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The Basic Unit National Archives Original Documents Archival Research Basics with the National Archives Lesson # 5 The National Archives and Records Administration.

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Presentation on theme: "The Basic Unit National Archives Original Documents Archival Research Basics with the National Archives Lesson # 5 The National Archives and Records Administration."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Basic Unit National Archives Original Documents Archival Research Basics with the National Archives Lesson # 5 The National Archives and Records Administration Pacific Alaska Region Seattle, Washington & Anchorage, Alaska 9/1/2009

2 Thinking outside the box Neat Historical Topics

3 Records in the National Archives are always organized by FEDERAL AGENCY or part of an agency NOT by topic. For instance:

4 Topic: Robert E. Lee in the Civil War Photograph of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from the Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, All documents in this lesson may also be found at

5 Robert E. Lee’s Resignation from the US Army 1861 and his parole (with 6 staff officers). Both records are from The Adjutant General’s Office, ca ca (but they are not together … or even close to each other) Topic: Robert E. Lee in the Civil War

6 Robert E Lee’s Amnesty Oath, from the General Records of the Department of State, Topic: Robert E. Lee in the Civil War

7 How many agencies were represented in the last example? Office of the Chief Signal Officer, 1860 – 1982 Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, ca ca General Records of the Department of State,

8 Now, where are the ORIGINAL records kept? Where would you have to go to look at the document in PERSON?

9 Topic: Robert E. Lee in the Civil War Photograph of Confederate General Robert E. Lee Original held at the Still Pictures Section, The National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD

10 Robert E. Lee’s Resignation from the US Army 1861 and his parole (with 6 staff officers). Both originals held at The National Archives Building, Washington DC (in separate locations in the building itself). Topic: Robert E. Lee in the Civil War

11 Robert E Lee’s Amnesty Oath Original held at The National Archives, College Park, MD Topic: Robert E. Lee in the Civil War

12 Where are the originals? 2 different geographic locations, right? So if you wanted to see the ORIGINAL records, where would you have to go? Are the locations close to each other or far away? Could you see them both if you went on vacation? What else could you see at the same time?

13 But, isn’t everything online? No, everything is not online, although more is being added daily. The National Archives holds over 9 billion documents. Only a small percentage of those have been scanned so far. However, the documents I just showed you ARE online. Online documents at the National Archives are represented by an ARC number. You will see ARC numbers in many of the citation pages accompanying these lessons. (There will be more about ARC numbers and finding documents online in a later lesson.)

14 ANOTHER EXAMPLE of a topic found in many different Federal agency records

15 World War I Poster to promote voluntary rationing. From the records of the US Food Administration World War I on the Homefront

16 American Red Cross members taking food to the family all down with the flu at Charlotte, North Carolina From the Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs World War I on the Homefront

17 World War I on the Pribilof Islands … peace at last! From the records of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

18 Other Agencies containing WWI home-front records War Labor Policies Board National War Labor Board (World War I) U.S. Housing Corporation U.S. Grain Corporation (Production and Rationing) U.S. Sugar Equalization Board, Inc. (Sugar Rationing) U.S. Railroad Administration Veterans Administration (Soldiers Homes and Rehabilitation) Army Air Forces (Spruce Production Division - lumber production for use in building aircraft). US Shipping Board US Customs Service War Industries Board Bureau of Marine Inspection Council of National Defense Committee on Public Information World War I on the Home-front

19 AND U.S. Fuel Administration Bureau of Aeronautics Bureau of Indian Affairs (Increased timber production for aircraft). General Records of the Department of the Navy (Navy Coast Inspector) Allied Purchasing Commission War Finance Corporation Capital Issues Committee Selective Service System (World War I) Naval Districts and Shore Establishments War Trade Board Bureau of War Risk Litigation War Minerals Relief Commission US Army Coast Artillery Districts and Defenses (World War I)

20 So you can see … You might have to look in several different agency records for your topic.

21 So how do you find your topic if the archives isn’t organized that way?

22 AND If the archives is organized by agency, how do you know which agency or agencies to look for?

23 You could go to ic/tools/record-group-clusters.html ic/tools/record-group-clusters.html for general topic-focused ideas

