Historians and Historic Organizations

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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 …

Newton County Historical Society

The Newton County Historical Society was founded in December 1953 by a group that included Walter Lackey, Mandy Hickman, and Albert Raney. In 1954, the society’s first official project was to build a monument near Marble Falls (Newton County) to memorialize a quarried stone from that area that had been used in the construction of the Washington Monument in Washington DC. Sometime after 1961, the society dissolved, but it was later revived and reorganized in 1977 by Columbus Vaughan, Jack McCutcheon, Rhonda Teter, Leland Smith, and others. It was incorporated in 1981 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, with its purpose being to collect, preserve, promote interest in, and disseminate historical and genealogical material relating to Newton County and the surrounding area. …

Nixon, Esther DeWitt

Esther DeWitt Nixon was the founding librarian of the Jacksonville (Pulaski County) public library and served there for nearly three decades. The Jacksonville branch library of the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) was named in her honor in 1992. Esther DeWitt, with her twin sister Ruth, was born on November 24, 1916, in Corsicana, Texas, to Marcus Henry DeWitt and Allie Ellis DeWitt. The twins had three brothers and two sisters. Esther married Watson Nixon Jr., on February 22, 1943—a marriage that lasted more than fifty years until his death on April 20, 1993—and they had two sons. The family lived in Jacksonville. Esther Nixon and her children were avid users of the Pulaski County Library’s bookmobile, and, as her …

Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives (NEARA)

The Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives (NEARA) is one of two regional branches of the Arkansas State Archives (previously called the Arkansas History Commission). Located in Powhatan Historic State Park in Lawrence County, NEARA serves a sixteen-county area, including Baxter, Clay, Craighead, Crittenden, Cross, Fulton, Greene, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Lawrence, Mississippi, Poinsett, Randolph, Sharp, and Stone counties. The facility was established to collect, preserve, and make available resources related to this region of northeast Arkansas and its people. Nearly all the original records, and many of the microfilm and published records, originated from these counties, making NEARA a key resource for research about the area. NEARA was created as a collaborative effort between Arkansas State Parks, the Arkansas State Archives, and the …

Orphan Train Heritage Society of America, Inc. (OTHSA)

The Orphan Train Heritage Society of America, Inc. (OTHSA)—founded in 1986 in Springdale (Washington and Benton counties)—preserves the history of the orphan train era, a period when thousands of children were relocated across the country. Many Arkansans can trace their roots to children who were relocated to Arkansas. Between 1854 and 1929, an estimated 200,000 or more homeless and orphaned children were sent west from eastern cities, accompanied by agents. The purpose was to find families that would take in children in a “free-home-placing-out” program instituted by the Children’s Aid Society of New York City, New York. The children were sent in groups of twenty-five to 100 on trains, making stops along the way where they might be chosen by …

Perry County Historical and Genealogical Society

The Perry County Historical and Genealogical Society was organized in December 1997 at the Max Milam Library in Perryville (Perry County) with only two people in attendance. Betty Burke was elected the first president and Jackie Paul Myers the first secretary and treasurer. Meeting times were set for the second Tuesday of each month, and with permission of the librarian, Jan Guffey, the organization met at the library. Six people attended the second meeting in January 1998: Betty Burke, Jackie Myers, Elise Hill, Leroy Williams, John Pennington, and Pearl Bowen Pennington, who was elected vice president. The goals of the society were: 1) to create and foster interest in genealogy; 2) to gather and preserve genealogical and historical data through library …

Pike County Archives and History Society

The Pike County Archives and History Society (PCAHS), located in Murfreesboro (Pike County) in southwestern Arkansas, houses research materials such as census records, manuscripts, maps, and photos. The PCAHS was established in 1986, developing out of the earlier Heritage Genealogy Club. According to its mission statement, the PCAHS “is dedicated to collecting and preserving the unique history of Arkansas and Pike County.” The first board of directors consisted of Marion W. (Dewayne) Gray, Linda Wilson, Jan McGalliard, and Bobbie Hendrix. Meetings were held at the library and municipal building (where archival materials were also stored) until the current location was secured in 2002. The archives house more than 500 Pike County record books dating from 1895, including early tax records, …

Pope County Historical Association

The Pope County Historical Association was established on October 10, 1948, as the Arkansas Valley Historical Society. The society has remained in almost continuous operation since its founding and publishes the Pope County Historical Association Quarterly. James S. Long was elected as the Arkansas Valley Historical Society’s first president. For approximately two years, the society held regular meetings, but interest had dropped by the fall of 1950, and meetings were suspended from August 1950 through April 1952. There was a reemergence of the society in 1952. In April 1954, it began the publication of the Arkansas Valley Historical Papers, a quarterly magazine highlighting local history and genealogical articles. In December 1966, the society changed its name to the Pope County …

