Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Placing an Order with NARA

It's taken a little bit of time to figure out what the limitations are for the Web design on our blogging format. In the body of the blog I can't:

1. Italicize the print

2. Underline the print

3. Apply bold formatting to the print

4. Add hyperlinks (unless the Web address is spelled out and then only if you have clicked into the actual full entry of the blog — seriously, that's really a pain.)

Because of this, I am a little worried that the news of NARA's rate increase effective this coming MONDAY, OCTOBER 1, might have been missed.

So, on the off chance, that someone might be interested in placing an order before the big rate hike, I'm going to give you some steps for accomplishing this. Now maybe all of you are a lot smarter than I am, and you can go to NARA's Web site and figure it out in a snap, but I have ordered several times since they first allowed online ordering last year, and every time I have to start from scratch figuring out what in the heck they want me to do.

First, go to this Web address: https://eservices.archives.gov/orderonline/start.swe?SWECmd=Start. (If you have clicked on the full entry button, you will see this as a blue hyperlink that you can just click on to go to the correct page.)

1. You will need to log in, or if you haven't already registered you will need to do this first. (If you are only “looking” you can skip this part.)

2. Then you will need to click on the “made to order reproductions” tab. This will take you to a second screen.

3. There are seven choices on the menu:
a. Census
b. Court Records
c. Immigration and Naturalization Records
d. Land Files
e. WW I Draft Registration Cards
f. Military Service and Pension Records
g. Native American Records

4. Clicking on any of these menu choices will take you to a page that will give you a description of the record choice, the current cost of the item and frequently asked questions.

5. Once you decide what you are ordering, it is very similar to ordering from Amazon or JC Penney. There is one exception. Each item must be placed on a separate order. However, you can have multiple orders placed at the same time.

6. An order confirmation page will appear with the following items on it:

a. Order Number
b. Order Date
c. Product
d. Total Charge

7. Print this confirmation page. That way if there is any question on whether or not you will be paying the pre October 1 rate, you have all the proof you need. Believe me, depending on the order; we are talking a significant difference.

Should you order great-great-grandpa's land entry record or his Civil War pension record? I don't know. The problem with the system is that you don't know exactly what you are getting until the package arrives. Paying $17.75 to get four ambiguous pieces of paper that constitute Joseph's land entry package is probably not a good bargain, unless you need to prove some disputed dates. A distant cousin and I ordered the same ancestor's pension package at different times. There were 27 pages in the packet. (NARA says the average is 105, but you can't prove it by me. The most I have received was 92.) The cousin was disappointed. I, on the other hand, was thrilled. But then again, I tend to be sentimental and sappy. Information to me is pure gold.

Tomorrow, I will have a short blog about ideas on how to find the information needed to order a Civil War veterans federal pension packet.

Until then — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, September 25, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online http://www.thenews-messenger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?Category=BLOGS02

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