24 You could check the record group (Federal agency) lists at: records/ (all agencies across the United States)http://www.archives.gov/research/guide-fed- records/ alaska/anchorage/finding-aids/record- groups.htmlhttp://www.archives.gov/pacific- alaska/anchorage/finding-aids/record- groups.html (agency records held at the Anchorage facility) alaska/seattle/holdings/index.htmlhttp://www.archives.gov/pacific- alaska/seattle/holdings/index.html (agency records held at the Seattle facility)

25 OR You could ……………..

26 ASK AN ARCHIVIST! Bruce Parham, Archives Director, The National Archives at Anchorage Susan Karren, Archives Director, The National Archives at Seattle

27 Archivists are trained to help you locate the different Federal agencies that were involved with your topic, at the right place, during the right period of time

28 Once your agencies are located … The archivist will give you a “FINDING AID” for that particular agency. You will look through the Finding Aid to find a “series” (group of records) that may hold what you are looking for.

29 Sample Finding Aid page 13TH NAVAL DISTRICT As originally constituted, the 13th Naval District had consisted of the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming and the territory of Alaska. In April 1944, the territory of Alaska, including the Aleutian Islands, became the 17th Naval District. Not all naval activity in this geographic area came under the direct administrative control of the 13th Naval District. For example, the Navy heavily used private shipyards to build ships during World Wars I and II. Although these shipyards were located in the geographic area controlled by the 13th Naval District, the work was done under the auspices of the Bureaus of Construction and Repair of Ships. Consequently, the administrative control exercised by the District was limited. OFFICE OF THE COMMANDANT The Office of the Commandant was located in downtown Seattle. Personnel directly subordinate to the Commandant included the Assistant Commandant, the Assistant Commandant (Logistics), the Chief of Staff, the Command Voting Supervisor and the Commandant's Representative in Portland, OR. 13ND-1: Correspondence Index Cards cubic feet DECLASSIFIED Arranged in multi-year or yearly groups thereunder alphabetically. Indexes correspondence created by several offices under the Commandant's Office, 13th Naval District. The correspondence for has not been located. Index also includes a name index for reserve officers and an index of ships. Entry DC 39 Box 1-21Location: 8/28/10 Creating Organizational Unit Name: Commandant's Office

30 Sample Finding Aid page 13TH NAVAL DISTRICT As originally constituted, the 13th Naval District had consisted of the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming and the territory of Alaska. In April 1944, the territory of Alaska, including the Aleutian Islands, became the 17th Naval District. Not all naval activity in this geographic area came under the direct administrative control of the 13th Naval District. For example, the Navy heavily used private shipyards to build ships during World Wars I and II. Although these shipyards were located in the geographic area controlled by the 13th Naval District, the work was done under the auspices of the Bureaus of Construction and Repair of Ships. Consequently, the administrative control exercised by the District was limited. This is a sub-set of Records of Naval Districts and Shore Establishments, (Record Group 181) Note: The 13 th Naval District is located on the coast of Washington and Oregon and the 17 th Naval District is located in Alaska.

31 Sample Finding Aid page OFFICE OF THE COMMANDANT The Office of the Commandant was located in downtown Seattle. Personnel directly subordinate to the Commandant included the Assistant Commandant, the Assistant Commandant (Logistics), the Chief of Staff, the Command Voting Supervisor and the Commandant's Representative in Portland, OR. Another subdivision of the records

32 Sample Finding Aid page 13ND-1: Correspondence Index Cards cubic feet DECLASSIFIED Arranged in multi-year or yearly groups thereunder alphabetically. Indexes correspondence created by several offices under the Commandant's Office, 13th Naval District. The correspondence for has not been located. Index also includes a name index for reserve officers and an index of ships. Entry DC 39 Box 1-21Location: 8/28/10 Creating Organizational Unit Name: Commandant's Office “Correspondence Index Cards” is a group of records, known as a “ SERIES”

