Prologue Magazine

Genealogy Notes

The Army in the Woods

WWI spruce harvesting
Some World War I soldiers harvested spruce trees for airplane production.

When Saying "I Do" Meant Giving Up Your Citizenship

marriage license office
In the early 20th century, women who lost their U.S. citizenship upon marriage applied for its restitution.

Ancestors from the West Indies

West Indies immigration records
An overview of Afro-Caribbean immigration from 1900 to 1930..

"We're Still Alive Today"

Captured Japanese WWII diary
A captured Japanese diary was left behind on Makin Atoll during World War II.

The A-Files

A-Files immigration records
Find out about the Alien Files, an unparalled resource for 20th-century immigration research.

The 1940 Census Revisited

1940 Census
Another, more detailed, look at what you can find in the 1940 population census.

Family Experiences and New Deal Relief

New Deal relief
The correspondence files of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration document personal experiences during the Great Depression.

Question 22

New Deal relief
The 1940 census provides a glimpse of the demographics of the New Deal.

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?


Questions on the 1940 census tell us about employment and income of the American work force.

Dangers in the Civilian Conservation Corps


Civilian Conservation Corps accident reports between 1933 and 1942 can be rich resources for family historians.

The Rejection of Elizabeth Mason: The Case of a "Free Colored" Revolutionary Widow

The Rejection of Elizabeth Mason
The rejection and appeals in a pension file shed light on African American participation in the Revolutionary War.

"I Am Still in the Land of the Living"

The Medical Case of Civil War Veteran Edson D. Bemis
The medical case file of Edson D. Bemis demonstrates how to research Civil War veterans' postwar medical histories.

New Questions on the 1940 Census

New questions in the 1940 census
The 1940 census will be released in 2012. Learn what new information to expect that will reflect America in the Great Depression.

U.S. Census Schedules for Americans Living Overseas

Searching for overseas Americans in the census
Where do you look for your ancestors if they were Americans living abroad?

Find out more in U.S. Census Schedules for Americans Living Overseas.

68,937 and Counting

Leavenwoth Prison case files
Prison records can be a surprisingly rich—if disconcerting—source of genealogical information.

Find out more in 68,937 and Counting: Searching Inmate Case Files from the U.S. Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas.

Slavery and Emancipation in the Nation's Capital

Slavery in the District

Damani Davis shows how to use federal records to explore the lives of African American ancestors from Washington, DC.

Find out more in Slavery and Emancipation in the Nation's Capital: Using Federal Records to Explore the Lives of African American Ancestors.

"How an eagle feels when his wings are clipped and caged"

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Japanese internment camp newspapers provided a sense of community in World War II, and provide a unique insight for researchers today.

Find out more in "How an eagle feels when his wings are clipped and caged".

Coastal Bastions and Frontier Forts

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Explores what can be found within the records of U.S. military posts, 1821–1920. Find out more here.

Lead the Way

document thumbnail Track down U.S. Army Indian Scouts who served from 1866-1914.

Find out more in Lead the Way.

Follow the Money

document thumbnail Learn how to track down pension payments made to Revolutionary War Army veterans and widows.

Find out more in Follow the Money: Tracking Revolutionary War Army Pension Payments.

Federal Census of 1885

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An "extra" census helps researchers find information that may not be found anywhere else.

Find out more in The Forgotten Federal Census of 1885.

Exodus to Kansas

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An 1880 congressional inquiry investigates mass African American migration to Kansas.

Find out more in The 1880 Senate Investigation of the Beginnings of the African American Migration from the South.

D.C. Metropolitan Police

document thumbnail Police records document the historical and social fabric of the nation's capital.

Find out more in The Records of the D.C. Metropolitan Police, 1861–1930.

Native Americans in the Military

document thumbnail Hundreds of American Indians served in the U.S. military between 1815 and 1858. Learn how to find them in the records.

Find out more in Native Americans in the Antebellum U.S. Military.

