Archival Halloween Trivia!

Trick or Treat! It’s almost Halloween! To prepare for the festivities try this spooktacular quiz featuring photos from the stacks of the National Archives. Whether you’re a horror aficionado or just a fan of pumpkins, this quiz will help you scare and share some Halloween history with your friends!  Test your knowledge and learn about the history of All Hallows Eve!

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Webinar: “World War I Repatriations” on Thursday, October 26, 2017, 1 p.m. Eastern.

An historian from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will present a webinar on Thursday, October 26, 2017, at 1 p.m. Eastern time., on World War I Repatriations. THIS WEBINAR WILL NOT BE RECORDED.

Did you know that hundreds of native-born and naturalized Americans lost their U.S. citizenship by serving in the armed forces of an allied country during WWI? Whether eager to join the Allied cause before the U.S. entered the war or wishing to fight in their native countries, many Americans joined foreign allied armies. Most desired to remain U.S. citizens and were even unaware that their enlistment had stripped them of their citizenship. To aid these expatriated Americans, Congress passed the Act of October 5, 1917, which allowed them to take the Oath of Renunciation Allegiance and reassume U.S. citizenship.

This webinar will use real case file examples to explore how Americans who were expatriated through service in the armed forces of an allied country during WWI regained their U.S. citizenship.

How to Attend

1.  Visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) History and Genealogy web page.

2.  Click “Guide to I&N History: Thursday, Oct 26.”

3.  Click “Attend Session” just before the webinar start time at 1 p.m. Eastern.

National Archives 2017 Virtual Genealogy Fair Online on Oct. 25, 2017

The National Archives and Records Administration will have its 2017 Virtual Genealogy Fair online on Oct. 25, 2017. If you miss any part of it, don’t worry, it will be posted online at a later date.

If you missed the 2013 to 2016 Virtual Genealogy Fairs, you’re still in luck – all the videos, PowerPoints, and other handouts are still online. Just follow these links:

19th and Early 20th Century Federal Employees

Researching the career of a 19th or early 20th century federal employee requires delving into specialized records. Twenty-three years ago my article, “Documenting the Career of Federal Employees” was published in NARA’s Prologue magazine. The advice given then is still relevant today. There are still three basic steps in this research process. What has changed is online access to publications, finding aids, and–to some extent–records.

Step 1: Determine When, Where, and By Whom Employed. The Official Register of the United States is still the basic resource for this task. You can read more about it in John P. Deeben’s 2004 article. Fortunately, many of them are now online on Hathitrust.org. This important step enables the researcher to identify the federal agency or agencies that employed the ancestor. Knowing the agency means the researcher can then identify the appropriate Record Group(s) of interest in the National Archives and Records Administration.

Step 2: Identify Records Series that Might Provide Information. In the days before digital access, researchers had to consult inventories, preliminary inventories, and other finding aids onsite at the National Archives, or find them in a library, or obtain copies of them to peruse at home. Now, nearly every record series for every Record Group can be found in NARA’s online Catalog. Although using the Catalog can be daunting, it is accessible from home, and at your convenience.

Step 3: Examine Relevant Records. In most cases, the researcher will have to examine these records onsite at the NARA facility that holds the records. However, online access is slowly increasing through (1) enhanced description and/or (2) digital images.

  • Enhanced Description provides detailed information to allow the researcher to decide whether the records will be useful. For example, each of the 22 files in the series, Records Relating to the Protection of Mail Transport by Armed Guards, 1926-1932 indicates which postmasters and post offices (primarily larger cities) are included in the series. Here is the direct link to the Indiana file as an example. The records can then be perused onsite in the National Archives Building, or specific records can be requested by mail. If your ancestor was the postmaster or a postal employee of that post office, the records will provide insight into some of the work processes involved at that post office.

 

Learning more about an ancestor’s federal career will add biographical details to incorporate into their life story. You’ll get to know that person better.