My Visit to NARA: Lessons Learned and Best Practices

Tracing Amy

Trip to Washington DC

In my previous post, I mentioned that I visited the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington, D.C. while 7 months pregnant.  Well, I thought I would take some time and share my experience.

I had visited the regional branch in Atlanta, but this was my first time visiting the facility in Washington, D.C.  I was at NARA for two days.  I had not planned to go two days, but I had unrealistic expectations of how fast things would go.

Before we even got on the plane, I spent time going over what I wanted to accomplish.  I also spent time reading the site for information on how to use the facility.  The main purpose of this visit was to get land records that would otherwise cost me $50 each to retrieve (I wanted 6 records, you do the math).  With this in mind, I went back to NARA’s site and used their online form to create a spreadsheet that would capture all of the information that I would need in order to fill out the record request forms when I arrived.  I used the Bureau of Land Management General Land Office Records site to ensure I had everything filled into my spreadsheet correctly.  I printed it, saved it to Dropbox and I was ready to go!

When my husband and I arrived, we went through the orientation, placed things in lockers and started my day of research.  Since I had spent the time gathering what I needed, I grabbed the record request forms and went to work.  Well, It wasn’t long before I realized that we had already missed two pull times (missed the second by a hair).  I wasn’t prepared to research anything else, so we had to wait two or three hours until the next pull time, which was around 1:00 PM.  I tried finding something else to research, but I just didn’t have enough information on me to be sure of what I needed to do.  I had no backup plan to maximize my time while waiting for those records to be pulled.  So, we waited.

Finally the records came!  We rushed up to the second floor, retrieved our cart with the records, only to find out that they had pulled about three of the records incorrectly.  It wasn’t because I provided incorrect information, but because they either grabbed the wrong box or made some assumption about what was requested.  I worked with the attendants to fill out another form for those that were wrong and started copying what I needed of the ones that were correct.  At at this point, we would have to come back the next day….which was not what we had planned.

The next day, we got there early and rushed up to the second floor with a plan of attack.  Well, we got started and again one of the boxed that they had pulled for the second time was still incorrect (they just read the numbers wrong this time), this was a bit frustrating.  Long story short, we finally got all of the correct records and worked together to get the copies that we needed (camera and copier) so that we could finally be able to be tourist of the city.  We toured the rest of that day and the next day before hoping on the plan back to Georgia.

If you are visiting NARA for the first time, here are some best practices and lessons learned that I would like to share.  I may sound like a broken record for some of these points, because I am sure you have heard them before.  Some are the same, no matter what archive, library, court house, etc you are visiting. ;)

  1. Read the NARA site thoroughly to find out what you will need to do when you visit.  They have a section on their site that gives lots of information about planning your visit.  There is even a video on the site that is helpful.  There are quite a few links, so take the time to read each one.
  2. Review the NARA catalog to know what they offer.  Even if you know what you want to retrieve while there, you will want to have a backup plan in case you have a wait time like we did.  If I had known, I would have looked more into the military holdings to better understand what I would be able to research while there.
  3. Gather the information you need before you get to the facility.  You will want to do this for your primary reason for visiting and also your backup.  As I mentioned above, I used the NARA site to create a spreadsheet of information that they would need in order to pull the records.  This saved me a lot of time.
  4. Go early on your first day so that you give yourself enough time for orientation and for multiple pulls.  It is a good idea to call ahead and get the exact times for record pulls.  Write them down and keep the note handy.
  5. Bring someone with you if you have a lot of copying to do.  It will help to divide and conquer.  You can use your camera to take pictures of the records or bring your own scanner.  This helps a lot when there are a lot of people and the copiers are being used.
  6. Be nice to the staff and other researchers, you never know who will help you throughout the day. Not that I was mean to anyone, but I thought I would add this one because I think it just helps your day go smoother even when it seems like everything is going wrong.

I really hope that my experience will help someone on their first visit.  Do you have any tips to add?  Share them in the comments!

Happy researching!
~AmyC.

© 2015 Amy L. Cole and Tracing Amy: My Ancestral Journey.  All rights reserved.

