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story.lead_photo.caption The Arkansas flag is shown in this file photo.

David Ware, who has been the state Capitol historian in the secretary of state's office since 2001, will become the next state historian and director of the Arkansas State Archives.

Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, announced Ware's appointment on Friday afternoon. The Arkansas State Archives is a division of the department.

"Dr. Ware's educational background and his tenure with state government make him well-suited to lead the Archives," Hurst said in a news release.

"As state Capitol historian, he has already worked with many of the [Arkansas State Archives] staff, and that collaboration will continue in full as they work together to preserve our important historical records," she added.

The department received 55 applications for the post, and four people were interviewed for the job, said department spokeswoman Melissa Whitfield.

Ware will begin work in his new job on Jan. 21 at a salary of $71,910 a year.

His current salary in the secretary of state's office is $58,940.57, according to the Arkansas Transparency website.

Before serving as the state Capitol historian, Ware was an archives assistant at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock; project historian at Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum in Wyoming; and curator of exhibits and collections at Western Heritage Center in Billings, Mont., according to the Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. He has written articles and reviews for publications such as the Journal of Arizona History and the Encyclopedia of Arkansas and has written It's Official! The Real Stories behind Arkansas's State Symbols, published by the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies.

He has represented the secretary of state on the board of the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas since 2001 and is a board member of the Arkansas Supreme Court Historical Society. His other memberships include the Arkansas Historical Association, the Arkansas Museums Association and the Society of Southwest Archivists.

Ware earned a bachelor's degree in French literature from the University of Nebraska, a master's degree in history from the University of Wyoming and a doctoral degree in U.S. history from Arizona State University, according to the Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.

Jimmy Bryant, who on Jan. 6 becomes director of the department's Division of Arkansas Heritage, said in the news release that "we are lucky to have his talents.

"Dr. Ware is very familiar with Arkansas history, particularly its political history," said Bryant, who is retiring as the University of Central Arkansas' director of archives at the end of this year.

The director of the State Archives had been Wendy Richter. She retired in August, citing ongoing health issues. She had returned to the post in May 2018 after previously holding the job from 2005-12 when the agency was known as the Arkansas History Commission.

Hurst hired Richter to fill a vacancy created when Lisa Speer, who had held the job as archives director and state historian since June 2013, departed in February 2018. Speer cited what she called an intolerable work climate when she left.

Speer was retained by Hurst in June 2016 when the then-Department of Arkansas Heritage took over the smaller archives agency from the Department of Parks and Tourism under legislation enacted by the Legislature and Gov. Asa Hutchinson. After Speer departed, Hurst said she regretted that Speer abandoned her post in such an acrimonious way, but said Speer was respected for her knowledge and expertise.

In the spring of 2018, a grassroots group considered proposing an initiated act to place on the ballot that, if approved by voters, would liberate the Arkansas State Archives from the Department of Arkansas Heritage umbrella. No proposal has been filed since then.

In July, the Department of Parks and Tourism was merged with the Department of Arkansas Heritage under Gov. Asa Hutchinson's reorganization of executive-branch agencies that melded 42 agencies into 15. Hurst became secretary of the consolidated department.

Metro on 12/21/2019

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