Friday, July 20, 2012

NIGR 2012-Day 5

Today was the last day of NIGR. All of us were tired and a little worn out from the frenzy of research, and the overload of information in the lectures. The first hour was free for research and I spent that time putting in pull slips for the day.

The first lecture of the day was "Records of the Freedmen's Bureau" presented by Reginald Washington. He discussed information that can be found in these records and showed us some really good examples on individuals and families. Next, was "Military Records on Fold3" presented by Trevor Plante. Trevor works at NARA in the military records department and is very knowledgable on what is digitized, what is going to be digitized and what is not digitized.

We had one hour for lunch which I spent in the Reading Room going over my pulls. The last 15 minutes of our break I ran down to the cafe and ate a sandwich in record speed. I also treated myself to a candy bar, because frankly by today I needed a little extra something. The rest of the afternoon was spent listening to lectures on "Certificates of Discharge for the War of 1812" and "One Family's Footprints in the Federal Records." Tom Jones presented the very last session on "Board Certification: Your Questions Answered."

Tonight was the National Institute on Genealogical Research Alumni Association Banquet. This was a very nice evening of talking to classmates that I hadn't had a chance to get to know very well, and enjoying a good meal. There were also a few short speeches, and a speech given by Sabrina Pertersen [sic] on "Behind the Scenes of Digitization." The remainder of the evening was spent mingling with the rest of the alumni. However, it was cut short when the facility's fire alarm went off and we had to evacuate the building.

For me, it was a strange research day that was not as successful as my other days have been. It was riddled with wrong boxes being pulled by the staff, running down to the Finding Aids room to correct the mistake,  and running back upstairs to wait for the correct boxes to arrive. I also requested muster rolls that the military archivist refused to pull for me (really she did). Then when I asked her what other information at NARA I could find relating to two Confederate soldiers I was interested in, she told me nothing other than the single CMSR card I had found on Fold3 for each of them. She also informed me that she is the military expert and knows the records. Hhhmmmm.... I'm sure she thinks she is, but I don't believe her. Why? Well, in a lecture this week given by Marie Melchiori she told us that the Federal Government was actually very interested in collecting/compiling Confederate records/information so that they couldn't qualify for claims (think Southern Claims Commission). Now do the Archives have specific information on the two guys I'm interested in? Maybe, maybe not. However, I'm pretty darn sure they have information on regiment movements, perhaps commanding officers and their actions, and finances etc. Why do I think this? Well, while the archivist was telling me I was out of luck, there was a book published by NARA on the shelf behind her about all of the Confederate records NARA has in their holdings. So when she walked away I got the book off the shelf, skimmed through it, and wrote down pertinent microfilm rolls to look at tomorrow.

Basically, I'm just trying to do thorough research, and I'm very committed to doing just that. If somebody tells me I can't have something, or that I'll never be able to find anymore information, I see it as a challenge... a throwing down of the gauntlet if you will. I become very determined to prove otherwise. So we'll see what I find tomorrow. Challenge accepted.

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