Historians and Historic Organizations

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Antiquarian and Natural History Society of Arkansas

One of Arkansas’s first attempts to preserve its history was organized by a group of “gentlemen naturalists” and state leaders who came together in Little Rock (Pulaski County) during the autumn of 1837. They called themselves the Antiquarian and Natural History Society of Arkansas. Approximately thirty early Arkansans were known members of the society. At least nine were lawyers, five were doctors, and three were surveyors; other members included a merchant, a newspaper editor, a hotel owner, and several planters whose occupations are unknown. The group was active for several years, but its collection was eventually scattered and lost. A notice was posted in early May 1837, calling upon “Friends of Science” to meet at what is now the Old …

Arkansas Archeological Society

The Arkansas Archeological Society (AAS) is a statewide organization created for the purpose of uniting all persons interested in the archaeology of Arkansas, fostering the recognition and preservation of cultural heritage and prehistory, and encouraging the public’s interest in the preservation of the past. There was an unsuccessful effort to form a similar society in 1932. Little is known of this organization because it produced no publications and relied solely on semi-annual meetings to bring the membership together. The current AAS was formed in 1960. Its primary founders were Samuel C. Dellinger (president); Harry McPherson, Cecil Cleavenger, Marvin Riddle, and H. Dudley Glass (vice presidents); Dr. Charles R. McGimsey III (secretary and newsletter editor); and Hester Davis (treasurer). It was …

Arkansas Genealogical Society

The Arkansas Genealogical Society, Inc., Arkansas’s only statewide genealogical organization, was organized in Fayetteville (Washington County) on May 4–5, 1962, in response to a call by the Washington County Historical Society. Under the guidance of the longtime editor of its quarterly, Flashback, Professor Walter J. Lemke of the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville, this organization took the lead in collecting Arkansas genealogical data for many years. However, by 1962, growing interest in this hobby had overwhelmed its limited resources, and a decision was made to call for the formation of a statewide genealogical society to take over this work. Drawing upon the resources of this local group, volunteers published the first issue of the Arkansas Family Historian, Arkansas’s first …

Arkansas Historic Preservation Program

The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP) is the state agency charged with preserving the buildings, sites, neighborhoods, and structures that constitute the state’s built heritage. The agency’s genesis can be traced to the 1966 National Historic Preservation Act, which created a national preservation program, required state preservation activities, and provided funding for state historic preservation programs. Following a failed attempt to create a state program in 1967, the Arkansas General Assembly in 1969 created the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, funded by the transfer of $20,000 from the moribund Stonewall Jackson Memorial Board. In 1969, the primary activities of the agency were those for which federal funds were available—the identification, evaluation, and documentation of historic properties. This effort comprises the Arkansas …

Arkansas Historical Association (AHA)

The Arkansas Historical Association (AHA) is dedicated to maintaining an active statewide historical group involving all aspects of Arkansas’s history. The association holds annual conferences and publishes the Arkansas Historical Quarterly (AHQ). Headquartered at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), which partially underwrites the expenses of the organization, the AHA assists historians and educators in Arkansas in preserving and interpreting the history of the state. In 1903, John Hugh Reynolds, professor of history at UA, and a group of his students formed the Arkansas Historical Society, the forerunner of the AHA. The group soon realized that a continually changing student body made membership problematic and reorganized to become the first AHA. James Kimbrough Jones served as president. …

Arkansas Museums Association

The Arkansas Museums Association (AMA) is an organization of museums and museum personnel dedicated to the promotion of professional standards in Arkansas museums, the encouragement of interaction among members, and the development of public support for—and interest in—Arkansas museums. The AMA is governed by a board of directors, elected by its members. The board consists of a president, vice president (also the president-elect), immediate past president, secretary, treasurer, two representatives from each of the AMA’s four districts, a membership director, and a communications director. The Arkansas Museums Association was founded in 1966. Arkansans working with historical, artistic, and cultural organizations realized the need for a state association to advance the goals of the museum community. Peg Newton Smith, wife of …

Arkansas State Archives

aka: Arkansas History Commission
The Arkansas State Archives, located in Little Rock (Pulaski County), is the official state archives of Arkansas and houses the state’s largest collection of documents, publications, photographs, and other material relating to Arkansas history.  The Arkansas History Commission, as the institution was originally named, was established by the Arkansas General Assembly in 1905 as part of the burgeoning state archives movement that swept the South shortly after 1900. It was created largely through the efforts of John Hugh Reynolds, a history professor at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). “The Commission exists,” Dallas T. Herndon, the first executive secretary and director wrote in 1911, the year the legislature finally appropriated funding for the commission, “to gather the …

Atkinson, James Harris (J. H.)

