1 Capitol Mall
Little Rock, AR 72201
One of the oldest existing state agencies, the Arkansas History Commission was created by the General Assembly in 1905. Inspired and guided during its early years by John Hugh Reynolds, the Commission is the official archives of the state, responsible for collecting and preserving the source materials of the history of Arkansas.
Dallas T. Herndon, the first director, was employed in 1911 and served for forty-two years. During most of his tenure the offices and archives were located in the present State Capitol. In 1951, when the Old State House was restored, the History Commission was moved into a part of the west wing of that building. Under Herndon's successor, Ted R. Worley, a three-story annex was added to the west wing. Dr. John L. Ferguson became director of the History Commission in 1960 and served through April 2005. Dr. Wendy Richter became director in May 2005.
The agency continues the tradition of organizing and maintaining the state and local history of Arkansas by collecting manuscript materials, census records, military records, family histories, and various county, state and federal records. The History Commission, which in 1971 became part of the Department of Parks and Tourism, moved into its present quarters in the One Capitol Mall Building in 1979. The Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives became a branch of the Arkansas History Commission in 2005.
As the Commission has grown, so has its patronage, serving over 14,000 persons annually in recent years. The history of Arkansas can be researched through manuscripts, books, microfilm, newspapers, maps, and photographs.
The History Commission is composed of seven members appointed by the Governor with the approval of the State Senate. Members serve seven-year terms staggered so that one expires each January. Members may be appointed for additional terms.