I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my Christmas/New Year holiday as you can see by my lengthy absence. I missed you all & have sufficiently awoken from my month-long slumber to try to stick my big toe back into the genealogy waters. I was reading the latest issue of Prologue magazine trying to figure out what to blog about, when I realized I was holding it in my hands.
Prologue is NARA’s official magazine, and it highlights how to utilize the rich and vast resources of the Archives. It’s been around for 30 years, but I’m often surprised how few genealogists I meet actually subscribe to the magazine. It’s $24/year (4 issues). I have been a subscriber for many years now & I can assure you, it is one publication that I anxiously await and read from cover to cover. The magazine will expand your mind, showing you little known record groups, explaining various finding aids, and helping you navigate through the more expansive collections. The articles provide terrific historical detail on NARA’s records and agencies and America’s people. It also highlights the extraordinarily talented and brilliant professionals that work at NARA and are the “experts” in their areas. Sometimes, I even write the authors name down & track them down if I have a specific question! I have obtained numerous genealogical leads over the years from being a faithful Prologue subscriber.
I want to point out some Prologue links on NARA’s website that deserve mention.
1) In Summer 1997, a special edition of Prologue was dedicated to African-American research. Although the original is out of print (I would love to own this one), you can read all the articles online. Some titles include:
- “Freedmen’s Bureau Records: An Overview”
- “Preserving the Legacy of the US Colored Troops”
- “The Panama Canal: The African-American Experience”
- “Documenting the Struggle for Racial Equality in the Decade of the Sixties”
2) NARA has actually pulled all the genealogy articles, in all subject areas, out of Prologue and made them available online. Of course, all of the ones under the African-American section (different from those in the special issue) are worth solid gold. Some of my favorites in the other categories include:
- “Native-Americans in the Census, 1860-1890″
- “The 1930 Census in Perspective”
- “First in the Path of the Firemen: The Fate of the 1890 Population Census”
- “Enhancing your Family Tree with Civil War Maps”
- “Income Tax Records of the Civil War Years”
- “Those Elusive Early Americans: Public Lands and Claims in the American State Papers”
3) The Fall 2009 issue of Prologue featured an article called “Face to Face with History”. It discussed the rare finding of a photograph of an African American doctor in pension files. The article described his life story.
4) One other thing I’d like to mention that is available on NARA’s website: their “Researchers News” newsletter is a downloadable PDF file that is created quarterly and includes all the data about what books, microfilms, databases and other records have been recently purchased or accessioned. It also details all the classes and seminars available at NARA. Make sure to bookmark this location & start downloading the issues as they become available. I read them all.
If there’s room in your genealogy budget, I highly suggest a subscription to Prologue as all of the articles from every issue of course do not make it online. But, there is a good sampling available and I hope if you haven’t explored these articles yet, you will.
I am an engineer by day, but my true passion lies in genealogy. I have been a researcher, writer, lecturer and teacher for over twenty years. This blog is where I share family history methods, resources, tips and advice, with an emphasis on slave research, slavery and its aftermath. This lifelong quest has helped me to better know my family’s past. I’ve taken back– reclaimed– some of that lost memory, especially that of my enslaved ancestors. I hope you’ll sign up to receive my posts—if you do, you’ll get a free PDF with some of my favorite tips! And please do share posts that interest you.