Pulaski County Historical Society

Founded in the fall of 1951, the Pulaski County Historical Society (PCHS) is the second oldest county historical society in Arkansas. The PCHS’s founders were James H. Atkinson, a history teacher at Little Rock Junior College (now the University of Arkansas at Little Rock); Claude Rankin, state land commissioner; C. C. Allard, editor of the Arkansas Democrat’s magazine section; and Louise Porter, head of North Little Rock High School’s social science department. Membership increased rapidly due to publicity given the society by the local press. The society originally held its meetings in the Little Rock Public Library at 7th and Louisiana. After it was demolished in 1963, the society met at various places, including the new public library and the …

Quapaw Quarter Association

The Quapaw Quarter Association is a non-profit, membership-based organization dedicated to historic preservation in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Like many historic preservation organizations, the Quapaw Quarter Association grew out of the era of urban renewal and interstate highway construction, when thousands of historic buildings and neighborhoods were bulldozed. But unlike other preservation groups, the Quapaw Quarter Association can trace its roots to an agency that administered urban renewal projects. In 1961, the Little Rock Housing Authority appointed a five-member Significant Structures Technical Advisory Committee to give advice on the historical and architectural significance of buildings in the MacArthur Park neighborhood, then part of a large urban renewal project. The five members—David D. Terry Jr., Peg Newton Smith, Hebe Fry Riddick, …

Reynolds, John Hugh

John Hugh Reynolds—Arkansas author, longtime president of Hendrix College, and founder of the Arkansas History Commission (now called the Arkansas State Archives)—was born near Enola (Faulkner County) on January 3, 1869. He was one of the seven children born to Jesse M. and Elizabeth Grimes Reynolds. His father was a carpenter, a mechanic, a blacksmith, and a county doctor. After a stint as a rural schoolteacher, Reynolds graduated from Hendrix College, a Methodist institution, in Conway (Faulkner County) in 1893. Four years later, he received an MA degree in political science from the University of Chicago. Returning to Arkansas, he became a professor of history and political science at Hendrix College. During his tenure, he also served for four years …

Robertson, Irene

Irene Robertson was an interviewer and writer for the 1930s Federal Writers’ Project in Arkansas. She preserved the life stories and experiences of former slaves—or, in some cases, their children—then living in the counties of Crittenden, Lee, Monroe, Phillips, Prairie, and St. Francis. Using her straightforward style of reporting, she prepared 290 out of a total of 300 slave narratives produced in the above counties. She also prepared approximately 116 narratives from interviews with older white residents. Irene Robertson was born in May 1893, possibly in Troy in Greenwood County, South Carolina, near the “Hard Labor” section of Edgefield County, where her parents had lived. Robertson’s father, Samuel Elisha Robertson, a farmer, was born in Edgefield County; he was a …

Russell, Jerry Lewis

Jerry Lewis Russell Jr. was an author, editor of several newsletters, political and public relations advisor and consultant, political activist, and founder of the Civil War Roundtable of Arkansas. He was also nationally recognized as a leader in the preservation of state and national Civil War battlefields. Jerry Russell Jr. was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on July 21, 1933, to Jerry Lewis Russell Sr. and Frances Marion Lieb Russell. In 1958, Russell graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) and then co-edited the two-volume Who’s Who in Arkansas (1959). From 1958 to 1961, he edited The Heights Land Weekly Visitor (Little Rock). However, Russell was soon deeply involved in local …

Saline County History and Heritage Society

The Saline County History and Heritage Society, Inc. (SCHHS) was formed to preserve the history of Saline County and to increase interest in it with public outreach. Saline County is one of the few counties in Arkansas with its records virtually intact. Many noteworthy Arkansans have hailed from Saline County, which was created from Pulaski County and is near Little Rock (Pulaski County). Founding members Carolyn Earle Billingsley, Genevieve Meeker O’Neal, and Anthony Rushing met to discuss forming the organization. A few months later, on February 7, 1986, thirty-three charter members interested in preserving the county’s history met at the Benton State Bank Community Room and voted to organize SCHHS. Rushing was elected president, Larry Cook vice president, and Billingsley …

