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Minutes from the February 18th DC-area Researchers Meeting are now available

by on March 3, 2011


The minutes from the Researcher Users’ Group meeting on February 18th (PDF) are now available on the Archives.gov page for the Researcher Users Group at the National Archives in the Washington, DC Area.

Topics covered in the meeting included:
- NARA’s Transformation Plan
- The 1940 Census
- An update on the Archives I renovation plans
- An update on the purchase of new microfilm reader-scanners for Archives I
- A discussion of the potential move of military records to St. Louis
- A discussion of the Library at Archives I

Please join us for our next meeting at 1 PM on Friday, May 20th, 2011 at Archives II in College Park, Maryland, lecture rooms B/C.  Please let us know here on NARAtions if you have any suggestions for the agenda and we’ll pass your ideas along to the Customer Services Staff.

And don’t forget to mark your calendars for the annual NARA Genealogy Fair on April 20-21. This year’s theme is Become Your Family’s Detective.


Comments

Marty Hiatt March 6, 2011 at 11:46 am

If NARA is running out of storage space, wouldn’t it be easier (cheaper) to place the newly received records in St. Louis, or elsewhere, rather than move records that have reposed in DC for many years?

JoAnn Bartlett March 6, 2011 at 1:47 pm

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE DO NOT MOVE THE MILITARY RECORDS FROM ARCHIVES I IN DOWNTOWN DC.
I COUNT ON BEING ABLE TO DO MY RESEARCH THERE AND SINCE I AM NOW SOMEWHAT DISABLED, A TRIP TO ANYWHERE ELSE WOULD MEAN A MONUMENTAL TASK FOR ME AND I’M SURE OTHERS WHO SHARE THE SAME ISSUE. I KNOW THE GOVERNMENT USUALLY DOES WHAT IT WANTS TO DO, BUT IN THIS CASE PLEASE,PLEASE, PLEASE DO NOT MOVE THAT MUCH NEEDED AND APPRECIATED INFORMATION. THANK YOU, JOANN

Alvie L. Davidson CG March 7, 2011 at 4:45 am

Moving military records from NARA Washington to NARA St. Louis might be a good thing if this provides a more secure and sterile environment for the fragile and delicate records. I am all for it.

Michael Pollock March 7, 2011 at 7:21 am

I am concerned about the potential move of mililtary records to St. Louis. With the availability of more and more records I would have visited the Archives to use in the past, military records in general, and pensions from the War of 1812, Mexican War, Civil War and Indian Wars are about the only reason I would specifically have to visit the National Archives other than to take advantage of its extended hours, as now living in Richmond, VA, I tend to plan my trips for days when it is open late. If those records are moved, I would not stop making trips to DC, but I almost certainly would stop visiting the Archives.

Amy Bertsch March 7, 2011 at 7:48 am

Please don’t move the military records to St. Louis.

Bernice Kennedy March 7, 2011 at 11:08 am

PLEASE DO NOT MOVE THE MILITARY RECORDS from DC to St. Louis. The military records are an important resource for geneaologists, and it’s easier and more cost efficient to researchers to have access to as many documents in one central location as possible. For the many visitors that come to DC to visit the Nation’s Capital, visiting the Archives to do research during the limited time they are here is a highlight for their trip. Many researches (within the US) are aware that you can find much needed information by visiting the Archives here. The current economic conditions of the the US, and for US citizen in general, is that it takes money to continue to do research. Researchers near and far look forward to doing research in DC, given that that there are many other interesting museuems and events that can be planned during that visit It would be a devastating decision for those researchers with limited resources to be forced to go to St. Louis to research mililtary records. I have been doing geneaology research for over 15 years and I started my research at the National Archives, and have had to access military records. Due to the significant increase in technology, and a great deal of information can be found online, there is a genuine connection when you find your information at the National Archives. Please consider what effect your moving the military records to St. Louis will have on researchers throughout the United States, and specifically in the Washington, DC area.

