Collections

Over 550,000 objects make up the museum collections, covering the prehistory and history of Northwest Arkansas, including Benton, Boone, Carroll, Madison, Newton, and Washington counties. Three-dimensional objects include Native American artifacts; textiles, costumes, and accessories; tools and equipment; product packages and advertising media; household and recreational items; and original art. Archival materials include books, maps, documents, and scrapbooks.  Photographic images cover topics such as area people, events, agriculture, industry, buildings, and railroads.

Over 550,000 objects make up the museum collections, covering the prehistory and history of Northwest Arkansas, including Benton, Boone, Carroll, Madison, Newton, and Washington counties. Three-dimensional objects include Native American artifacts; textiles, costumes, and accessories; tools and equipment; product packages and advertising media; household and recreational items; and original art. Archival materials include books, maps, documents, and scrapbooks.  Photographic images cover topics such as area people, events, agriculture, industry, buildings, and railroads.

Seven historic buildings are part of the collection: Ritter-McDonald Log Cabin (1850s), Shiloh Meeting Hall (1871), Searcy House (1870s), Steele General Store (1870s), Dr. Carter’s Office (1880s), Cooper Barn (1930s), and Cartmell Outhouse (1930s). The Searcy House and Shiloh Meeting Hall sit on their original sites; the rest were moved from nearby locations. The research collection consists of 45 file drawers of clippings, pamphlets, and papers; books, letters, newspapers, directories, maps, and ephemera; archival records documenting family histories, businesses, organizations, and politics; and an oral history collection of more than 150 recorded  interviews. Contact our collections manager, Carolyn Reno, for more information.

For some glimpses into our collections, visit Artifact of the Month and Photo of the Month.

Selected Collections

Berry-Braun Family Collection

Items from the family of Millard Berry (Washington County judge, 1901–1904), including clothing, jewelry, letters, artwork, photographs, and a trumpet; 1850s–1900s.

William H. Chenault Collection

Farm and family items from the Burkett and Elzey families of Marble, (Madison County), including clothing, quilts, farm bell, and family papers; 1880s–1940s.

Ernie Deane Collection

Papers and books relating to Arkansas topics researched by journalist, teacher, historian, and folklorist Ernie Deane (1911–1991). Subject headings (pdf)

Orville and Susan Hall Jr. Collection

Toys and games from the 1930s–1940s, hand-painted china, clothing and accessories, and household items from the Hall family of Fayetteville.

Jeanne Hoffer-Tucker Collection

Paintings by folk artist Essie Treat Ward (1902–1981) of Searcy County, Arkansas. Ward has been called the “Grandma Moses of the Ozarks.” View our Essie Ward online exhibit.

Guy Howard Collection

Native American prehistoric and historic artifacts, including tools, ceramics, beads, and effigies. This was the founding collection of the Shiloh Museum.

Lucy Cartmell Leming Collection

Household objects, handmade tools, paper items, and an outhouse moved to  the museum campus, from the Cartmell family whose farm was near Brentwood (Washington County); 1920s–1950s.

Mooney-Barker Drugstore Collection

Retail items and business, community, and family papers from a drugstore in Pettigrew (Madison County), a timber boom-town in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Morris Family Collection

Family, farm, and school papers and World War I items from the Emmett and Emma Morris family who lived in Elkins and Lincoln (Washington County).

Mary Parsons Photograph Collection

Over 500,000 images of Northwest Arkansas life from the mid-1800s forward, including the 1960s–1990s photo morgues of two local newspapers. Find out more.

Searcy Family Collection

Items from a prominent Springdale family, including 1800s almanacs, domestic objects, textiles, tools, family records, and the Searcy House on the museum campus.

Vaughan-Applegate Collection

Photography equipment including early studio cameras and darkroom equipment, versions of almost every Kodak camera, lantern-slide projectors, movie cameras, and digital cameras.