National archives at St. Louis

We’re #thankful that our work gives us opportunities to help our fellow citizens! 

 John Joseph Scala is an 88-year-old Korean War veteran. He contacted the National Archives at St. Louis for help in getting medals he earned while in service. Our staff was able to verify the awards and order replacements to be issued by the Army. Mr. Scala sent us this photo of himself proudly wearing his medals, and we are honored to have helped him.

A Date That Will Live in Infamy

Archival Research Room Supervisor Eric Kilgore from the National Archives-St. Louis traveled to Hawaii this week to present copies of original service records to the families of Clarendon Hetrick and John Anderson. Hetrick and Anderson were both crewmen on board the USS Arizona when it was attacked on this day, 75 years ago.

John Anderson and his brother Delbert were both servicemen on board the ship, but Delbert Anderson perished during the attack. Both John Anderson and Clarendon Hetrick passed away earlier this year, and their ashes will be placed within the USS Arizona Memorial in a ceremony today. This is a page from John Anderson’s service record. It was digitized from microfilm to by a preservation specialist within the St. Louis Preservation Department

Rest in peace, gentlemen, and thank you for your service.

anonymous asked:

If Captain America were real, would any of his stuff be in the National Archives?

Wait, Captain America isn’t real? 

If he were, we would likely have Captain Roger’s personnel records at the National Archives in St. Louis.

Also, like any classified project, our National Declassification Center would have had to review to any records pertaining the Super-Soldier Project.

We also have fictional accounts of Captain Rogers exploits in comic book form, as part of the records of the Senate subcommittee on juvenile delinquency, such as this copy of the “Fighting American”:
Veterans Personnel Records at the National Archives, St. Louis
This Inside the Vaults video short illustrates the primary purpose of the National Military Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO — to preserve the natio...

The National Archives is proud to serve our veterans and their families. The National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis responds to over 1.4 million requests annually–4,000 to 5,000 requests per day–for copies of military personnel and medical records.

Our goal is to respond as quickly as possible so that veterans and their families can get the information they need to qualify for benefits.

Most of these records are paper documents and not online. Learn how our staff tackle this huge–and hugely important job–in this short video.

In St. Louis, the demand for military personnel records is high. Preservation Technicians prepare thousands of record pages annually in preparation for reformatting. In addition, Preservation Technicians review about 50,000 records damaged in the 1973 fire. All records have some level of damage, and our staff cannot fully treat every record. As a result, we have a triage based approach that emphasizes holdings maintenance. One of the simple actions we take is relaxing creases on pages in our records.

Each time paper is creased, fibers break. Likely, you’ve seen this happen on pages in a book that have been “dog-eared” to mark a page. If folded back against the crease, more fibers are damaged, until finally there is an entire break along the crease creating a separated fragment. Since we don’t want to crease in the opposite direction, staff always keep a bone folder handy while reviewing and working with records. This handy tool, which, as its name implies, was actually developed to create strong creases in bookbinding and other crafts. However, the bone folder also works well to relax the paper fibers. Creases are gently opened on a flat surface. With the peak of the crease facing upwards, the bone folder is used to gently rub along the crease to flatten paper fibers, as seen in the pictures here. This is repeated as necessary when a document has multiple creases. This simple treatment allows documents to lie completely flat and secure in their folders and prevents fragmentation and tearing of the documents while in reference use.

Our annual virtual Genealogy Fair is October 21 and 22!

Join us live on YouTube or follow along on Twitter (#genfair2015) to learn how to research your family’s history! 

Day 1: Wednesday, October 21 

Session 1 at 10 a.m. ET
Introduction to Genealogy at the National Archives by Claire Kluskens. 

Session 2 at 11 a.m. ET
Preserving Your Family Records:  Conversation and Questions by Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler. 

Session 3 at 12 p.m. ET
Personnel Records of the National Archives–St. Louis, by Bryan K. McGraw. 

Session 4 at 1 p.m. ET
It’s in the Cards: Finding Family Members in National Archives–St. Louis’ Card Series by Daria Labinsky & David Hardin. 

Session 5 at 2 p.m. ET
Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Personnel Records by Ashley Mattingly. 

Day 2: Thursday, October 22

Session 6 at 10 a.m. ET
Where’d They Go?  Finding Ancestral Migration Routes by Jean Nudd. 

