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October 24, 2018 - Save the date!

Sixth Annual Virtual Genealogy Fair

2018 Virtual Genealogy FairEvery 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:

  • Attend free of charge and registration!
  • Watch the entire day on YouTube.
  • Sign up for chat during the live event. In advance, create an account on YouTube.
  • Participate with the presenters and other family historians during the live event.
  • Join us – from wherever and whenever.
  • Watch individual sessions and download the materials at your convenience -- live or after the event.

 

Complete schedule and more information at: https://www.archives.gov/calendar/genealogy-fair

IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION RECORDS

Have you been searching for years and wondered where can you find immigration and naturalization records for a family member that came to America? Or you finally found a single index card with name/s misspelled, or numbers printed in a corner but don't know how to find more information?  Or you found the Declaration of Intent or Petition for Naturalization, but not the Certificate of Naturalization. Where is it? Most of these records can be found at the National Archives!!

 

Keep in mind that immigration records to America are distinct from the naturalization process to become a legal US citizen. Some immigrants never become naturalize citizens. Plus, there are many laws that governed the naturalization process for immigrants in America during the 1800s and early 1900s, depending on whether they were head of household, spouse, or dependents.

 

Immigration Records at the National Archives:

Introduction · Immigration · Passenger Lists · Border Crossings Canada · Border Crossings Mexico

 

Naturalization Records at the National Archives:

Naturalization Intro, Process, Record Locations · Women · United States Customs Immigration Service

US Customs Service Records 1820-1891 · Records of the INS, 1891-1957 · FAQs

 

Most of the immigration and naturalization records have been microfilmed. Many copies of the microfilm are available at NARA's regional locations, so please check the location to see if one is near your home. It is also likely that many of the microfilm publications have been digitized and released on either Ancestry.com or FamilySearch.org. The microfilm will be listed by title of the microfilm publication in the catalog, click on the publication title, then search for the ancestor. Original naturalization certificates were less likely to be microfilmed or digitized. Naturalization court records are located in state archives where the individual was naturalized or at National Archives regional locations that serve that area. Use this link and go to the bottom of the page to see potential naturalization record locations.

On Wednesday October 25, the National Archives will host the fifth virtual Genealogy Fair via webcast.  The entire schedule is available at National Archives Virtual Genealogy Fair.  In Session 5, at 2:00pm, staff from the Electronic Records Division, John LeGloahec and Jana Leighton, will present on "Locating the Relocated: Deciphering Electronic Records on Japanese Americans Interned During World War II.

 

During this presentation, John and Jana will provide guidance on how to search National Archives Access to Archival Databases (AAD) as well as how to find information on digitized textual records in the National Archives Catalog. We will also demonstrate how to use the information in both systems to get a more complete picture of our holdings of Japanese American internee records.

 

John LeGloahec will explore how to use the Records About Japanese Americans Relocated During World War II, available through AAD. This set of records has become a popular genealogical tool that identifies Japanese Americans interned in several War Relocation Authority camps. Jana Leighton will discuss genealogical information and the availability of records for download from the National Archives Catalog located within two series of Record Group 210: Records of the War Relocation Authority.

 

On October 15, "Today's Document from the National Archives" was a photo from the Granada Relocation Center in Amache, Colorado, which was closed on October 15, 1945.  Jana and John hope that you will tune in to hear about the Records of the WRA and the impact on Japanese Americans during World War II.

October 10 was Electronic Records Day (1010 - data is all made up of zeroes and ones, get it?) and two reference staff members from the Electronic Records Division posted a blog post on the "Pieces of History" blog.  We hope that you enjoy it.

 

https://prologue.blogs.archives.gov/2017/10/09/perspectives-from-electronic-records-staff/

 

John LeGloahec: I joined the National Archives in June of 2006 as an archives specialist in the Electronic Records Division, working on processing the electronic records of the federal government.

One day, I received a message from a researcher asking about some of our records, the Gorgas Hospital Mortuary Records (National Archives Identifier 570981). I spoke with a member of the reference staff, and she told me to go ahead and answer it. I was immediately bit with the reference bug. Within a few years, I had started spending half my time working on reference requests.

