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Question: We are considering starting an ongoing mini interview feature with selected NARA archivists. What questions should we ask them?

by on November 25, 2009

NARA is a big organization with knowledgeable and talented employees across many fields of expertise.  As a part of their everyday jobs, our staff get to work with interesting and rare documents all the time!  If you had the opportunity, what questions would you ask our archivists?  Would it be about specific documents they work on?  Maybe you’ve wondered about the the ins and outs of their jobs.  Ever been curious about what they research on their own time?  Whatever your question may be, we want to know!


Melissa Barker November 25, 2009 at 1:28 pm

I would like to know what the archivists personal interest are and what they like to research.

Renate November 27, 2009 at 10:56 am

I would like for someone to outline the specific benefits for African-American researchers for visiting the National Archives in person. Specifically, I’d like to know if there would be additional documents there for a researcher who has already been working in the State Archvives, as well as the the county courthouse, library, and Register of Deeds of their ancestral family? Thanks. :)

Bob Meade November 28, 2009 at 5:27 am

1. Tell us about the most exciting day you have had at NARA.

2. What is your proudest achievement at NARA?

3. Let’s exclude your present job. If you could have any other job in NARA what would it be, and why?

Sounds a bit like a job interview I know, but I really want to know the answers!

Becky November 28, 2009 at 10:37 pm

What is the most unusual or unexpected item you have come across in NARA’s holdings?

Mary (admin) November 30, 2009 at 11:30 am

Thanks for all of your great comments and ideas! We will certainly keep them in mind for the future, and please keep posting questions as you think of them.

Kristen (admin) December 1, 2009 at 11:00 am

@Renate- This is a great question for our resident genealogists! We’ll make sure to give Katherine and John a head’s up.


John December 1, 2009 at 11:53 am

Hi Renate,

There are definite benefits for African-American researchers to visit the National Archives in person! We of course have federal records relating to African Americans that won’t be available from state or local governments. While some of this material, such as U.S.C.T. compiled service records and Freedmen’s Bureau field office records, are starting to find their way online through our digitization partners, there are still many records that are only available at NARA in textual form (Civil War pension files for U.S.C.T. soldiers, just to mention one major series). We’ll be happy to highlight specific records in some future Family Tree Friday blogs, so please stay tuned!

Becky December 2, 2009 at 3:08 pm

I’d be interested in knowing how archivists think new technology, new web tools, etc. are enhancing their work or how they could be used to enhance their work.

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