 Erosophic Literary Society, A.C., 1912.