2017 June – Research in Washington, DC

Research in Washington, D. C., from Afar

Course Coordinators: Richard G. Sayre, CG, CGL, FUGA & Pamela Boyer Sayre, CG, CGL, FUGA

Held June 25-30, 2017, at La Roche College, Pittsburgh, PA. Registration Information.

Additional Instructor: Angela Packer McGhie, CG

Whether you prefer armchair research from home or your dream is to take a research trip to Washington, DC, this course is your answer. The nation’s capital opens access to so many records and resources with a national focus held in repositories such as the National Archives, the Library of Congress, the Daughters of the American Revolution Library, the library of the Society of the Cincinnati, and even the libraries and archives of the Smithsonian. Even if you can’t make a trip to Washington to research on-site in these repositories, you can still access a huge number of their valuable records from the comfort of home via the Internet. Because these institutions have such massive collections, thorough research in their holdings can be intimidating and frustrating. The key to unlocking the records lies in understanding which facility holds what you need and how to access it. This course delves into both well-known and obscure sources available at Washington-area repositories and provides online or alternative methods of accessing the national-level records of individual citizens.

9:00 am Library of Congress Online Resources (Pam Sayre)
For those who may never visit the Library of Congress in person, this class explores the vast resources available online, including a wealth of documents, maps, books, photographs, sound recordings, and more. Students will learn to successfully search the online catalogs.

10:45 am Newspapers and Periodicals at the Library of Congress (Pam Sayre)
Explore the vast holdings of worldwide historical newspapers and magazines available through the Library of Congress. Students discover how to find resources at their fingertips online, or access journals on a variety of topics relevant to family history research at the library or through interlibrary loan.

1:00 pm Navigating the NARA Website (Rick Sayre)
Amazing records can be accessed on the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) website and by ordering records from NARA facilities, but navigating through the labyrinth to locate them requires knowledge of the available resources. This class demonstrates use of online tools to find what is needed.

2:45 pm Using NARA Finding Aids (Pam Sayre)
An introduction to such finding aids as Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives, Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States, descriptive pamphlets, inventories, preliminary inventories, the National Archives catalog, the online microfilm catalog, and the site-wide search feature. A process is presented for using the appropriate NARA finding aid to locate the desired records.

4 pm Student Submitted problem discussion with Rick and Pamela Sayre


9:00 am Finding Individuals in Military Archives and Published Sources (Rick Sayre)
Military service almost always supplies important genealogical information. This session demonstrates and discusses the many online resources available to identify those who served and digitization projects that provide actual records. Sources include the National Archives, state archives, national cemeteries, and commercial and free online databases and websites.

10:45 am NARA Resources Outside NARA (Pam Sayre)
The National Archives has partnered with FamilySearch, Ancestry.com, Fold3.com, and a few other organizations to digitize and provide access to selected NARA records. This class explores the wealth of available NARA records online and provides techniques for successfully finding and using the documents.

1:00 pm Using NARA Regional and Affiliated Archives (Pam Sayre)
Regional facilities of the National Archives nationwide network include archives, presidential libraries, and non-NARA affiliated archives. This session explains why these regional facilities exist, the important records they hold, and how to access their holdings online and onsite.

2:45 pm DAR Genealogical Research System Databases (Rick Sayre)
The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) has been collecting genealogical information since 1890 to support the application process for membership and to honor the service of patriots. The session discusses and demonstrates use of the online DAR Genealogical Research System databases for finding colonial-era ancestors.

4 pm Student Submitted problem discussion with Rick and Pamela Sayre


9:00 am Finding Individuals in the Serial Set, American State Papers, and the Territorial Papers (Rick Sayre)
This double session explores the foundation publications of the United States Government and how to effectively access and use these documents that record the lives of individuals who interacted with the government in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Pensions, petitions, records of government service, and much more are found in these publications.

1:00 pm Using Social Security Records & U.S. Patents (Pam Sayre)
Students learn about the history of Social Security from 1935 to the present, and what a Social Security number can reveal about a possible residence or birthplace. The Social Security Death Master File is described in detail—who should be listed and who should not, dates covered, and the kinds of information available from the file. The SS-5, Application for Social Security Number, significant for its genealogical value, is discussed. [Note: This class is dependent on continued access to online SSDI resources and the ability to order an SS-5 from the Social Security Administration.]

2:45 pm Library of Congress Manuscript Collection (Angela McGhie)
Manuscript collections are underused by genealogists. The vast collection at the Library of Congress has much to offer family historians willing to stray off the more traditional paths of genealogical resources.

4 pm Student Submitted problem discussion with Rick and Pamela Sayre


9:00 am Finding Ancestors in Published Documentary Editions (Angela McGhie)
Historical documentary publications can be invaluable genealogical resources. Edited by leading scholars, they document U.S. historical events and movements and often provide genealogical detail about known figures and “ordinary citizens” who interacted with them. Meeting rigorous scholarly standards, the publications provide citations to original sources, analytical notes, and extensive bibliographies.

10:45 am Land Entry Papers: Federal Land Records at NARA (Angela McGhie)
Federal land entry papers (case files) at the National Archives document the patenting of public land—the first transfer of title of public-domain land from the United States to individuals, corporations, or states. Some case files document canceled (or other) transactions that did not result in a patent.

1:00 pm Federal Bounty Land (Rick Sayre)
Bounty lands were awarded by the federal government from 1788 to 1855 to encourage and reward service in the military. Nine individual states (Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia) also awarded land as part of Revolutionary War compensation. Today more and more of these resources are available online and many records can be easily copied onto disk by the National Archives.

2:45 pm Mining Washington-area Map Repositories Remotely (Rick Sayre)
A survey of both the online and physical map repositories located in the Washington, DC, area is presented in this class. The holdings of the Library of Congress, both online and the 6 million maps onsite in the Madison Building, are illustrated in a genealogical context. Students learn how to access the maps online or obtain copies of the myriad maps not online.

4 pm Student Submitted problem discussion with Rick and Pamela Sayre


8:30 am Using FamilySearch to Find Federal Records (Pam Sayre)
Students see how to navigate FamilySearch to find myriad federal records that are available as microfilm or as digital images online, including ways to determine the Family History Library microfilm numbers for corresponding NARA micropublications.

10:15 am What Would You Do If You Had Five Days in Washington, D.C.? (Pam Sayre)
When you have mined Internet sources for records in Washington, D.C., and your appetite has been whetted for a trip to see for yourself the vast array of repositories and sources available there, how will you plan your trip to make the most of the time available? This class presents a plan for an actual research trip to D.C. and suggestions about transportation, lodging, and other practical matters.