Getting back to Blogging

You have probably noticed that I have been away for a while.  It has been for a good reason.  At the beginning of this year, I became a mother!  This new role has been the most challenging and rewarding assignment for me.  However, as much as I have been enjoying taking care of my little one and getting used to being a mother, my mind has never stopped thinking about my research.  I look forward to the day when I will be able to visit the archives, cemeteries, and local Family History Center to continue my research.

While pregnant, I wanted to do as much as I could to continue with my family research.  Around the end of October last year, my husband and I traveled to Washington, D.C. just so that I could visit NARA. I was 7 months pregnant with my little one. It may seem like a dull trip to most, but it was the most exciting thing that I had done to date, as it relates to my research.  I waddled from floor to floor (up and down on the elevator) with swollen feet and ankles, on a mission to get copies of the land records of my ancestors and relatives for two days.  In addition to visiting NARA, I searched for and ordered death certificates, ordered microfilm and searched for marriage records, read a lot of blogs, and attended every webinar that I could (I am still doing this).  I basically collected information and tried to increase my knowledge about genealogy and family history research, all while waiting for the opportunity to pick it up again.

Since giving birth to a little baby boy at the beginning of the year, my journey into motherhood has been adventurous, and is a lot to get used to.  I have been spending time learning how to be a mom, working my day job and trying to catch up and keep up with daily life at home.  For now, I am going to take it slow and write as much as I can, but I can’t wait to be able to sit down and analyze what I have collected so that I can tell you all about it.  Besides, I have someone to tell the stories to now and its even more important that I continue with my research. :)

~AmyC.

© 2015 Amy L. Cole and Tracing Amy: My Ancestral Journey.  All rights reserved.

52 Ancestors #9: Nancy CARR PRUITT – Is she really a Creek Indian?

Nancy CARR PRUITT is my paternal great grandmother.  She the wife of Henry Bristol PRUITT and is the mother to my grandfather, Samuel Wilson PRUITT.  I will just say that I don’t know as much as I would like to know about her.  I was able to obtain her death certificate1, thanks to the work of the Rankin County Historical Society in Rankin County, Mississippi and their documentation of the cemeteries there2.  I was excited to find her death certificate, because it was one of the first ones that I was able to find during my first research trip to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.  When reviewing the document, it seemed to be riddled with a lot of ‘I don’t knows’, but that could have just been my frustration making those words more noticeable on the paper.  Either way, it didn’t give me very much new information to go on.

I did find her on the census the 19103 and 19204 census with Grandpa Britt and their children, but I have yet to find her in the other census years.  The thing that has lingered in the back of my mind is a question of her really being a Black Creek Indian.  That is really the only thing that my family members remember being told about her, other than that she was from Alabama.  I know, I know!  Everyone says that they have Indian in their family and yes, I have read Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr’s article on “Why most black people aren’t “part Indian,” despite family lore.”   But I don’t want to count the Indian out just yet.  It is something that I want to research, but haven’t gotten enough information on her to even know where to start.  It would definitely help to have some documented evidence to corroborate family stories. In the meantime, I will work on trying to get all the information I can find about her during the period of 1870 – 1943.

This is my ninth post as a part of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, created by Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small.

Footnotes:

1. Mississippi State Board of Health, death certificate 4442 (1943), Nancy Pruitt; Death Certificates and Indexes; Mississippi Department of Archives & History, Jackson.

2. Rankin County Historical Society, Rankin County, Mississippi Cemetery Records, 1824-1980 (Brandon,MS: Rankin County Historical Society, 1981), 120.

3. 1910 U.S. census, Clarke County, Mississippi, population schedule, Enterprise, p. 3, dwelling 31, family 33, Nancy Pruitt; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: 2014); citing Family History Library microfilm: 1374749

4. 1920 U.S. census, Clarke County, Mississippi, population schedule, Enterprise, p. 6, dwelling 55, family 58, Nancy Pruitt; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: 2014); citing Family History Library microfilm: 2340876.

© 2014 Amy L. Cole and Tracing Amy: My Ancestral Journey. All rights reserved.

