I recently made my first visit to the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA). This is one in a series of articles inspired by that visit to help you make your first visit to the National Archives.
NARA has many publications that can help make your research at the archives more productive. Some are available online and some are printed. Of the printed publications, some cost money and some are free.
The best publication to consult before making your trip is the 410 page
- Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives of the United States, Third Edition.
The softcover edition is $25, although I wouldn't buy it unless you plan on making extensive use of NARA records. However, since many NARA records are now available online via NARA's commercial partnerships, it no longer requires a trip to D.C. to be a regular user of NARA's records. Still, I recommend checking local libraries and family history centers for this book before purchasing it. If your local library and family history center don't have it, recommend they acquire the hardback edition ($39).
If I forget to include it in this Visiting NARA series, remind me to review the contents of this book and give examples of using it.
I picked up hard copies of these free publications when I got to Archives I:
- Military Service Records at the National Archives, Reference Information Paper (RIP) 109.
- Using Civilian Records for Genealogical Research in the National Archives, Washington, DC, Area, (RIP 110). Replaces Using Records in the National Archives for Genealogical Research (GIL 5).
- Select List of Publications. (GIL 3)
- Citing Records in the National Archives. (GIL 17)
- National Archives and Records Administration Regional Archives:
Rocky Mountain Region, (GIL 44)  16 pp. - You'll probably be interested in getting the leaflet for your regional archive.
- National Archives and Records Administration Regional Archives: Northeast Region--Boston, (GIL 46)  16 pp.
- Research in the Land Entry Files of the General Land Office, (GIL 67) [rev. 1998.] Has been replaced by Research in the Land Entry Files of the General Land Office (RIP 114).
These two publications are especially important in understanding what to expect at the National Archives. I'm covering some of this information in my articles.
- National Archives of the United States, General Information Leaflet (GIL) 1, [rev. 2005], 9 pp.
- The National Archives in the Nation's Capital — Information for Researchers, (GIL 71) [revised 2004], 30 pp.
Here are three lists that contain publications not all listed above that you might find helpful:
To order free publications, contact:
National Archives and Records Administration
Archives I Research Support Branch (NWCC1)
700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20408-0001
Telephone: (toll-free) 866-325-7208 or 202-357-5332
If you don't get the free publications in advance, look for them when you get to the archives. As you pass between the elevators, turn to your right towards the cashier and look at the display stand against the wall on your right.
To order publications by credit card, visit http://estore.archives.gov for VISA, MasterCard, Discover or AMEX orders. To pay by check, please call 1-800-234-8861.