33 Sample Finding Aid page 13ND-1: Correspondence Index Cards cubic feet DECLASSIFIED Arranged in multi-year or yearly groups thereunder alphabetically. Indexes correspondence created by several offices under the Commandant's Office, 13th Naval District. The correspondence for has not been located. Index also includes a name index for reserve officers and an index of ships. Entry DC 39 Box 1-21Location: 8/28/10 Creating Organizational Unit Name: Commandant's Office These are the years represented in this particular group of records

34 A Series is … “A group of similar records that are arranged according to a filing system and that are related as the result of being created, received, or used in the same activity. “ (Society of American Archivists) The SERIES we just looked at would be written in a citation as: Correspondence Index Cards , Office of the Commandant, 13 th Naval District, Records of Naval Districts and Shore Establishments, (Record Group 181)

35 Sample Finding Aid page 13ND-1: Correspondence Index Cards cubic feet DECLASSIFIED Arranged in multi-year or yearly groups thereunder alphabetically. Indexes correspondence created by several offices under the Commandant's Office, 13th Naval District. The correspondence for has not been located. Index also includes a name index for reserve officers and an index of ships. Entry DC 39 Box 1-21Location: 8/28/10 Creating Organizational Unit Name: Commandant's Office This tells us how many records there are (a cubic foot is roughly the size of a banker’s box)

36 Sample Finding Aid page 13TH NAVAL DISTRICT As originally constituted, the 13th Naval District had consisted of the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming and the territory of Alaska. In April 1944, the territory of Alaska, including the Aleutian Islands, became the 17th Naval District. Not all naval activity in this geographic area came under the direct administrative control of the 13th Naval District. For example, the Navy heavily used private shipyards to build ships during World Wars I and II. Although these shipyards were located in the geographic area controlled by the 13th Naval District, the work was done under the auspices of the Bureaus of Construction and Repair of Ships [note: this is now located in the Bureau of Ships]. Consequently, the administrative control exercised by the District was limited. Back at the beginning of the finding aid, you can see that there is an indication that there are related items in the records of a different agency, The Bureau of Construction and Repair of Ships.

37 And don’t forget … Archivists are trained to help you locate records. They know their records better than anyone else.

38 Quick Quiz (choose one answer in each section) 1. National Archives documents are organized by Topic Date Federal Agency

39 Quick Quiz (choose one answer in each section) 1. National Archives documents are organized by Federal Agency

40 2. The quickest and most accurate way to figure out what federal agencies had permanent records for your topic is Search through agency lists online Ask an archivist Google your topic Quick Quiz (choose one answer in each section)

41 2. The quickest and most accurate way to figure out what federal agencies had permanent records for your topic is Ask an archivist Quick Quiz (choose one answer in each section)

42 3. A “finding aid” is A helpful record of the “series” or groups of documents held in a particular agency’s permanent records that might include your topic A simple guide to finding the topics you are looking for A simple guide to finding the dates you are looking for Quick Quiz (choose one answer in each section)

43 3. A “finding aid” is A helpful record of the “series” or groups of documents held in a particular agency’s permanent records that might include your topic Quick Quiz (choose one answer in each section)

44 4. Your topic may be found in how many federal agency records (record groups)? Only one, because they are always arranged by subject Always at least one (the Feds are ALWAYS into every possible area of our lives) As many agencies as may have been involved with your subject at the time, there may be a large number of agencies or there may be none at all. Quick Quiz (choose one answer in each section)

45 4. Your topic may be found in how many federal agency records (record groups)? As many agencies as may have been involved with your subject at the time, there may be a large number of agencies or there may be none at all. Quick Quiz (choose one answer in each section)

46 What is the most important thing to remember about searching for archival materials Ask an archivist Quick Quiz (choose one answer in each section)

47 What is the most important thing to remember about searching for archival materials Ask an archivist Quick Quiz (choose one answer in each section)

48 Need answers RIGHT NOW? ASK US! We are here to help you. The National Archives at Anchorage 654 West Third Avenue Anchorage, AK Holding original records from Alaska The National Archives at Seattle 6125 Sand Point Way, NE Seattle, WA Holding original records from Washington, Oregon and Idaho


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