Genealogy Resources on the National Archives Homepage
A Pathfinder by Alicia Stockton
The National Archives and Records Administration or NARA is made up of 33
facilities that house over 21.5 million cubic feet of printed material, 300,000 reels of
motion picture film, 5.5 million maps and charts, and 207,000 sound and video
recordings from all branches of the U. S. government. There are 3.5 billion electronic
records in their searchable catalog for these government documents, making the National
Archives the largest resource for government information in the country. Researchers
delving into their family history will find military records, ship’s passenger lists, census
information, and other documents that will add richness to their knowledge of their
ancestors. Listed here are two resources on the National Archive’s Homepage that will
aid in these quests.
1. Archival Research Catalog: http://www.archives.gov/research/arc/
This database allows users to search for the descriptions of all documents
held by the National Archives. There are resources for students, teachers, and
family historians highlighted on the site as well as What’s New? and Selected
Topics tabs. It is possible to search ARC by archival description, digital copies,
people, or organization.
Only a fraction of resources are available in digital format online. It is
possible to limit searching to only documents available digitally. The site is a little
difficult to navigate, but there are numerous user guides and an FAQ to help guide
2. Access to Archival Databases: http://aad.archives.gov/aad/
An extension of the Archival Research Catalog, this searchable database allows
users access to online records of military documents, photographs, ship’s passenger logs,
labor agreements and other government documents. Users are able to browse by
categories such as Genealogy, Private Sector, Wars, Time Period, Government Spending
and Places. Users can browse by subject to find documents on a particular subject of
interest in addition to using the search functions.
The site contains a What’s New? section, highlights, a Most Popular section.
There is also a Getting Started Guide for those unfamiliar with the site. This guide is
located in a drop down menu along with an FAQ and a guide to unfamiliar terminology.