James Harris (J. H.) Atkinson was an educator, author, and historian who, through his leadership in state and local historical organizations, significantly advanced the preservation and awareness of Arkansas’s history, earning him the nickname “Mr. Arkansas History.” He helped organize and subsequently served as president of both the Arkansas Historical Association (AHA) and the Pulaski County Historical Society (PCHS), wrote numerous articles for each of their publications, served as chairman of the Arkansas History Commission (now called the Arkansas State Archives), and co-authored Historic Arkansas, a text for teaching Arkansas history. J. H. Atkinson was born on June 7, 1888, in a farmhouse near the community of College Hill in northern Columbia County, the son of Gracie Ella Finley and …

Babcock, Bernie

aka: Julia Burnelle Smade Babcock
In 1903, Julia Burnelle (Bernie) Smade Babcock became the first Arkansas woman to be included in Authors and Writers Who’s Who. She published more than forty novels, as well as numerous tracts and newspaper and magazine articles. She founded the Museum of Natural History in Little Rock (Pulaski County), was a founding member of the Arkansas Historical Society, and was the first president of the Arkansas branch of the National League of American Pen Women. Bernie Smade was born in Union, Ohio, on April 28, 1868, the first of six children, to Hiram Norton Smade and Charlotte Elizabeth (Burnelle) Smade. The Smades raised their children with a freedom uncharacteristic for that time. When Smade’s lively imagination was mistaken for lying …

Bauxite Historical Association and Museum

The Bauxite Historical Association and Museum (BHAM) works to preserve the history and culture of the company-owned town of Bauxite (Saline County). The organization started its life as the Alcoa Employees Descendants Association (AEDA), which was created on October 15, 1986, as a non-profit organization charged with the maintenance, protection, and everyday business of the Bauxite Community Hall and all other property deeded to it by the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa). The community hall building houses the Bauxite Historical Museum. The building’s main hall is run by the association and functions as a venue for local events. The community hall was finished in 1926. Built by the Republic Mining & Manufacturing Company, the building itself was dedicated as the …

Baxter County Historical and Genealogical Society

The Baxter County Historical and Genealogical Society was founded on September 27, 1974, by a group of individuals who were interested in history and preserving the heritage of Baxter County. The organization, originally known as the Baxter County Historical Society, is officially chartered in Arkansas as a nonprofit organization. In 1999, the name was changed to the Baxter County Historical and Genealogical Society. The mission of the society is to preserve and interpret the history of Baxter County by acquiring, preserving, and showcasing artifacts; acquiring, preserving, and making available for research records documenting the social, economic, and political history of the county through an active archival program at the Baxter County Archives; promoting historical and genealogical research; and educating children …

Benton County Historical Society

The Benton County Historical Society (BCHS) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting, publishing, and otherwise preserving and disseminating the history of Benton County. The BCHS arose from a June 22, 1954, meeting of twenty-six people at the Masonic Youth Center in Rogers (Benton County). The records preserved over the years show that the attendees came from all townships of the county. At this meeting, temporary officers of the yet unnamed group were elected as follows: J. Wesley Sampier (chairman), Ray Henry and Louise Plank (vice chairs), and Huey Huhn (secretary/treasurer). These temporary officers had to nominate a slate of officers and draw up a constitution and by-laws. Word of mouth and notices in the newspapers promoted the first public …