Kathy Kult March 7, 2011 at 11:10 am

I’m all for the move of the military documents (pensions) to St. Louis. St. Louis is more accessible to more people, since it is located in the heart of the U.S. And since the military documents are highly used by family historians and genealogy researchers, it makes sense to get them out of the high-cost DC area and make them more accessible in a lower-cost are of the U.S. I’m all for it!! Please consider the move!

Pat flanagan March 7, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Please leave the pension records in DC.
Many visitors come here to view the records and the DAR library. Also they will then be more accessible to the general public and genealogists who are hired by other people.
All you have to do is look at the crowd who use the records.

Deborah Harvey March 7, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Please do not relocate the military records to St. Louis. Washington, DC is a great location for people visiting the nation’s capital to also include a visit to the ARchives for this type of historical information. Not to mention the proximity of Washington, DC, vice St. Louis, for those studying the founding of the nation along the east coast of the USA.

Dawn Brady March 7, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Please, please, please don’t move the military records away from Archives I. The military and pension records are the main (if not only) reason that I go to Archives I. If the military and/or the pension records are moved away from DC, then I won’t have much reason to use Archives I anymore. I rely on being able to examine those records downtown!!! Please don’t move them!!!

Sally March 8, 2011 at 11:24 am

I hope the pension files stay together — all in one location — please don’t ever split them up. And, PLEASE locate all the missing XC Civil War pension files (supposedly “in the custody of the Veterans Administration”) and add them to the NARA collection of military pension records. I have requested many searches for an ancestor’s XC Civil War pension file over a 24-year period. It still has not been located!

Claire Bettag March 8, 2011 at 1:29 pm

I strongly favor keeping the military records in Washington DC–for the reasons already mentioned. Moving them will reduce the number of researchers visiting the NARA facility for on-site work.

Brenda Kepley March 8, 2011 at 3:18 pm

The Civil War Pension Files at the National Archives Building in Washington DC are all located in climate controlled stacks; the temperature and humidity of the stacks are monitored regularly by National Archives’ conservation staff.

Brenda Kepley, Chief
Archives 1 Processing Section
Textual Archives Services Division
National Archives and Records Administration

Nick Walters March 8, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Since the public, and especially those doing reasearch, have a lot of interest in these military records, isn’t the question not “Where to locate them’ but, ‘What is best way to provide access to them?’ Where is the best place to have access to these records? The interenet. In order to get these records to the internet they need to be imaged. Where is the best palce to image these records and then put them on the internet.? Is DC the best place to have this done ? Or is Saint Louis the best place to have this done? Maybe Footnote has a location where the records can be imaged and made availabe to more of the public. The cost of going to any location is out of the reach to much of the public and to many researchers. Where as having the records on the internet, allows them to be viewed from almost anywhere and at any time. Isn’t the purpose to preserve these records and at the same time have them available to as many people as possible?

Rick Sayre, CG March 9, 2011 at 10:27 am

Before making an affirmative statement on why I think Military Records should remain in DC I must rebut some statements and inferences that the records are not well cared for in DC. I have been in the stacks; they are climate controlled and meet archival standards. This is the same building that records of the earliest congresses are stored, where records signed by our earliest Presidents are routinely encountered. Record conservation is ongoing in Archives I as in the case of processing widows pensions for filming. I know there are issues of adequate funds and staff to conserve all the records NARA holds, but these problems are hardly unique to Washington. I doubt that they have been uniquely solved in St Louis or Illinois—the problem is NARA wide.
I think decision makers should consider the following factors:
The trained military archivists are located in Archives I. Is the transfer of these individuals such as Trevor Plante contemplated?
Many genealogists have made a living over the years researching in the military records. Are they going to be kicked to the curb? One of the individuals featured on the recent “Who do think you are?” is a private researcher that has been doing NARA research for 23 years. Others well known in the genealogical community have likewise spent years researching these records and have developed specialized expertise.
I fear the NARA has not recognized the synergies created by having these core records located in DC. A researcher coming to DC or living in DC has the opportunity to develop a research plan that can tap into the military records of Archives I, the DAR, the Society of Cincinnati, the Otis Archives, the Library of Congress, BLM’s General Land Office Records, the military maps and photos housed at Archives II, and the list goes on. Also the researcher could plan to use the resources of the various Service historical activities such as those of the Navy at the Washington Navy Yard, the Marine Corps at Quantico. If I find pension payment information in a pension file in Archives I, I can continue the research in RG 217, Records of the Accounting Officers of the Treasury located in Archives II. I fear many do not recognize these linkages and the enormous burden on researchers that moving the core records will create. The mission of a public archive after preservation is access. This plan will reduce access. If the rule is that only scanned records are transferred then we have a long breathing period. I doubt anyone reading this will be alive when all the Old Military records are scanned and online.