A technician changes the tape on a data processing machine at Gorgas Army Hospital, 5/9/1983. (National Archives Identifier 6374580)

 

Emily Graves: I joined the National Archives in December 2016 in my current role, as an archives technician in the reference section of the Electronic Records Division.

I’ve always had a love for electronic records since my first days of graduate school. It’s easy to confuse “electronic” and “digital” as synonyms, but in reality, electronic media has been around for a long time. In fact, the federal government has been generating electronic records since the first agencies made use of early computer prototypes in the 1950s. As a result, the range of electronic records in the custody of NARA is quite rich and varied. As someone working with access and reference, it’s always fun to watch researchers realize this and see all the valuable information our records can yield.

John LeGloahec: After I had been at the Archives for about four years, I became a full-time member of the reference team. I started out answering the “routine” requests: “I’m looking for my service records,” “my father was killed in Vietnam,” etc.  I soon graduated to the more complex requests, dealing with specific data files in the custody of the Electronic Records Division.

NARA’s Access to Archival Databases—the first stop for many electronic records researchers. (https://aad.archives.gov/aad/)

Emily Graves: As a newcomer, a lot of what I’ve had to learn is the lay of the land—what systems are our records going into to preserve them? To provide access? To track them? Part of my job is to be able to use and understand these systems, which have grown up in the landscape over the course of years and are all inter-related.

For example, I had a researcher inquire about the Area Resource Files from the Department of Health and Human Services, which contain county-based information on a variety of health-related variables. The researcher wanted to know how far back in time the variables went—and this turned out not to be an easy question! After confirming the dates in the National Archives Catalog, I had to use two other finding aids, as well as look at the paper documentation, to confirm that only some the variables had data that went all the way back to the 1940s.

John LeGloahec: The next step in my evolution as a reference archivist was to begin assisting researchers with reproduction orders, wherein researchers would request that copies be made of specific files in our custody.

During this time, we also began to see a spike in requests regarding the records of the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (National Archives Identifier 2456161).  The housing bubble had recently burst, and researchers were looking for answers in the historical record of previous mortgage applications.

Over the next few years, the Division fulfilled several orders for the HMDA data files.  Around the same time, the National Archives Catalog was being revised and files were being uploaded directly into the catalog for researchers to download directly—the Division worked on making these files available for download—lessening the number of orders that Division had to fulfill.

The ordering process has also evolved during my time with the Division.  Where we would normally get between 30 to 50 orders for files, the number has declined with the advent of files available directly from the Catalog.  In addition, within the past few years, the National Archives created an “e-delivery system” where files are uploaded directly into the “cloud” for researchers to access via a secure link.  This has greatly assisted researchers who cannot easily travel to the National Archives, specifically international researchers (and we don’t have to fill out those exhaustive customs forms any longer!).

The National Archives Catalog home page (https://catalog.archives.gov/)

Emily Graves: In a lot ways, reference for electronic records is like a treasure hunt. Sometimes the answer is obscured in the history of the records, the documentation accompanying the records, or sometimes it’s obscured in the data itself. We have a lot of tools to get to the X on the map, and learning how to use those tools most effectively is how I’ve begun in this position.

John LeGloahec: As a full-time member of the Electronic Records Reference Branch, my work still revolves around answering reference requests, but I spend a lot of my time working on preparing files for the National Archives Catalog, either through a “metadata prep” process or through the “auto-upload” process, where files (primarily .pdf files) are batch ingested into the catalog for direct download.

I use to say that I wouldn’t be happy working with electronic records—but now that I’ve been doing it for more than 10 years, I really enjoy my work and am always learning something new.  Sometimes the process just needs some tweaking—there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel, but sometimes you need to put new tires on that wheel.

The National Archives in Washington DC maintains military records from independence to the beginning of the twentieth century.  Review what records we have available in our facilities in this Prologue article.

