Staff at the Barbara Jones Walker Genealogy and Arkansas History Department specialize in helping customers research their family history and make the most of their time spent with the library’s genealogy collection. The genealogy collection contains about 25,000 titles including Fort Smith city directories from 1881 to present, local high school yearbooks, local funeral home records dating back to the early 1900s, Fort Smith birth, death, and cemetery indexes, and a Sebastian County marriage index. Genealogy resources for Arkansas, Oklahoma, and 43 other states are available. The Genealogy and Arkansas collections are non-circulating. The Genealogy collection is in open stacks, while the Arkansas collection, as well as original documents of genealogical value, is in closed stacks.
Staff can also help researchers use online databases such as Ancestry, Heritage Quest, and the Access Newspaper Archive. Local newspapers dating to 1848, Dawes Commission rolls and census (enrollment cards) for the Five Civilized Tribes, and census records are available on microfilm. Some newspapers have been digitized as part of an ongoing multi-year newspaper digitization project. Microfilm may be viewed during regular library hours even if the Genealogy Department is closed.
Resources on Fort Smith history including Judge Isaac C. Parker’s court and the U.S. Marshals Service are also available.