Greene County Arkansas
Centennial Edition Section 4
Monday, August 29, 1983, Paragould Daily Press Section 4, Centennial Edition -9
Library's room opens Doorways to the Past
| Almost overnight, the Greene County
Library has become a regional center for local history and genealogy
Before the Lipscomb-Kirsh Charitable and Educational Foundation donated $100,000 for development of the library's Arkansas Room, its local history collection was, in the library's own assessment, "embarrassing."
There was a separate room designated for Arkansas materials, but its holdings were meager.
"This room has not been added to in years and has very little information for the students and genealogy researchers who come to ask for information," librarian Nancy Evans explained. "We are constantly having to refer them to the Jonesboro Public Library. We badly need a
collection that we can build on to and point to with pride. The collection we now have is so inadequate that it is embarrassing to continually tell people that we do not have the information that they require."
The foundation grant changed all that. The new wooden shelves in the S. S. Lipscomb Genealogy and Arkansas History Room are fast being filled with books -- how-to research books, an array of books written by and about Arkansans, rare and out-of-print regional hist- ories and much more. There are new microfilm and microfiche readers and printers, cabinets filled with census reports and other official records on microfilm. A display of old photo-graphs on the wall. A growing collection of genealogy magazines. Filing cabinets designated for special local materials such as family hist-ories prepared by researchers using the room.
The collection will be added to each year; half of the grant sum was placed on investment, and the annual interest will allow acquisitions to continue indefinitely.
From the beginning it was hoped the room
would become a repository for special Greene County materials and it was realized that
the timing -- coinciding with the celebration of
Paragould's centennial and Greene County's
sesquicentennial -- would give the project an
The library has been soliciting materials that
would otherwise leave the county or be lost --
old pictures and books, family histories, business histories, diaries, old letters.
"We're trying to get a hold of so much that has
been lost. Once it's gone it's gone," Evans
cautioned. The library had been acutely aware, she added, that some research material was being lost because there simply wasn't a local repository. "Finally, there's a place."
The library has just ended a search for a display
cabinet suited for old photographs, one that will
allow them to be displayed periodically without
damage. Evans said the case that has been ordered can also be used for artifact display.
| Dr. John Ferguson, state
historian and director
of the Arkansas History Commission, has suggested
that the library consider earning a designation as a
regional archive. But such a step would be beyond
the library's scope right now, Evans said.
The Arkansas Room's development was overseen
by an accredited librarian with a personal and pro-
fessional interest in local history, Cathy Lattus. Both
Lattus and Evans said throughout the acquisition process that selectivity was the key to building a sound collection; they didn't want to buy books just for the sake of filling shelves, but wanted to select materials they knew local researchers would find useful.
Reaction to the room's development has been
positive, Lattus said. Users were particularly pleased with the additions "because we had so little to begin with."
The library hopes the room will develop to best
serve its clientele. In order to accomplish this, Evans
hopes a volunteer group will emerge to help guide
the room's future. She has her eye on the possible
revival of the Greene County Historical Society,
since such a group would be most aware of the
collection's needs. "They would be the logical ones
because of their interest in history," she explained.
She is also open to suggestions from any user, she
noted. And the library has ordered some materials
particularly requested by researchers.
Already, the room offers a particularly useful
service -- trying to keep track of who's researching
what, so that people who might by chance be trying
to track down the same family line can get together
and compare notes.
The room's collection includes Arkansas census
reports from 1830 to 1910, Greene County marri- age records from 1917 to 1922, personal property tax records from 1876 to 1893, will and probate records from 1894 to 1899, copies of the Daily Press and Soliphone newspapers from 1902 to the present and various other miscellaneous records -- all on microfilm or microfiche.
The genealogy self-help books include ones on
Arkansas as well as Tennessee, South Carolina,
North Carolina, Virginia, Alabama and Georgia,
all states from which Greene County settlers
In addition, there are, or will be, Civil War service
records, pension records and ship passenger lists
for those interested in hard-core genealogy research.
The late Samuel Scott Lipscomb, for whom the room was named and whose foundation bequest made its development possible, was a prominent farmer and businessman who died in 1969. Born near Richmond, Va., in 1890, he moved with his family to Marmaduke when he was a child. Later, he founded a mercantile business in Marmaduke, which he eventually relocated in Paragould.
He married Vada Allen of Rector in 1919 and
following her death in 1941 married Eva Allen in 1942. Lipscomb had no children by either marriage.
A genealogist's 'trip into the past'
| The S.S. Lipscomb Room
contains a number of helpful resources for people interested in tracing
But no book can provide the patience a time-consuming genealogy search requires. That comes from the dedication, devotion and curiosity one brings to the hunt.
While tracing the history of her great grandfather, John Montgomery Bell, Ethel Thompson of Paragould decided to translate into thyme the sense of exploration that fuels her genealogy search.
Her poem is aptly titled, "A Trip into the Past":
|A search made for our loved ones,
Of a century ago or more,
Anticipation and excitement runs,
Like the tide on a distant shore.
From the days of long ago,
Came our ancestors of the past,
Loved ones we were so anxious to know,
Mysterious, but happy at last.
What a thrill to get to know,
Someone from centuries past,
Great Great Granddad from the days of old,
A wish come true at last.
Getting acquainted with someone,
Someone we never knew.
Getting to know them one by one,
Perhaps they know us too.
A part of them still lives, you know.
Their warm blood flows through us.
Let us be proud of our name, it glows,
With warmth and love and trust.
They were strict, God-loving and more
Transcribed by: PR Massey
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