 

When visiting Archives I, you are able to request the War Department’s Compiled Military Service Records (CMSRs) and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs claims applications (also called pension applications) and bounty land application files.  Information needed includes the name of the soldier, his regiment, the state he served with, and the war that he participated in.  To request claims applications, you’ll also need the application or certificate number.  Some of this information can be gathered from the search engines of Ancestry, Fold3, and the Bureau of Land Management. Otherwise, you’ll need to come to the Archives to view the microfilmed indexes or order them online.  Please note, for active pensions that continued to be paid after 1934 there will be a C- or XC- number.

 

You should also check to see if the file has already been digitized on the National Archives Catalog.

 

In the building, you will complete our quadruplicate “Request for Military Records” form (NA Form 14027).  Regardless of which type of record you request you’ll need to fill out the top part of the form with your name, research card number, and date.  Then you’ll complete sections 10-16.  A request is need for each CMSR, pension, or bounty land application that you want to view. 

 

You’ll submit the form in our Microfilm Research Room after having it reviewed by a member of our staff. Pull times are the same as with regular records; Monday through Friday at 10, 11am, 1, 2, and 3pm.  You can request four records at a time or twenty a day.  Also, you should consider taking your records to the Innovation Hub to use NARA’s flatbed scanners for free scanned digitized copies.

After your records are pulled, they will be waiting for you in the Research Room on the second floor.  Remember to put your belongings in a locker before heading up to the room!

Please note, records that have already been digitized, which includes CMSRs from the Revolutionary War to the Spanish-American War and Pensions from the Revolutionary War and later will not be pulled in order to preserve these fragile documents.  Be sure to check on Fold3 to see what’s available before submitting your request. 

To submit your request online, visit the page “Requesting Copies of Older Military Service Records.”  NARA does charge a fee for this service.

When in doubt or if you’re confused, remember that the National Archives staff is here to assist you. 

On Thursday March 23 at 2:00pm, John LeGloahec, a staff member from the Electronic Records Division, will offer a Know Your records presentation on "Dead Men (and Women) Sometimes do tell Tales: “Death Records from the Numerical Identification System” for Genealogical Research."  The presentation will be broadcast from the William G. McGowan Theater in the National Archives building in Washington DC and also available on the NARA YouTube channel.

 

The Numerical Identification Files, or NUMIDENT (National Archives Identifier 12004494), were transferred to the National Archives from the Social Security Administration and were made available for searching on NARA's Access to Archival Databases (AAD), because they are helpful to genealogists as these files contain names, birth, and death dates of deceased social security holders.  The NUMIDENT files are separated into three sets of records:

  • Death Records (National Archives Identifier 23845618)
  • Application (SS-5) Files (National Archives Identifier 23845613)
  • Claim Files (National Archives Identifier 23852747)

There is overlap between the three sets, in that a record for an individual may appear in one, two, or all three sets of records. The series contains records for every social security number (SSN) assigned to individuals with a verified death or who would have been over 110 years old by December 31, 2007. There are 49,459,293 death records in NUMIDENT covering the time period 1936 through 2007. When the records were transferred to the National Archives, there were twenty separate files, which were merged into nine files arranged by last name. At this time, only the Death Records are available for searching on AAD, but we are in the process of making the other two sets of records available in the near future.

32-3462a.gifIf you are interested in why Lyndon Johnson isn't in the NUMIDENT Death Records, but Gerald Ford is - or find out if Elvis is really dead, tune in Thursday March 23 for this KYR Presentation!B1865-20_a.jpg

     On its face, it seems like a good idea: devise a system that consolidates different spellings

     of names to facilitate ease of searching.

 

     Here is the National Archives' take on it: Soundex System | National Archives

 

     Did you know the system was patented?

 

                                     Patent 1,261,167 for Soundex System, 1918.bmp

  

 

     Here is a circa 1954 brochure from Remington-Rand, touting its Soundex system:

 

           Know a Man Named Burke, from Soundex Catalog - RG 64, P 169, file Policy - Referral of Letters to INS.jpg

 

           Pages from Soundex Catalog - RG 64, P 169, file Policy - Referral of Letters to INS.jpg

 

     The Immigration and Naturalization Service used the Soundex;

     here is its catalog (also from the brochure)

 

         INS Office with Soundex System, from Catalog - RG 64, P 169, file Policy - Referral of Letters to INS.jpg:

           from RG 64, P 169, file "Policy - Referral of Letters to INS, 1954" (in NAID 23812735)

 

 

    So how do you like using the Soundex?

