The justices of the Arkansas Supreme Court, in order to preserve Arkansas's judicial history, sought volunteers several years ago to form a historical society. Established as a non-profit, educational organization, The Arkansas Supreme Court Historical Society, Inc. was incorporated on December 20, 1999. Its mission is "to promote the preservation, dissemination and understanding of the history of the judicial department of state government through exhibits, conferences, publications and other activities."
To promote its goals, the Society sponsors a series of articles published by the Arkansas Bar Association in its publication, The Arkansas Lawyer. Beginning in 2005, this continuing series includes histories of important Arkansas Supreme Court decisions and biographical sketches of Arkansas Supreme Court justices.
At supreme court ceremonies, the Society has received portraits of retired Arkansas Supreme Court justices. Most recently in April, 2015, the Society received the portrait of Chief Justice Jack Holt, Jr. (1985-1995). The portraits are displayed within the Justice Building. Further, the Society has cooperated with the Justice Building exhibits program to develop conferences on historical topics complementing exhibit themes, including Racial Justice (2004), Women and the Law (2005), Arkansas Constitutions (2006), American Courthouses (2007), the Arkansas Supreme Court and the Civil War (2012).
In January, 2012, journalist Ernie Dumas began conducting and recording in-person interviews with nearly all of the retired justices of the Arkansas Supreme Court, using recording equipment provided by the David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History. The interviews were transcribed by the Arkansas Administrative Office of the Courts, with final editing and approval by the interviewee, and added to this website in 2015. From time to time, interviews with more retired justices will be added.
The Society is governed by the board of directors elected by its dues-paying membership. Membership in the Society is open to anyone with an interest in Arkansas legal history. Individual annual dues are $25. Partnership, corporation or company annual dues are $500, which entitles the firm to name up to 10 individual members. Special rates are provided for students ($10 annual dues), and non-profit organizations or educational institutions ($75 annual dues, which entitles the organization or institution to name up to 3 individual members). Lifetime memberships are also available.
You may also support the Society by purchasing a copy of On the Courthouse Square in Arkansas (c.1980). In this 138-page photographic documentary about Arkansas’s county and federal courthouses, husband and wife John P. Gill and Marjem Jackson Gill combine their knowledge of law, Arkansas history and architecture. For each copy ordered through the Society, the authors generously donate a portion of the proceeds.
For membership information or other questions, please contact Rod Miller, Historical Society, Secretary, c/o Arkansas Supreme Court Library, 625 Marshall, Suite 1500, Little Rock, Arkansas 72201, phone 501-682-2147, e-mail: email@example.com.
- Frances Mitchell Ross, Past President