Sharon Moody March 9, 2011 at 2:32 pm

I read the minutes from February user group and was encouraged to see that moving the pension files is a “remote possibility” and that it also doesn’t look any move is imminent. This gives hope that NARA will look at the user statistics and surely see how valuable this asset is to researchers who need them (for efficient research purposes) to remain in close proximity to other military records. With sure-to-come additional budget cuts, it is critical that NARA recognize the importance of genealogical use of the D. C. facility – moving this vital set of records likely would result in less genealogical use of the facility. It certainly will result in less efficient research possibilities for those travel opportunities are limited and who must travel to where the most records are available.

Pamela Boyer Sayre, CG, CGL March 9, 2011 at 4:49 pm

The NARA building in downtown DC may be older than the buildings in or planned for the St. Louis area, but the peoples’ documents are no less cared for in DC! I have been in the stacks and seen this firsthand. In my training as a NARA volunteer working on some of the Civil War pension files being discussed, I have first-hand knowledge that the records ARE stored and handled with great care in climate-controlled environments. Volunteers receive many hours of training in preservation and security before even being allowed in the room to work on the project.

While living in St. Louis, I traveled annually to Washington for at least eight years for the sole purpose of researching in Civil War and earlier military records. Would it have served my own personal interests to be able to go 35 miles instead of 1,000 to see the files? Yes, BUT. While researching in Washington, DC, I have access to NARA staff who have been trained and worked with these military records for many years and who possess an in-depth knowledge not available anywhere else, just as experts in St. Louis probably have that expertise with twentieth-century military records in which they specialize. But far beyond simply the pension files, by making a single trip to Washington, researchers can also research the Accounting Office records or hospital records or correspondence records that dovetail with the pension files. Part of the charter of any archive is to maintain the provenance of a record–not ordinarily rearranging a file or separating related files. If those Civil War and earlier pension files moved to St. Louis, their linkages to myriad other records in the National Archives would be broken.

I am a St. Louis-born girl now living in Washington until retirement in a few years. I know that St. Louis has a much lower cost of living and doing business than Washington, DC. However, part of NARA’s charter besides preservation is records access. Many people travel to Washington to research at NARA, knowing that they can branch out and find even more information at rich repositories here with a national focus–the Library of Congress, the DAR Library, the Society of the Cincinnati Library, and Arlington National Cemetery, to name a few. While I could easily spend a week or two in St. Louis researching beyond pension files if they were relocated there, it is because I am a fifth-generation Missourian with research needs in that particular geographic area. Percentage-wise, very few people share that need; while almost every U.S. citizen can find records of interest to them in many Washington, DC-area repositories.

I have no doubt that in these tough financial times when Congress has cut funding to NARA, a real impact could be felt if every one of us volunteered to pitch in and help with a NARA project in our area, even if we can contribute only a few hours a month.

Respectfully,

Pamela Boyer Sayre, CG, CGL

Brent D. Morgan March 11, 2011 at 8:07 am

I am not in favor of the removal of Military Records from NARA 1. The fact that they are in Washington D. C. is an institution in itself and they are where they should be and that is where they are most accessible to the general public.

Patsy Carr March 12, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Movement of stored records almost always means a loss of some of them. Are these records microfisched? Please do not move delicate records. Have new records stored at another facility. Why not obtain an additional storage facility here in this area? Researchers and families of military deserve a central place to look for records. Many plan vacations surrounding such searches.

