Tuesday Trivia

This is Part 1 of three parts of my article to summarize the presentation from Carol Buswell to my gene soceity, EWGS, last 7 April 2018;

Carol Buswell, from the National Archives at Seattle, was our afternoon speaker at our recent EWGS Spring Seminar. She was invited to teach us about the archives and how to find wanted records there.

Right off the bat she wanted us to know that “most generally, you do not search for a name in an archives; you search for a group of records pertaining to either the time period your person lived there, a geographic location,  or, perhaps to a government project or program he was involved with.” She really wanted us to realize that!

First off she asked did we know what a primary source was? We agreed that such are mostly documents created at or near the time of the event. “Well, she said, “ primary sources are what the archives collect.”  Such archives can be on the national, state, county or city level or they can be from companies, schools, historical societies, religious denominations, etc. But she was quick to point out the difference between public and private records and the National Archives collects only Federal Government-related, public records.

One slide Carol showed helped us to better understand:

Federal Agency Records are in the National Archives

State Agency Records are in the State Archives

County Agency Records are in the County Archives

City/Town Agency Records are in the City/Town Municipal Archives

A further explanation would be (hypothetically) rather like this, Carol explained. “Each agency holds records created since the inception of that agency.”

 *XYZ statehood date was 2 July 1820 so that state hold records FROM that date

  • ABC county was set off on 15 Sep 1824 so that county holds records FROM that date
  • EFG county was set off from ABC on 4 Mar 1830 so their records are FROM that date
  • CITY-A was created on 22 Dec 1844 so their records are FROM that date
  • CITY-B was set off from City-A on 5 Oct 1850 so their records are FROM that date

“Does that make sense to you?” Carol asked. “You cannot expect to find archival records from a time period when they did not have legal jurisdiction to gather records.”


NOTE: Please stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3 of my summary-article on Carol Buswell’s presentation to EWGS.