May 26, 2005

Arkansas History Commission and State Archives

E-mail just arrived from Russell P. Baker, CA, Archival Manager of the Arkansas History Commission and State Archives in Little Rock:

ITS OFFICIAL

HISTORY COMMISSION TO REOPEN ON SATURDAYS

The Arkansas History Commission and State Archives will be open on Saturdays, beginning June 4, for the convenience of those who can’t come during regular weekday hours. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and staff, including either an archivist or librarian, will be on hand to assist researchers and visitors. “We’ve had a lot of demand from the public for Saturday hours,” said Wendy Richter, the new state historian who took office on May 16. “We are aware that it is difficult for some people to visit the archives during the work week, especially those from out-of-town. Being open on Saturdays will make the information more accessible to the public, whether they’re doing genealogical or historical research, or both.”

A treat is in store for those who have never visited the archives, located on the second floor of the Multi-Agency Complex building at One Capitol Mall, west of the State Capitol building. The areas open to the public represent a microcosm of both American and Arkansas timelines. The oldest information owned by the agency is French Louisiana records purchased from France that cover the time frame 1680 to 1800. Some of the other earliest papers on file include “Matrimonios De Blanco” which loosely translated is “White Marriages,” those that took place at "Poste de Arkansea" from 1791 to 1840. These files, along U.S. Census, county, church and military records, are mostly accessible on microfilm.

A couple of Arkansas history gems on view in the offices that are sure to thrill the history buff include Edward P. Washbourne’s original Arkansas Traveller painting, and the original 1912 Arkansas flag design submission by Willie Kavanaugh Hocker of Wabbaseka. An interesting note missed by most is that the original flag did not include the state’s name. A mock-up of the winning entry to which Arkansas has been added hangs below the original. nother popular exhibit is one of authentic Civil War currency, which is available for viewing by appointment. Portraits of well-known personages that had an impact on the state, such as Henri de Tonti, plus famous Arkansans like Albert Pike, line the walls. A rotating exhibit of artifacts owned by the Commission can be viewed just outside the office’s main entrance.

For more information, contact Wendy Richter at (501) 682-6900 or e-mail wendy.richter@arkansas.gov . Directions on how to reach the offices can be found on the official History Commission Web site: www.ark-ives.com

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