Ellis Island Processing:  The Case of Nanny [Fanny] Knowles

USCIS History and Genealogy “Your Questions” Webinar

Friday March 25, 2016, 1:00 pm Eastern

A researcher submitted questions about a passenger list documenting Fanny Knowles arrival, hearing, and admission at Ellis Island in 1919.  Thirteen year-old Fanny was excluded as an unaccompanied minor, despite the fact she traveled with her adult sister Edith, who was a US citizen.  How were families processed when some were citizens and some were aliens?  Was Fanny really “alone?”  What resources exist to help explain more about Ellis Island (or other US port of entry) processing?  These and other questions will be discussed and explored in the USCIS “Your Questions” webinar presentation on March 25th, 2016.

Note: this web meeting is not recorded, so be sure to join us live

USCIS is now using Adobe Connect to deliver webinars. If you have never attended an Adobe Connect meeting before:

** Send myself a reminder on this webinar.** - Send myself an email with details and the meeting link

 

Click the button below at 1 pm Eastern on March 25, 2016 to enter the meeting room

 

Do I have to register for the live webinar?No, pre-registration is not required. From our webinar page click the “Attend Session” button which takes you to the door of a virtual meeting room. Enter your name and email to join the meeting, then follow instructions to call the toll-free phone number for audio. If you have not attended before, be sure to join early so the program has time to load. For more information please see our webinar schedule page.

 

Do you have an immigration and naturalization research question?

  • Next “Your Questions” Webinar is Friday, May 27, 2016 1:00 PM (Eastern)
  • Submissions due by May 6, 2016

Submit your question via email to cishistory.library@uscis.dhs.gov with the subject line "Your Questions Webinar.” When doing so, remember:

  • If your question relates to a document you found, attach a copy of the document to the email.
  • Documents submitted with questions may be shared and discussed during the live webinar. Please do not send large or extensive files.
  • Questions must be received at least two weeks prior to the next scheduled session to be included in that session.
  • Multiple questions on the same topic may be grouped together to facilitate presentation of a response.
  • To ensure the hour is of interest to the widest audience, questions answered will be those most commonly asked or that generate the most useful answers.

*US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) “Your Questions” Webinar provides educational responses to record and research questions submitted by genealogical and historical researchers. The presenter is Marian L. Smith and the program focuses on historical immigration and nationality records created by the legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).

   The ubiquitous microfilm reel: National Archives facilities nationwide are chock full of 'em!

 

                                   NARA Microfilm Box and Reel Popping Out.jpg

 

   Where did they all come from? Well, here's the story:

 

   Our infant agency immediately saw the possibilities for this technology. A division for photographic

   reproduction of records was one of the first priorities when the National Archives was established,

   and microfilming was going to be a big part of its job from the get-go.

 

                    RG 64, P 67, file 1936 - Washington Star, March 1, 1936 Article.jpg

                       NAID 7582964, file "1936"

 

                                         64-NA-189 Microfilm Camera, 1937.jpg                 

                                             NAID 12168564

                                          Copying of issues of The Washington Post with microfilm camera,

                                                     Division of Photographic Archives and Research, 1937

 

 

    Dr. Vernon D. Tate was appointed Chief of the Division of Photographic Archives and Research.

    In addition to his duties at the Archives, he traveled widely, evangelizing on the benefits of microphotography:

    reducing storage for bulky paper documents and promoting wider use of the records via their conveniently

    pint-sized proxies.

 

                                       64-NA-485B Vernon D. Tate, 1946 - Cropped.JPG

                                          NAID 18519945

                                                                       Dr. Vernon D. Tate, 1946

 

 

   The work of the division was featured in an article in the July 1938 issue of the new magazine Popular Photography:

 

           Uncle Sam's Photo Diary, p. 16.jpg  Uncle Sam's Photo Diary, p. 17.jpg

 

                                                               Uncle Sam's Photo Diary, p. 91.jpg  Uncle Sam's Photo Diary, p. 92.jpg

                       NAID 7582964, file "1938"

 

 

   At the Archives, staff were making use of microfilm copies in their work. In this 1940 photo,

   Mary Vance Wilson of the Division of Research and Publications is copying information from a reel.

