I was going to Fairfax, VA, for my 40th high school reunion.  My husband and I would be in the area for a few days.  So, the thought came to me – go to NARA while there.  We would have entire day at NARA!

So, now I had completed my research.  I was careful to make a document for me to take inside with me at NARA.  In this document was a copy of each of the pension cards for everyone for whom I wanted a pension or CMSR.  I also had the Record Group Number and T288 for each pension record.  These pension records were obtained from ancestry.com.  Additionally, I make copies of the service record forms for each person from fold3.  This way, I could be assured of every unit in which the veteran served.

I was careful to have the length of the document no longer than 2 sheets of  double-sided paper.  In the room where one actually views the records, there is a limit as to what you can bring in the room.

So, I had my 2 double-sided sheets of paper with all of the information that I thought I may need.

Then, I watched the video that is on the NARA website.  It was very helpful!

I checked about taking my Flip Pal scanner.  I could take it.  However, the record could not extend over the edge of the scanner.  And, it was not allowed to place the scanner on top of the paper – turning the scanner over.  So, unless I knew that I would have small papers to scan, there was no need to take.  We thought about taking our camera.  In fact, we did take it with us.  However, we did not use it.  Because of the amount of records that we had to copy (either on the copy machine or by photo), we decided to make copies instead of photos.  We were unsure about taking photographs and we were there for a limited time.  If we had known that we would be going back for another day, we probably would have taken photos instead.

Along with my 2 double-sided sheets of paper, we had quarters for the lockers.  And, we had cash and credit cards for copies (either is accepted).  We took our cell phones and kept them on vibrate.  One hint that someone gave was to have a quart-sized Ziploc bag with all of our items in it.  This is what we did, and it worked great!

One more item:  Upon first getting to NARA (they opened at 9AM), we went through a screening process.  All loose items (including from pockets) with through the scanner.  We walked through a scanner.  Then, we went into a very large room to begin the introductory procedure.  After requesting records, it takes about 1-1 ½ hours to get the records.  For receiving the records, one goes upstairs to room 203 – the Central Research Room. The first big room we went in does not have restrictions on what can be brought in. Room 203 is the room with restrictions.

More in my next blog.

Maggie

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