Pryor Center Plans Expansion

Fayetteville -- An organization collecting Arkansas history from the people who lived it is working to be more accessible to the public.

The University of Arkansas Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History is building a new space on the Fayetteville square. The center's goal is to preserve the state's history through the words and images of Arkansans, and Director Randy Dixon says the new location will make it easier than ever before.
"We talk to Arkansans on camera, in depth, in high-definition," Dixon says. "There are hundreds of interviews that have been conducted, thousands of photographs."

The center is digitizing more than 24,000 hours of TV news footage, donated by KATV in Little Rock.

"Once we raise the funds we'll be able to have everything in the collection digitized, so if you're looking for, say Bill Clinton when he was Attorney General in 1978, all you have to do is search that and all that video will come up," Dixon says. "I don't think anything like that is available anywhere else in the country or the world... It's an incredible resource."

The center is also moving into a former bank on the Fayetteville Square, offering unprecedented public access and a chance for anyone to contribute.

"A year and a half ago we were on the top floor of Mullins Library, basically in one room," Dixon says. "We're going to turn this vault into some TV studios. Say you want to interview your grandmother or your grandfather, you can come in, sign up for time, come into the studio do a high-definition, 3-camera interview. You come out, we give you a copy for you to keep for your family, we keep a copy for the Pryor Center."

Construction is expected to start in the next month, and the center hopes to be up and running at the beginning of 2015.

For more information, or to see some of the Pryor Center Interviews, click here.

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