Category Archives: NARA – U.S. National Archives

Excellent Online Tour of NARA: Finding Genealogical Resources on

If you haven’t been watching the new educational series hosted by NARA (National Archives and Record Administration) on YouTube, you are missing out on some great learning – and it’s free.

This morning’s presentation was Finding Genealogical Resources on, which, of course, is the NARA website.

The talk is about an hour and 15 minutes long and is well worth the time spent.

Even though I use NARA often, I learned all kinds of new tips, tricks, ways to search and about localized records at regional NARAs which can be accessed online.

The video can be watched on YouTube right now. There was so much information presented that everyone, from beginners to more experienced researchers, will learn something new.

In fact, I plan to watch it a second time and I rarely do that with online talks!

NARA Virtual Genealogy Fair 2020: Postponed!

Some of us diehard NARA (National Archives & Records Administration) Virtual Genealogy Fair fans have noticed silence this month.

Usually, October is the time when NARA hosts its annual virtual genealogy fair. Given that most organizations have gone to virtual events, I figured NARA would be ahead of the curve, as they’ve hosted this virtual event for the past decade.

Therefore, I was surprised to check the website and discover that the 2020 Fair has been postponed until March 2021.

If you haven’t ever attended this first class event, or you missed a session that you wanted to hear, don’t despair! NARA has links to all of its past Genealogy Fairs on its website.

Note that for the years 2005-2009, the fair was an in-person event. Sessions were not recorded and handouts are not available. The links to those years provide only the program titles and speakers.

For the years 2010, 2011, and 2012, while the talks were not recorded, handouts from each session are posted on the website.

From 2013 through 2019, each session was recorded and handouts are available. The speakers presented a wide variety of topics from year to year – Genealogy Through Navy Deck Logs, Preserving Your Family Records, Where’d They Go? Finding Ancestral Migration Routes, The Best National Archives Records Genealogists Aren’t Using, 19th Century Ancestors in Tax Assessment Records, Federal Records That Help Identify Former Slaves and Slave Owners and Immigrant Records: More Than Just Ship Passenger Arrival Lists.

These are just a sampling (one session chosen from each year) of the excellent talks.

For those who don’t have U.S. ancestry, there are a few sessions on general topics, like how to preserve family heirlooms, that you might want to check out. However, most of the speakers focused on holdings in NARA, so this genealogy fair is quite U.S.-centric.

On the other hand, research is all about the methodology of understanding record sets. Details in U.S. military records, for example, might vary only slightly from details in other countries’ military records,  which might make it worthwhile to learn about records sets in which you have little knowledge or experience. You may well be able to apply what you learn about American records to similar records found elsewhere.

So, while we wait for March 2021 and the postponed Virtual Genealogy Fair, now is the time to view past presentations by first-class speakers. I plan to catch up on missed sessions, as we have often been on cruises in October. Not so much this year!!





New GeneaGem: NARA Prologue – Genealogy Notes

The United States National Archives Records Administration, or NARA, is the caretaker of our nation’s historical documents.

While many researchers are aware of the National Archives, many seem to think of it as an inaccessible, far away place. For its undigitized records that may be true, but NARA offers some true GeneaGems.

In the past, I’ve written about the NARA Record Group Explorer and NARA’s Virtual Genealogy Fairs, held in the fall.

Today, I’d like to share a third NARA GeneaGem, which is Prologue.

Prologue was NARA’s print magazine that published fifty years of historical articles. The last issue of the magazine was published in Winter 2017-2018. Do take some time to browse through the digital issues, as there is a huge variety of articles pertaining to American history that make for really interesting reading.

However, that is not the portion of Prologue that I am naming as a GeneaGem. See the purple arrow in the image above? It is pointing to GENEALOGY NOTES.

Click on that link and a new page appears:

Genealogy Notes consists of 24 categories, plus a bonus called More Sources, of items that would have the most genealogical interest.

Prison Records is one of the topics. Now, remember NARA holds federal, not state, records. If you are looking for someone who spent time at Leavenworth, you have hit the payload because this article will tell you all about U.S. penitentiary records at Leavenworth, Kansas.

Want to learn more about the Gold Star Mothers (those who lost sons during World War I). Check out this article about their pilgrimages:

There are three other articles pertaining to the Great War – one about soldiers growing spruce trees for airplane production, one about FEMALE yeomen, and one about army service during the war.

Take a look at the general “Pre-Civil War” set of articles:

There are articles on the War of 1812 records, early Navy personnel records (1776-1860) and even Indian Bounty Land Applications, which is a resource that I’ve never heard of!

This is just a sampling of the articles identified as Genealogy Notes and it is also a teaser to draw readers into checking out the back issues of Prologue Magazine.

Searching articles isn’t the easiest task when one doesn’t really know what is in the magazine. I searched for “War of 1812” and got 82 hits in Prologue. “Civil War pension” brought up 166 results and “Slavery” had 165 results.

I hope this quick introduction to Prologue has whet your appetite and you’ll take some time to browse its contents. It is rich in historical knowledge and may lead you to new research avenues.