Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Visiting NARA: Other records online

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.

HeritageQuest Online

Logo for HeritageQuest Online HeritageQuest Online is available in qualifying Family History Centers and is free for use to many home users because their local library has a subscription to the service. Contact your local library to see if HeritageQuest is available in your area.

Like and, HeritageQuest also lacks a comprehensive list of NARA publications available. However, HeritageQuest is the only one among these sites that provides the ability to take a NARA census citation and bring up the corresponding census image.

Four of the six HeritageQuest search categories contain NARA records. I've included the NARA publication numbers for three of those.

  • "Search Census" contains a complete set of U.S. Federal Census images for the population schedules from 1790-1930, but a limited set of name indexes. NARA publication numbers are M637 (1790), M32 (1800), M252 (1810), M33 (1820), M19 (1830), M704 (1840), M432 (1850), M653 (1860), M593 and T132 (1870), T9 (1880), M407 (1890), T623 (1900), T624 (1910), T625 (1920), and T626 (1930). To aid in understanding the census, HeritageQuest includes The Census Book: A Genealogists Guide to Federal Census Facts, Schedules and Indexes by William Dollarhide, HeritageQuest, 2001.
  • "Search Revolutionary War" contains "selected records from the Revolutionary War Era Pension & Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files" (NARA publication M805) which contains some of the records from the full set. The full set (NARA publication M804) is available on which I covered previously.
  • "Search Freedman's Bank" contains records from Freedman's Bank from 1865-1874. The NARA title is "Registers of Signatures of Depositors in Branches of the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company, 1865 - 1874." and the publication number is M816.
  • "Search U.S. Serial Set" contains records from memorials, petitions, and private relief actions of the U.S. Congress. HeritageQuest describes the collection as containing both the United States Congressional Serial Set, (1817-1969) and its predecessor, the American State Papers (1789-[1816?]). The Congressional Serial Set, described here, is huge, containing over 14,000 printed volumes, doubtlessly containing copies of hundreds of thousands of congressional documents held by NARA. If your pre-visit or onsite NARA research uncovers a record for which the ARC catalog notes that some of the records were published in the "Congressional Serial Set," then use this HeritageQuest collection.

FamilySearch Record Search Pilot

The FamilySearch Record Search pilot is still too young to expect proper support for NARA citations or for finding aids for NARA records. Hopefully, product managers will incorporate these important features in the future. Because of the pre-beta state of this product, I won't bother to compile a finding aid for you at this time.

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