Panama Canal Zone

document thumbnail Explore court records created during the building of the Atlantic-Pacific link.

Find out more in Looking for an Ancestor in the Panama Canal Zone, 1904–1914.

"Their . . . Bedding is wet Their floors are damp"

document thumbnail Discover what the records show about life for African American refugees before the Freedmen's Bureau.

Find out more in "Their . . . Bedding is wet Their floors are damp": "Pre-Bureau" Records and Civil War African American Genealog.

A Final Appeal to Capitol Hill

document thumbnail Citizens exercising their consti- tutional right to petition left future generations a wealth of genealogical information.

Find out more in A Final Appeal to Capitol Hill: The U.S. House's Accompanying Papers File, 1865–1903.

The Final Voyage of the Portland

document thumbnail The crew manifest went down with the ship off New England in 1898, but using NARA records, it is possible to reconstruct it.

Find out more in The Final Voyage of the Portland: Reconstructing the List of the Steamer's Crew through NARA Records.

Female Yeomen in World War I

document thumbnail The vague language of the Naval Act of 1916 opened the door to women volunteering in the U.S. Navy.

Find out more in The Story of the Female Yeomen during the First World War.

Native Americans in the Census

document thumbnail Although many sources state that the 1870 census is the first to enumerate the Indian population, genealogists can find Native Americans in the 1860 census.

Find out more in Native Americans in the Census, 1860–1890.

World War II Army Enlistment Records

computer card thumbnail Search for evidence of Army service from your own computer using NARA's online databases.

Find out more in The World War II Army Enlistment Records File and Access to Archival Databases

Senate Nomination Papers

document thumbnail The nomination files of the U.S. Senate offer a useful source of information for genealogical research regarding Presidential appointments.

Find out more in Serving at the Pleasure of the President: The Nomination Papers of the United States Senate, 1789–1946

Freedmen's Bureau Marriage Records

document thumbnail On April 19, 1866, former slaves Benjamin Berry Manson and Sarah Ann Benton White received an official marriage certificate from the Freedmen's Bureau, officially known as the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands.

Find out more in Sealing the Sacred Bonds of Holy Matrimony: Freedmen's Bureau Marriage Records

American State Papers

document thumbnail The thousands of claims and other records in the American State Papers preserved from the archives and manuscript records of the Senate and House contain a wealth of information on individuals and families living in America from 1789 to 1838.

Find out more in Those Elusive Early Americans: Public Lands and Claims in the American State Papers, 1789–1837.

Habeas Corpus Case Records

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Habeas corpus cases dating from 1820 to 1863 in the District of Columbia can provide names of individuals and family members; birth, marriage, and death information; and detailed information on the daily lives of the people involved in the cases.

Find out more in "You have the body": Habeas Corpus Case Records of the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia, 1820–1863

African American History

Special Issue on African American Research and Federal Records (Summer 1997)

Ancestors from the West Indies (Fall/Winter 2013) - A historical and genealogical overview of Afro-Caribbean immigration, 1900–1930s.

The Rejection of Elizabeth Mason: The Case of a "Free Colored" Revolutionary Widow (Summer 2011) - The rejection and appeals in a pension file shed light on African American participation in the Revolutionary War.

Slavery and Emancipation in the Nation's Capital (Spring 2010) - Damani Davis shows how to use federal records to explore the lives of African American ancestors from Washington, DC.

Exodus to Kansas: The 1880 Senate Investigation of the Beginnings of the African American Migration from the South (Summer 2008) - Learn about an 1880 congressional inquiry regarding mass African American migration to Kansas.

"Their . . . Bedding is wet Their floors are damp": "Pre-Bureau" Records and Civil War African American Genealogy (Summer 2007) - Discover what the records show about life for African American refugees before the Freedmen's Bureau.

Sealing the Sacred Bonds of Holy Matrimony: Freedmen's Bureau Marriage Records (Spring 2005) - A state-by-state look at marriage licenses, certificates, registers, and reports in federal records that document marriages of former slave couples.

