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.
Finding aids for NARA microfilm It happens so often that these days it just makes The Legal Genealogist smile… ruefully, most times. You mention something in a blog post, like a Descriptive Pamphlet for a microfilm publication of the U.S. 947 more words
Thank you, Judy, for the nice post on NARA DP’s!
Revised 7 February 2021
For 48 years, beginning in the Spring of 1969, the National Archives published a quarterly magazine, Prologue, that 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 was the last printed edition of Prologue.
So, the question is, what happened after the final print issue? The answer is not surprising: Blogs.
NARA staff in many parts of the agency are sharing information and stories found in the records through blog posts. There’s the Pieces of History Blog at https://prologue.blogs.archives.gov as well as 18 others listed on the web page, “The National Archives Blogs.” Some of them have specialized audiences; others will appeal to genealogical researchers and others with a general interest in history. Check them out!
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.
If you haven’t tried a surname search in the National Archives Catalog in awhile, it’s time to try it again. Additional information about records, as well as actual digital images of records, are added frequently.
A search for the surname “Twigg” provides good examples of what’s been added thus far. In no particular order, there are references to persons named Twigg for which there are–
- Alien Case Files
- Personnel Files
- Cherokee Indian Records
- Compiled Military Service Records–Civil War (Union)
- Compiled Military Service Records–Civil War (Confederate)
- Correspondence (Letters Sent or Received)
- Seaman’s Protection Certificates
- Draft Registration (World War II)
- Compiled Military Service Records (Spanish-American War)
- Official Military Personnel Files
- Mentions in a roster of hospital matrons at U.S. Army posts
- Mentions in summaries of World War II casualties
- Mentions in applications for inclusion of properties on the National Register of Historic Places
- Mentions in various other records
Certainly, this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Obviously, when the surname is included in the file or item description, it’s easier to determine potential relevance, than when it’s necessary to ferret out the name by searching a PDF or other multipage items. Nonetheless, it is a free resource available to anyone with an internet connection. It will continue to grow in usefulness in the years to come.
Give it a try. What might you find?
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:
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.
- Digital Images of actual records will increase over time. One example of a currently-available digitized record about specific federal employees is the series Register of Civilian Employees in Field Offices, ca. 1890-1904 from RG 112, Records of the Office of the Surgeon General (Army), 1775-1994. The series actually consists of two items: the register and a copy of a relevant presidential executive order of March 1, 1904.
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.