 

                            64-NA-362 Copying Info from Microfilm, 1940.JPG

                              NAID 12168960

 

 

   As World War II descended, the military services were establishing and expanding their microfilming programs.

   Perhaps the best-known of these was V-Mail.

 

                           111-SC-164865 - V-Mail Tableau.jpg

                              111-SC-164865, from NAID 530707

 

 

   During the war, Dr. Tate transferred to the Department of the Navy to help get its microphotography program

   off the ways.

 

                            64-NA-387 Microfilming Project of the Navy Dept. 1942.jpg

                               NAID 12169006

                                Workers examining microfilm for defects in the Navy's Microphotographic Section.

                                      John E. Lown, assistant chief of the section (in bow tie), looks on. 1942

 

 

   Meanwhile, the National Archives had established the File Microcopy program in 1940, by which select records

   of high research value would be microfilmed and sold to institutions and the public. This transformed into the

   Microfilm Publications program in the early 1950s, which continues to the present day.

 

                  64-NA-413.jpg

                     NAID 18519863

 

 

                 RG 64, P 74 - List of File Microcopies, 1950 - Cover.jpg   NARA Microfilm Publication M1920.jpg

 

 

    Here is an illustration of just how much space could be saved with microfilming. All of the oversize glass negatives

    pictured here were copied onto the reel that Ms. Cahoon is holding:

 

                           64-NA-2203 Fannie Cahoon with Microfilm, 1963 - compressed.jpg

                             NAID 12170484

                                                       Fannie Cahoon with Microfilm in Photo Lab, 1963

 

 

    But as great as microfilm is, it still has its problems.

    Raise your hand if you've ever said "I can't read it; it's too faded!"

 

                                       RG 64, P 79, file General Reference - Complaint About 1830 Census Microfilm, 1957.jpg

                                          NAID 7788317, file "General Reference"

 

 

    And don't you love it when some nincompoop has wound the reel backwards? Grrr....

 

    And it deteriorates.

 

   But now there is stable polyester base film that will last decades, if not longer. And just in time to digitize it!

 

   But wait, are you up for going microfiche-ing, too?

 

                       NARA Microfiche for RG 75, fiche 2.jpg

 

    Yeah, me neither.

    

                         ________________________________________________________________________

 

    Here is information on how to  Request and Order Reproductions. from the National Archives.

The following message comes from Gen-Fed. Participating in this course will help you take your federal records research skills to a higher level.

 

The Genealogical Institute on Federal Records (Gen-Fed) has announced details on registration, scheduled to open on Saturday, February 27, at 11:00 AM EST. Reservations will be taken online, via 123SignUp, and tuition payment will be due by check within 15 days of making a reservation. Complete instructions are posted here. Read them over and mark your calendars!

Gen-Fed is for experienced genealogists, and for archivists, historians and librarians interested in using federal records for genealogical research. It is designed to instill a methodological framework and foster creative thinking about relevant records. To learn more about this year’s program, visit Gen-Fed 2016, and see the complete program here.

Malissa Ruffner, JD, CGâ„ 
Director

From the Summer 2010 issue of "Prologue":

 

"A Reasonable Degree of Promptitude"

As the National Capital region continues to dig out from two feet (or thereabouts) of snow, it's a good time to reflect on the genealogical uses of Record Group 27, Records of the Weather Bureau.

 

Our farm family ancestors kept close watch of the weather and it certainly affected their economic well-being much more than it does us city dwellers. Today, only 2% of the U.S. population are farm families; in 1790, they comprised at least 90%.

 

While the Weather Bureau was not established until 1890, the federal government's interest in collecting weather information dates back to the 1810s, when army hospital, post, and regimental surgeons were directed to keep diaries of the weather. These duties were transferred in 1870 to officers reporting to the Chief Signal Officer. Meanwhile, from 1847 to 1870, the Smithsonian Institution collected data from voluntary observers throughout the country. All of these observations are available on National Archives Microfilm Publication T907, Climatological Records of the Weather Bureau, 1819-1892 (562 rolls), which is not online.