Jim Collins March 13, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Moving the pension records out of Washington will have the following negative impacts:

1. Washington has three of the best institutions for family historians: the DAR, Library of Congress, and the National Archives. Prestigious organizations, such as the New England Historic Genealogical Society and the Irish Genealogical Society International, make regular trips so their members can conduct research at these institutions. If the pension records were no longer available, the value of research at the Archives would be greatly diminished. Members would be spending less time there, and organizations might reconsider the frequency of their trips to Washington.

2. DAR members gather annually in Washington for their national convention. They routinely come to the Archives for research and would be adversely affected if the pension records are moved.

3. The Archives encourages the use of its DC location by holding a wide-range of genealogy classes and an outstanding Genealogy Fair there. Attendance at the Fair has increased significantly since its inception. It seems self-evident that moving the pension records out of Washington would be counterproductive to the goal of increased use of Archives I.

4. I have been a volunteer genealogy staff aide at Archives I for almost 15 years. Under the direction of an archivist, I have reviewed pension records in support of the preparation of lectures and articles. Not having the pension records in Washington would make the preparation of valuable lectures and articles extremely difficult.

In my opinion, these negative impacts outweigh any alleged benefits of moving the pension records out of Washington.

Ester March 23, 2011 at 8:36 am

If the storag space is a problem then why can’t go for digitalized format for future records

Victor Dunn, CG April 20, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Please keep the military and pension records in D.C.!!! There are two genealogy Meccas in the U.S. – Salt Lake City and Washington, D.C. and genealogist regularly plan trips to those locations. Researchers would be burdened with extra expenses to travel to St. Louis to view military and pension records. Not to knock St. Louis, but it is not a tourist destination on the level of D.C. I frequently see tourist visiting our nation’s Capital who take a few hours or even a day out of their vacation to view ancestors military and pension records. This will no longer be possible if the records are moved.

Michael Hait April 20, 2011 at 8:30 pm

As Vice-President of the National Capital Area chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists, and a frequent user of the military pension files at Archives I, I would like to express my opposition to any move of military records from Archives I to St. Louis. In addition to the obvious decrease in access to these records for researchers who regularly research in DC and those who visit the DC area specifically for research, I fear that a move of these records to St. Louis would decrease overall access to them. In my previous experiences in attempting to order records held in St. Louis, I have been extremely frustrated, and have in some cases been unable to obtain the records at all. I have also heard from other researchers in the St. Louis area that in-person access to records is extremely limited.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to influence your decisions before they are made. Too often we have decisions forced upon us by other agencies.

Jane Pearson April 20, 2011 at 9:14 pm

I strongly feel these military record should NOT be moved to St. Louis. While they may be the most commonly used, they are not the only military records . There are many other important military records series in the DC facilities (and well-maintained there), as well as experienced reference archivists. The category of military record should not be split into DC and MO.

Nicki Birch, CG April 20, 2011 at 9:16 pm

I am NOT in favor of moving the military records out of Washington, DC.

Kay Torpey April 20, 2011 at 9:21 pm

I was at NARA today with a problem concerning a Civil War pension. I am so glad the pension records have not been sent to St. Louis. The staff at NARA helped me solve the problem quickly. For that reason alone I am not in favor of moving the pension records away from NARA.

Nell Hurley April 20, 2011 at 9:48 pm

My Civil War ancestor lived in St. Louis, but his records belong in DC. No, please do not move our military records out of Washington.
E. J. Hurley
CAPT USN (ret)

Dave Sloan April 20, 2011 at 11:13 pm

The move makes sense. Make more room in DC for records. While getting a new modern location to store the military records. St. Louis is closer to more people than DC so the military records would be available to more people.

