The Arkansas State Archives houses a wide variety of materials including state records, personal and family papers, organizational and business records, county records, military records, newspapers, photographs, audiovisual materials and more. To learn more about each kind of record, read on.
The state archives holds various records of the state of Arkansas, including the Acts of Arkansas, Senate and House Journals, Arkansas Supreme Court Records, governor’s papers, records from various Arkansas state agencies and commissions, the Secretary of State’s Office, and state agricultural and manufacturing census records.
The state archives holds a number of records from various federal agencies, including the Works Progress Administration, the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, the U.S. Customs Service, the Office of Indian Affairs, the Southern Claims Commission, and others.
The state archives has over 4,000 manuscript collections of personal, business, and organizational papers, reflecting our mission of collecting the history of Arkansas and Arkansans from earliest times to the present. The majority of these are physical records, though some can also be found in our General Microfilm collection. Finding aids for some of the manuscript collections are available online.
The state archives holds microfilmed marriage, probate, tax, land, and court records from each of Arkansas’s seventy-five counties, which are available for use and copying in our research room. Copies can be ordered by emailing us with the information on the records you seek, and the type of copies you wish to order. A state archives staff member will locate the record and provide you with an accurate page-count to determine the price of the copies. A listing of county records on microfilm at ASA is available online.
The state archives houses the largest collection of Arkansas newspapers, over 3000 titles, with the earliest dating from 1819. While the Arkansas State Archives' main location in Little Rock has newspapers from all over the state, the Northeast (NEARA) and Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives (SARA) hold newspapers specific to the counties in their collecting regions. A listing of Arkansas newspapers on microfilm at ASA is available online.
CHURCH AND RELIGOUS ORGANIZATIONAL RECORDS:
The state archives holds records for numerous individual churches and religious organizations from across the state and region, as well as religious periodicals and publications and funeral home records. A resource guide to the state archives' Records of Religion and Spirituality in Arkansas is available online.
The state archives has a wide collection of records from various social, civic, professional, genealogical, and fraternal organizations among its manuscript and small manuscript collections. Other organizational records are located in General Microfilm.
SCHOOL AND EDUCATIONAL RECORDS:
The state archives has a number of high school and college yearbooks from Arkansas schools, as well as school newspapers, scrapbooks, school board minutes, and county and secondary school annual reports.
The state archives has an extensive collection of business and city directories spanning 1840 through 1999. These directories provide information about individuals and businesses in each community. Many directories also provide historical background of the city, lists of streets, ward boundaries, public works, and city officials and include information on surrounding areas. Individual entries usually include name, address and occupation, but can also include spouse's name, marital status, race, children's names and birth years, and phone number. Entries are arranged by name and by address. Directories will often include the names of residents who passed away during the previous year, and directories printed during wartime may include lists of local residents who served in the military.
The state archives' Vertical Files serve as a quick reference source for a wide variety of topics pertaining to Arkansas history, including biographical, family history, subject, and place files.
The state archives' collection of military records is extensive. It includes the Revolutionary War service record index, Civil War service records, casualty lists, official correspondence, muster rolls, and narrative battle reports, Civil War veterans’ questionnaires and pension records, WWI draft registrations and abstracts of service, and other records from the War of 1812 and the Spanish-American War.
STATE LAND RECORDS:
The state archives' collection of state land records range in date from 1853 to 1956, and include information such as the kind of state land record, its date, the name of the land’s owner, the physical location of the land, the appraised value of the land, and other information. Types of land records in the state archives' collections include Land Donation Applications, Swamp Land Applications, Swamp Land Patents, Proof of Internal Improvement Papers, Proof of Loss Documents, Forfeited Deeds, Relinquishment Papers, and other legal documents generated by the State Land Commissioner's Department.
The state archives' collections contain over a half-million photographic images of Arkansas and its people throughout history. The collection consists of color and black-and-white prints, negatives, as well as rarer daguerreotypes, tintypes, ambrotypes and cyanotypes. Line drawings, postcards, engravings and portraits are also included. The Thomas Harding Photograph collection is comprised of business and advertising photography and personal portraits taken by the Harding photography studio in Little Rock in the 1970s and 1980s. The state archives also houses over 60,000 negatives from Joseph Shrader’s Little Rock photography studio. Approximately 13,000 of the state archives' photographs, primarily from the Ernie Deane photograph collection, have been digitized and are available through our online catalog.
The state archives' collection of maps contains over 4,000 items, historic and contemporary, related to the state of Arkansas. Maps of Arkansas's counties, cities, townships, and geological locations, as well as maps of surrounding states and regions, comprise this unique collection. All maps are available for use in the Arkansas State Archives research room. Some of our maps have been digitized and are available for viewing through the Arkansas Digital Archives.
The state archives holds tens of thousands of books relating to history and culture or Arkansas, as well as hundreds of others focused on the history of other states. They are searchable in our online catalog, and are available for use in our research room.
ARTIFACTS AND ARTWORK:
The State Archives holds thousands of three dimensional objects and artworks related to Arkansas history. With permission of the director, a viewing may be scheduled in advance.