NARA 2021 Genealogy Series

National Archives Hosts Genealogy Series in May & June 
Participate in our genealogy series – free and online!
 

WHAT:  WASHINGTON, April 19, 2021–In lieu of the autumn 2020 Virtual Genealogy Fair that could not be held due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are pleased to offer a new Genealogy Series! Instead of a single-day event, the program sessions will be broadcast individually during May and June. You are invited to watch and participate in real time with the presenters and family historians from around the world on YouTube

Over the two months, the sessions will offer family history research tools on federal records for all skill levels. The May sessions are broad and will appeal to the beginner and beyond. The June sessions are focused on specific topics and may be better suited for the experienced researcher. All are welcome! Session descriptions, videos, handouts, and participation instructions are available at the Genealogy Series web page.  

WHEN: May & June—all sessions begin at 1 p.m. ET

May 4 Preserving and Digitizing Personal Photo Albums and Scrapbooks

May 12 Finding Genealogy Resources and Tools on Archives.gov

May 19 Tips and Tools for Engaging Family with Your Research Finds

June 1  From Here to There: Researching Office of Indian Affairs Employees

June 8  Civil War Union Noncombatant Personnel: Teamsters, Laundresses, Nurses, Sutlers, and More

June 15  Merchant Marine Records at the National Archives at St. Louis 


WHO: Staff experts in government records from National Archives facilities nationwide.

WHERE: Anywhere! The series will be broadcast on the U.S. National Archives YouTube channel
 

HOW: Visit the Genealogy Series web page to watch the broadcasts on YouTube. Participants can watch individual sessions, download materials, ask questions, and interact with presenters and other family historians. No need to register—just click the links on the schedule to view the sessions!  Videos and handouts will remain available after the event.  

Captioning:  Live captioning will be available online with StreamText. If you require an alternative or additional accommodation for the event, please email KYR@nara.gov.

Background: The National Archives holds the permanently valuable records of the federal government. These include records of interest to genealogists, such as pension files, ship passenger lists, census, and Freedmen’s Bureau materials. See “Resources for Genealogists” online.

Follow the National Archives on Twitter @USNatArchives and join the Genealogy Series conversation using #GenieSeries2021.

Register Now for the Virtual NGS 2021 Family History Conference!

You won’t want to miss this year’s National Genealogical Society Virtual 2021 Family History Conference. Register now!

“NGS 2021 Live!” is Wednesday and Thursday, 19-20 May 2021, and features nationally-recognized speakers, including Elizabeth Shown Mills, Thomas W. Jones, Barbara Vines Little, Judy Russell, Eric Grundset, Craig Scott, Janice Lovelace, and more!

In addition, beginning 15 June 2021 you will be able to access “NGS 2021 On-Demand” that features an additional 85+ sessions that can be streamed at your convenience to learn from even more subject matter experts.

It’s No Joke, There’s Just One Year to the Opening of the 1950 Census

No April fool’s joke here. It really is just one year – 365 days – to the digital opening of the 1950 U.S. federal population census on April 1, 2022, 72 years after the official 1950 census day.

Keep up with 1950 census news and information. Here are some recent blog posts you may have missed:

Preparing for the 1950 Census by Archivist of the United States David Ferriero.

Counting Down Until the Release of the 1950 Census! by NARA Digitization Director Denise Henderson

Countdown to the 1950 Census from NARA Catalog staff

1950 Census: The Official Census Day – April 1, 1950

1950 Census: T-Nights, April 11 and 13, 1950

1950 Census: Field Enumeration Procedures

1950 Census: The Beautiful Portfolio Control Label

1950 Census: The Answer Is … a Lot of Numbers and Publications

Register at the History Hub and follow the “Census Records” community. We’re aiming to publish one 1950 census blog post a week to opening day.

Are You Looking for a Woman Who Lost Her U.S. Citizenship?

Staff members at the National Archives at Chicago are tagging various records series in Record Group 21, Records of District Courts of the United States, to make them more accessible to a wider audience.