Christy Fillerup April 21, 2011 at 12:24 am

Please do not move the military records from their current home in D.C. It is my understanding that they are currently in climate controlled stacks and that a move to St. Louis would not measurable alter their storage conditions. It is a huge advantage to researchers to have so many of the most commonly used records together in one place. Moving these records to St. Louis would only ensure that more archivists would be needed at that facility, to deal with the influx of researchers. Meanwhile researchers would still need to access other federal records at Archives I and II, ensuring that the same number of archivists as are currently employed would be needed. This is a huge inconvenience to researchers and a waste of tax money. Allow the knowledgeable archivists at Archives I and II to continue to do what they do best–aid researchers with these military files. Move other, less frequently used records, or new acquisitions if a move must be made.

Janis Walker Gilmore April 21, 2011 at 7:17 am

Surely the military records and land records particularly should always, always be at NARA1. What a hardship on researchers to remove such an important source to another facility. Surely that will not be the outcome here.

Eric Grundset April 21, 2011 at 7:23 am

Further decentralizaton of NARA records is a bad idea, unless ALL of those records considered for transfer have been digitized/microfilmed/etc. Researchers come to Washington precisely for the rich quantity of records maintained here. Further decentralization just makes research more difficult. This is the Nation’s Capital, after all. Keep the military records here and move something else that no one looks at!

Sharon Clouse April 21, 2011 at 8:33 am

Each time I come to Washington to research at the National Archives most of my focus has been on military and pension records. Please count me in as yet another researcher who would appreciate having the records kept at Archives I.

Brigid O’Donnell April 21, 2011 at 8:53 am

Please do NOT move the records to St. Louis!

Washington, D.C. attracts droves of curious visitors as well as genealogists and other researchers in ways that St. Louis will never do. Moving the records therefore risks limiting access for many as well as the very real risk of fragmentation and loss of actual material, as any move is likely to do, no matter how orderly. The staff at NARA is amazing, the facility does a great job of protecting what they guard as well as of aiding both the casual and serious researcher. Having the records in DC , the Nation’s Capital, is respectful to those who served and sacrificed for our country – the message is subtle but powerful.
Having been in the restricted stacks at Archives II at College Park, I must say how impressed I was with the secure and controlled environment in which the records are stored. Decentralizing these assets is not in the best interests of those who are most interested in accessing them and is not the best use of taxpayer dollars. Putting them in the middle of the country is not the way to “centralize” them.

Diane Richard April 21, 2011 at 9:04 am

Even if records are microfilmed, that is no substitute for looking at original records (as long as they can withstand it) … I will look at original records over microfilmed any day.

Military records are one group I have researched at NARA in DC and they are a group of records of much interest to many — almost everyone has a military connection somewhere in their family tree.

If military records are relocated — NARA becomes less appealing as a research destination for genealogists …

Kate Whitney April 21, 2011 at 9:19 am

Moving the military records to St. Louis would be a very short-sighted move. Yes, they would be near the *geographic* center of the U.S., but not near the *population* or *research* center of the U.S. Moreover, military records are usually used in conjunction with other records at NARA-I or II or in the DC area. Moving them would seriously affect the quality of research done from them.

Few people are going to take the time or expense to make a special trip to St. Louis just to examine military records. Or is that exactly what you want?

Christine Rose April 21, 2011 at 10:04 am

Nationwide, families associate Washinton D.C. as the “home” of their families’ military records. Some stop in to the Archives to seek those records when they are on visits to D.C. Additionally, D.C. garners income from those who make special trips to the area to do their research. Some local professionals have spent years building up their skills in those records, and developing their businesses. Those records need to stay in D.C.

Paula April 21, 2011 at 10:05 am

I am opposed to moving the records out of Washington DC. St Louis is not recognized as a main repository for national records in the mind of anyone. There are lower cost areas surrounding the Washington DC location to which any records which must be moved due to lack of space. This affords researchers the ability to travel to that location at a reasonable cost, yet still be able to access the other records in DC.

Margo Fariss Brewer April 21, 2011 at 10:23 am

I would not like to see the military records moved from Archives I in Washington, DC. I visit DC annually for a week of research primarily in the military records and then to use other original records linked to the military records – hospital registers, surrendered bounty land warrants, military post records, etc. Moving the military records to St. Louis would significantly increase my resarch time and expense to obtain the same results.

