Arkansas State Archives

Research FAQs and Tips

Frequently Asked Questions

Click on the questions below to find the answers.



Although the mailing address of the Arkansas State Archives is 1 Capitol Mall, our public parking and loading areas are actually on Wolfe Street. Use the address 400 Wolfe Street, Little Rock, Arkansas, to get directions from online maps and navigation systems.

 

 

What kinds of materials do you house at the Arkansas State Archives?

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.

STATE RECORDS:
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.

FEDERAL 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.

MANUSCRIPTS:
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.

COUNTY RECORDS:
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.

NEWSPAPERS:
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.

ORGANIZATIONAL RECORD:
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.

CITY DIRECTORIES:
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.

VERTICAL FILES:
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.

MILITARY RECORDS:
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.

PHOTOGRAPHS:
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.

MAPS:
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.

BOOKS:
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.

 

Arkansas did not require official birth or death records until 1914. Birth and death records created after 1914 are kept by the Division of Vital Records within the Arkansas Department of Health. Prior to 1914, there are no official state births or death records. There are, however, some city records located in our county microfilm, including birth records for Little Rock, Fort Smith and Pine Bluff and death records for Little Rock, Fort Smith and Hot Springs.  

BIRTH RECORDS
Although there is no index to birth records issued by the state of Arkansas at the Arkansas State Archives, there is one for delayed birth certificates, or priors.  After 1935, individuals who had not received an official birth certificate applied for a delayed birth certificate in order to sign up for the new Social Security.  The Arkansas Prior Birth Index , (F410 .A75 V.1-10) is an index of delayed birth certificates housed at the Vital Records Division of the Arkansas Department of Health.

Another option for a person who was not issued a birth certificate is to order the Social Security Application packet from the Social Security Office in Baltimore, Maryland, though there are some restrictions when they will release a person’s records. The Social Security Application packet will not have the delayed certificate itself, but should give some birth information. To order the application download the SSA-771 form and send it in by mail with your supporting evidence. The address for mailing is:  

Social Security Administration
OEO FOIA Workgroup
300 N. Greene Street
P.O. Box 33022
Baltimore, Maryland 21290-3022

Death Records
There are indexes for death records after 1914. There is the Arkansas Death Record Index 1914-1948, (F410.A44 V.1-3) by Desmond Allen Walls and a Death Certificate search at the Vital Records website that covers from 1935-1961.

The Arkansas State Archives' "In Remembrance" project is another source for death records. It is an electronic index of Arkansas Deaths, 1819-1920 which was designed to supplement Arkansas’s vital records service, which began in 1914. "In Remembrance" serves to provide researchers with the location of death records in early Arkansas, whether in church publications, cemetery records, mortality censuses, newspaper obituaries, or county and local records from the Arkansas History Commission’s extensive holdings. This database is searchable on our site.



The Arkansas State Archives continues to work toward making descriptions of all of its collections available online, as well as growing its digital collections. Finding aids or collection level descriptions for open archival collections can be browsed and searched in the All Records and Collections section of our site, while other types of records (e.g., land records, military records, county records) can be searched by title, a person’s name, county, record type, and by geographic location by using our main records search.

The Arkansas State Archives digital collections site, has an expanding array of unique material including maps, postcards, photographs, and sound recordings. Additional photographs, as well as the state archives' extensive print book collection, can be searched by visiting our online catalog. If you still don’t find what you’re looking for, please come in, call us at 501-682-6900, or email us.

 

The Biographical Index, begun by the Arkansas History Commission's first director, Dallas Herndon, has been added to throughout many of the past hundred years. Due to changing practices in the archival profession and in the arrangement of our collection, however, many of the earlier entries are now inaccurate. Until the Biodex entries can be edited and revised, the online index is temporarily unavailable. The Biodex card catalog index is still available for use in our research room.

 

While it is a service we would love to offer to our patrons, given the additional staff, technological support, and funding it would require, digitizing the entirety of the state archives' holdings is not feasible at this time.



Circuit courts have countywide jurisdiction over criminal cases, naturalization, and major civil cases.

Chancery courts have countywide jurisdiction over equity, divorce, probates, and adoptions. Though they fall under the jurisdiction of the chancery courts, the Probate Court records are filmed separately and include wills, administration, and guardian records.

County courts have countywide jurisdiction over juvenile matters, taxes, claims, and county expenditures.

 

In some cases, county records have been destroyed by time or disasters such as fire, tornadoes, or flooding. Approximately forty of our seventy-five counties have suffered through courthouse fires at one time or another, which destroyed some or all of their earlier county records (source). Also, more recent county records may not yet have been sent from the county courthouses to the state archives for microfilming, and so may only be available at the county courthouse itself. What date ranges we have for which records depends on the county. If you are uncertain whether or not we have the records you are looking for, please contact us.



In our collections, we have the 1829 Sheriff’s Census for the entire state, 1865 Washington County census, the 1887 Newport, Jackson County Census. We also have the Census of Mines, Agriculture, Horticulture, Commerce, Fisheries, Products of Forest and Manufacturing for 1840, Products of Agriculture Census for 1850 through 1880, and mortality census schedules for 1850 through 1880.

 

At this time, patrons can only use credit cards for purchasing and downloading digital images directly from our online catalog. Patrons may pay for other transactions, such as purchasing flash drives, scans, or copies by mail, with cash, checks or money orders. For pricing information, please see our Services and Fees below.

ASA Pricing Information ASA Pricing Information (551 KB)

 



The state archives does not offer Inter-Library Loan (ILL) or lending services. Apart from pre-arranged events and exhibits, none of the state archives' materials circulate outside our research rooms.

  

The state archives is not able to offer certified copies to patrons.