The Rost Home Colony, St. Charles Parish, Louisiana (Fall 2001) - Finding family ties in the records of a Freedmen's Bureau experiment.

Researching African Americans in the U.S. Army, 1866–1890: Buffalo Soldiers and Black Infantrymen (Spring 2001) - How to find the military records of African American soldiers who served in the late 19th-century.

Marriage Registers of Freedmen (Fall 1973) - Learn about an invaluable source for African American family history.

American Indians

Native Americans in the Antebellum U.S. Military (Winter 2007) - Hundreds of American Indians served in the U.S. military between 1815 and 1858. Learn how to find them in the records.

Native Americans in the Census, 1860–1890 (Summer 2006) - Genealogists pursuing Native American ancestry should look for leads in earlier censuses.

Indian Bounty Land Applications (Fall 1993) - A source for the difficult task of tracing Indian ancestors back to the early 19th century.

Lead the Way (Summer 2009) A guide to researching U.S. Army Indian Scouts from 1866 to 1914.

Boxer Rebellion

U.S. Marines in the Boxer Rebellion (Winter 1999) - Research the service of U.S. Marines who served in China in 1900.

Census

The 1940 Census Revisited (Winter 2012) - Another, more detailed, look at what you can find in the 1940 population census.

New Questions in the 1940 Census (Winter 2010) - Learn what questions were new to the 1940 census and how they reflect America during the Great Depression.

U.S. Census Schedules for Americans Living Overseas (Fall 2010) - Where do you look for your ancestors if they were Americans living abroad?

The Forgotten Federal Census of 1885 (Fall 2008) - An "extra" census helps researchers find information that may not be found anywhere else.

Native Americans in the Census, 1860–1890 (Summer 2006) - Genealogists pursuing Native American ancestry should look for leads in earlier censuses.

Plans of Division: Describing the Enumeration Districts of the 1930 Census (Fall 2003) - The Census Bureau divides up the country into manageable pieces to conduct the 1930 census.

"Blisters on My Heels, Corns on My Toes": Taking the 1930 Census of Population (Winter 2002) - The story of the people behind the taking of the 1930 population census. How did the Census Bureau gather that vast amount of data?

The 1930 Census in Perspective (Summer 2002) - The 1930 census reflected the emerging values of early 20th-century America.

The WPA Census Soundexing Projects (Spring 2002) - The indexing projects put unemployed people to work during the Great Depression of the 1930s and were begun because the Bureau of the Census needed indexes for its own needs.

Myths and Realities about the 1960 Census (Winter 2000) - Corrects the myth that substantial data from the 1960 census has been lost because the hardware to read the tapes is obsolete.

"First in the Path of the Firemen": The Fate of the 1890 Population Census (Spring 1996) - The story of the 1921 fire that destroyed most 1890 census schedules and its aftermath.

Civil War

"I Am Still in the Land of the Living"The Medical Case of Edson D. Bemis (Spring 2011) - One man's case file demonstrates how to research Civil War veterans' postwar medical histories.

Civil War and Later Navy Personnel Records at the National Archives, 1861–1924 (Summer 1995) - United States Navy personnel records for the period 1861–1924 are one of the best secrets in genealogical research.

Civil War Draft Records: Exemptions and Enrollments (Winter 1994) - Looking for men who did not serve in the Civil War.

Confederate Medical Personnel (Spring 1994) - How to find your Civil War-era ancestor, if he or she served the Confederate army in a medical capacity, in the War Department Collection of Confederate Records.

Enhancing Your Family Tree with Civil War Maps (Summer 2003) - How to use an often-overlooked resource for filling out your Civil War research.

Income Tax Records of the Civil War Years (Winter 1986) - Discover valuable information in records of the first U.S. income tax.

The Army Medal of Honor: The First Fifty-five Years (Summer 2001) - The Civil War origins of the Medal of Honor and guidance on how to find records of recipients.