Jennifer Dondero April 21, 2011 at 10:49 am

Please don’t move the records. As many people have stated, you have experts in DC and people visit here already. Every time I’m at NARA I, I see someone ask for, or upstairs looking at, a relative’s pension. They didn’t come to research but were here on vacation. Between the casual genealogist that stops by for a military record while vacationing, the local professional working for clients, and the serious researcher who makes a trip to DC for the myriad of repositories, moving the records would seriously hurt the number of users of NARA I.

Elaine Nell April 21, 2011 at 11:00 am

I am AGAINST moving the military records to St. Louis. Please keep them in the Washington, DC area.

Debbi Lyon April 21, 2011 at 11:01 am

Please do not move the military records to St. Louis.

Kevin D. Milus April 21, 2011 at 11:35 am

It would be nothing less than foolish and misguided to move these critical records from Washington, D.C. I hope that common sense prevails.

Sharon Hodges April 21, 2011 at 11:40 am

If records are going to be moved to St. Louis move those that are not used as much the Pension Records or move any records that have been microfilmed, but the original records are still in DC. I use these records quite often doing research and would hate to see them moved. Also people do research trips to DC because we have so much information. Taking away records may in the long run reduce those who come to DC and thus to the National Archives. Please reconsider moving these records.

Mary Clement Douglass April 21, 2011 at 11:46 am

Please keep the military records in DC! As a genealogist and a small business owner, it is necessary for records of all kinds to remain in close proximity to each other. It saves me and my clients time and money when conducting their research in federal, especially military, records. Each record holds clues to other record groups which must be searched to complete their assignment.
Mary Clement Douglass, Historical Matters, Salina, KS

Shamele Jordon April 21, 2011 at 12:07 pm

PLEASE do not move the pensions to St. Louis. Please.!

Susan Cummings April 21, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Thank you for all your comments. There are no plans to move the pension files at this time. As mentioned before it is only one of many options that will be considered as we address space needs in the future.

Susan R. Cummings
Director Access Programs
Office of Records Services, Washington DC
National Archives and Records Administration

Susan Johnston April 21, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Moving pension records from Archives I to St. Louis makes no sense from this researcher’s point of view. Pension records are integrally related to the other military records created in a soldier’s life: muster rolls, hospital registers, day books, tombstone applications, etc. Finding and using many of these records sometimes requires the help of an archivist who has worked with them all. It makes more sense to me to house related records in one place where researchers have access to all those records and the specialists who know them, not move records just to get them out of the way. It’s already a little more difficult to research a Civil War soldier’s complete military history with the move of RG 110 records to the various regional branches. Please leave the Civil War pensions in D.C.

Mary McCampbell Bell, CG April 21, 2011 at 1:13 pm

PLEASE do not move the military records to St. Louis. I agree with Marty Hiatt–if you need to move records, move the recent ones to St. Louis.

Diane Faulk April 21, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Please don’t remove the military records to St Louis. I make the trip 3-4 times a year. We take the train down and spend two days researching at NARA, DAR, and LOC. The Civil War Pension records are such a rich source for AA research.

Susan Cummings April 21, 2011 at 2:29 pm

I need to add one exception to my previous comment: Navy Pensions that were microfiched many years ago and are available on Footnote.com are going to the NARA facility in St. Louis that holds the archival military personnel records.

The records are: RG 15 – Records of the Veterans Affairs, NSO, NSC, NWO, NWC Pension Files, A1 Entries 5-8. They are available on National Archives Microfilm Publications M1408, M1469, M1274, and M1279.

More information about how we decide what records to move is available on my March 25th post on NARAtions (http://blogs.archives.gov/online-public-access/?p=4795).

Nancy A. Peters April 21, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Please do NOT move the military records to St. Louis. I research at NARA in Washington, D.C. and use the military records and pension files. If storage space is a problem, consider moving new records to St. Louis.

