Thursday, October 20, 2011

First Ever Trip to the National Archives in Washington, D. C.

Today we left North Carolina and made the 5.5 hour trip up to Washington, D. C. to visit the National Archives at 700 Pennsylvania Avenue. It rained most of the trip (as usual), but we got here before dark and we even made a stop at IKEA in Woodbridge, VA on the way. I am travelling with Liz Tapley of My Tapley Tree...and its Branches. We planned this trip several months ago to coincide with my Fall Break and have been waiting patiently ever since for the time to arrive.

I am primarily interested in looking at Land Case Files for several of my mid-western ancestors of the surnames GODWIN, THOMAS, KING, HOUSE, and SMITH.

While I'm at it, I think I will try to venture into some military files. I have a George Brooks Revolutionary War file I need to review; I have a John Lasiter and Jesse Dunlap 1812 Service Records to review; Robert King and Agrippa Godwin Civil War files; and I'm sure I will think of more.

Between the two of us, I hope we can figure out and keep our fingers on what we are allowed to bring in what research rooms, which electronic devices to use on what documents, which films to order for which records, and which metro train to take, etc. We both did a lot a lot of pre-trip reading and researching which hopefully will be worth it. One post I found especially helpful was Myrt's Day at the Archives post.

We will keep you posted over the next couple of days as our research progresses.

Happy hunting!


  1. Looking forward to vicariously experiencing researching at the Archives through your visit. Would also be interested in seeing the difference between the files housed at the Archives and what is available for the same file online.

  2. PalmsRV, this is the exact dilemma I am having right now. We started off with a research guide who didn't know much about military records. Everything I found on the microfilm was basically just a single image card file and when I told him I was finding more stuff on and fold3, he said, yes, that was usually the case. That a lot of people come in looking for more, but the reality is that there is more online. This is the same researcher, however, who neglected to tell us that we could order the 1812 service records for anyone we found in the 1812 soldiers' index, especially after I inquired about whether the single image card index was the only thing they had to offer. I will definitely write more about specific files and compare them between the online versions and what we found at NARA.

  3. Ginger, I'll be looking at military records for the first time at NARA tomorrow, Saturday. If you'll be there maybe we can get together. You can give me some tips.

    —Jill Groce, @auntjill

  4. Hi Jill, that's great you will be researching military records tomorrow! Unfortunately we got everything in today, so we won't be going back to do research. We will, however take a peek at the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence that is on display at the Archives. Then we're going to take a tour of the Library of Congress and then start the 5 hour trip back to North Carolina. Good luck!

  5. Yes, if you are looking at an INDEX on microfilm, that is a single card--which gives you information needed to find more information which (1) may or may not be on a DIFFERENT microfilm publication or (2) may or may not be online).

    Overall, nice posts on your trip to NARA. Come back again!

    (from a NARA staffer)