It is a pleasure to introduce another "guest author." The following was written by newsletter reader A. G. Conlon. This article is copyright 2006 by A.G. Conlon and is used here with his permission.
A recent Atlanta business trip permitted time to pursue my genealogical addiction. I spent a wonderful morning within the National Archives and Records Administration, Southeast Regional Archives, Atlanta research rooms located in Morrow, GA. The Morrow Georgia facility is fairly new. The facility first opened its doors at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, April 1, 2005.
The staff at the regional branch was very courteous, knowledgeable and friendly. Additionally, I believe all of the National Archive Branch staff that I met are history majors. This was a real treat as I indulged myself in conversation with staff members, learning more about the holdings at the Archives Southeast Branch. During my discussions I learned that the Archives Branch in Atlanta is the sole repository of the original World War I draft registration cards. A quote from the NARA Southeast Branch Atlanta website is most instructive:
World War I: Original Draft Registration cards exist for nearly 24 million men, American Citizens or not, born between 1873 and 1900 and who registered for the draft in 1917 and 1918. The records are filed by state and draft board. The full name of the registrant and his location or address at the time of registration are needed to search the cards. Enemy aliens and those who had enlisted did not register. The records cover the entire United States.
I was aware of the city, county, and state for my World War I draft registration subject. Unfortunately, the person I was researching proved negative as he was on 100% disability by 1916. However, I will most definitely have to return when I have the information concerning my maternal family research. It is amazing that approximately 24 million draft registration cards are ALL maintained at the Atlanta facility.
Previously, my military records research was limited to my father's service record, maintained at the National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, Missouri. Most family historians and genealogy researchers realize the National Archives maintain military records up to approximately World War I.
My current family research has not regressed to the Civil War era. However, I did have two names of Confederate ancestors I could research for friends. More importantly, this allowed me to quench my inherent addiction of all things historical. So, impelled by my need for a history "fix," I continued my first venture into Confederate Soldier research. I asked the research assistants at the facility how best to proceed. To my amazement, they produced a three-ring binder that contained the NARA publication, Military Service Records, A Select Catalog of National Archives Microfilm Publications. It was the same book I had acquired at an Orlando genealogy convention in 2003. However, his three-ring binder also included a guide that was annotated with the filing cabinet number and drawer number where each microfilm could be located.
I was fortunate to know the Confederate subject's name and state. If all you have is a name, then you must review the Confederate name index for each state (each has an index of the last name). Once you find the correct name, state, and unit name, you can proceed to the unit's records. The units microfilm records have the compiled service records for those personnel assigned. The individual microfilm rolls are numbers and are arranged alphabetically by last name. My first subject was a Confederate Soldier from Georgia and serving in a Georgia unit. Page 84, Table 3 depicts the microfilm series number for the index, M226, and for the compiled service records, M226. I can also use the consolidated index to compiled service records, M253, which starts on page 84. If you have a last name and an initial or initials, the index is the place to start. In my case it was a last name of Carter, which is Series M226, Roll 11. Now I can go through the microfilm and locate all the Carters that fit my search criteria. I found two such matches; first was for the Georgia 11th and the next was for the Georgia 15th. I located the appropriate roll number and copied a total of 20 pages concerning the target subject ($.30/page). I repeated the same procedure for another Confederate soldier belonging to a Mississippi unit with about 14 pages of data.
All in all, it was a very instructive visit. It is one thing to read any book concerning a research source; the actual experience is so much better. My suggestion: don't be shy, jump in. It's really rewarding, no matter what you find.
In closing, a vast majority of family historians have visited, at one time or another, the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) website, www.archives.gov. We have perused the numerous web pages of information on immigration records, land records, wills, other historical documents, and of course, military records. I would strongly suggest a visit to the website of the closest NARA Regional office. Therefore, a trip to Washington D.C. may not be necessary. Explore what may be very near to your doorstep.
Good luck and good hunting!
Winter Park, FL
- National Archives and Records Administration, Southeast Regional Archives Atlanta, 5780 Jonesboro Road, Morrow, Georgia 30260, Phone: 770-968-2100, Fax: 770-968-2547
- Extracted 4/26/06 from http://www.archives.gov/southeast/finding-aids/genealogy.html#military
- NPRC Mailing Address: National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records, 9700 Page Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63132-5100; telephone - 314-801-0800.
- Page 83 commences the Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served During the Civil War (Record Group 109).