The moment genealogists had been dreading finally arrived this fall: The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) <archives.gov> began charging more for record orders Oct. 1, 2008.
The reproduction fee for a Civil War pension file rose from $37 to $75 for up to 100 pages, plus 65 cents per additional page (for files longer than 100 pages, staff will provide a price quote before filling the order). You’ll now pay $50 for pre-Civil War pension files regardless of length, and 75 cents per page for other records.
Genealogists objected early last year when NARA proposed new rates, including $125 and $60 for Civil War and pre-Civil War pensions, respectively. The agency received 1,281 responses during the required 60-day public comment period.
NARA’s new fees are lower than proposed, writes national archivist Allen Weinstein in the Aug. 17 Federal Register, because those comments inspired NARA to change its formula for calculating reproduction costs. Though the average pension file order was for 106 pages, 65 percent of orders were for files 100 pages or less.
Weinstein’s response also counters accusations that NARA had exaggerated its actual copying costs. “We firmly reject allegations that the fees are being raised capriciously for the purpose of supplementing funding for the agency or reducing the number of reproduction orders received,” he writes.
NARA’s photocopying costs are atypical, he adds, because of considerations such as file retrieval and replacement, paper fragility, fastener removal, irregular-size documents and image legibility.
To those who urged digitization of Civil War pension files, Weinstein says NARA lacks the necessary funding. He added the records are prime candidates for a digitization partnership (such as the Revolutionary War service records arrangement with Footnote <footnote.com>), but “there is no near-term alternative to the current process for fulfilling fixed-fee order requests.”
From the January 2008 issue of Family Tree Magazine