Frankie Liles April 21, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Please do not move the military records from the NARA in Washington. These records are extremely rich in genealogical information and migratory information. Some even contain original Bible records that are nowhere else. Many genealogists from all over this country (and also other countries) visit Washington, D.C. to consult the various important repositories there that contain family history information, and these military records are one of the most important collections that genealogists can consult. It would be too inconvenient for researchers to have to go to yet another city to see these records — especially when they are in Washington consulting other records, both at the NARA and at other repositories.

Stan Lindaas April 21, 2011 at 6:18 pm

As a researcher who lives in the west my access to records at NARA is dependant on the availability of resident researchers providing research services via correspondence. Thirty five years of research experience on a daily basis has demonstrated a total lack of such services in St Louis and there-bye a lack of accesability to records stored there. DON’T move the records!

Robert Lyle April 21, 2011 at 9:33 pm

Spreading any vital records around the country only makes them LESS available for researchers. We travel from Florida regularly to do research in DC and moving even some of these records would require multiple trips to various locations, such as St. Louis. Let’s grow up and leave the archives where they belong — in our national capital.

Shirley Wilcox April 21, 2011 at 10:02 pm

I believe the military records should stay in the current location. When portions of collections are spread to different locations, it is difficult to do historical and genealogical research. If something needs to move, it ought to be less used records.

It is expensive for researchers to travel to multiple locations. In addition to the records at the National Archives, people travel to Washington, DC to use the Library of Congress, the DAR Library, and other smaller research facilities. Those same researchers may not be willing to travel to St. Louis where fewer large repositories are nearby.

Mary Gill Lyle April 22, 2011 at 8:55 am

Please leave the military records in Washington DC where they belong.

David E. Sease April 22, 2011 at 12:05 pm

I am opposed to moving these military records to St. Louis. They should remain in DC.

Claire Bettag April 22, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Reply to Susan Cummings’s post of 21 April.
Susan, you said: “There are no plans to move the pension files at this time. As mentioned before it is only one of many options that will be considered as we address space needs in the future.”

What bothers many of us, Susan, is the “at this time” part of your message, and the fact that moving the pensions is still “one of many options that will be considered as we address space needs in the future.”

Many of us who have expressed concern here are hoping to hear that moving the pensions is NOT among the options being considered “at this time” or in the future. We will continue to monitor the situation in the hope that someone in authority at NARA can give us that guarantee.

Thank you for the communication, and here’s hoping that sometime very soon you can give us the reassurance we are waiting for.
Regards,
Claire

Claire Bettag April 22, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Susan, you said: “There are no plans to move the pension files at this time. As mentioned before it is only one of many options that will be considered as we address space needs in the future.”

What bothers many of us, Susan, is the “at this time” part of your message, and the fact that moving the pensions is still “one of many options that will be considered as we address space needs in the future.”

Many of us who have expressed concern here are hoping to hear that moving the pensions is NOT among the options being considered “at this time” or in the future. We will continue to monitor the situation in the hope that someone in authority at NARA can give us that guarantee.

Thank you for the communication, and here’s hoping that sometime very soon you can give us the reassurance we are waiting for.
Regards,
Claire

Rod McDonald April 22, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Moving the Military Pension records away from Washington is not wise, from a researchers (aka;Taxpayer) perspective.

Having the NARA records in close proximity to the Library of Congress and D.A.R. Library is not only convenient, it is smart A researcher coming to DC has the opportunity to research the military records of Archives I & II, the DAR Library, the Library of Congress, BLM’s General Land Office Records. And the resources at Service historical activities such as those of the Navy at the Washington Navy Yard, the Marine Corps at Quantico.

I understand how decisions are often made strictly on budgetary reasoning, but PLEASE think about why the records are kept and Archived…to be accessed and researched when needed. Moving the records to another geographic location away from Washington D.C. could/would make research trips to DC, less effective and more expensive for researchers. As stated by others posting to this list, moving other records, less frequently accessed, might make space available with less impact than moving the Military Pension records. Please consider the comments of people communicating with NARA when making the decision and do not make make the decision strictly on a logistical/storage issue.

