We had gone up to Room 203. We made copies of the two folders which we had signed for at the big desk in the center of the room. By the way – when you are ready to make copies, the archivist who is at the copy machine will instruct you of when you may begin. Then, a swipe is made of your researcher card (it has the money already on it), and the copying can begin. Make sure that if you encounter a paper clip, staple, or anything else, that you give the record to the archivist for removal of the item. And, there is no “folding back” of pages – you just do the best you can. Remember, these records are very old and fragile! And, if one of your pages is larger than 8 ½ x 14, reduce the size so that it will all fit on one page.
After completing the first two folders, we were ready for the folders that we had requested from the large room – pension and CMSR. For these folders, we went into the room on the right-hand end of Room 203. The sign-out and sign-in procedures were the same. We each did one folder, than went back to get another one!
It took about an hour to copy each folder contents – some a little less and some a little more. It just depended on the number of papers in the folder. When there was no more money on the researcher card, there were two options for adding money. If money was added with cash, there was a machine in Room 203 for doing this. If a credit card was used, it was necessary to go to the main floor.
Upon finishing up with our copying, it was necessary to have an archivist check every copy before removing the copies from Room 203. We did not realize this, so we had many copies to be checked! Next time, we will do this a little at a time! So, we waited about 20 minutes while our copies were checked. Then, all of the copies (and the double-sided papers which we brought in with us) were put in a cloth bag that was locked. And, the computer was checked and our Ziploc bags were checked. We were allowed to leave the room with all of our items!
Then, we went down to our locker to retrieve the items left from the morning.
We went through the screening process once again, and the papers were removed from the locked bag and given to us. Then, we left the building. It was 4PM.
(We were at NARA on a Friday, and they are open on Friday evenings. However, my reunion had an activity scheduled for then, and we didn’t want to miss it. Otherwise, we could have stayed longer.)
As it turned out, we did have 3 request forms returned to us – they did not find the records. Two of them were Spanish American War pension records that were not at NARA but were at the VA. The third one was a pension file that could not be found. I had copied the numbers correctly, and the archivists in Room 203 could read the request, but for some reason the folder could not be found. And, in a way it was good that we did not receive those 3 folders of records – we would not have had time to make all of the copies! As it was, we made copies of the carded medical records and the Hospital Corps records, and 5 pension folders and 6 CMSR folders.
We were very pleased about our day! We had learned a lot about the procedure for obtaining records and making copies. We had found quite a bit of new information about our ancestor-veterans.
And, we had a good time! All in all a good day!