Tips for Successful Searches
Navigating Record Group 75 and National Archives Catalog
Two portals on the National Archives (NARA) website provide ready access to information regarding records related to American Indians. Use these tips for a more effective search.
Navigating Record Group 75, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Records
- In our Navigating Record Group 75 section, start with geography. This guide is arranged geographically by state. Click on the state where the band or tribe you are researching is located.
- Within each state, the guide is arranged by tribe or band. Under each entry, you will find a list of the BIA agencies, offices, and superintendencies with jurisdiction over that tribe, and the location of the NARA facility holding those specific records.
- Click on the hyperlinked names of the BIA agencies, offices, and superintendencies listed under each tribe. This will take you to the full organization authority record for that office in the National Archives Catalog, where you will find a brief administrative history and links to related records.
- The navigational guide also includes a list of non-reservation BIA boarding schools, similarly arranged by the states where the schools were located. Each school enrolled students from many tribes and localities.
- Remember that many tribes were re-located. If you do not find the tribe listed under one state, think about where it might have moved, and check the listings under that additional state.
National Archives Catalog
- The National Archives Catalog searches and displays results from all Archives.gov web pages. The results can include digitized records, descriptions of records not yet digitized, links to informative web pages and articles, and authority records giving administrative history on record creators.
- The National Archives Catalog's purpose is to help identify records that may include information about individuals. It will not usually lead the researcher to materials about a specific person, and it is not a name index. Although thousands of records have been digitized and appear in the National Archives Catalog, many millions more have not yet been digitized and are only available by contacting the NARA facility holding them.
- An unstructured keyword search is often the least effective approach to locating specific information. Use special search operator words, such as AND, OR, NOT, to narrow the results of your search. To search for an exact phrase, enclose it in double quotation marks.
- Use more specific terms to narrow and improve your search. For example, "Sioux" is a vague term that does not lead to well-defined results. Try using the official name of a specific tribe instead, such as "Rosebud Sioux Tribe."
- Search keyword synonyms such as "Native Americans" and "American Indians" to yield different search results.
- Advanced Search allows you to limit your search by parameters such as type of record, record group number, or location of materials. You can also use the search refinement tools in the left-hand column of the search results page to similarly narrow the results.