Billingsley, Carolyn Earle

Carolyn Earle Billingsley was a noted historian and author who worked to connect the fields of history, anthropology, and genealogy. The founding editor of the journal of the Saline County History and Heritage Society, she received the Booker Worthen Literary Prize in 2005 for her book Communities of Kinship. Carolyn Earle was born on August 5, 1948, in Dallas, Texas. Her parents, Robert Shelton Earle and Lillian Jean Young, were both Little Rock (Pulaski County) natives. In 1966, she married James Lloyd Billingsley, and the couple settled in Alexander (Pulaski and Saline counties). They had two sons and two daughters. Billingsley was a founding member of the Saline County History and Heritage Society and the first editor of the Saline …

Brown, Walter Lee

A Texan who helped shape the discipline of Arkansas history, Walter Lee Brown oversaw the daily operations of the Arkansas Historical Association (AHA) for thirty-five years and edited its journal, the Arkansas Historical Quarterly, for almost as long. Walter L. Brown was born in Gatesville, Texas, in 1924, to Frank J. Brown and Alice Berry Brown. Brown served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He earned a BA in history at Texas A&M University (1949) and an MA (1950) and PhD (1955) from the University of Texas. His dissertation was only the first installment in a lifetime of work on the Arkansas politician and polymath Albert Pike. In 1954, Brown joined the history department at the University …

Carroll County Historical and Genealogical Society

On September 6, 1955, a group of citizens consisting of Alice Baker Gentry, Ruth Trimble, Lois Stubbs, Cora Pinkley Call, Frances McClelland, Coy Logan, Boyd W. Johnson, and Edwin L. Chaplin met in the Methodist church in Berryville (Carroll County) with Dr. Ted Worley, executive secretary of the Arkansas History Commission (now called the Arkansas State Archives). The purpose of this meeting was to make plans for organizing a historical society in Carroll County. During this meeting, Worley discussed the early history of Carroll County, the importance of preserving early records of the county, and how other county historical societies had been organized and managed. The next meeting was set for September 29, 1955, at the county library for the …

Civil War Roundtable of Arkansas (CWRTA)

Jerry Russell, Bill O’Donnell, and Cal Collier began the Civil War Roundtable of Arkansas (CWRTA) in March 1964 during the height of the national Civil War Centennial celebrations. Russell served as its first president. The CWRTA has been active continuously since 1964, with eleven meetings each year (no meeting in December). The CWRTA has sponsored a number of bus tours over the years to regional Civil War battlefields and sites, including the Pea Ridge National Military Park (with Professor Bill Shea of the University of Arkansas at Monticello as the guide) and sites associated with General Frederick Steele’s Camden Expedition through southern Arkansas (guided by Ed Bearss, the retired chief historian of the National Park Service). In commemoration of the …

Clark County Historical Association

The Clark County Historical Association (CCHA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization since 1978, researches, preserves, and disseminates the county’s history. Brainchild of philanthropist Jane Ross and retired teacher Amy Jean Greene, it originated on October 30, 1972. A cross-section of county residents have provided leadership, including local politicians and representatives of both Ouachita Baptist and Henderson State universities. The association has remained egalitarian in membership and outlook, though membership (which averages about 250) has gone from a majority within to a majority outside the county. With Ross Foundation financial assistance, Greene led the association for the first five years. Quarterly meetings, always Sundays at 2:00 p.m., occurred mostly in Arkadelphia (Clark County) churches, and featured interested amateurs talking about a wide …

Daughters of the American Revolution

aka: Arkansas Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (ARDAR)
The Arkansas Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (ARDAR) is a member of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR), which has 2,975 chapters in the United States and twenty-two international chapters. The NSDAR was founded on October 11, 1890, by Eugenia Washington, a grandniece of George Washington, along with Mary Desha, Mary Lockwood, and Ellen Hardin Walworth. In December 1893, the first Arkansas chapter of the DAR was founded in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Georgiana Washington Smith, another grandniece of Washington’s, was one of its earliest members. The first ARDAR State Conference was in February 1909 at the Marion Hotel in Little Rock (Pulaski County). ARDAR members have made lasting contributions to the …

Department of Arkansas Heritage

The Department of Arkansas Heritage (DAH) was created in 1975 to preserve and promote Arkansas’s natural and cultural heritage as a source of pride and enjoyment for all. The original legislation named the agency the Department of Arkansas Natural and Cultural Heritage and grouped together culturally oriented agencies in one department. The agency’s name was changed to its current title in 1985. DAH consists of eight agencies, each with its own special contributions, and a director’s office, which manages general administrative and marketing operations. The agencies are the Arkansas Arts Council (AAC), which seeks to advance the arts in Arkansas; the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP), which manages the state’s historic and cultural resources and operates the Main Street Arkansas …