 

What National Guard Records do you have? The state archives currently holds the Arkansas National Guard records for servicemen who were discharged in or before 1968. These records are not searchable online, but requests for copies can be submitted by calling us at 501.682.6900, or emailing us at state.archives@arkansas.gov, with the name and discharge date. If the discharge date is not known, the birth date or serial number of the person can also be used to help find their records. In accordance with the policies of the National Archives regarding accessibility to military records, Arkansas National Guard records kept at the Arkansas State Archives are considered archival and are open for public use sixty-two years from the service member’s date of separation. Records of service members who separated from the Arkansas National Guard fewer than sixty-two years ago are not considered archival and are open only to the service members and their direct kin (un-remarried widow or widower, son, daughter, father, mother, brother or sister). This is a rolling date. For example: the service record of someone discharged on July 4th, 1956 would be considered archival and open for public use on July 4th, 2018, sixty-two years later. Records of national guardsmen discharged after 1968 are still housed at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock. Candase Jackson is the contact person at Camp Robinson for National Guard records requests.

Candase Jackson, CIV AR ANG
Awards/ Records Request
Camp Joseph T Robinson
DCSPER Bldg. 7202, Box 2
North Little Rock, AR 72199
Phone 501-212-4171
candase.l.jackson.nfg@mail.mi


Tips for Searching and Browsing the Arkansas State Archives Archival Collections

The Arkansas State Archives houses a vast array of historical records in our holdings, including approximately 13,000 cubic feet of state records and manuscript collections pertaining to the history of Arkansas and its people. These materials have been described and inventoried for ease of access and can be searched and/or browsed for on our website. The majority of our records and collections are searchable on our site. We have compiled some search tips to help you find the records you are seeking.


Searching Collections or RECORDS

COLLECTIONS

  • You can limit your Archival Collections search by repository to limit search results to archival collections held at the State Archives in Little Rock, at the Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives (NEARA) in Powhatan or at the Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives (SARA) in Washington.
  • Clicking on any of the letters arrayed across the Browse Archival Collections page will bring up all of the Archival Collections whose titles begin with that letter. Clicking on B will bring up a list and short description for each of the collections whose titles begin with the letter B.
  • Clicking on the title of a collection will take you to a page with more complete information on that collection, including background information, collection number, location and a description or inventory of contents.

RECORDS

  • All records in the Arkansas State Archives online record search are searched either by title or name.
  • A record's call number can indicate its location at the main State Archives location or either of the regional archives.
  • When choosing a State, County, and/or City Limiter in the search, always select a state first. Using the State Limiter first will automatically narrow down the County and City Limiter lists to counties and cities within that state.
  • When entering a date range into the search's Date Limiter, keep in mind that the date range will require a Month/Day/Year value for beginning and end date and not all records have a date range assigned to them.
  • When starting a new search, make sure to click the Reset button to clear all previous search results.
  • Inventories are full-text searchable, so entering a specific word into the Archival Collections search will bring up any collection whose inventory has that word in it. Search results are ordered by relevance.

RECORDS SEARCHED BY NAME

  • Record types searched by Name include Shrader Negatives, Thomas Harding Photographs, the In Remembrance Death Index, State Land Records, Confederate Pension Records, 1911 Confederate Veterans Reunion Registration Cards, 1911 Confederate Veterans Reunion Questionnaires, Confederate Veterans Home Records, and WWI Discharge Records.
  • Names on records are not always the person’s full name. Military records in particular often use a person’s first and middle initials plus their last name. If unsure how the name was recorded, try searching only for the last name.
  • Name search results will be alphabetical, within each record type.
  • Pension Records are searchable by the name of the veteran and the veteran's widow, if she applied. The pension applications completed by the veteran and the widow are filed together.
  • The In Remembrance Death Index reports the date recorded in the source, not necessarily the exact date of a person's death.

Records Searched by Title

  • Record types searched by Title include: Maps, Printed Ephemera, Ozark Photographs, Vertical Files, General Microfilm, County Microfilm, Military Microfilm and Newspapers. These record types are not searchable by First or Last Name.
  • Some record types do not necessarily have a recorded City or County or State for every entry within them. If the results you are looking for are not showing up, consider removing limiters that may be excluding the results you want.

COUNTY RECORDS

  • When searching County Records, title search by the kind of record you are looking for, e.g. "marriage," "tax," "probate," "real estate."
  • Limit your search by state and county to narrow the returned result to records from the Arkansas county you are looking for. A listing of county records available on microfilm at the Arkansas State Archives is available online.

NEWSPAPERS

  • To search for all of the newspapers we have for a specific area, simply leave the Title field blank and limit your search to Newspapers from a specific County or City.
  • You can limit your search by date to see what newspapers are available for specific time periods. For example, searching for Record Type: Newspapers, State: Arkansas, County: Hot Spring, Dates: 01/01/1945 - 12/31/1945 will give you all the newspaper titles we have for Hot Spring County in 1945.
  • Using fewer search terms can prevent the exclusion of titles that may also be of use to you, e.g. searching “Times” instead of “Weekly Times” will return more results.
  • A listing of Arkansas newspapers on microfilm at the Arkansas State Archives is available online.

MILITARY MICROFILM RECORDS

  • Search using keywords for the name of the conflict or the kind of records you are searching for, e.g. “revolutionary,” “civil,” “draft,” “service records,” “correspondence.”

GENERAL MICROFILM

  • The General Microfilm database contains manuscript collections, state agency records, church and funeral home records, school and educational records, and organizational records. Try searching by the name of the agency, church, funeral home, school, or organization you wish to find. Finding aids for some of the manuscript collections are available online.

MAPS

  • Map titles describe the focus and purpose of the map, which can give you an idea of what information the map will show.
  • If you can't find a map of the exact town you are looking for, try broadening your search to include maps of the county where the town is located.