Uh oh...

It appears that you're using a severely outdated version of Safari on Windows. Many features won't work correctly, and functionality can't be guaranteed. Please try viewing this website in Edge, Mozilla, Chrome, or another modern browser. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused!

Read More about this safari issue.
Central Little Rock
Get directions
Central Culture 0

Hybrid Arkansas Genealogy Workshop


October kicks off genealogy month and opens the lead-in week to the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies Annual Genealogy Workshop. This anticipated event helps many begin their genealogy research journey, and others hone skills through focused topics to expand their knowledge of regional studies and focus areas.

This year’s conference features Ronnie Nichols, a native of Little Rock with more than three decades of museum history experience. Mr. Nichols’ focus will emphasize Civil War stories and the significant role that colored troops played during battles. He will also teach a storytelling lesson through using black-and-white photography. Many people who study family history, whether hobbyists or professionally, are looking for their story. They not only want to discover their roots, but they also want to know the story of the people hiding in pictures and names on a census list.

What can you expect from the Arkansas Genealogy Workshop?

  • Ronnie Nichols, keynote speaker – brings 35 years of museum and historical structure management experience with expertise in the Civil War and troops of African descent. Nichols oversaw the reconstruction project of Fort Curtis through the Delta Cultural Center and the Arkansas Commemorative Commission renovation project of the Old State House and Trapnall Hall. His experience blends military and African-American history for a unique perspective of filling in the blanks in ancestral documentation.
  • Hybrid experience – participants can attend in person in Little Rock or through Zoom. Doors open at 9 a.m., and the workshop begins at 9:30. Classes will be posted online following the workshop. All attendees need to register, no matter their attendance method.
  • Hands-on learning – connect with the staff genealogists and other researchers to learn from their discoveries and ongoing projects.
  • Beginner Session – this is not a day for experienced researchers only. The workshop’s first session will focus on a personal story by understanding the purpose of oral histories and how to use primary sources, indexes, and public records to begin genealogical research.
  • Civil War Workshop – an overview of people of African descent and their involvement in military combat during the Civil War.
  • Photography Workshop – understanding different vintage photography styles and what you can learn from the people, places, and storytelling inside the context of a photo.
  • Migration workshop – learning more about westward and Northern migration of freed enslaved peoples moving to larger industrial areas for new employment opportunities, specifically focusing on those leaving Arkansas.

What services are provided by the Butler Center?

At some point, we all get curious about our backstory. Whether it is completing a homework assignment in grade school, a random project in a college heritage class, or cleaning out an attic at a grandparent’s house, our curiosity heightens as we discover artifacts of our personal story. Locations like the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies are valuable resources for research and understanding.

Being part of the Center for Arkansas Studies, the Genealogy Department has access to Arkansas historical records and digital collections. They also provide resources for genealogists and amateur researchers, and their strongest asset is on-site genealogists who assist visitors in their research endeavors.

  • Genealogy Ancestry Databases – on-site tool
  • Civil War Newspapers – on-site access
  • Newspapers.com – search all newspaper digital files through on-site access
  • Social Security Death Index – on-site tool
  • Microfilm records – city directories, marriage, tax, military, probate records and Freedmen’s Bureau records
  • Amateur genealogy books and family records

You can access another set of research tools from your home or office for personal, ongoing research.

How can you get started researching your family history?

  • Visit the Butler Center and meet with a genealogist.
  • Build a family tree with as many names, dates, and locations as you can gather up front.
  • Write it down and preserve it so you can re-access it and update it as you learn more.
  • Begin digging and filling in the blanks.

Interviewing grandparents is an excellent way to learn about family history. My son has been watching the Disney movie Coco and learning about the concept of “ancestors.” When he saw his great-grandmother recently and started asking about her parents, it began to sink in that we all just want to know the story of where we came from and the people who shaped us.

Access the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, Genealogy research center during regular library hours.

Bobby L. Roberts Library | 401 President Clinton Ave. | Little Rock, AR | 72201

2nd Floor Research Room (Butler Center/UA Little Rock Center for Arkansas History and Culture)

  • Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, noon to 4 p.m.

DIY Memory Lab & Recording Room (by appointment only)

Other articles you may find helpful for research.

Meet the

Learn more about .

A little about .

Keisha (Pittman) McKinney lives in Northwest Arkansas with her chicken man and break-dancing son. Keisha is passionate about connecting people and building community, seeking solutions to the everyday big and small things, and encouraging others through the mundane, hard, and typical that life often brings. She put her communications background to work as a former Non-profit Executive Director, college recruiter and fundraiser, small business trainer, and Digital Media Director at a large church in Northwest Arkansas. Now, she is using those experiences through McKinney Media Solutions and her blog @bigpittstop, which includes daily adventures, cooking escapades, #bigsisterchats, the social justice cases on her heart, and all that she is learning as a #boymom! Keisha loves to feed birds, read the stack on her nightstand, do dollar store crafts, cook recipes from her Pinterest boards, and chase everyday adventures on her Arkansas bucket list.

Read more stories by Keisha Pittman McKinney


Visit Keisha Pittman McKinney’s Website

Like this story? Read more from Keisha Pittman McKinney


Join the Conversation

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Submit a photo

We select one featured photo per week, but we show many more in our gallery. Be sure to fill out all the fields in order to have yours selected.

  • Accepted file types: jpg, png, Max. file size: 5 MB.

Regions Topics

What are you looking for?

Explore Arkansas

Central Arkansas

Little Rock, Conway, Searcy, Benton, Heber Springs

Northwest Arkansas

Fayetteville, Bentonville, Springdale, Fort Smith

South Arkansas

Hot Springs, Pine Bluff, Texarkana, Arkadelphia

Explore by Topic