One of these series is the U.S. District Court, Detroit, Repatriation Records, 1918-1970 (National Archives Identifier 1150838). Between 1907 and 1922, women lost their U.S. citizenship if they married a foreign national. Later, many women wished to regain their U.S. citizenship. Depending upon when they applied, the women were required to file either a Petition for Naturalization or take the Oath of Allegiance. This series primarily includes the latter document. The records consist of eight legal-size archives boxes, and each box contains approximately 700 repatriations. To date, NARA staff has created over 23,000 tags for the series.

For more information about women and naturalization laws, see the excellent two-part article by Marian L. Smith, “‘Any Woman Who is Now or May Hereafter Be Married…’ Women and Naturalization, ca. 1802-1940,” Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives and Records Administration, Vol. 30, Nos. 2-3 (1998). Here are links to Part 1 and Part 2.

“How to Use the National Archives Websites (Plural)”

“How to Use the National Archives Websites (Plural)” will be presented virtually by Claire Kluskens to the Geauga County (Ohio) Public Library and Geauga County Genealogical Society (GCGS) on Tuesday, March 9, 2021, at 7 p.m. (EST). Registration information is available on the GCGS website.

In case you were wondering, Geauga (pronounced JEE-aw-guh) is derived from a Native American word for racoon and the GCGS newsletter, Raconteur, is partly a play on that word, besides being a venue for telling stories about ancestors and our research to find them.

Letters and Financial Reports, June-December 1870, and Letters and Endorsements Pertaining to Trusses, November 1875-July 1884, by Assistant Surgeon John S. Billings

There are now 26.7 million descriptions and 136 million digital objects (images) in the National Archives Catalog. Those figures will continue to grow.

One recently digitized series – that consists of just one item (one volume) – is the “Letters and Financial Reports, June-December 1870, and Letters and Endorsements Pertaining to Trusses, November 1875-July 1884, by Assistant Surgeon John S. Billings” (National Archives Identifier 15501038).

A truss is a prosthetic appliance used by a person with a hernia. The Act of Congress of May 28, 1872 (17 Statutes at Large 164), “An Act to provide for furnishing Trusses to disabled Soldiers,” entitled “every soldier of the Union army who was ruptured while in the line of duty” during the Civil War “to receive a single or double truss of such style as may be designated by the Surgeon-General of the United States Army as the best suited for such disability.” Section 2 of the act directed the soldier to make his request to “an examining surgeon for pensions” who would “prepare and forward the application” without charge. Section 3 of the act directed the Surgeon General to purchase trusses “at a price not greater than the same are sold to the trade at wholesale.”

This volume contains two different sets of fair copies of correspondence sent by Assistant Surgeon General and Brevet Lieutenant Colonel John S. Billings.

Pages 1-32 contain fair copies of correspondence sent by Dr. Billings from June 1, 1870, to December 31, 1870, and related records. These are letters to various payees who received government checks for services or supplies; suppliers of artificial limbs concerning limbs for specific veterans; and others. There are copies of receipts issued for money received from the sale of surplus U.S. Government property as well as weekly financial statements submitted to the Surgeon General concerning the financial condition of the Medical and Hospital Department, Army Medical Museum, Surgeon General’s Office Library, and the funds for the “Comfort of Sick and Discharged Soldiers.” Pages 23-32 (August 6 – December 31, 1870) consist solely of financial statements.

Pages 35-49 contain a name index arranged roughly alphabetical by the initial letter of the surname. Each entry includes the person’s name and the page number in this volume upon which correspondence was recorded.