Researching Confederate Marines in the Civil War (Winter 2001) - Tips for researching an often overlooked group of Civil War servicemen.

The Shady Side of the Family Tree: Civil War Union Court-Martial Case Files (Winter 1998) - Often, researching a family member's Civil War military service can be a double-edged sword.

Slavery and Emancipation in the Nation's Capital (Spring 2010) - Damani Davis shows how to use federal records to explore the lives of African American ancestors from Washington, DC.

Which Henry Cook? A Methodology for Searching Confederate Ancestors (Fall 1995) - How to use NARA records to pin down the identity of a Confederate soldier.

Civilian Service

Serving at the Pleasure of the President: The Nomination Papers of the United States Senate, 1789–1946 (Winter 2005) - In providing "advice and consent" for Presidential appointments, the Senate has also produced a lot of controversy and drama.

The Official Register of the United States, 1816–1959 (Winter 2004) - Explore the national directory of employees, agents, and officers of the federal government.

Strategies for Reconstructing Careers of Foreign Service Officers, 1869–1887 (Spring 1999) - A guide through 19th-century political patronage in the U.S. foreign service.

Court Records

"You have the body": Habeas Corpus Case Records of the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia, 1820–1863 (Fall 2005) - These case files can provide names of individuals and family members; birth, marriage, and death information; and detailed information on the daily lives of the people involved in the cases.

Disabled Veterans Homes

The National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers (Spring 2004) - Using records of veterans homes to gather information about Civil War and later veterans.

Headstones

Honoring Our War Dead: The Evolution of the Government Policy on Headstones for Fallen Soldiers and Sailors (Spring 2003) - Learn when the government started providing headstones for military personnel and how to use the records in your genealogical research.

Immigration and Naturalization

When Saying "I Do" Meant Giving Up Your Citizenship (Spring 2014) - In the early 20th century, women who lost their U.S. citizenship upon marriage applied for its restitution.

Ancestors from the West Indies (Fall/Winter 2013) - A historical and genealogical overview of Afro-Caribbean immigration, 1900–1930s.

The A-Files (Spring 2013) - Find out about the Alien Files, an unparalled resource for 20th-century immigration research.

A Gold Mine of Naturalization Records in New England (Fall 2004) — A valuable set of naturalization records for five New England states.

By Way of Canada: U.S. Records of Immigration Across the U.S.-Canadian Border, 1895–1954 (St. Albans Lists) (Fall 2000) - A guide to using immigration records of the U.S.-Canadian border.

"Any woman who is now or may hereafter be married . . .": Women and Naturalization, ca. 1802–1940 (Summer 1998) - An examination of why women are not represented in early naturalization records.

Korean and Vietnam Wars

Electronic Records of Korean and Vietnam Conflict Casualties (Spring 2000) - Online resources: state casualty list extracts from the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.

Local History

The Records of the D.C. Metropolitan Police, 1861–1930 (Spring 2008) - Police records document the historical and social fabric of the nation's capital.

The Final Voyage of the Portland: Reconstructing the List of the Steamer's Crew through NARA Records (Winter 2006) - The crew manifest went down with the ship off New England in 1898, but using NARA records, it is possible to reconstruct it.

Those Elusive Early Americans: Public Lands and Claims in the American State Papers, 1789–1837 (Summer 2005) - The thousands of claims and other records preserved from the records of the Senate and House contain a wealth of information on individuals and families living in America from 1789 to 1838.

Researching the Career of a Nineteenth-Century Physician (Summer 2004) - Using NARA records to fill out details of the life of a locally notable individual.

De Smet, Dakota Territory, Little Town in the National Archives (Winter 2003) - Finding records of Laura Ingalls Wilder's family in the National Archives.

Mexican Punitive Expedition

The United States Armed Forces and the Mexican Punitive Expedition (Fall & Winter 1997) - Background on the expedition and guidance on doing genealogical research on the participants.

