Funny how things can change, Tuesday was such bliss I was almost ready to call it a week, feeling fully satisfied already by my experiences. But here we are on Thursday and I want to cry over the fact that we're almost done.
This morning's classes were presented by Pamela Boyer Sayre, CG, CGL. And as I mentioned in my last post, today dealt more with NARA (National Archive)
Mrs. Sayer gave a brief tour of the website, emphasizing that there are several ways to get to the same place, so its really best to just get in there and play around, knowing that you can't get too lost because you do have the "back" button on your browser. She also emphasized that NARA tried to be helpful by breaking links into various categories such as "Teacher Resources" but don't let that limit you, you'll find important resources in each grouping.
Earlier in the week, Tom Jones mentioned that its cheaper to actually higher a DC researcher to go in and copy/photograph the records you want, than to pay NARA to do it. Mrs. Sayre stated that it really depended on what records you wanted and what researcher you wanted to use.
Whether ordering, hiring, or making a trip yourself, its important to spend a lot of time on the website ahead of time to determine exactly what it is you want, and what's available etc. In the next class we also learned its important to determine WHERE the records are, as they may be at a regional NARA site rather than in DC. I wasn't even aware there were Regional National Archives, but now I know what I'm doing next time I'm in Denver or Seattle.
She emphasized that no matter where you went, call ahead, verify the records location, and make arrangements for your visits. Spend time on-line (or on the phone) finding out what else you need to know, such as security procedures (be graceful about, don't complain, its for the good of everyone), find out if you need a patron/visitor pass, parking permit etc.
Dr. Colletta finished the day with two more classes on Federal records. First of all addressing lesser-used federal/NARA records such as passport applications, homestead files, civil war income tax records, postmaster appointments and civil war draft registrations. He again emphasized that the important thing is to think about your ancestor and where their life may have intercepted with the government because there should be a record of that somewhere (or at least was.)
The last class was on Federal Court Records. There are several indexes available through FamilySearch or the NARA site. But you probably also want to check out docket books and use them as a sort of unalphabatized index. As well as visit a law library (or lawyer) to look at a set of Federal Cases books, a 30 volume set which lists cases from 1789-1880 which set precedence. Vol 30 is a digest version which serves as a great index as well. (I know the Research Center at the Archives Tuesday had quite a few law books, so that's another possible place to look.)