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Lesson 6


Here is where you add what you found on ARC this week.  

Keep in mind that learning this is an exercise that will serve you well when searching on OPA or the search engines of other archival facilities.  This is particularly true when you are deciding what search terms to use. 

You do not need to master ARC, because some day (sooner or later) it will be gone. 

Using ARC while it is still available is a great way to experience the thinking behind archival description and some practice time spent here should help you understand ways in which records might be found in other archival search engines.


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  • In exploring the Digital Copies, I kept coming to references to the Sir Henry Wellcome collection, so I thought I’d explore that. This is a collection that was donated to the National Archives, not something generated by an agency.

    I found a wonderful Prologue piece that confirms that Wellcome did indeed visit Alaska. http://blogs.archives.gov/prologue/?p=1410  The article tells how the collection came to be housed in Anchorage. Also, I learned that he was born in my home state of Wisconsin.

    Through browsing the Digital Copies, I found a letter of recommendation for Wellcome that I’ve transcribed with the help of the “Scope & Content” tab on the record which gave me some background information on the letter writer.

    Reading the Prologue piece gives context to the other images in the collection which contains lots of photos and postcards. Definitely more interesting to look at the photos when I know more about what was going on.
    As for the two spellings: Metlakatla and Metlakahtla, just a minor annoyance, but helpful to know there were two different spellings to look for (or eliminate) in the searches.

    Another way to get to this collection, is to type “Indian affairs” in the phrase box and “Metlakatla” in the at least one word box. If you knew that Metlakatla was a reservation, going through BIA makes sense to me.
    I agree that searching by topic doesn’t work very well!

    Here is the Letter. ARC ID: 298102:

  • "Macy" and "Civil War" under Digital Copies yielded up this record of an ancestor or near-ancestor who, as it turns out, looks very much like my grandfather. Fun!  This is from the Archives at College Park, Maryland. The photo is of Gen. George N. Macy, ca. 1860-ca. 1865.

    The series is Mathew Brady Photographs of Civil War-Era Personalities and Scenes, compiled 1921-1940, documenting the perios 1860-1865. Record Group/Creator is the War Department, Office of the Chief SIgnal Officer. (08/01/1866 - 09/18/1947).  

    When we consider that this is a Mathew Brady photo, we are inclined to take another look at the portrait as a work of art.  And, we wonder whether the photo was chosen for the Archives for its era, its creator, its value as a culture lens, or the person it portrays--or most or all of the above.


  • This work with ARC is helping me be more comfortable digging around in the Archives, and recognizing the broad logic to it. It is becoming more intuitive to think like an archivist (e.g. creatively and laterally as well as heirarchically). I departed from my ever-broadening topic--now defined more or less as domestic life of women before the Civil War) to look for some of my ancestors springing from Nantucket. S

    earches for members of the Macy family, Nantucket, Whaling, and vessels all turned up service records--interesting!  (Whaling was sort of a bust. No matter what I used, I failed to turn up records of the old whaling industry off of Nantucket, with the exception of a very cool record with digital image: Petition from the Inhabitants of Nantucket concerning the whaling industry, 01/15/1803.  Here it is. Hope this gif file "translates."



    Petition from the inhabitants of Nantucket concerning the whaling industry, 01/15/1803

    Record Group 233: Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1789-2011; File Unit Petitions and Memorials Referred to the Committee on Commerce and Manufactures of the 9th Congress Regarding Aids to Navigation, 03/1805-03/1807. This is the Archives in Washington D.C.

  • I am still looking for Cold War in Alaska:

    Construction Project Photographs, compiled 1950 - 1985, documenting the period 1868 - 1985

    ARC Identifier 5150368 / MLR Number 163

    Photographs and other Graphic Materials from the Department of Defense. Department of the Army. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Pacific Ocean Division. U.S. Army Engineer District, Alaska. (06/14/1979 - )

    National Archives at Anchorage, Anchorage, AK

    Series from Record Group 77: Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers, 1789 - 1999

    which looks very interesting.  Where do I actually get to see the photographs?  Do I go into the National Archives in Anchorage?

    This was more frustrating to find items out there but because they are not available online it really isn't any use to a person trying to just find information but not able to do real "research" by actually going to the storage locations.  I know, no patience, though I do like print copies.

    To try the Digital Archive part.  Did find one, but this is actually in Canada.

    DEW Line:

    ARC Identifier 2569628 / Local Identifier 111-TV-359

    National Archives at College Park - Motion Pictures, College Park, MD

    Item from Record Group 111: Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, 1860 - 1985 

    When searching Amchitka all the photos are from a 1989 military exercise.

    But I will keep looking.

  • Thanks for the PowerPoint - I actually ended up in ARC on accident the first time I was digging around the NARA website.  But, now that I know what I am doing..... Wow, another place I could spend a lot of time looking around.

    I did many searches, but the one that I'll share is I searched for WWII POW.  I did another search for WWII Prisoner of War and actually got some different things so that was interesting. Under the POW search I found an amazing photograph titled "1,200 U.S. soldiers escape from POW camp at Limburg, Germany". After finding that I was thinking, wow now I want to know the storey behind their escape - was it really an escape? Then, I was thinking what a great assignment for students to find a photograph (or give them one) and then have them do research to find other materials related so they could learn more about what they were looking at.  Just an idea!

  • After gong through the powerpoint it was great to learn about the ARC Catalog.  Below are some things that I found.  I've been working on my final project and every week I'm turning up more stuff.  I think the thing I love the most about what I'm learning and the techniques is that lot's of the history can be traced to both places I spent my childhood in San FRancisco and the Sacramento area.

    Records about Japanese Americans Relocated During World War II, compiled 1988 - 1989, documenting the period 1942 - 1946

    World War II Japanese Internee Cards , compiled 1941 - 1947

    It as cool to see some of these records were complied fairly recently. (At least to me)  :)

    It's good to know that although the ARC is being phased out that the techniques and fundamentals were are learning in this lessons are still applicable.

    My favorite technique I learned was eliminating all of the different archives buildings and narrowing the search.

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