Saturday, July 21, 2012

NIGR 2012- Day 6

Today I didn't set my alarm to get up early, although I still woke up by 7:30. I could have gone back to sleep, but I had a pull ready for viewing at 9:00 and microfilm to explore. Saturday is not really an official day of the NIGR program, it's optional. A lot of people returned home today, and the rest of us are returning tomorrow. This of course does not include the people who live here.

After I went through security and put my things in a locker I went straight up to the Reading Room on the second floor. The pull I had requested was one last land record. The majority of land records I viewed this week were in Colorado. Colorado has virtually nothing online for researchers, making it a very frustrating state to do research in. Of course my ancestors lived there. As it turns out there were also quite a few George Fry's living in the same county as my George Fry. What are the chances? Apparently higher than I thought. The land record I pulled was not my George Fry, as mine was born in Missouri and this one was born in Canada. His naturalization papers were in the file, making it easy to rule him out as my ancestor.

So down to microfilm I went. My focus was Confederate records. NARA has an impressive catalog of Confederate microfilm, and there was no way I was going to be able to begin exploring a good portion of it. The first film I pulled was an index of Confederate prisoners who died, where they died and where they were buried. However, this film was transcribed (typed) and I wanted to look at originals. I moved on to a couple films of different regiments... no surprises there. Then I came across the gem that proves not everything regarding your Confederate Civil War soldier is on the CMSR. The film is M598: Selected Records of the War Department Relating to Confederate Prisoners of Wa 1861-1865, Records Relating to All Prisoners. I focused on roll 5 which is the beginning of the series I needed and the beginning of the alphabet. It is arranged in a quasi alphabetical order. Another words, it follows ABC order until you get to the surname letter of interest (in my case "C"). Then you just have to search through all of the C's, as they are not arranged in any particular order by surname.

I didn't find the guy I was looking for, however I conducted a little experiment. I picked a random soldier and checked to see if his CMSR was on Fold3. It was. I then compared the information on the microfilm and the information on the CMSR. Guess what? Not all of the information made it onto the CMSR. Ha! The CMSR recorded where he died. The microfilm recorded where he was captured, when he was captured, what he was sick with, and when he died. Some of the people had their burial information included as well. This list also included citizens who were prisoners, with all of the information listed above as well. What an incredible resource!! The bottom line... always dig a little more and dig a little deeper, even when somebody tells you there is nothing left to dig for.

By now it was 2:00 and I was tired. Not only had I been researching all week (both during the day and at night in my room), I attended evening "field trips", and listened to a lot of lectures. I had reached my threshold. Apparently, even I have my limits of how much research I can do in one week. So I explored the city, did a little shopping, and treated myself to a wonderful dinner followed by some excellent gelato. Yum!

Tonight I'll pack up and relax in my quiet hotel room. Tomorrow I'm back to my loud chaotic life and that's okay. I miss my boys and can't wait to see them!

1 comment:

  1. So glad you had an overall productive experience! wish we could organize to have all BU Alums in a NIGR class together!