Archives Unveiled

By Diane Haddad Premium

After a two-week closure, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) <> unveiled its new research facilities to oohs and aahs on Oct. 27. Several research services formerly housed on upper floors of the 68-year-old building were expanded and relocated to the ground floor. The new National Archives Building Research Center enables patrons to access more records, archival finding aids, the microfilm reading room and archives staff in one location. Some renovation highlights:

? In the Genealogy Consultation and Microfilm Research Rooms, researchers can get assistance from NARA archivists, view indexes and records on film and fiche, and use NARA’s computers to access the Internet. New microfilm readers feature laptop computer hookups, so you can type notes while reading film. More film publications NARA plans to make available in the microfilm room include records from the Freedmen’s Bureau, compiled military service records of the United States Colored Troops, and the Department of State application and recommendation files covering 1797 to 1877.

? The Archival Library Information Center (ALIC, moved to the ground floor with expanded hours and more resources, including all bound and CD-ROM indexes to the federal census.

? In the new Military Service Research Room, researchers can examine compiled military service records up to World War I.

? In the Textual Finding Aids Room, which was relocated from the fourth floor to the new research center, archives staff can order records for visitors to view in the Central Research Room (see below).

? The Central Research Room remains on the archives building’s second floor. Here, researchers can inspect most textual records, except those related to military service.

? Researchers can buy NARA publications in the Publications Sales Area, open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

NARA also has increased the number of computers available to researchers from four to 20. Located throughout the first-floor research area, the terminals provide access to NARA’s online offerings, including the Archival Research Catalog (ARC), ALIC and Access to Archival Databases (AAD).

Although these renovations will make genealogical research at NARA easier and more efficient, you still need to be prepared before you go. The archives staff advises researchers to compile as much family information as possible and read up on basic genealogy before making the trip. The NARA Research Center, located at 700 Pennsylvania Ave. NW in Washington, DC, is open Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 8:45 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
From the February 2004 Family Tree Magazine.