The Union County Genealogical Society's latest edition of "Tracks and Traces" was recently published, and is available for sale at the Barton Library in El Dorado.
Issued since 1977, the biannual publication explores the history of Union County, the families who helped build the community at its founding and other notable people and events from the region.
The most recent edition includes the obituaries of local men and women who lived to their 90s or to be over 100 and passed away in the first half of the year; the first of a two-part history of the McWilliams family of Union County and their impact on the community; and a re-printing of a 1932 El Dorado Daily News article noting the 100-year history of Liberty Baptist Church, among other items.
"I find in reading those old newspapers and articles, it gives us a glimpse into the way life was back then, and then you can tie it into your search for people," said Carolyn Smith, vice-president of the Genealogical Society.
Smith does most of the research for "Tracks and Traces," but she said the Genealogical Society encourages those who have researched their own family history or who have an interesting historical story to tell submit their ideas for publication.
"We're always looking for articles to publish and we wish people would submit pictures," she said. "History and genealogy go hand in hand -- you can't have one without the other. Say you have an interesting family story, or pedigree charts are always good. If you have done research and have information on your family that you'd like to share, or even just stories that would tie family members together -- anything dealing with genealogy and history."
Smith said the Genealogy Society is currently working to build its collection of obituaries of people from El Dorado and Union County.
"You can learn so much from those obituaries. You can find maybe relatives you didn't know existed," she said.
Forty-five years worth of back issues of the publication are available for viewing and purchase at the Barton Library, Smith said. Members of the Genealogical Society will also have a booth at South Arkansas Community College's annual Outdoor Expo, which is scheduled for Sept. 10, and back copies will be available there as well, she said.
Copies of "Tracks and Traces" make their way to far-flung corners of the country, and Smith said she's had a few requests from outside Arkansas from other lay-genealogists for back issues as they work on building their own family histories.
"These books go all over the country. We send to the New York Public Library; Fort Wayne, Indiana, which I understand has the largest genealogical collection in the country; Utah, to the Church of Latter-day Saints; we send them to a genealogy society in Fort Worth; most of the colleges in Arkansas -- Fayetteville, Conway, Arkadelphia, Little Rock; the Butler Center in Little Rock; the St. Louis library," Smith said. "It's not just a local publication -- it goes, literally, all over the country."
The next edition of "Tracks and Traces" is due out in early November, Smith said. It usually takes about three months to compile the information, stories and photos that will be published in each edition, so work is currently ongoing on the fall 2022 issue.
The Genealogical Society meets the second Sunday of each month, and this month's meeting is scheduled for this Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Barton Library. All meetings are open to the public, and those interested in genealogy are encouraged to attend.
Also, on Saturday, Aug. 20, the third session of the group's "I Remember When" speaker series will be held with guest Carolyn Williams, founder of the Quilted History, and on Monday, Aug. 22, a meeting on DNA will be held, focused on those who tested their genealogy through ancestry.com.
"We're always looking for new members to help us carry on. As with any organization, it takes a lot of people doing the job... We need some new blood in there really bad," Smith said. "A lot of people are researching... but the library, the genealogy room there has so much history and so much information on families in Union County."
This story has been updated to correct the contact email for the Union County Genealogical Society.