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2018 Virtual Genealogy Fair – National Archives

National Archives Virtual Genealogy Fair 2018

October 24, 2018 – Save the date!

Sixth Annual Virtual Genealogy Fair

Every year, the National Archives hosts a virtual Genealogy Fair via live webcast on YouTube. The sessions offer family history research tools on Federal records for all skill levels. Thousands of family historians participate in the live event.

As a virtual attendee, you can:

  • Watch the entire day on YouTube.
  • Join us – from wherever and whenever.
  • Participate with the presenters and other family historians during the live event.
  • Watch individual sessions and download the materials at your convenience — live or after the event.
  • Attend free of charge and registration!

Schedule (Eastern)

10 a.m – Welcoming Remarks

David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States of America

10:05 a.m. – Calling all Citizen Archivists! Getting the Most Out of the National Archives Catalog

Skill Level: All

Session: Join the National Archives Catalog Community Managers as they discuss genealogy resources available in the National Archives Catalog and how the Catalog can help you jump start and refine your genealogical research. The Community Managers will also discuss the many opportunities to participate in our online Catalog through citizen archivist projects such as tagging, transcription, and adding comments. They’ll talk about how you can contribute to these projects and how these contributions can help make content in our Catalog more discoverable to researchers.

Presenters:  Suzanne Isaacs and Meredith Doviak are the Community Managers for the National Archives Catalog, catalog.archives.gov, working to manage, build and grow the community of users surrounding records and information in our Catalog through crowdsourcing missions archives.gov/citizen-archivist.

Suzanne holds a B.A. in American History and an M.L.S in Archives from the University of Maryland. Before arriving at the National Archives she was the Open Society Archives Western Fellow in Budapest, Hungary and the audiovisual archivist and assistant curator at the Library of American Broadcasting at the University of Maryland. Over 15 years at the National Archives she was the Supervisory Archivist for the Cartographic Section, Archivist in the Special Media Division, Digital Projects Coordinator for the National Archives Experience, and Item Level Description Coordinator in the Office of Innovation.  She was a project manager for the development of DocsTeach.org and blogged for Today’s Document on Tumblr (http://todaysdocument.tumblr.com).

Meredith joined the National Archives in 2009, first working in the Social Media Branch in the Office of Innovation, developing policy, strategy, and outreach initiatives for the National Archives’ social media accounts. Meredith also served on the governance workstream for the development and launch of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) project to create free and open access to the nation’s cultural and scientific record. Meredith holds a Master of Library Science Degree with a focus on Archival Administration from the University of Maryland, and a Bachelor of Arts from Gettysburg College.

11 a.m. – Federal Records that Help Identify Former Slaves and Slave Owners

Skill Level: All

Session: This presentation will highlight some of the most important federal records for identifying former slaves and slave owners, including:

  • Census
  • Civil War and later military service and pension records
  • Confederate slave payrolls
  • Bureau of Pensions Law Division case files
  • Freedmen’s Bureau records
  • Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company records
  • Southern Claims Commission claims files
  • Coastwise slave ship manifests
  • Fugitive slave case files

Presenter: Claire Kluskens is a reference and digital projects archivist at the National Archives in Washington, DC and specializes in records of high genealogical value. She spearheaded the completion of more than 330 National Archives microfilm publications and now works on digital and description projects for the National Archives Catalog. She lectures frequently and has published extensively in national, state, and local genealogical publications. Claire has been a National Archives and Records Administration staff member since 1992 and has done genealogical research since 1976.