Society for the History of Medicine and Health Professions

The Society for the History of Medicine and the Health Professions was established as a support group for the Historical Research Center (HRC) of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Library in Little Rock (Pulaski County). It supports research into the history of the health sciences in Arkansas. The society was founded in September 1981 by an executive committee composed of Dr. Robert Watson (the first neurosurgeon in Arkansas and a member of the UAMS College of Medicine faculty) as chair, Marie Smith (wife of Dr. John McCollough Smith), Dr. Horace Marvin (UAMS College of Medicine associate dean for academic affairs), Paul Harris (executive director of the Pulaski County Medical Society), and Edwina Walls (head of the HRC). …

Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV)

The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) is a historical, patriotic, and non-political organization established to honor the memory of soldiers who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. In Arkansas, there are eighteen camps of the SCV (as of 2010), and the organization works to commemorate Arkansas’s Confederate heritage through annual memorial events and more. The SCV is a direct offshoot of the United Confederate Veterans (UCV), a voluntary organization of many veterans who fought for the Confederacy during its brief existence (1861–1865). The SCV was organized at Richmond, Virginia, in 1896 at the convention of the UCV. Initially, the SCV was charged with two duties: assisting the UCV and its elderly members at their conventions and other activities, …

South Sebastian County Historical Society

The South Sebastian County Historical Society (SSCHS) aims to preserve and mark south Sebastian County landmarks, compile and preserve records of local historical events, maintain a museum to house artifacts, and publish an annual periodical. In 2010, the society had 250 members. The South Sebastian County Historical Society was organized on February 24, 1963, in Greenwood (Sebastian County) under the leadership of Dr. H. G. Alvarez for the purposes of “preservation and marking of local landmarks, compiling and preservation of dates concerning past events of local interest; the establishment of a Museum to house mementoes of the area and times” as a “legacy for our children and theirs.” Officers included Herbert Curry (president), Means Wilkinson (vice president), Dr. James Burgess …

Southern Memorial Association of Washington County

The Southern Memorial Association of Washington County (SMA) was formed in 1872 to care for Confederate graves in northwestern Arkansas. The result was the construction of the Confederate Cemetery at Fayetteville (Washington County), which remains under the group’s care. The Southern Memorial Association may be the oldest organization of its type in continual operation. The Southern Memorial Association of Washington County was organized on June 10, 1872, to collect scattered Confederate graves in northwestern Arkansas into one central location, the Confederate Cemetery at Fayetteville, for more effective grave stewardship. On June 10, 1873, the one-year anniversary of the group, the association dedicated the cemetery, which contained about 500 relocated graves at that time. Because soldiers from Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, and …

Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives (SARA)

The Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives (SARA) in Washington (Hempstead County) began as a local archival collection and is now a branch of the Arkansas State Archives (previous called the Arkansas History Commission). Its purpose is to preserve material relevant to the history of twelve southwestern Arkansas counties: Columbia, Hempstead, Howard, Lafayette, Little River, Miller, Nevada, Ouachita, Pike, Polk, Sevier, and Union. In 1975, the Washington (Arkansas) Bicentennial Celebration Committee began making plans for the town’s participation in the upcoming national festivities. To commemorate the event, the committee members decided to raise money to purchase research books for a local library. Mildred Smith, an educator in Washington, sought the advice of Dr. John L. Ferguson, director of the Arkansas State Archives, on …

Stockard, Sallie Walker

Sallie Walker Stockard was a historian, author, and frontrunner in the equality of women in education. Her book The History of Lawrence, Jackson, Independence and Stone Counties of the Third Judicial District of Arkansas is a valued source of early Arkansas history. Sallie Stockard was born on October 4, 1869, in Alamance County, North Carolina, the oldest of six children of John Williamson Stockard and Margaret Ann Albright Stockard. Her father was a farmer, and her mother took in sewing to earn money to pay for their children’s educations. Stockard entered Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1892, from which she graduated in 1897 with a BA degree. She was one of the first female students to enroll at …

Thomas, David Yancey

David Yancey Thomas was one of the most influential academic historians in the field of Arkansas history. He was a driving force in the re-establishment of the Arkansas Historical Association in 1941, was the first editor of theArkansas Historical Quarterly, was the chair of the Department of History at the University of Arkansas (UA)in Fayetteville (Washington County) for twenty-eight years, and was known nationally for his scholarly books and articles. David Thomas was born on January 19, 1872, to James Fuller and Eliza Ann (Ratliff) Thomas. He grew up on a farm in southwest Kentucky, near Hickman in Fulton County. He was the youngest of nine children. Thomas was a student at Marvin Training School in Clinton, Kentucky, from 1888 to 1890. …

