Here are Ten Things that Terrify Archivists and records conservators, too! True tales and tails from the National Archives. Happy Halloween!
MESSAGE QUOTED IN FULL FROM THE NATIONAL COALITION FOR HISTORY:
“Ask Your House Member to Sign Letter in Support of Increased Funding for NARA and NHPRC
The National Coalition for History (NCH) has worked with Congressmen John Larson (D-CT), Don Young (R-AK), and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) to seek support for additional funding in the upcoming fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).
They have circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter to their fellow representatives urging them to show their support. The letter will be sent to the chair and ranking member of the House Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee which has jurisdiction over NARA and the NHPRC’s budgets. Please click on this link to see the letter which has already been sent to House members.
We are requesting the House Appropriations Committee to provide at least $395 million for NARA’s operating expenses in FY21 and at least $7 million for the NHPRC. NARA’s operating expenses budget in constant dollars has remained stagnant for over a decade, even as its responsibilities have increased. When adjusted for inflation, NARA’s budget has decreased by 10% since 2012. NARA today has fewer employees than it did in 1985.
We need you to contact your representative and ask them to sign on to the letter in support of additional funding for NARA and the NHPRC. We have prepared a one-page briefing paper that summarizes the funding challenges facing these two agencies that are so vital to historians, archivists and other stakeholders. Click here to access an on-line version.
The simple truth is Members of Congress are unlikely to sign on to the NARA “Dear Colleague” letter unless they are asked to do so by their constituents! Please help us in this effort by reaching out to your representatives to seek their support.
How to Contact Your Congressperson
To contact your representative, you can use one of these two options. No matter which means of communication you choose, please personalize your message as to your background or interest in history. If you are employed in the field, mention the institution where you work in your congressional district. You can also use the Dear Colleague letteras talking points.
- Send a pre-written message directly to your House member. Our colleagues at the National Humanities Alliance have created a concise letter that goes directly to your House member. You can add additional language if you want, however we have made it as easy as possible for you to have an impact. Click here to go to the letter, fill in basic contact information, hit send and your message is on its way. When you enter your zip code the system directs your letter to the Member of Congress from your district automatically.
- Make a phone call. All Members of Congress can be reached through the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. If you feel comfortable doing so, make a phone call. If you speak to a staff member, be sure to get their name and email address so you can forward them a copy of the National Archives/NHPRC Dear Colleague letter. If you get voice mail leave a message and ask them to support the Larson/Young/Pascrell letter and increased funding for NARA and the NHPRC.
To sign on or for more information, tell them to contact Michael Dunn with Rep. Larson Michael.Dunn@mail.house.gov, Dylan Sodaro with Rep. Pascrell Dylan.Sodaro@mail.house.gov, or Kem Crosley with Rep. Young Kem.Crosley@mail.house.gov. PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT THESE STAFF PEOPLE YOURSELF!”
–(End of message from the National Coalition for History.) Thank you.
Today’s post comes from Catherine Brandsen, National Archives Innovation Hub Coordinator Earlier this month, the Innovation Hub uploaded its 300,000th page for inclusion in the National Archives Catalog. Amazingly, this milestone took less than three years to achieve. Digitization opens up access to our records. Of the 13 billion paper records in the National Archives,…
If you were intrigued by the horse sales records mentioned in a recent post, there are plenty more records in the U.S. National Archives that are unusual, unexpected, or unknown to most persons, that are just waiting for researchers to examine and make good use of.
I’ve outlined search strategies in an article entitled, “The National Archives Catalog” which I hope you’ll try for yourself. Hint: URLs in “green” colored text in the article are clickable links!
There are many unusual or unexpected records in the U.S. National Archives that shed light on the life on someone’s ancestor or relative. Among these is a slim volume in which were recorded the buyers and sale price of surplus military horses sold at auction on 12 February 1864 at Frederick, Maryland, and on 19 and 22 February 1864 at Reading, Pennsylvania. The Office of the Quartermaster General sold the horses because they were no longer fit for military duty, but were still serviceable for less demanding civilian needs.
Read about this volume in “No Horsing Around! Unusual Records in the National Archives” and then go to List of Horses Sold, February 1864 to take a look at the volume yourself.
All the names have been “tagged” so that a researcher could stumble upon this volume when doing a simple name search in the National Archives Catalog — but, beware! Names are not always spelled as expected!
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.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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!
The internment of over 110,000 Japanese citizens and Americans of Japanese descent during World War II is well-known. In contrast, U.S. internment of over 6,000 German citizens and other enemy aliens during the First World War has been largely forgotten.
Was your ancestor interned? Read my article, “Internment of Enemy Aliens During World War I” for more information. I recommend starting with online newspaper databases which sometimes contain news reports about aliens arrested and detained. Then, you’ll want to locate federal records in the custody of the U.S. National Archives. My article will introduce you to available records and how to request record searches and copies.
Photo: Enemy aliens interned at Fort Douglas, Utah, pass the time by building model ships. 165-WW-161C-94. NAID 31478939. American Unofficial Collection of World War I Photographs, 1917-18; Record Group 165, Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs; National Archives at College Park, MD.