Desha County Historical Society

The Desha County Historical Society (DCHS) was founded in January 1969 at the county courthouse in Arkansas City (Desha County). The four charter members were C. C. Stuart, Mildred Stroud, Mary Gayle Tutt, and Pat Sherland. Later, the group decided to incorporate the organization, and a certificate of incorporation was issued to the Desha County Historical Society by the office of the Secretary of State on May 29, 1973. Since its inception, the society has gathered historical documents and a few artifacts. These items are located at the McGehee (Desha County) library in the Desha County Historical Society Research Room. The first issue of the society’s publication The Doctors of Desha County was published in 1969. From 1973 until 2000, …

Dickinson, Samuel Dorris

  Samuel Dorris Dickinson was an archaeologist, historian, journalist, linguist, and college instructor. He was one of the early academically trained archaeologists to work and teach in Arkansas. He was a participant in the development of the field of archaeology in the United States, when few who worked as archaeologists had college degrees. He was an editor at the Arkansas Gazette, Arkansas Democrat, and Shreveport Journal for nearly thirty years. Dickinson was a well-known collector of antiques from the early territorial period of Arkansas. He also acquired folk art, religious art, books, paintings, and fossils. Dickinson published widely on his archaeological and historical research in a number of regional professional journals. Sam Dickinson was born on February 26, 1912, in …

Drew County Historical Society

The Drew County Historical Society owns and operates the Drew County Museum, the Drew County Archives, and the Drew County Historical Journal. It also hosts periodic meetings offering presentations about Drew County history. The Drew County Historical Society was founded on June 15, 1959, by a group of people interested in preserving the heritage of Drew County. Eric and Lurene Hardy are credited with providing early leadership for the organization and putting forth significant effort toward developing a museum for the purposes of housing and displaying artifacts that tell the story of Drew County history. The Drew County Historical Society was incorporated as a non-profit organization on March 4, 1969. In 1970, the society purchased the historic Cavaness House from …

Eno, Clara Bertha

Clara Bertha Eno has been called Arkansas’s first lady of history. She devoted her life to researching and recording Arkansas history and collecting Arkansas archival material. Her three published works are History of the Arkansas Federation of Women’s Clubs 1897–1934 (1935), with Frances Marion (Mrs. Frederick) Hanger, Historic Places in Arkansas (1940), and History of Crawford County, Arkansas (1950). During the 1920s and 1930s, she authored numerous historical newspaper articles. In 1940, she compiled Information of Fifty-Five Revolutionary [War] Soldiers buried in Arkansas. Although never published, it has long been a mainstay for early Arkansas research. Eno was born on February 14, 1854, in Van Buren (Crawford County), the daughter of Ellen (Ward) and Jonathan Adams Eno. Her father was …

Faulkner County Historical Society (FCHS)

The Faulkner County Historical Society (FCHS), sponsored by the Conway Chamber of Commerce, was organized on April 16, 1959, with forty-two charter members. The society’s purposes are “to discover, collect and preserve any material to establish or illustrate the history of our area and to make it available.” The original officers for this group were George Hartje Jr. (president), Victor Hill (vice president), and Guy Murphy (secretary-treasurer). The first directors were Myrtle Charles, Joyce Herndon, and James Clayton. After the society’s founding, a contest was conducted to name the society’s journal. Combined suggestions by James Clayton and Guy W. Murphy, both long-time local historians, resulted in the title Faulkner Facts and Fiddlings. As of 2010, the FCHS has published two …

Ferguson, Jim, Sr.

aka: James Garland Ferguson Sr.
The Marshall (Searcy County) library owes its existence to James Garland Ferguson Sr., a man with roots in the Ozark Plateau. This son of homesteaders who valued education above all else, having worked hard to secure an excellent education and great wealth for himself, had previously made generous contributions to several local schools and churches, Arkansas Baptist Hospital and St. Vincent Infirmary in Little Rock (Pulaski County), and several colleges, including scholarships to the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville (Washington County) and Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County). But to the people of his home county, he gave a library and, with it, an educational opportunity in a rural environment. Jim Ferguson was born on February 26, …

