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.

 

How to Use This Blog / Website

Since I’ve had a bunch of new subscribers recently (thank you), I thought a quick overview would be useful on how to use this blog / website.

  • Blog Posts are added irregularly to highlight records in the U.S. National Archives. Occasionally, I’ll also highlight other federal facilities that hold records of genealogical value. If you subscribe to the blog, you will get an email every time there’s a new blog post.
  • The Articles page is a bibliography of articles on genealogy-related topics that I’ve written for national, state, and local genealogical societies, and other historical periodicals. Links are provided many of the newer ones. When I add an article, I usually make a blog post to alert you to the records discussed. It’s also a great resource of information on a variety of topics.
  • The Civil War page focuses on articles about Union Civil War personnel.
  • The Research Guides page is a bibliography of research guides that I’ve written on specialized subjects, and links to those guides are provided.
  • The Microfilm Publications page is a bibliography of descriptive pamphlets (DPs) that I’ve written for NARA microfilm publications. Links to the DPs are provided for some of them. As time allows, I’ll add more. The records described in these DPs are often online on Ancestry or FamilySearch, but, please understand, I don’t provide links to where the records are online. You’ll have to research that yourself.
  • The Lectures page provides links to lectures I’ve given for which there is online content.

Words in GREEN are links.

Thanks for reading this!

Spanish-American War Nurses

It’s become a little bit easier to research Spanish-American War nurses. The National Archives Catalog now identifies 761 women for whom there are correspondence files, primarily for those who wanted to obtain government benefits based on their service. These files are in the series, “Correspondence Relating to the Service of Spanish-American War Contract Nurses, 1898-1939,” which is in Record Group 112, Records of the Office of the Surgeon General (Army). The files themselves are not online, but copies can be requested from archives1reference@nara.gov.

To search for a specific person in the Catalog, you have two options. One option is to click on the catalog link that says “761 file unit(s) described in the catalog.” The files are in alphabetical order.

Here are the first four files:Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 6.48.44 PM.png

The second option is to click on the button that says “Search within this series” THEN replace the *.* in the search bar with the surname of interest. Then click on the magnifying glass icon to perform the search. (Yes, that is not an intuitive process.)

Additional records about Spanish-American War nurses in RG 112 include “Personal Data Cards of Spanish-American War Contract Nurses, 1898-1939” (NARA staff has a list of nurses included in that series) and “Registers of Service of Spanish-American War Contract Nurses, 1898-1900.”

The Process: Moving RG 365 and 366 Records from Archives II to Archives I

Civil War-era researchers interested in Confederate and other treasury records will find it convenient to have these records back at Archives I, downtown.

The Text Message

Today’s post was written by Amanda Landis and Ken Roussey, Archives Technicians in Textual Accessioning at the National Archives at College Park.

In the fall of 2016, the Textual Accessioning Branch at National Archives, College Park transferred the Treasury Department Collection of Confederate Records (RG 365) and the Civil War Special Agencies of the Treasury Department (RG 366) to National Archives, Washington DC, reuniting them with related Civil War records in our collection.

The records, totaling 1800 assets, consisted of various ledgers, minute books, correspondence, inventories of seized property, and cancelled checks. While some of the records were contained in archival Hollinger boxes, the majority were leather-bound volumes from the mid-to-late 1800s.

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A Look at Inauguration Day Through the Years: Inaugural Photographs and Facts

The U.S. Constitution only stipulates the date and time of the inauguration, as well as the words of the Presidential Oath of Office. Given this lack of detail, traditions surrounding the U.S. Presidential Inauguration have grown and evolved since Washington’s 1789 inauguration. In a look back at past inaugural ceremonies, the NARA Still Picture Staff presents photographs and facts covering Inauguration Day celebrations and traditions throughout the years in A Look at Inauguration Day Through the Years: Inaugural Photographs and Facts.

Minor’s Naturalization

While we normally think of naturalization as a two step process whereby the alien first declares his intent to become a citizen and then petitions for naturalization, there were exceptions to that procedure.

For example, from 1824 to 1906, aliens who came to the U.S. while under age 18 could effectively declare their intent to become a citizen at the same time they filed their petition for naturalization once they had reached age 21 or more and had lived in the U.S. for five years (three of which as a minor). Let the law speak for itself:

image002.jpgSo, to summarize: the alien still had to meet the five year requirement for residency, and three years of that had to be while he was a minor.

Many courts used specific forms for these cases that combined declaration of intent language and petition language in one document, and they made sure to include the word “minor.”  Some may say the applicant “arrived as a minor,” while others will have the words “Minor Naturalization” emblazoned across the title or as a watermark.

For more on naturalization, see Naturalization Records and Women and Naturalization, Part I and Part II.

95%: Describing the National Archives’ Holdings

From the blog of David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States (AOTUS).

AOTUS

The National Archives Catalog has reached a milestone: we now have 95% of our holdings completely described at the series level in our online catalog. This is a monumental achievement. Why? Because the National Archives holds over 13 billion pages of records, and we are adding hundreds of millions of pages to that total every year.

Describing our records in the online Catalog means that the information for all of those holdings is in one central place for researchers anywhere to search and browse, and is vital to our strategic goal to Make Access Happen. Description enables us to provide the archival context of records as they are shared and re-used by researchers, citizen developers, and the public.

We’ve come a long way since our first online catalog was released in 2001. By 2003, only 19% of our holdings were described online for the public to view. This means…

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Civil War Telegrams

Like the Civil War? Like codes and cyphers? Looking for an interesting do-it-at home volunteer project? This one might be for you.

Smithsonian Magazine‘s article, “You Can Help Decode Thousands of Top Secret Civil War Telegrams,” describes an interesting project recently launched by the Huntington Library (San Marino, California), which holds the telegrams.

The project is partially funded by a two-year grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, which is part of the National Archives and Records Administration.