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Cite This Page:
Amy L Cole, “52 Ancestors #9: Nancy CARR PRUITT – Is she really a Creek Indian?,” Tracing Amy: My Ancestral Journey, 29 April 2014 (https://tracingamy.wordpress.com: [access date]).

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52 Ancestors #8: Henry Bristol PRUITT

Henry Bristol PRUITT, Grandpa Britt as his known by the family, is my paternal great grandfather and the father to my grandfather, Samuel Wilson PRUITT. No one seems to know much about him.  My sister started researching a few years back but didn’t find a lot of information for him either. So far, we have found him on the 19101 and 19202 census of Clarke County, MS. I may have found him in the 1930 census3, but not quite sure its him because he is not living with his wife and children. My sister has shared her research so far, so I am using the tree that she built as a start, but other than what she knows, here is the rest that I have to go on.

  • He is possibly from Alabama and later lived in Jasper County, MS
  • He married Nancy CARR, who is said to be part Creek Indian and also from Alabama. They most likely married in Jasper County, because that is where their oldest son Lafayette was born.4
  • They might have separated or divorced at some point. No one knows when, but I think the 1930 census5 might be the clue I need, if it is him that I found.
  • His trade, outside of farming, was weaving baskets and seat bottoms.6
  • He died near Jackson, MS maybe around 1953 and is buried in Mount Olive Cemetery in Ranking County, MS. Grandma Nancy is also buried there7.
  • We believe they had a total of 9 children together: Bertha, Lafayette, Mary, Ethel, Thomas James, Bessie (think she is listed as Chastana on the census), Samuel Wilson, and Lola8.

Not knowing exactly when he died and with no Mississippi death record index accessible past 1943, I decided to take a chance to see if there was a death certificate on file for him. I filled in what I knew which was his name, the county that I thought he died in and the year. I was quite disappointed when I received the death certificate in the mail. It was for a Henry Prewett9 sure enough, but it was definitely not my Henry Pruitt because this death certificate makes him born around the same time as his oldest son. So now, I definitely need to gather more information.

I will have to try again to research his children. I don’t have much information on them either, but I am sure something will turn up soon. I may have to accept the fact that my research on this line may really require me to visit home and do more research on-site versus on-line.

This is my eighth post as a part of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, created by Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small.

Footnotes:

1. 1910 U.S. census, Clarke County, Mississippi, population schedule, Enterprise, p. 3, dwelling 31, family 33, Henry Pruitt; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: 2014); citing Family History Library microfilm: 1374749

2. 1920 U.S. census, Clarke County, Mississippi, population schedule, Enterprise, p. 6, dwelling 55, family 58, Henry B Pruitt; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: 2014); citing Family History Library microfilm: 2340876.

3. 1930 U.S. census, Clarke County, Mississippi, population schedule, Enterprise, p. 13, dwelling 121, family 122, Britt Pruitt; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration, 1920; Roll T625_2070.

4. United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917 – 1918, images, Ancestry.com, card for Lafayette Pruitt, serial no. 606, Registration Leake County, MS.

5. 1930 U.S. census, Clarke Co., Mississippi, pop.sch., p.13, dwell. 121, fam. 122, Britt Pruitt.

6. Clifton Pruitt, Pachuta, MS, interview by Amy Pruitt Cole 16 March 2013; audio privately held by interviewer, Georgia, 2014.

7. State of Mississippi, death certificate 4442 (1943), Nancy Pruitt; Death Certificates and Indexes; Mississippi Department of Archives & History, Jackson.

8. Evelyn Pruitt Payton, “Complete Genealogy Report for Henry Bristol Pruitt,” p.3; report Georgia, 12 August 2007; digital held by Amy Pruitt Cole.

9. State of Mississippi, death certificate 4824 (1953), Henry Prewett; Vital Records, Jackson.

© 2014 Amy L. Cole and Tracing Amy: My Ancestral Journey. All rights reserved.

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Cite This Page:
Amy L Cole, “52 Ancestors #8: Finding Henry Bristol PRUITT,” Tracing Amy: My Ancestral Journey, 22 April 2014 (https://tracingamy.wordpress.com: [access date]).

