If You Value History…. Take Action

If you value historic records, historic sites, the teaching of history in schools, and the like, the National Coalition for History has a request for you: Ask your Member of Congress to join the Congressional History Caucus.  (If they are already a member, thank them.) Then, ask your genealogy-minded and history-minded friends to do likewise. Contact them by email! Phone! Postal mail!

The National Coalition for History (NCH) is a consortium of over 50 organizations that advocates on federal, state and local legislative and regulatory issues. The coalition is made up of a diverse number of groups representing historians, archivists, researchers, teachers, students, documentary editors, preservationists, genealogists, political scientists, museum professionals and other stakeholders. In other words, they are lobbyists FOR history with these priorities.

Who will speak for history if YOU don’t make your voice heard? Help NCH lobby FOR history by making your Representatives and Senators know you care about preserving records and historic sites.

Since 1982, the NCH (formerly the National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History) has served as the voice for the historical community in Washington. The NCH seeks to encourage the study and appreciation of history by serving as a clearinghouse of information about the profession and as a facilitator on behalf of the interests of our diverse constituency.

The NCH is a non-profit organization organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. NCH is solely supported by contributions from its member organizations and the general public.

P.S. Any advertisements that appear on this website/blog benefit WordPress, not me. Also, my opinions are my own and are not intended to represent the policies of any organization with which I may be affiliated. Just FYI.

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Military Records for African-American Genealogy

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Afro-American Historical Society’s 2018 Black History Month Genealogy Conference in Laurel, Maryland. It was a great opportunity to reconnect with Alice F. Harris and Bernice Bennett, and to meet Marvin T. Jones, Erwin Polk, and others. All lecture handouts are available on the conference website. Much of my handout, Military Records for African-American Genealogy: Suggestions for Researchers, is applicable to all researchers regardless of color. I hope you’ll find it useful.

P.S. Any advertisements that appear on this website/blog benefit WordPress not me. Just FYI.

The Digital Future of Prologue

For 48 years, since the Spring of 1969, the National Archives has published a quarterly magazine, Prologue, that has brought readers stories based on the rich holdings and programs of the National Archives across the nation—from Washington, DC, to the regional archives and the Presidential libraries. For many of those years, each issue also included a genealogy-focused article. The Winter 2017–18 issue will be the last printed edition of Prologue.

So, the question is, what next?

The National Archives is currently exploring options for online publishing with the goal of providing audiences with content that is most important to them. To that end, the National Archives is holding a focus group discussion with historians on Friday, February 2, 2018, from 1-2 p.m. in the Innovation Hub at the National Archives in Washington, DC, with an option to call in via conference line and video call via Google Hangouts. Space is limited. If you are interested, email Jessie Kratz at jessie.kratz@nara.gov.

Family historians (genealogists) have for decades been a core constituency of the National Archives and major user of its records (census, military, immigration, naturalization, and more), so I would encourage those who have enjoyed Prologue in the past, or have ideas on what they’d like to see in a NARA digital publication of the future, to attend the focus group in person or remotely. Or provide your thoughts by email. Either way, be sure to email Jessie Kratz at jessie.kratz@nara.gov.

1940 Alien Registration Forms: USCIS Webinar, Tuesday, January 23, 2018, 1 p.m. Eastern.

On Tuesday…. If the Federal Government is open for business, I highly recommend this webinar by one of the USCIS historians.  (If the Federal Government is closed, we’ll have to wait to see when it is rescheduled.)

1940 Alien Registration Forms:   USCIS Webinar: Tuesday, January 23, 1:00 PM Eastern

When researching early 20th century immigrants who did not naturalize (at least not before World War II), Alien Registration Forms from 1940 can provide important information. This webinar will focus on the 1940 Alien Registration Program and the forms used as part of that program.

Alien Registration Forms

Topics include:

The Alien Registration Act of 1940, and its purpose and requirements;

The registration process, followed by all non-citizens age 14 and older who lived in or entered the United States between August 1940 and April 1944;

Examining various registration forms, including information collected and how these records can help break through research roadblocks;

Indexing of the forms and ways to identify an early alien registration number (A-Number); and

Where to find alien registration forms today, and how to request them.

This webinar will not be recorded, so be sure to join us live. To attend the session, go to https://www.uscis.gov/HGWebinars click on “Worth Repeating Webinar: Tuesday, January 23” then click on the “Attend Session” button just before 1 p.m. Eastern. 

Join us for Citizen Archivist Week of Service!

From David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States….

AOTUS

In the spirit of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, join us this week, January 15-19, 2018 for the Citizen Archivist Week of Service. Our goal is to tag or transcribe 2,018 pages in the National Archives Catalog during this week-long challenge. Can you help us meet this goal?

Citizen Archivist Week of Service: January 15-19, 2018. Volunteer to help us Unlock History!

Get started by visiting the Citizen Archivist Dashboard today through January 19. During this week, we’ll have a special expanded missions section and many featured records waiting to be tagged and transcribed. You can transcribe records related to Mediterranean Passports, which were certificates issued by the Secretary of State in an attempt to ensure safe passage of American vessels in areas threatened by Barbary pirates; slave manifests from the Port of New York; marriage licenses from the Office of Indian Affairs White Earth Agency; records from a wide range of civil rights issue in United States history…

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The 1973 Fire: New Hope in Recovering Burned and Brittle Records

Most researchers have heard of the 1973 fire at the National Military Personnel Records Center in Saint Louis, Missouri, that destroyed 80% of certain Army personnel records for persons discharged from November 1, 1912, to January 1, 1960, and 75% of certain Air Force personnel records for persons discharged from September 25, 1947, to January 1,1964 (names alphabetically after Hubbard).

Records that were entirely consumed by fire are gone, but there is new hope for surviving highly burned or damaged records. There is amazing work being done by NARA’s Conservation Staff in Saint Louis to recover and make available records that were previously too fragile to handle. Preservation Specialist Ashley Cox shows and explains what’s being done in the 33 minute video, “A is for Archives, B is for Burn File” from the 2017 NARA Virtual Genealogy Fair.

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The Law and Reasonably Exhaustive (Re)Search

You won’t want to miss the webinar by Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL, entitled “The Law and the Reasonably Exhaustive (Re)Search” which was presented this evening (19 December 2017) and is available for free viewing for the next week. As Judy shows with very persuasive examples, you cannot possibly understand the contents of a record unless you understand the law that caused the record to be created.

Many of my own articles on federal records take that approach–with varying degrees of specificity–depending on the nature and purpose of the article.

Often, the reason the record was created is often as interesting–and sometimes just as informative–as the record itself.

Context is everything. History and the law provide that context.