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!

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.  And, one more important item – a photo ID.  That is needed in more than one place in NARA.

We took the Metro downtown, and got off at the Federal Triangle station.  There is a closer station to the National Archives, but we chose to do this station for two reasons.  One, we would have had to change trains to go to the other station. And, two, we wanted the exercise!

We got to NARA at 8:50 AM.  We went in the front door (Pennsylvania Avenue), and did the screening process.  Then, we waited with all of the other researchers that had arrived before 9AM.  At 9AM we went into the large room directly in front of the front door.  At the center of the room, there was a help desk.   This person was very friendly, and directed us to a certain desk to begin the orientation process.  We first watched a 10-minute slide-show on a computer, and then completed the process to obtain our researcher cards.  A photo ID was required.  And, our photos were taken!

Then, we went through another door (on the left side of the room) and learned about filling out the “Request For Military Records.”  We went to large tables in the center of the large room (that we went into at the beginning of our visit), and filled out forms.  Each person is allowed 4 records to be pulled at each pulling – 10AM, 11AM, 1:30PM, and 2:30PM.  So, since there were 2 of us, we each filled out 4 slips.  The slips were then deposited in a wooden tray across from the archivist through the “another door” mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph.   (After the 10AM slips were taken out of the wooden tray, we put in 3 more for the 11AM pull.)

Since I had questions about the Hospital Corps and about the carded medical records, I went to room G-24 – on the right side of the large room.  I was able to turn in 2 records to be pulled from that area as well (I could have done 4 if I had had that many).

Then, we put most of our items in a locker and went downstairs to the cafeteria to get lunch.  It was expensive, but nutritious.

More in my next blog!

Maggie

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