 

Information about weather can be useful background information that puts flesh on the bones of those ancestors. What was the weather like on the day your ancestor was born? Married? Died? Or at some other point his or her life? You may not find an answer for your precise location, but a nearby one might be close enough. One of my grandfathers was born in November 1888, but his birth was not recorded until the spring of 1889. One suspects weather had something to do with it - even though the winter of 1888-89 was not as epic as that of January-March 1888

.

Our retired colleagues, Constance Potter and Kenneth Heger, used to give a lecture called "Stormy Weather" that was all about the genealogical uses of weather information from federal records. Connie presents some of that information in De Smet, Dakota Territory, Little Town in the National Archives, Part 2.

 

The year 1816 was known as "1800 and Froze to Death" (as well as "The Year without any Summer" and other appellations). It was a year when there was frost or snow in nearly every month, and farmers planted crops two and three times only to see them die. Many farm families from the northern United States moved west in 1817 in hopes of a better future.

 

in 2005, Hurricane Katrina displaced thousands from New Orleans, Louisiana, with many never to return.

 

Weather matters.

 

In addition to T907, other useful federal records are:

 

Nonfederal sources of information include articles in newspapers in the area where your ancestors lived. For example, the Columbus, Ohio, Statesman of February 15, 1842 reprinted a news item from the Cleveland Herald that described a "Terrible Tornado" in Mayfield, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, and Kirtland, Lake County, Ohio, that caused considerable damage. More than 30 people with their losses ("house unroofed," "barn unroofed," "barn demolished," etc.) are mentioned. Local newspapers may be available on microfilm at local public libraries, or in online databases such as GenealogyBank.com and Newspapers.com.

 

May the sun always shine on your genealogical research!

This comes to us from our friends at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services history and genealogy office, and relates to records in the custody of the National Archives and Records Administration, and probably also to records in USCIS custody.

The Curious Case of Albert Miller

USCIS History and Genealogy “Your Questions” Webinar

Friday FEBRUARY 5, 2016, 1:00 pm Eastern

The upcoming USCIS History and Genealogy “Your Questions” presentation will discuss the search for answers in the case of an immigrant who arrived at Philadelphia in 1908. Questions raised by Albert Miller’s naturalization documents lead to additional information in a variety of places and some very surprising results. Join us to learn exactly how Albert arrived in the United States, and how small clues can lead to big discoveries.

Note: this web meeting is not recorded, so be sure to join us live

 

**Send myself a reminder on this webinar.** - Send myself an email with details and the meeting link

 

Click the button below at 1 pm Eastern on Feb. 5, 2016 to enter the meeting room

 

 

Do I have to register for the live webinar?

No, pre-registration is not required. From our webinar page click the “Attend Session” button which takes you to the door of a virtual meeting room. Enter your name and email to join the meeting, then follow instructions to call the toll-free phone number for audio. If you have not attended before, be sure to join early so the program has time to load. For more information please see our webinar schedule page.

 

Do you have an immigration and naturalization research question?

  • Next “Your Questions” Webinar is Friday, March 25, 2016 1:00 PM (Eastern)
  • Submissions due by March 11, 2016

Submit your question via email to cishistory.library@uscis.dhs.gov with the subject line "Your Questions Webinar.” When doing so, remember:

  • If your question relates to a document you found, attach a copy of the document to the email.
  • Documents submitted with questions may be shared and discussed during the live webinar. Please do not send large or extensive files.
  • Questions must be received at least two weeks prior to the next scheduled session to be included in that session.
  • Multiple questions on the same topic may be grouped together to facilitate presentation of a response.
  • To ensure the hour is of interest to the widest audience, questions answered will be those most commonly asked or that generate the most useful answers.

*US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) “Your Questions” Webinar provides educational responses to record and research questions submitted by genealogical and historical researchers. The presenter is Marian L. Smith and the program focuses on historical immigration and nationality records created by the legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).

Note this only applies to Washington, DC which until Home Rule on December 24, 1973, was a part of the Federal Government. But you can use some of the methods for your own locale.

