NARA Gets Digital

NARA Gets Digital

FamilySearch and the National Archives and Records Administration digitize Civil War widows' pension files.

Union Civil War widows’ pension case files are the first in a large swath of court, military, land and other records to be digitized as part of a partnership between FamilySearch <www.familysearch.org> and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) <archives.gov>.

The project is part of a long-term partnership in which FamilySearch staff will camp out at NARA — and eventually, at its regional facilities — with high-speed digitization cameras. Ultimately, you’ll get ready access, through FamilySearch and Family History Centers, to court, military, land, and other government records dating as early as 1754. Record images will be free at Family History Centers and NARA facilities, with indexes free on the FamilySearch Web site. Depending on the arrangements for a particular record set, images also may be available for a fee on a commercial Web site.

The digital fervor kicked off with a pilot project to digitize, index and provide access to 3,150 pension files. When that’s done, FamilySearch and historical records Web site Footnote <footnote.com> will digitize and index all 1.28 million widows’ pensions in the series.

That’s a huge step toward easing genealogists’ research and restoring their good will toward NARA, which in October 2007 doubled pension file photocopying fees to $75. Pensions aren’t microfilmed, so paying the fee, visiting NARA in Washington, DC, or hiring an on-site researcher are currently your only options to get the files and the supporting documents — affidavits, witnesses’ depositions, marriage certificates, birth and death records, and pages from family Bibles — they may contain.
 
From the March 2008 issue of Family Tree Magazine

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