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National Archives Virtual Genealogy Fair 2018

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October 24, 2018 - Save the date!

Sixth Annual Virtual Genealogy Fair

Every year, the National Archives hosts a virtual Genealogy Fair via live webcast on YouTube. The sessions offer family history research tools on Federal records for all skill levels. Thousands of family historians participate in the live event. 

As a virtual attendee, you can:

  • Watch the entire day on YouTube. 

  • Join us – from wherever and whenever.

  • Participate with the presenters and other family historians during the live event. 

  • Watch individual sessions and download the materials at your convenience -- live or after the event.

  • Attend free of charge and registration!

Schedule (Eastern)


David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States of America

Presenters:  Suzanne Isaacs and Meredith Doviak, Community Managers, National Archives Catalog located at the National Archives at College Park

Session: Join the National Archives Catalog Community Managers as they  discuss genealogy resources available in the National Archives Catalog and how the Catalog can help you jump start and refine your genealogical research. The Community Managers will also discuss the many opportunities to participate in our online Catalog through citizen archivist projects such as tagging, transcription, and adding comments. They'll  talk about how you can contribute to these projects and how these contributions can help make content in our Catalog more discoverable to researchers.

Skill Level: All

Presenter: Claire Kluskens, Archivist at the National Archives in Washington, DC

Session: This presentation will highlight some of the most important federal records for identifying former slaves and slave owners, including:

· census

· Civil War and later military service and pension records

· Confederate slave payrolls

· Bureau of Pensions Law Division case files

· Freedmen’s Bureau records

· Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company records

· Southern Claims Commission claims files

· coastwise slave ship manifests

· fugitive slave case files

Skill Level: All

Presenter: Alexandra Villaseran, Archives Technician located at National Archives at College Park

Session: Earlier this year, the processing team here at Archives I in Washington, DC completed a years-long records maintenance project of The Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Widows and Other Dependents of the Army and Navy Who Served Mainly in the Civil War and the War with Spain (“Widows’ Certificate” [WC] Files”), Entry 12-A, National Archives Identifier 30020, in Record Group 15, Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs. These files are a heavily used record series for genealogists and social historians, and contain records received by the Bureau of Pensions from widows to prove entitlement for pensions based on their deceased husbands’ military service, as well as records created by the Bureau that document actions it took concerning the applications. Far more than old papers housed in archival boxes, these records are testament to the lives lived and the challenges faced by women in the face of a massive and byzantine bureaucratic network. Pension files contain records for all claims relating to the veteran and include corroborating evidence such as proof of marriage and/or divorce, certificates from examining surgeons, birth records of children, copies of veterans’ death certificates, and correspondence between parties to a claim and the Bureau of Pensions. The Bureau of Pensions would frequently dispatch special examiners to gather testimony from widows and those who had knowledge of the marriage, including neighbors, employers, friends, and extended family. Transcripts of these depositions, if they occurred, are included in the case file. In addition to the myriad names and dates so frequently found in the course of genealogical research, the widows’ pension case files may provide a more intimate and detailed perspective regarding the marriage and lives of veterans and their surviving family. The Bureau of Pensions’ correspondence and interrogation transcripts often include details of whether the marriage was happy or unhappy, whether the family was adequately provided for, the circumstances of divorce or separation, and the reputation of the veteran and/or his widow in their local community. Surgeons’ certificates provide information on veterans’ health, including disabilities due to war injuries and any health problems that arose after his service. Included documents might also show that a widow was denied a claim due to insufficient proof of divorce from a previous marriage or testimony from neighbors attesting to what they perceived as immoral behavior. Each case file holds the potential for uncovering elements of the lives of veterans and their survivors beyond a dry sequence of events.

Skill Level: Beginner

Presenters: Kaitlyn Crain Enriquez, Archives Specialist and Kelsey Noel, Archivist located at National Archives at College Park

Session: Learn how to navigate records held in the Still Picture unit that document CCC camps and activities. This session will provide researchers with a list of series that contain CCC photographs, as well as inform researchers as to what information they should gather prior to beginning their search for CCC imagery.               

Skill Level: Experienced

Presenter: Cara Moore Lebonick, Reference Archives Technician located at National Archives at St. Louis

Session: With this year's 85th anniversary of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), I will cover the wealth of genealogical resources the TVA's Official Personnel Files (OPFs) provide to researchers. Additionally, I will provide information regarding the locations of other TVA records to be found in National Archives offices outside of St. Louis. The TVA was created in 1933 as one of the many “alphabet agencies” of the New Deal. It employed men and women alike for many different jobs from the, well-known, dam constructions to science labs and textile plants. It was one of the first agencies with such an overstated regional focus. Within one short year of establishment, over 9,000 people were employed over the seven state area of TN, AL, MS, KY, GA, NC, and VA. The TVA’s focus on employment as well as on the development and modernization of rural land makes the federal records that remain a sophisticated way to track families from that time and area.

Skill Level: Experienced

Presenter: Anna Csar, Archival Reference Technician located at National Archives at St. Louis

Session: During war and peacetime, military nurses tended to the medical needs of the United States Armed Forces stateside, overseas, and on the front lines. This presentation will provide brief histories of the Navy Nurse Corps and Army Nurse Corps, useful finding aids, and how to request records. The Official Military Personnel Files (OMPFs) of Army and Air Force Nurses may have been lost, burned, or damaged in the 1973 National Personnel Records Center fire. Fortunately, the National Archives at St. Louis houses non-OMPF records that may supplement the deficit the fire caused. The National Archives collection of Navy Nurse Corps and Army Nurse Corps records contain genealogy rich content of place & date of birth, photographs, handwritten letters and typed correspondence to friends and families, awards and citations earned, job duties, facts pertaining to death in service/killed in action, and beneficiaries.    

Skill Level: Experienced

Ann Cummings, Executive for Research Services

Previous Genealogy Fairs

Captioning: Live captioning will be available online . If you require an alternative or additional accommodation for an event (such as a downloadable transcript or a sign language interpreter), please send an email to or call 202-357-5260 in advance. 

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All events listed in the calendar are free unless noted.