Military Service Overview

An Overview of Records at the National Archives Relating to Military Service (Fall 2002) - A useful starting point for those researching individuals whose service records may be in the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C.

Coastal Bastions and Frontier Forts (Fall 2009) - Learn what can be found by researching U.S. military posts from 1821 to 1920.

New Deal

Family Experiences and the New Deal (Fall 2012) - The correspondences files of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration document personal experiences during the Great Depression.

Question 22 (Summer 2012) - The 1940 census provides a glimpse of the demographics of the New Deal.

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? (Spring 2012) - Questions on the 1940 census tell us about employment and income of the American work force.

Dangers in the Civilian Conservation Corps (Winter 2011) - Civilian Conservation Corps accident reports between 1933 and 1942 can be rich resources for family historians.

Panama Canal

Looking for an Ancestor in the Panama Canal Zone, 1904–1914 Explore court records created during the building of the Atlantic-Pacific link.

Philippine Insurrection

Researching Service in the U.S. Army during the Philippine Insurrection (Summer 2000) - How to document an ancestor's military service in an often-overlooked conflict.

Pre–Civil War

Leaving the Army during Mr. Madison's War (Fall 2011) - War of 1812 Army discharge certificates are an unexpected source of information about military service.

Follow the Money: Tracking Revolutionary War Army Pension Payments (Winter 2008) - How to track down the actual pension payments made to Revolutionary War Army veterans and widows.

Early Navy Personnel Records at the National Archives, 1776–1860 (Spring 1995) - Clues to searching for genealogical information in pre–Civil War navy records.

Indian Bounty Land Applications (Fall 1993) - A source for the difficult task of tracing Indian ancestors back to the early 19th century.

Genealogical Fallout from the War of 1812 (Spring 1992) - Discusses the wealth of information contained in Seamen's Protection Certificate Applications.

Do We Have Any Records Relating to French Spoliation Claims? (Spring 1991) - Investigate claims presented by U.S. citizens against France, Spain, and Holland for vessels and cargo taken by privateers before September 30, 1800.

Genealogical Records of the War of 1812 (Winter 1991) - How to use military records to research a War of 1812 veteran.

Prison Records

68,937 and Counting: Searching Inmate Case Files from the U.S. Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas (Summer 2010) - Prison records can be a surprisingly rich—if disconcerting—source of genealogical information.

Private Claims

A Final Appeal to Capitol Hill: The U.S. House's Accompanying Papers File, 1865–1903 (Spring 2007) - Citizens exercising their constitutional right to petition left future generations a wealth of genealogical information.

Spanish-American War

Special Issue on the Spanish-American War (Spring 1998)

World War I

The Army in the Woods (Summer 2014) - Some World War I soldiers harvested spruce trees for airplane production.

The Story of the Female Yeomen during the First World War (Fall 2006) - The vague language of the Naval Act of 1916 opened the door to women volunteering in the U.S. Navy.

World War I Gold Star Mothers Pilgrimages, Part I (Summer 1999) and Part II (Fall 1999) - Mothers and widows of U.S. soldiers who died overseas during World War I sailed to Europe to see the graves of their sons and husbands.

They Answered the Call: Military Service in the United States Army during World War I, 1917–1919 (Fall 1998) - A guide to looking for information about World War I army veterans.

World War II

"We're Still Alive Today" (Summer 2013) - A captured Japanese diary was left behind on Makin Atoll during World War II.

"How an eagle feels when his wings are clipped and caged" (Winter 2009) - Japanese internment camp newspapers provided a sense of community in World War II, and provide a unique insight for researchers today.

The World War II Army Enlistment Records File and Access to Archival Databases (Spring 2006) - World War II Army Enlistment Records are available through NARA's Access to Archival Databases (AAD) resource.


For other articles of interest, visit the Prologue Index of Previous Issues page.


Articles published in Prologue do not necessarily represent the views of NARA or of any other agency of the United States Government.

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