Ferguson, John Lewis

John Lewis Ferguson—historian, minister, author, archival administer, and historic preservationist—served as Arkansas state historian and the director of the Arkansas State Archives (previous called the Arkansas History Commission) from 1960 to 2005, only the third person to hold that position since 1905. His forty-five-year tenure was the longest in the agency’s history. John Ferguson was born on March 1, 1926, on a farm near Nashville (Howard County) to farmer and World War I veteran Clarence Walter Ferguson and his wife, Nannye N. McCrary Ferguson. As a child attending the rural York’s Chapel School, he read every history book he could find. Early on, he decided to pursue a career in history. He graduated from Nashville High School in 1944. In 1951, he was …

Fordyce, John Rison

The son of Hot Springs (Garland County) entrepreneur and Cotton Belt Railroad president Samuel Wesley Fordyce, John Rison Fordyce forged his own way into Arkansas history. He was educated as a mining engineer but was also an inventor, manufacturer, leader in commerce, public servant, and amateur archaeologist. John R. Fordyce was born in Huntsville, Alabama, on November 7, 1869. He moved to the health resort of Hot Springs at age five with his father and mother, Susan Chadick, after his father, suffering from malaria contracted during the Civil War, found renewed health in the local thermal springs. The third of five children, Fordyce—along with his three surviving siblings—was educated in Hot Springs schools. His father was instrumental in Hot Springs’ …

Fort Smith Historical Society

The express purpose of the Fort Smith Historical Society (FSHS) is to locate, identify, collect, and preserve historical data; to record oral history; and to publish source materials and historical articles relating to the Fort Smith (Sebastian County) area. The society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, staffed by volunteers and funded entirely by memberships and contributions. A small group of people concerned with preserving the written and oral history of Fort Smith held the organizational meeting of the Fort Smith Historical Society on April 15, 1977. The first issue of The Journal of the Fort Smith Historical Society, Inc., was published in September 1977, with Amelia Martin and state Representative Carolyn Pollan serving as co-editors. The FSHS publishes The Journal …

Garland County Historical Society

The Garland County Historical Society (GCHS) was organized on April 19, 1960, to preserve and encourage interest in the history of Garland County. The first officers were John Connelly, president; Mary D. Hudgins, vice president; Capitola Glazner, secretary; Dr. Francis J. Scully, treasurer; and Sam Sargo, Nathan Schoenfeld, and Katherine Creason, who formed the board of governors. The same year it was founded, the society published the first volume of its journal, The Record. Originally a quarterly, The Record is now a yearly publication that has won numerous awards from the Arkansas Historical Association. Inez Cline served as the editor of The Record from 1963 to 1986 and as associate editor from 1987 to 1988. The historical material she gathered …

Gatewood, Willard Badgett, Jr.

Willard Badgett Gatewood Jr. was a nationally recognized scholar and longtime professor of history at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). He also served briefly as chancellor of the university. Gatewood was the author of numerous books, most dealing with African-American and southern history. Willard B. Gatewood was born on February 23, 1931, on a farm on the Park Springs Road in Caswell County, North Carolina. His parents were Willard B. Gatewood, who was a tobacco farmer, and Bessie Pryor Gatewood; he had two brothers and four sisters. He received his BA, MA, and PhD in history at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. He began his college teaching career at East Tennessee State University in 1957, …

Gerstäcker, Friedrich Wilhelm Christian

aka: Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Gerstaecker
aka: Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Gerstacker
Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Gerstäcker was a nineteenth-century author who wrote about social conditions in backwoods Arkansas before the Civil War. He visited the state from 1838 to 1842 for periods of up to eighteen months at a time. His writings—in the form of essays, short stories, and novels—provide insights into folkways, social conditions, popular religion, gender roles, and a host of other topics relating to backwoods life in Arkansas. Gerstäcker was born in Hamburg, Germany, on May 10, 1816. He and his younger sister moved frequently as children because their parents, Karl Friedrich Gerstäcker and Luise Frederike Gerstäcker, were opera singers who moved as their roles demanded. His father died in 1825 of tuberculosis. Overwhelmed with the twin burdens of …

