Arkansas Genealogy and History Guide

Arkansas Genealogy Resources:

 

FIRST NAME

LAST NAME

LOCALITY


Arkansas quick facts:

  • Statehood:
    June 15, 1836
  • State Capital:
    Little Rock
  • State Nickname:
    The Natural State
  • State Bird:
    Mockingbird
  • State Song:
    "Arkansas" and "Oh Arkansas"
  • State Flower:
    Apple Blossom
  • State Tree:
    Pine Tree
  • State Motto:
    "Regnat populus" The People Rule

Arkansas Genealogy Research Guide:

Arkansas Census Records:

The first Federal census enumerated for Arkansas is 1830 and the government took a census every 10 years thereafter.  The census chart below will show you which census years are available for Arkansas.

Arkansas Federal Census Years:

  • 1830 Census
  • 1840 Census
  • 1850 Census
  • 1860 Census
  • 1870 Census
  • 1880 Census
  • 1890 Census records were lost completely lost in a warehouse fire.
  • 1900 Census
  • 1910 Census
  • 1920 Census
  • 1930 Census

Other census enumerations were taken by the state of Arkansas.  The years of these state census were 1823, 1829, 1865 & 1911.  They are incomplete but offer another source for genealogy research.

Other Arkansas census schedules besides the regular population schedules we are familiar with include:

  • Slave Schedules (1850 & 1860)
  • Mortality Schedules 1850-1880 (people who died during the census year)
  • Agricultural Schedules (farms 1840-1880)
  • Manufacturing Schedules (1840-1880)
  • Social Statistics Schedules (1850-1870)
  • Dependent, Defective, and Delinquent Schedules (1880)

Arkansas Census Records at Ancestry

Free Census Extraction Forms - Use these census extraction forms to record information in the same format as the census year it was taken.

Arkansas Military Records:

US Military service records can be obtained from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

Arkansas soldiers records can be searched online at the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System but don't consider this a definitive source.  The records held at NARA are more comprehensive.

Arkansas Confederate Pension Index extracted from the book by Desmond Walls Allen.  Alphabetical index:  Surnames A-G    Surnames H-O    Surnames P-Z

Arkansas Confederate Soldiers Home Database at the Arkansas History Commission can be searched by name.

United States Civil War Prisons has some prisoner lists online.

Arkansas Vital Records:

The Arkansas Department of Health holds vital records including birth, death, marriage and divorce records. 

Arkansas birth records have a 100 year privacy law.  The law states you must be related and / or demonstrate a right to the record.  Birth records begin February 1 1914 but there are some earlier birth records dating from 1881 for Little Rock and Fort Smith. 

Arkansas death records have a 50 year privacy law.  The law states you must be related and / or demonstrate a right to the record.  Birth records begin February 1 1914 but there are some earlier birth records dating from 1881 for Little Rock and Fort Smith. 

Arkansas marriage records begin in January 1917 and divorce records begin in January 1923.  Marriage and Divorce Coupons (Records) are not available to the general public unless you can demonstrate a relationship and / or right to the record.  County clerks may operate under different rules so it is advisable to contact the county where the marriage or divorce occurred if you are denied access to a record by the Arkansas department of health.

Arkansas Genealogy Subscriptions Online:

Many websites with genealogy resources for Arkansas are available online. Some offer free AR genealogy databases and other information for the online researcher, but the fee based subscription websites hold a more consistent amount of quality data and offer free trials to that data, giving you a chance to try it out.

1. Arkansas Genealogy Databases at Ancestry.com

          Get the Ancestry.com Free Trial when you register!

2. Genealogy.com offers genealogy databases, a library and U.S. Census Collection.

         FREE TRIAL of Genealogy.com


Arkansas apple blossomCondensed History of ArkansasArkansas apple blossom

Prior to discovery of the land we know today as Arkansas, Indians inhabited the area for thousands of years.  Some of the Indians who dwelt in Arkansas were the Folsom People, Bluff Dwellers, Mound Builders (whose large mounds are still in evidence throughout the state), Caddos, Quapaws, Osage, Cherokee and Choctaw.

The year 1541 saw Spanish explorers arrive in Arkansas.  Led by Hernando De Soto, the expedition searched for gold without success. 

In 1682, France laid a claim in Arkansas.  De Tonti, known as "The Father of Arkansas", began a settlement called Arkansas Post.

In 1762, Spain was given the Louisiana Territory, which included present day Arkansas.  They offered free land to settlers who would come and live on the land.  Within 35 years, the white population of Arkansas was about 386.

Arkansas was part of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase by the United States.  Arkansas became a territory in 1819, with Arkansas Post as the capital.  In 1821, the capital was changed to Little Rock which remains the state capital of Arkansas today.

Arkansas was the 25th state admitted in the United States on June 15th 1836 and by this time had reached a population of over 60,000.

The residents of this rich fertile land, were mostly farmers and planters.  The primary cash crop was cotton.  Prior to the Civil War, the crops were worked mostly by slave labor.  At the end of the war, when slaves were freed, sharecropping or tenant farming became prevalent.  Tenant farmers generally would rent 40 acres from a planter and would farm the land with their own tools and mules.  In return, they would give 25% of their crops to the planter, while sharecroppers, having no farm implements of their own, would use the planter's tools and retain only 50% of the crop for themselves.  Often, by the end of the season, the tenant farmers and sharecroppers, would have little left and in fact, often would owe money to the rich planters.  This state of affairs caused many conflicts such as the Elaine Massacre.

At the end of the 19th century, there was much diversification.  The railroad linked the cities together and new inventions created new jobs, bringing more prosperity to the state.  Arkansas became known as the "Land of Opportunity".

As Arkansas entered the 20th century,  farming was still important but new crops were found to grow well in the area.  Rice became the newest cash crop and is still widely grown.  Industry became wide spread, including paper mills, aluminum plants, clothing and many others.

The state of Arkansas has increased to a population of over 2.5 million.

ARKANSAS HISTORY FACT: Arkansas' name was derived from the Quapaw word "acansa".  It means downstream place or south wind in the Sioux Indian language.  Arkansas is well-known for it's beautiful, crystal clear lakes and streams, thereby giving it the nickname "The Natural State".

Arkansas History Resources Online:

 

Apple blossoms courtesy of Santa Lady