Babs Robinson April 25, 2011 at 1:25 pm

I would like to see the military and pension records remain in DC. I have the opportunity to visit DC at least once a year and someimes more. These visits regularly include NARA research that I would otherwise not be able to do. My visits are well planned to make the most of my time there. In addition, there are many people in the DC area experienced in researching these records. My hope is that this will not be an option now or in the future.

Malissa R. April 26, 2011 at 6:46 am

Please do not move the military records from DC. A critical mass of information, expertise, and access is in place – as others have said. And, yes, I have personal and professional research reasons to benefit from them staying at Archives I. But it would be a huge loss if touring visitors to Washington, DC, could no longer stop by and interact with original records in an historic setting – for perhaps the first and only time in their lives. That makes it a unique and universal repository.

Charlie Jones April 26, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Please leave the military records at NARA. If more space is needed, then move the more recent ones to St. Louis.

Sharon MacInnes, Ph.D. April 27, 2011 at 5:50 pm

Even the name “NATIONAL Archives” suggests that our national military records belong in the nation’s capitol. Fragmenting the archives between several centers is extremely short-sighted! All serious genealogical researchers know that the two centers of genealogical research are Washington, D.C. (National Archives, Library Congress, DAR Library, etc.) and Salt Lake City, and most make long-planned (and costly) trips to make the most of their research time. They can coordinate their research of military records with maps of military campaigns in the Geography and Map Reading Room at the Library of Congress, land records such as Military Bounty Warrants at NARA, photographs and other media at NARA, unit histories and newspaper archives at the Library of Congress, military history volumes at DAR, etc. Washington, D.C., is easily accessible to the dense population along the east coast and is home of innumerable genealogists; St. Louis is accessible to FAR fewer people (see the population density map at http://www.census.gov/dmd/www/pdf/512popdn.pdf). The D.C. area is also home to many, many dedicated genealogical researchers–go to any meeting of the Fairfax Co. Genealogical Society or the Mt. Vernon Genealogical Society and you will see packed auditoriums for all presentations. While a small minority of genealogists belong to the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), a search for professional genealogists in “Directory Search by Location” at the APG website yielded two (2!) professional genealogists in St. Louis County (plus 1 in Madison Co., IL, and 1 in St. Clair Co., IL); a search for Washington, D.C. yielded 9 (plus 3 more in Arlington Co., VA; 12 in Fairfax Co., VA; 7 in Montgomery Co., MD; etc.). Military records are one of the most-used research tools in a genealogist’s repertoire, and the statistics are clear that the Washington, D.C. area should be their home. And, of course, as several people have mentioned above, tourists stop in and are able to do casual research into their ancestors’ military records. Keep these documents in D.C.!

Josh Jenkins May 31, 2011 at 10:01 am

Each time I am able to visit the National Archives in Washington, DC, I am entranced by the sheer volume of records. The Military records section is the pinnacle of US military records research. There is not one time I visit when I do not learn something new about this country and military records in general. The staff is excellent and the records are equally magnificent. The Federal records of the United States belong in our Nation’s capitol and I am one to voice the continuity of this ideal.

Steven Phipps August 14, 2011 at 9:35 am

Please DO move the 18th/19th century pension and military records to St. Louis. This would be centrally located so that more people would have reasonable access without having to travel maybe 3000 miles or more to examine the records. It would also enhance access with regard to parking, local transportation, and lodging. One wouldn’t have to scramble to find a reasonably priced hotel in some outlying area and then take a train in, or some such nonsense. The DC area is far too crowded with no parking. Certainly people who are used to using these records in DC wouldn’t like the change, but WHAT ABOUT THE PEOPLE LIVING IN THE MIDWEST? WHAT ABOUT THE PEOPLE LIVING ON THE WEST COAST? These records belong to us too, not just to the East Coast elite.

Judy Norris Long August 27, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Please leave the military records where they are now. When things get moved around usually something that is important gets lost. It is very important that these records are preserved. Leave them where they are!!!!!!

Steven Berkowitz November 5, 2011 at 6:09 pm

I strongly agree that pre-world war one military service and pension records should remain in Washington where they have been since the 19th century. Washington is our nation’s capital and it is fitting that these records remain in the national capital area.

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