Grand Prairie Historical Society

The Grand Prairie Historical Society (GPHS) was founded in 1953 to preserve the Grand Prairie area’s rich abundant history and make others aware of this heritage. Among the founders were Reverend Lawrence Maus, J. E. Howard, John M. Henderson, Lillian C. Young, Ballard Deane, Dr. Harold V. Glenn, Garner Allen, Grover C. Carnes, and Arthur Macom. The group adopted a constitution stating the society’s purpose as promoting the history and historical records of the Grand Prairie, marking historical sites, encouraging tours, and informing the public of the society’s work. Publication of the Grand Prairie Historical Bulletin has played a major role in achieving the society’s objective of collecting and preserving data on the early history of Arkansas County and the …

Gulley, Louis Corneil

Louis Corneil Gulley was a civil servant and avid collector whose efforts helped the Arkansas History Commission (now the Arkansas State Archives) amass significant collections of territorial and early state documents, as well as artifacts of World War I. Born in Jacksonport (Jackson County) on April 1, 1871, Louis C. Gulley was the eldest of eleven children of Ransom and Louanna Gulley. Gulley’s father was a prominent public figure in late nineteenth-century Arkansas. In 1898, he graduated with a law degree from Arkansas Industrial University in Fayetteville (Washington County), now the University of Arkansas (UA). He served briefly as boys’ supervisor at the Arkansas School for the Blind in 1899. That same year, Gulley opened a bookstore with a partner …

Hallum, John

John Hallum was a prominent nineteenth-century Arkansas lawyer and historian. His efforts to record and illuminate the territory and state’s early history provided a highly readable introduction to the state’s heritage, while laying a solid foundation for future historians. John Hallum was born on January 16, 1833, in Sumner County, Tennessee, the oldest of eleven children of Bluford Hallum and Minerva Davis Hallum. Shortly after he was born, the family moved, and Hallum spent his early years on a farm near Memphis, Tennessee. He reportedly learned how to read from the local newspaper, the Memphis Appeal, and was a voracious reader from an early age. When the family moved back to Sumner County, he received sporadic schooling in a log …

Herndon, Dallas Tabor

Dallas Tabor Herndon, father of the archival movement in Arkansas, was the first director of the Arkansas State Archives (previously called the Arkansas History Commission). From 1911 until his death in 1953, he labored tirelessly to preserve manuscripts and other material relating to Arkansas history and culture. Dallas Herndon was born on August 28, 1878, the son of John Alpheus and Mary Mildred Brown Herndon, farmers who lived in Elberton, Georgia. He received his BS and MS degrees in history and political science from Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University) in 1902 and 1903, respectively. After four years of teaching at Mobile and Auburn, Alabama, he entered the University of Chicago, where he worked toward a PhD in history and English …

Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas

aka: Preserve Arkansas
The Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas (also known as Preserve Arkansas) is a statewide nonprofit organization focused on protecting Arkansas’s architectural and cultural resources. The alliance is a 501(c)(3) charitable membership organization based in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Through educational programs centered on preserving architectural heritage, advocating for preservation legislation, and assisting owners of historic properties by offering the means and expertise to preserve and restore historic structures, the alliance seeks to create a culture of preservation in Arkansas. The Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas was incorporated in 1981 by Carl H. Miller Jr., Bobby Roberts, Kirby Smith, Parker Westbrook (founding president), and Charles Witsell with a founding board of individuals from across Arkansas. The alliance is a member of …

Hot Spring County Historical Society

Since the late 1960s, the Hot Spring County Historical Society has worked to preserve the county’s history and culture through writing, publishing, and teaching. It also publishes an annual journal and hosts activities. The organization incorporated in 1968 with seventy-six charter members and two corporate members. As of 2012, the organization has a membership roster of more than 400. When the organization established its articles of incorporation in January 1968, it did not have a physical home. Its main office was listed in care of the first president, William C. Gilliam, at his office on West 2nd Street in Malvern (Hot Spring County). Since its inception, the organization has stored some items in a portable storage building and has held its …

