an archive you find unpublished materials, manuscripts, and loose papers. These
unique items are found only in one repository. Often times these collections are
not fully indexed however there is usually a finding aid to help you locate
material. Most of the collections must be handled with cotton gloves to protect
them from natural acidic oils on hands which can deteriorate paper. These items
are never loaned. If your write to the staff of an archival collection, they may
be able to do some searching for you in the collection. You may have to make a
trip to the facility to view the material unless it has been microfilmed.
Microfilmed collections can sometimes be borrowed on Interlibrary Loan.
as with libraries, there are national, regional, state, academic, and local
archives. Genealogists have always been the heaviest users of the material in
the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington, D.C. If
you are not able to travel to Washington, access to records can usually be
arranged for a fee by filling out a form and sending it to NARA. Many items in
the National Archives have been microfilmed and can be borrowed through
libraries and Family History Centers. Some but not all of this material has been
Library of Congress has published a multi-volume set of books called the
National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC) which lists thousands
of unique items located throughout the United States. NUCMUC is available at
large public, state, and university libraries.
regional, and state levels archives centers receive many requests per day. When
submitting a request you may have to wait many weeks before receiving an answer.
is the nearest regional archive to my home?
manuscript collections of slave and plantation records.
a passport record for my ancestor.
Revolutionary War records for my ancestor.
there an unpublished collection of papers for my family?
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