United Daughters of the Confederacy

The first United Daughters of the Confederacy chapter in Arkansas—and the second west of the Mississippi River—was Pat Cleburne Chapter 31, chartered on March 7, 1896, in Hope (Hempstead County). As with all Arkansas chapters, the objectives remain the same: historical, educational, benevolent, memorial, and patriotic. Mrs. C. A. Forney was the chapter’s first president. On January 21, 1952, the Arkansas UDC was incorporated as a non-profit organization. By 2020, Arkansas had twenty-two chapters. The United Daughters of the Confederacy was the outgrowth of consolidating benevolent organizations and auxiliaries of United Confederate Veterans Camps, which were formed after the Civil War. On September 10, 1894, Anna Davenport Raines of Georgia and Caroline Meriwether Goodlet of Tennessee met in Nashville, Tennessee, …

Van Buren County Historical Society

The Van Buren County Historical Society, headquartered in Clinton (Van Buren County), was organized on April 22, 1963. The society disbanded in 1966 but re-formed in 1976 for the nation’s bicentennial, Clinton’s celebration of its centennial as an incorporated city, and the dedication of the Clinton Airport. The function of the society is: 1) to discover and collect any material that would help establish or illustrate the history of the county, its exploration, settlement, and development, and its progress in population, education, arts, science, agriculture, trade, and transportation; 2) to collect and preserve printed materials and museum materials illustrative of life, conditions, events, and activities of the past or present pertaining to Van Buren County; and 3) to make these …

Washington County Historical Society

The Washington County Historical Society (WCHS), one of the first local historical societies in Arkansas, was founded in 1951 by Walter J. Lemke, a professor of journalism at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). The society has grown steadily over the years and, as of 2010, has more than 700 members in thirty-nine states. The all-volunteer society has a very active and successful living history program, highlighted by the annual “Heritage School,” a week-long class that teaches the heritage and culture of Civil War–era Arkansans. The WCHS has a strong educational outreach program to area schools and students. Local teachers take part in programs offering professional development hours. Annual events such as the Ice Cream Social, the …

White County Historical Society

The White County Historical Society has been the guiding force in the preservation of the history of White County’s people and institutions. It continues to work to preserve the heritage and records of the county. The first meeting of what would become the White County Historical Society was held at the Searcy City Library on July 28, 1961, and attended by thirteen people. From the beginning, the society was dedicated to preserving the history of White County, providing information for those interested in genealogy, and encouraging the dissemination of information. In June 1962, the society began publishing White County Heritage on a quarterly schedule. The first edition was sent to over thirty people and contained several stories and two cemetery …

Williams, C. Fred

Dr. C. Fred Williams was a professor of history who chaired the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA Little Rock) history department through its largest expansion. Williams authored several works on Arkansas and served in many capacities at UA Little Rock; he also volunteered his services as a consultant for the Little Rock School District, the Arkansas Historic Preservation Society, the Old State House Museum, Ouachita Baptist University, the Arkansas Humanities Council, and the Historic Arkansas Museum. Williams was the recipient of the Arkansas Historical Association’s lifetime achievement award. Charles Fredrick Williams was born in Allen, Oklahoma, on December 24, 1943, to Charles H. Williams and Willie Mae Williams. He had two brothers and five sisters. Williams married Glenda …

Woodruff County Historical Society

On June 8, 1972, a group of citizens met in Augusta (Woodruff County) to plan the organization of a county historical society to gather and publish historical information about Woodruff County and its people. A nominating committee was selected, and the committee met on July 12. At the second meeting, officers were elected, and articles of incorporation were prepared and adopted. The board of directors met at the Woodruff County Library on July 25 and approved the constitution and by-laws of the newly formed Woodruff County Historical Society. The papers of organization were filed with the Secretary of State’s office on August 28, 1972. The first publication of the society, Rivers and Roads and Points In Between, was published in …

Woodward, Comer Vann

Comer Vann Woodward was arguably the twentieth century’s foremost Southern historian. Although published in the 1950s, his Origins of the New South, 1877–1913 and The Strange Career of Jim Crow remain vital interpretive narratives. C. Vann Woodward was born November 13, 1908, to Hugh (Jack) and Emily (Bess) Woodward in Vanndale (Cross County). During Woodward’s youth, his father was a school administrator in Wynne (Cross County), then Arkadelphia (Clark County), and subsequently Morrilton (Conway County). Woodward graduated from high school in Morrilton in 1926 and enrolled at Henderson-Brown College, a small Methodist institution in Arkadelphia. After two years, he transferred to Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, graduating in 1930 with an AB in philosophy. Inspired by his uncle and namesake, …