Hudgins, Mary Dengler

Mary Dengler Hudgins was a prolific writer of regional history in Arkansas. Her research and writing led her to amass an exceptional collection of publications and historical materials that document the history of Garland County, its county seat of Hot Springs, and the state of Arkansas. Mary Hudgins was born in Hot Springs on November 24, 1901. She was the only child of Jackson Wharton and Ida Dengler Hudgins. Her father worked in the real estate business, and her mother was a teacher. She attended public schools in Hot Springs and then attended the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington Couny), where she majored in English and served as a reporter for the Arkansas Traveler, UA’s student newspaper. After graduating with …

Independence County Historical Society

The Independence County Historical Society was founded in June 1959 by a small group of people interested in researching, preserving, and telling the history of Independence County, its seat Batesville, and the other small communities in the area. There had been an earlier attempt at organizing, led by John Quincy Wolf Jr., but the society got its real start after A. C. McGinnis, John P. Morrow Jr., and Paul Wayland, all of Batesville, attended the Arkansas Historical Association annual meeting in Monticello (Drew County) in 1959. There, James Harris Atkinson, then chairman of the Arkansas History Commission (now called the Arkansas State Archives), told them the way to start a county society was for three interested citizens to get together, declare …

Izard County Historical and Genealogical Society

Discussions concerning the formation of a historical society for Izard County began in the summer of 1969 after interested individuals Margaret Ghelfi, Audrey Brooks, and Helen Lindley began to promote such a group to preserve the history of the local area. An organizational meeting was held at the Trimble Campground Church in Dolph (Izard County) on the last Sunday in November, with about thirty-three people in attendance. A second organizational meeting was held in Melbourne (Izard County), where the Izard County Historical Society was formed. Its major goal was publishing a quarterly magazine, and the first issue of the Izard County Historian was published in January 1970 with Helen Lindley as editor. Eighty-three charter members elected Tom Simpson president. Quarterly …

Jackson County Historical Society

The Jackson County Historical Society (JCHS) was created primarily in response to the planned destruction of the county’s old courthouse at Jacksonport (Jackson County). In late 1961, an organizational meeting for a historical society was called. At this meeting, it was announced that the former courthouse at Jacksonport would be razed for the bricks. Lady Elizabeth Luker, whose ancestors were among the founders of that old river town, became the face of the fledgling historical society and led the way for the restoration of the old courthouse for use as a museum. The Jackson County Historical Society was formally chartered in April 1962 at Newport (Jackson County), with Luker as the first president. While the JCHS was interested in preserving …

Jefferson County Historical Society

The Jefferson County Historical Society officially began on August 20, 1961, when a group of twenty-five people attended an organizational meeting at the Simmons Bank Community Center in downtown Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). At the meeting, David W. Wallis was elected temporary chairman and Hilda Metz was elected temporary secretary. A committee consisting of David Perdue, Bess Jenkins, and Jerry Fuess was appointed to nominate officers of the society. On September 10, the society met again and elected its first group of officers: Sam M. Levine, president; David Wallis, first vice president; Bess Jenkins, second vice president; and Edwin Boles, secretary-treasurer. A constitution and bylaws were also established at this meeting. The first issue of the Jefferson County Historical Quarterly …

Johnson County Historical Society

The Johnson County Historical Society is an organization with a mission “to promote individual and general interest in the history of Johnson County by locating, collecting, and preserving pertinent information, either by written records, photography, or other permanent media.” The society operates the Heritage Center and Museum at 131 West Main Street in Clarksville (Johnson County). Nine people gathered in 1974 to form the Johnson County Historical Society, and Dr. Robert Basham served as the first president (1974–1975). Membership has since grown to approximately 200 members—from Johnson County and around the United States. As of 2011, the president is Mark Hodge, who has served in that role since 2009. Other officers include a vice president, a recording secretary, a corresponding …

LeMaster, Carolyn Gray

Carolyn Gray LeMaster was the leading chronicler of Jewish life in Arkansas, through books, articles, and lectures, especially her book A Corner of the Tapestry: A History of the Jewish Experience in Arkansas, 1820s–1990s. Carolyn Gray was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on December 17, 1927, to Elisha Columbus Gray, who was a railroad engineer and brakeman, and Erma White Gray, a homemaker. She left high school after the tenth grade to help support her family and care for her widowed mother. She married Robert W. LeMaster, a hospital executive in Little Rock. They had four children. After the children were grown, LeMaster enrolled in 1975 at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), where she graduated magna …

