|The Nance Family Bible, donated to SARA by George Wishart|
A family Bible recently donated to the Southwest Arkansas
Regional Archives, a branch of the Arkansas State Archives, contains vital
genealogical information about enslaved African Americans and two families who
migrated to Arkansas from Virginia, Alabama and Georgia.
“This Bible is a significant, historical record that will
help families discover and trace their family roots in Arkansas,” said Melissa
Nesbitt, archival manager. “We are honored to be able to preserve, protect and
make available to the public this remarkable resource.”
The Nance Family Bible contains names and birth, marriage
and death dates related to the Nance and Clark Families. The families migrated
from the southeast and settled in northeastern Texas before moving to
The Bible was donated to the Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives
by George Wishart of Plano, Texas.
The Bible lists African American names and birth dates,
which is helpful for genealogical research for African Americans. Researchers
often run into obstacles when tracing African American families before the U.S.
Civil War. African American families often were not recorded with birth or
death records. After the Civil War, families also sometimes changed their
Some research services and records about African Americans
in Arkansas are available at SARA and at the Arkansas State Archives. For
example, the State Archives houses records from Hempstead County that list the
names of enslaved people as “property” in historical circuit court records
dating back to the Arkansas Territory.
The Bible was published by the American Bible Society in
1841, which is during the time when Francis Scott Key, writer of the “Star
Spangled Banner,” was vice president of the society. However, the family
records listed in the Bible date back prior to the publishing date. Likely, the
information was recorded in the Bible after it was published. One page in the
Bible reads: “a true copy from the old family Bible.”
For more information about the Bible or other historical
records at the Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives, call 870-983-2633 or email
More information about Arkansas history and genealogical research is available
at the Arkansas State Archives at archives.arkansas.gov
or by calling 501-682-6900.