Please do not copy without attribution and link back to this page.
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52 Ancestors #7: 103 Years of Life: Samuel Wilson Pruitt (1900 – 2004)

Samuel Wilson Pruitt

Samuel Wilson Pruitt
1900 – 2004

My paternal grandfather, Rev. Samuel Wilson PRUITT (or Papa as he is known to the family) passed away just short of his 104th birthday, on February 12, 20041.  I often wonder about all the things that he might have witnessed, experienced, or was indirectly affected by during his lifetime.   So I have decided to take a stab at listing some of the events that occurred during his 103 years on Earth.

Papa was born to Henry Bristol PRUITT and Nancy CARR PRUITT in Jasper County, MS on February 22, 19002, just 35 years after the abolishment of slavery.  At that time, President William McKinley was serving his second term in office, but President Theodore Roosevelt would soon take office.  During the 103 years, there were 19 people to serve as President of the United States and 24 people to serve as Governor of Mississippi.

World War I (1914 – 1919) – I found draft cards for him3 and his brothers; however his brother, Lafayette Pruitt, did go on to serve in the Army during WWI4.

The Great Depression (1929 – 1939)

World War II (1939 – 1945) during which his son, J. W. Pruitt served in the Army5.

Korean War (1950 – 1962) – two of his son’s served in the Army during this time – Clifton Pruitt in Alaska6 and my father, Lee Roy Pruitt in Korea7.

The Vietnam War (1963 – 1989)

He endured the “Jim Crow” Era (1880s – 1960s) and the Civil Rights Movement (1954 – 1968), which led to The Voting Rights Act of 1965 being signed into legislation and finally granting him the right to vote in his own country at the age of 65.  A right that most people today have enjoyed since the age of 18 and have taken for granted.

The Persian Gulf War (1990 – 1992)

The beginning of a new millennium (2000)

September 11, 2001 attacks & War on Terror (beginning in 2001)

After two marriages (Louella DUKES & Betty Louise JACKSON), 12 children (including 2 step-children), 29 grandchildren, 48 great grandchildren and 16 great great grandchildren8, I would say that Papa lived a full life.  He may not have enjoyed many of the luxuries that some have, but I believe he was happy just the same.

This is my seventh post as a part of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, created by Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small.

Footnotes:

1. Mississippi State Department of Health, death certificate 123-04-005576 (2004), Samuel Wilson Pruitt; Vital Records, Jackson.

2. United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917 – 1918, digital images. Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com: accessed 14 April 2014), card for Wilson Pruitt, serial no. 1121, Registration Clarke County, Mississippi; Imaged from Family History Library microfilm.

3. United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917 – 1918, images, Ancestry.com, card for Wilson Pruitt, serial no. 1121, Registration Clarke County, MS.

4. Find A Grave, database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 14 April 2014), memorial page for Lafayette Pruitt (1890–1959), Find A Grave Memorial no. 3,167,532, citing Memphis National Cemetery, Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee; the accompanying photograph by Family Hunter is materially informative.

5. East Galilee Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery (Jasper County, Mississippi; 232 County Road 1828, Rose Hill, MS 39356), J W Pruitt marker, photograph taken by Amy L Cole, 10 March 2013.

6. Clifton Pruitt, Pachuta, MS, interview by Amy Pruitt Cole 16 March 2013; audio privately held by interviewer, Georgia, 2014.

7. Lee Roy Pruitt, phone interview, interview by Amy Pruitt Cole 06 October 2013; audio privately held by interviewer, Georgia, 2014.

8. Samuel Wilson Pruitt funeral program, 2004. privately held by Amy (Pruitt) Cole, Georgia.

© 2014 Amy L. Cole and Tracing Amy: My Ancestral Journey. All rights reserved.

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Cite This Page:
Amy L Cole, “52 Ancestors #7: 103 Years of Life: Samuel Wilson Pruitt (1900 – 2004),” Tracing Amy: My Ancestral Journey, 14 April 2014 (https://tracingamy.wordpress.com: [access date]).

Please do not copy without attribution and link back to this page.
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