Lewis, David Levering

David Levering Lewis is a Pulitzer Prize–winning American historian best known for his works on the African-American experience in the twentieth century. He has written biographies of two of the most important figures in the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr. and W. E. B. Du Bois, as well as a reader on the Harlem Renaissance. In 1999, Lewis was awarded a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant.” David Lewis was born on May 25, 1936, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the son of John H. Lewis, an educator and principal of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, and Urnestine (Bell) Lewis, who taught high school math. Lewis attended parochial school in Little Rock and then continued his education in Ohio and …

Loughborough, Louisa Watkins

Louisa Watkins Wright Loughborough was a pioneer in the field of historic preservation in Arkansas. Inspired by her involvement in the Mount Vernon Ladies Association of the Union, she worked to beautify the Old State House and related grounds in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and subsequently founded the Arkansas Territorial Restoration (now the Historic Arkansas Museum), the first state-supported history museum in Arkansas. Louisa Loughborough was born Louisa Wright in Little Rock to Louisa Watkins and William Fulton Wright, a noted Confederate veteran. She could trace her family lineage through state leaders, such as Arkansas Supreme Court Justice George Claiborne Watkins and William Savin Fulton, Arkansas’s last territorial governor and, later, a United States senator. She was educated in Little …

Madison County Genealogical and Historical Society

The Madison County Genealogical and Historical Society (MCGHS) was organized in July 1981 by eight Madison County residents with the goal of establishing an organization to gather, preserve, and disseminate the history of Madison County. In 1982, the MCGHS began publication of a quarterly magazine titled The Madison County Musings. The Musings has been in continuous publication since that time, beginning small but growing to over fifty-five pages of historical and genealogical data and photographs. Articles found in The Madison County Musings contain school history, cemetery enumerations, marriage records, information on historical landmarks, homesteaded land information, historical and Civil War stories, and genealogical information. By the end of 1981, the society’s membership stood at eighty-five people. Membership in the society …

Mississippi County Historical and Genealogical Society

The Mississippi County Historical and Genealogical Society (MCHGS) was chartered in 1988 to promote, preserve, and protect the history of Mississippi County. Since its inception, MCHGS has actively fulfilled its mission through continuing efforts to educate the public and garner community support for historic preservation. The origins of MCHGS go back to 1987, when a group of county citizens led by Dr. Eldon Fairley, an Osceola (Mississippi County) physician, petitioned the Mississippi County Quorum Court to appoint a commission that would be empowered to form a historical society. After several organizational meetings, the appointed commission determined it would launch a historical society as well as provide sponsorship for an associated publication. At the society’s charter meeting on April 13, 1988, members …

National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Arkansas

The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America (NSCDA), founded in 1891, is dedicated to furthering an appreciation of the national heritage of the United States through patriotic service, historic preservation, and educational projects. The Arkansas division, one of forty-four corporate societies, was organized in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on January 26, 1898, and admitted into the National Society on April 21, 1898. Cynthia Martin Polk of Little Rock was the organizing president. Members must be direct descendants from an ancestor who resided in an American colony prior to 1750 and who served his or her country in some official capacity during that period and before July 5, 1776. Membership is by invitation only. Since the Spanish-American War, the …

Newberry, Farrar Claudius

Farrar Claudius Newberry—historian, businessman, philanthropist, and writer—was nationally known for his association with the Woodmen of the World (WOW). He authored several books and dozens of articles on Arkansas history topics. Newberry is also responsible for many markers placed at historical sites throughout Clark County. Farrar Newberry was born on July 30, 1887, in Gurdon (Clark County) to Lawrence Clinton and Mattie Harris Newberry. The family moved to Arkadelphia (Clark County) in 1894. In 1906, Newberry graduated from Arkadelphia Methodist College (which later became Henderson-Brown College) and, in 1908, received a master’s degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Newberry married Lila Lee Thomasson on June 19, 1911, in Clark County, and the couple had two sons. Newberry was admitted …