National Archives at Chicago

Great Lakes Regional Archives eNewsletter
November 2007

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The Regional Archives in Chicago, Illinois

Address  |   Hours  |   Directions

In this issue:

  1. Upcoming "First Saturday of the Month" Research Hours
  2. Holiday Closures
  3. Featured Documents:   Records of Soldiers Homes at the National Archives-Great Lakes Region
  4. Film Series:   Anatomy of a Murder in Film and Archives
  5. Ongoing Exhibit:   "Cinema in the Stacks"

1.   Upcoming "First Saturday of the Month" Research Hours:
In addition to our regular hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday through Friday, the Great Lakes Regional Archives is also open to the public the first Saturday of every month from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Researchers interested in using original historical records or microfilm are encouraged to contact a reference archivist ahead of time by phone (773) 948-9001 or e-mail.

2.   Holiday Closures:
The National Archives-Great Lakes Region will be closed Monday, November 12th in observance of Veterans Day and Thursday, November 22nd in observance of Thanksgiving. The Regional Archives will be open during its regular hours on Friday, November 23rd.

3.   Records of Soldiers Homes at the National Archives-Great Lakes Region:
With Veterans Day fast approaching it's perhaps fitting to look back and see one way in which our Country cared for its veteran soldiers, sailors, and marines from past wars.

Archivist Trevor K. Plante's article, "The National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers" (Prologue, Spring 2004), uses a case study to present an excellent overview of the Soldiers Homes, and provides research hints for genealogists and historians interested in delving further into the records.

The Great Lakes Region's holdings include Record Group 15, Records of the Veterans Administration (VA), Records of the National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. Researchers commonly refer to these records as Soldiers Home records. These records relate primarily to indigent Union Civil War veterans who applied for admission to federally funded homes. By the end of the 19th and into the 20th Century veterans of other conflicts began to reside in the homes, including those who served in the Indian Wars, the Spanish American War, and World War I. African American veterans could enter and did reside in the homes as well.

The National Archives-Great Lakes Region's holdings include records for the following branches:

  • Central Branch, Dayton, Ohio, 1867-1935
  • Danville Branch, Danville, Illinois, 1898-1934
  • Marion Branch, Marion, Indiana, 1890-1931
  • Northwestern Branch, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1867-1934

These records mainly consist of sample case files for veterans at the Soldiers Homes for the time periods indicated above. In addition to case files, our holdings include a small amount of administrative and hospital records for select Homes.

A list of sample case files for veterans living at the Danville and Marion branches is available on our Finding Aids page.

Regrettably, the complete body of case files for the Soldiers Homes no longer exists. The records were sampled sometime after their transfer to the National Archives decades ago. While case files may not exist for most residents, the National Archives has microfilmed the Soldiers Home registers, which is published under the designation M1749, Historical Registers of National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, 1866-1938. The registers are the most complete listing of veterans living in the Soldiers Homes and provide basic personal information on the veteran including his military unit, when he was admitted, medical information, date and cause of death, and whether he was buried at the Home. Our office has obtained the rolls of M1749 for the four Soldiers Homes for which we retain original textual records.

In addition to federally funded homes for disabled soldiers, many states established state-run homes for both Union and Confederate soldiers. Records of state-funded homes for soldiers can be found with the state archives in the veteran's respective state.

For more information about records for the National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, please feel free to contact us.

4.   Film Series: Anatomy of a Murder in Film and Archives:
Come join Dr. Stephen C. Shafer and Archivist Glenn Longacre for a discussion on the film, Anatomy of a Murder. Dr. Stephen Shafer, from the Cinema Studies Unit at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will discuss the film from the perspective of a film historian while Glenn Longacre and Gabriel Geer will discuss archival records connected to the film which are held by the National Archives-Great Lakes Region. The program will conclude with a screening of the 1959 film directed by Otto Preminger and a display of archival records related to the libel case that stemmed from the movie. This is a free event, open to the public. Continuing education credits are available for teachers who attend the program.

5.   Ongoing Exhibit: "Cinema in the Stacks"
In conjunction with our Cinema in the Stacks film series, Archives staff mounted a three-panel exhibit relating each film to Great Lakes Regional Archives' holdings. Each panel highlights one of the films in the series (Tucker: The Man and His Dream , The Great White Hope, and Anatomy of a Murder). Each panel has an 11" x 17" reproduction of the theatrical release poster of the film, as well as production stills. Highlighted records from the Regional Archives holdings include: documents from a civil lawsuit by one of the individuals represented in the film against the studio that produced Anatomy of a Murder and the publishing company of the novel; the criminal case file, U.S. v. Jack Johnson; and records from various civil and criminal cases involving Preston Tucker, including patent drawings of the Tucker Torpedo, as well as records from the War Assets Administration detailing the sale of Tucker's plant.

The National Archives and Records Administration-Great Lakes Region is located at 7358 South Pulaski Road, Chicago, approximately 2 1/2 miles southeast of Midway Airport. The entrance is located one block west on 75th Street, just north of Richard J. Daley City College. Parking is free. Maps and travel directions are available on our Directions page.

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