Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Presenting to the Kiwanis Club of Osceola

NEARA Archival Manager Dr. Fatme Myuhtar-May
was invited to speak Jan. 23 at the Kiwanis Club.

Twenty-two members of the Kiwanis Club, including the Osceola mayor and several judges, gathered Thursday, Jan. 23, at the Riverlawn Country Club to hear Dr. Fatme Myuhtar-May, archival manager for the Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives, deliver a presentation about NEARA and the Arkansas State Archives.

“We were honored to have the opportunity to discuss the services, works and holdings of the Arkansas State Archives and NEARA, both of which are vital for preserving and protecting Arkansas’s collective identity and history,” Myuhtar-May said.

Mayor Sally L. Wilson invited Myuhtar-May to give the presentation during a lunch. Myuhtar-May talked about the collections, services and activities of NEARA, which is a branch of the State Archives. 

Kiwanis Club members were fascinated to learn about the rich holdings of the Arkansas State Archives, especially NEARA’s Arkansas Territory, or pre-1836, records which are part of Lawrence Country Court Records collection.

Among the documents included as examples in the presentation were: A July 1, 1817, summon for Robert Musick to appear in court and answer the charge of perjury; a list of supplies to build a house with piazza in 1820 in Old Davidsonville, Lawrence County, at a cost of $192.45; and the 1819 will of Lawrence Bradly, a Lawrence County resident who left everything to his wife and entrusted her “at her own discretion to give what she thinks proper to my children.” These and other examples of documents, preserved in the Arkansas State Archives, interchangeably evoked the audience’s laughter, wonderment and reflection on Arkansas history and the state’s early residents.

Some members of the Kiwanis Club asked how they could access archival documents and were informed some records can be accessed digitally at archives.arkansas.gov, while others can be viewed onsite at ASA, NEARA or the Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives (SARA,) another State Archives branch.

For people who cannot travel to location, researchers can request records via email or telephone. For example, people looking into family history can email a search request to the Arkansas State Archives and include as much information as they can about a person they are researching. The email could include the person’s name; approximate dates, such as birth date, marriage date and death date; place of known residence; or other details.

Archival staff will search the digital indexes and databases and send the patron a detailed description of archival holdings, including page counts, and associated costs for digital scans or paper copies that the patron may want. Staff can address questions quickly, thanks in part to the detailed digital indexes and finding aids, some of which volunteers have helped create.

“The Arkansas State Archives, NEARA and SARA are indispensable keepers of factual knowledge about Arkansas history and identity – past, present and future,” Myuhtar-May said. “Our Archives are protectors of knowledge and facilitators of access to it. Contact us and let us help you start your next research adventure.”

For more information, contact NEARA at 870-878-6521 or visit Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 11 Seventh St. in Powhattan. Questions may also be sent to Fatme.Myuhtar.May@Arkansas.gov.

Rich Dedmon, Osceola Kiwanis Club's president, poses with Dr. Fatme Myuhtar-May,
NEARA archival manager (center), and Mayor Sally L. Wilson.