 

Neighborhood genealogy.

For the purposes of this blog post I'm saying that it is like a family genealogy, but instead of looking for family members in the past, it is looking for neighbors from the past.

 

The Census

The US Census is one of the best tools looking for individuals, and the 1880 to the 1940 censuses (censi?) have addresses so you can say where somewhere lived linking them to a building or house. On a census page you can see households and neighbors, as the census goes from house to house to house, or apartment unit to the next apartment unit. A great number of houses in DC were built before or around 1900, so there is a good chance of finding several decades of information.

The National Archives has microfilm for the District of Columbia census, but using an on line resource is a zillion times easier. At the downtown Archives I facility there are computer terminals where the public can access Ancestry or Fold3 for free. Or you can have your own subscription to those paid services or maybe use a library that might have a subscription.

But first you need to know where to look. Here again computers to the rescue saving time. Someone has created an Enumeration District Finder. Plug "enumeration district finder" into your favorite search engine and you should come to Dr. Stephen Morse's site. To look at my own neighborhood it was made up of several enumeration districts (EDs), so this tool was very handy. Once you have your EDs, you can use them to find the neighbors on microfilm or with one of the on-line subscription services.

 

City Directories

Sadly the US Census only captures one moment, 10 years apart. That's great if someone moved in the neighborhood in 1899 and moved out 20-30 years later. But DC is an urban place where people come, stay for a couple of years and move. This is what I love about cities, the hustle and bustle, people trying to make their way and their mark. Those movers and shakers who move may be captured in the city directory.

In this case the real thing is superior to the online version. At Archives I, in the back of the Central Research Room and Library there are Boyd's Directories (call # F 192 .5 .B6). There are several volumes but if you start with the year 1914 and work your way to 1970 you can find the section in the book that lists residents by street address. With this you can find names for every occupied house on your street, provided your street existed in 1914 or whatever year you are looking at. Only a household head is mentioned, but you can cross reference the name with searching the on-line subscription services' census to find out more.

 

Real Estate Tax Books

Sometimes people live in the house they own. Not always but sometimes and though landlords did not necessarily live among their tenants, it is interesting to learn who were the landlords of the neighborhood. From the census you can tell which households were renters and which were owners and you can track the owners in 3 year increments with tax records. There are also some family dramas that may play out in the land records when used with census and directories. What does it mean if at 1234 J St NW John Smith is the head of his family in the 1910 census, and in the 1920 census the Johnsons are at that address? But when checking the tax records you see John Smith is the owner  of 1234 J St NW in the 1911, 1914, and later tax volumes until 1923. That's something you may want to ask or not depending on what other changes were going on in the neighborhood.

The General Assessment Books 1814-1879 (RG 351 PI-186 46), General Assessments, 1883-1903 (RG 351, P 28A), and General Land Assessment Files, 1902-1938 (RG 351 P1)  have the names of the owners for land in the District of Columbia. Since they are arranged by square and plats, you're going to need a map before you grab your NARA researcher card head down to Archives I to take a look at these volumes.

 

Maps

Yes, the National Archives does have real estate maps to help you locate squares and lots, at Archives II in College Park in RG 351. However, there are far easier and quicker ways to find squares and plats that do not require going to Maryland.

The easiest for an individual address' square and lot is to go to the Government of the District of Columbia's Office of Tax and Revenue's website and look in their Real Property Assessment Database. However, they don't have plats and the modern square and lot numbers don't always correspond to older squares and lots, particularly if a lot's boundaries has changed.

Still easy is the DC Public Library's DC DIG site which has its Washingtonia Map Collection online. So far they have digitized real estate maps from 1874 to 1892, and plan to digitize more.

Another resource for on-line maps is the Library of Congress' Geography and Map Reading Room page. Search their Online Map Collections for "Baist"  you may locate several of Baist's real estate atlases ranging from 1903 to 1913. If you hunt you may find the Sanborn Fire Maps, the maps from 1888 to 1916 for Washington are available online.

 

Hopefully these resources can help you connect with your neighbors from the past and give you a better sense of your neighborhood's history.