Page 51-201 and 204-237 contain fair copies of letters sent and endorsements made by Dr. Billings concerning trusses from November 1875 to May 1884. Letters were recorded on the upper section of pages 51-71 while an endorsement on an unrelated matter was recorded sideways on the lower section of pages 51-58, 62-65, 70-71, 85, 100, 109, and 151, and sideways on the upper section of page 165. Letters addressed to manufacturers are primarily purchase orders or, in a few cases, complaints about specific truss models. Many letters to U.S. Pension Examining Surgeons and other physicians are notifications that individual soldiers were ineligible to receive a free replacement truss, while others address concerns about a truss issued to a particular pensioner. There is also correspondence with pensioners and the Pension Office. The endorsements copied into this volume were made on truss applications returned to examining surgeons with directions to obtain measurements necessary to provide the applicants with the correct size truss. A sample of the form of notice that the Act of May 28, 1872, permitted only one truss per soldier was inserted loosely at pages 358-359. Page 358 also contains a brief note in shorthand. For unknown reasons, an anatomical diagram of the “venus sinusesal base of brain” was inserted loosely at pages 360-361.

Pages 33-34, 202-203, 238-357, and 359 are blank.

The 1950 Census Training Timetable

Successful accomplishment of a project requires a plan. If that project involves other people, they need to be trained to do the task correctly the first time. No do-overs, please!

The Bureau of the Census needed to hire and train 140,000 enumerators (all temporary workers) to count 152.3 million people during the course of the 1950 census. A four-month training plan was devised beginning with “Chief Instructors” who taught “Instructors” who taught “Crew Leaders” who then taught the Enumerators. The time schedule was tight for a reason. If you train people too far in advance of when before they need the information, they will forget important details. Adapted from 1950 Census: It Took More Than 148,000 People to Make it Happen!

Item, “Technical Training Program – 1950 Census” from “[Folder 2] Flow Charts, 17th Decennial Census, 1950” (NAID 195980236), in series “Narrative Histories, Committee Minutes, and Procedural Manuals Primarily Relating to the 17th Decennial Census” (NAID 5634057).

Sharp Dressed Men of the 1880s – and a Few Women, Too

I recently wrote about District of Columbia police mug shots of criminals (primarily from 1883-1890) held by the National Archives in “Mug Books: An Unusual Avenue of Genealogical Inquiry” on “The Unwritten Record” blog of the National Archives. As one commenter noted there – “they are all dressed well…” – hence the title for this post.

Most of the mug shots were created by the DC police, but there are others collected from the police departments of New York City and Philadelphia. One of the most striking things about this series is that over 100 of the 717 cards in this series are for persons were arrested on March 4-6 of 1885 or 1889. This was not a coincidence. The presidential inaugurations of Presidents Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison occurred on March 4, 1885, and March 4, 1889, respectively. One can imagine professional pickpockets and other con men going to Washington, DC, to ply their trade in the well-off crowd visiting the capital for the big event. This was most likely true of famous professional criminal Charles Hallert, alias “Red Hyle” or “Cincinnati Red,” and his friend Charley Williams, alias Shane Campbell, who were both arrested on March 6, 1885. Red Hyle, “one of the most celebrated hotel thieves in this country” is profiled by NYC Chief of Detectives Thomas Byrnes in Professional Criminals of America (New York: Cassell & Company, Ltd.), at pages 109-110.

The significant “inaugural connection” of this series is not immediately obvious at a casual glance. It is an example of an archival truth – it can take deep immersion in a body of records to truly understand them. In this case, while laboriously tagging each photo in the National Archives Catalog, it eventually struck me that I was seeing “March 4” over and over again. I knew March 4 was inauguration day in the 19th century. Then I checked which years the “March 4” cards were from. With but one exception, they were from 1885 and 1889. Inauguration Day.

I hope that researchers will thoroughly study this series. There are undoubtedly many other interesting things that can be learned from it.

Identification Card No. 190, Harry Stevens (National Archives Identifier 75449274)

Counting Down to the Opening of the 1950 Census!

The “countdown clock” to the right shows you how many days remain until the digital opening of the 1950 census on 1 April 2022. It will be here faster than you think! Time to get ready!

Therefore, I’ve started writing about the 1950 census on the History Hub website with the first installment today: “1950 Census: How the Census Forms and Procedures Were Developed.”