12 p.m. – All’s Fair in Love and War: The Civil War Widows’ Pension Files

Skill Level: Beginner

Session: Earlier this year, the processing team here at Archives I in Washington, DC completed a years-long records maintenance project of The Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Widows and Other Dependents of the Army and Navy Who Served Mainly in the Civil War and the War with Spain (“Widows’ Certificate” [WC] Files”), Entry 12-A, National Archives Identifier 30020, in Record Group 15, Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs. These files are a heavily used record series for genealogists and social historians, and contain records received by the Bureau of Pensions from widows to prove entitlement for pensions based on their deceased husbands’ military service, as well as records created by the Bureau that document actions it took concerning the applications. Far more than old papers housed in archival boxes, these records are a testament to the lives lived and the challenges faced by women in the face of a massive and byzantine bureaucratic network. Pension files contain records for all claims relating to the veteran and include corroborating evidence such as proof of marriage and/or divorce, certificates from examining surgeons, birth records of children, copies of veterans’ death certificates, and correspondence between parties to a claim and the Bureau of Pensions. The Bureau of Pensions would frequently dispatch special examiners to gather testimony from widows and those who had knowledge of the marriage, including neighbors, employers, friends, and extended family. Transcripts of these depositions, if they occurred, are included in the case file. In addition to the myriad names and dates so frequently found in the course of genealogical research, the widows’ pension case files may provide a more intimate and detailed perspective regarding the marriage and lives of veterans and their surviving family. The Bureau of Pensions’ correspondence and interrogation transcripts often include details of whether the marriage was happy or unhappy, whether the family was adequately provided for, the circumstances of divorce or separation, and the reputation of the veteran and/or his widow in their local community. Surgeons’ certificates provide information on veterans’ health, including disabilities due to war injuries and any health problems that arose after his service. Included documents might also show that a widow was denied a claim due to insufficient proof of divorce from a previous marriage or testimony from neighbors attesting to what they perceived as immoral behavior. Each case file holds the potential for uncovering elements of the lives of veterans and their survivors beyond a dry sequence of events.

Presenter: Alexandra Villaseran, Archives Technician located at National Archives at College Park

1 p.m. – How to Search for Photographs that Document Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camps and Activities

Skill Level: Experienced

Session: Learn how to navigate records held in the Still Picture unit that document CCC camps and activities. This session will provide researchers with a list of series that contain CCC photographs, as well as inform researchers as to what information they should gather prior to beginning their search for CCC imagery.

Presenters: Kaitlyn Crain Enriquez, Archives Specialist and Kelsey Noel, Archivist located at National Archives at College Park

2 p.m. – Tennessee Valley Authority Records: To St. Louis and Beyond!

Skill Level: Experienced

Session: With this year’s 85th anniversary of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), I will cover the wealth of genealogical resources the TVA’s Official Personnel Files (OPFs) provide to researchers. Additionally, I will provide information regarding the locations of other TVA records to be found in National Archives offices outside of St. Louis. The TVA was created in 1933 as one of the many “alphabet agencies” of the New Deal. It employed men and women alike for many different jobs from the well-known, dam constructions to science labs and textile plants. It was one of the first agencies with such an overstated regional focus. Within one short year of establishment, over 9,000 people were employed over the seven-state area of TN, AL, MS, KY, GA, NC, and VA. The TVA’s focus on employment as well as on the development and modernization of rural land makes the federal records that remain a sophisticated way to track families from that time and area.

Presenter: Cara Moore Lebonick, Reference Archives Technician located at National Archives at St. Louis

3 p.m. – America’s Military Made the Call: Hello Nurses!

Skill Level: Experienced

Session: During war and peacetime, military nurses tended to the medical needs of the United States Armed Forces stateside, overseas, and on the front lines. This presentation will provide brief histories of the Navy Nurse Corps and Army Nurse Corps, useful finding aids, and how to request records. The Official Military Personnel Files (OMPFs) of Army and Air Force Nurses may have been lost, burned, or damaged in the 1973 National Personnel Records Center fire. Fortunately, the National Archives at St. Louis houses non-OMPF records that may supplement the deficit the fire caused. The National Archives collection of Navy Nurse Corps and Army Nurse Corps records contain genealogy rich content of place & date of birth, photographs, handwritten letters and typed correspondence to friends and families, awards and citations earned, job duties, facts pertaining to a death in service/killed in action, and beneficiaries.

Presenter: Anna Csar graduated with a Bachelor’s in History and minor in Anthropology from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and has worked for NARA since 2012. She is an Expert Archives Technician at the National Personnel Records Center and is currently cross-training in archival reference at the National Archives, St. Louis. She is a subject matter expert on Navy and Army Nurse Corps military personnel records.

4 p.m. – Closing Remarks

Ann Cummings, Executive for Research Services

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