Have you ever come across electronic records in the Catalog and wanted to understand more about them? What exactly are electronic records, what is available, how to research within them? This week, we’ll take a closer look at these valuable records and show you how to use them as a resource in your research.
What are Electronic Records?
Electronic records encompass a wide range of formats including data files, electronic telegrams, email, reports in PDF format, websites, and even geospatial records. Electronic records can either be “born-digital,” which are records created in a digital format, or they can be records that were created on paper and later converted to a digital format. The National Archives holds more than 800 series of electronic records of permanent value, containing more than 750 million unique files. Most records date since the 1960s, with some dating as early as World War II.
What kinds of records are available as Electronic Records?
Nearly 140,000 file units are described in the National Archives Catalog that are in the custody of the Electronic Records Division. Of those, more than 85,000 file units (about 60% of the holdings) are available for download from the Catalog. To locate these records, do an advanced search and limit the results to the location of archival materials at "National Archives at College Park - Electronic Records."
Look for this symbol in your search results to indicate data files. Many data files are usually not appropriate for viewing within your web browser. You’ll want to refer to the Technical Specifications Summary and the technical documentation found in the Catalog description for details on the formats of the data files. Some data files are not available in the Catalog; contact the Center for Electronic Records reference staff for access: email@example.com
We shared some surprising finds in military pension files in our previous newsletter. Images in Civil War pension files are rare, and finding a tintype of a US Colored Troops (USCT) soldier is even rarer. In this video, our staff talk about why this tintype of Willis Calhoun (67th USCT) is so special.
Did You Notice?
Did you take a closer look at the illustrated family record (fraktur) from the Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application File of Peter Hunt that we featured in our previous newsletter? If you explored the record using the zoom feature in the National Archives Catalog, you may have found this interesting little sketch incorporated into the letter “H”. Have you found any discoveries like this?
Special thanks to our transcribers for a job well done:
Lauren Souther Alex Smith Laurie Hamilton ScribeOfPoland Danadar
SAO Faskingfem Dana Kessler Groenblad
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