A branch of the Arkansas State Archives, the mission of the Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives (NEARA) is to collect and preserve primary and secondary source materials pertaining to the history of northeast Arkansas and its people. NEARA also serves as a resource center for historical research focusing on the unique history, culture, and heritage of the area. NEARA opened in 2011, founded through a partnership between the Arkansas History Commission and Arkansas State Parks, and is located within Powhatan Historic State Park.
NEARA collects material on a 16-county region in Northeast Arkansas, which includes the counties of: Baxter, Clay, Craighead, Crittenden, Cross, Fulton, Greene, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Lawrence, Mississippi, Poinsett, Randolph, Sharp, and Stone.
Holdings include traditional archival material such as letters, diaries, maps, photographs, newspapers, and broadsides. Books, periodicals, and other print resources create a general Arkansas history reference library. The core of NEARA's holdings include approximately 500 cubic feet of Lawrence County government records, donated by the Lawrence County Historical Society. These county records are among Arkansas's earliest documentary resources, dating back to the earliest decades of the 19th century. Records from numerous counties in the region are also available on microfilm.
As the "Mother of Counties," Lawrence County was established in 1815 by the Missouri territorial legislature prior to the creation of Arkansas Territory (1819). The county encompassed large portions of northern Arkansas and southern Missouri, and was later subdivided into more than forty modern counties in both Arkansas and Missouri.