James Logan Morgan Jr. Papers: Dozens of Photos Now Digitized

Newport High’s first football team, the Greyhounds: left to right are Harry Littleton, Walter Stallings, Charles Minor, Albert Bevans, W. L. Childers, Elmer Patton, Burley Coe, Willey McMinn (captain), Vernon Singles (coach), Carl Hirsch, Gus Rankin, Herbert Wise, and Virgil Umstead; 1913.

James Logan Morgan Jr. was a teacher, historian, and minister. He was born on September 13, 1940, in Oil Trough (Independence County) to James Logan Morgan Sr. (1910–1995) and Eva Irene Landrum Morgan (1922–2009). Morgan graduated from Newport High School in 1958 and earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in history and business from Arkansas College (now Lyon College) in Batesville (Independence County), graduating summa cum laude in 1962. He lived most of his life in Newport (Jackson County) and was a charter member of the Jackson County Historical Society, serving as editor of The Stream of History, the society’s quarterly journal, from 1964 to 1980. He published numerous articles on Arkansas history with an interest in the northeastern Arkansas region—especially Jackson, Independence, and Woodruff Counties—and in African American history.

Philander Smith College summer graduating class, Little Rock, Arkansas, 1952.

Morgan’s interest in genealogy began at a young age, and he became known as one of the state’s expert genealogists. He established the Northeast Arkansas Genealogical Association (1970–1974) and other groups during his career. He also compiled and published numerous genealogical books and quarterly newsletters, and conducted research for family historians from across the country. He also served on the board of the Arkansas Genealogical Society from 1974 to 1989. In 1969, while teaching at Shorter College (an affiliate of the African Methodist Episcopal Church) in North Little Rock, he joined the AME Church. He was licensed to preach in 1990 and was ordained as a deacon in 1994 and an elder in 1996. He served as secretary of the East-Northeast Arkansas Conference in 1996. Morgan also served as pastor of St. Paul AME Church in Marked Tree (Poinsett County) and Bethel AME Church in Blytheville (Mississippi County) before retiring. James Logan Morgan Jr. died on August 18, 2011.

Morgan’s massive collection of papers, donated to the CALS Butler Center for Arkansas Studies by the Jackson County Historical Society and opened to researchers as a processed collection by the Butler Center in 2016, contains personal papers and historical files related to cemeteries, churches, the military, lineage societies, and schools; genealogical correspondence and research; annual Black history and Martin Luther King Day programs; newspapers; and maps.

United Harmonizers, KNBY. The group organized in 1948 and was the first African-American singing group to have a program on KNBY Radio. Pictured are Ted Hatchett, Norris Stephenson, Theoplius Henderson, Gus Hatchett, and T. A. Watson. Piano: Minnie Bell Stephenson; 1949.

The collection also has more than 1,800 photographs and more than 2,000 funeral programs (not counting obituary notices). The collection’s 277 archival boxes are arranged topically and alphabetically. Morgan was able to amass this vast collection of material due to his deep involvement in Arkansas’s genealogical, historical, and religious communities.

The collection is of special interest to those in the northeastern part of the state due to Morgan’s fervent documentation of the region. Family historians will find value in both his family files and genealogy correspondence because genealogists seeking his assistance often included with their inquiries facts already known about their families and sometimes pedigree charts. In a few cases, subseries were created due to the significance of the material, such as for the M. M. Stuckey, Arthur and Iona Oates, Bleakley, Dunaway, and Harrison families.

The entire collection is available to researchers in the Research Room in the CALS Bobby L. Roberts Library of Arkansas History & Art on Library Square in downtown Little Rock, and the finding aid is available online here. Digitized items are available here.

 

 

 

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