Session 7 at 11 a.m. ET
Access to Archival Databases (AAD): Looking Down, From Above, to Look it Up!  by John LeGloahec. 

Session 8 at 12 p.m. ET
Finding Your World War I Veteran at the National Archives at St. Louis by Theresa Fitzgerald. 

Session 9 at 1 p.m. ET
Women in War Time Civilian Government Employment by Cara Moore.

Session 10 at 2 p.m. ET
Broke, But Not Out of Luck: Exploring Bankruptcy Records for Genealogy Research by Jessica Hopkins. 

What the ….?

St. Louis Preservation Tech Jennifer Farr recently came across a record in an unusual condition: it had dark brown, sparkly stains on it.

Since we need to get records for open requests out as quickly as possible, she surface cleaned the pages and sent the record on its way after having Reformatting’s Lenny Hurtado shoot some photos of it.

But Farr’s curiosity was piqued, so she posted a query on our Internal Collaboration Network (in-house social media network) to see if others in NARA had ever found something unusual in their collections.

She received dozens of responses: wine stains, food, coal dust, spit tobacco, cat paw prints, illegal drugs, poker chips, lipstick, the “pension mole,” even an “undersea soil sample in (a) reused ice cream container.”

As Sara Holmes, the senior preservation specialist noted, “There are so many things … that make you wish the pages could talk to let you know just exactly how that happened!”

Preserving Pearl Harbor Documents

The photo above shows a service jacket and salvaged service record, with Navy envelope, for William Wells. Wells enlisted at Kansas City, Mo. on Jan. 1, 1940, and died Dec. 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor after achieving the rank of Signalman 3rd class. Also lost that day was his brother, Raymond Virgil Wells. They were one of 23 sets of brothers on the Arizona who died that day. (ARC series # 299693)

One of the most important decisions a conservator can make is not how to complete a treatment, but when NOT to treat. An important example of this can be found in the records salvaged from the U.S.S. Arizona after it was bombed on Dec. 7, 1941. These service records, which were held one level below the main deck, were not submerged in water but were subjected to heat, fire, and high humidity. Salvaged by the Navy and sealed in envelopes which contained the damaged documents, the records came to NARA in the 1950s and are now housed at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis.

St. Louis Preservation Program took second place for its “Christmas Story”-themed entry in the National Personnel Records Center’s annual Holiday Basket Contest. Volunteers from each department created gift baskets, and staff members contributed money and/or materials. Once winners were chosen, the baskets were given away as attendance prizes at our annual Holiday Party. The winning departments got gift cards for pizza parties, which are paid for with money from the center’s Fundraising Committee. The basket contest gives creative staff members the chance to impress their coworkers and helps to put us all in the holiday spirit.


What a Difference a Move Makes

When the National Archives at St. Louis National Personnel Records Center moved into its new building, we did it for the records.

NARA monitors temperature and relative humidity throughout our buildings with electronic dataloggers called Preservation Environment Monitors, or PEMs. The PEMs constantly gather temperature and humidity readings, which we collect and evaluate. The data can alert us to problems with our HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems before they become serious.

The first graph is from our old building on Page Avenue. The second graph is from one of Archives Drive’s archival bays. Notice how often the PEM recorded temperatures at Page Avenue that were above 100° F and humidity levels that were above 60%.  Under NARA Directive 1571 the proper temperature and humidity for archival records is 65°F/35% (±5%).

So, the move made not only the employees but our holdings much happier.


The Last Box
On Tuesday, Nov. 6, the last box from the National Personnel Records Center’s more than four-year move was placed in its new home. It now resides on a shelf in Bay 13 at the new NPRC National Archives at St. Louis. The bay conforms to NARA’s archival temperature and humidity standards. An astounding 4,209,834 cubic feet was transferred during the move. NPRC marked the historic occasion with a center-wide lemon-lime soda toast on Nov. 16.

The move is almost finished!

The National Personnel Records Center staff in St. Louis is almost finished with the multiyear-long move to our new building. As you read this, movers are hard at work at the Civilian Personnel Records building on Winnebago Street in South St. Louis.

Federal Records Center Director Scott Levins shot this photo inside CPR a few weeks ago. If you were a personnel record, wouldn’t you want to be moving from here, too?


Rubber bands or sticky pasta?

Who can tell the difference when coming across aged, degrading rubber bands on, in or around paper records? They can stick records and pages together, causing damage and potential misfiling. They cut through file folders & documents, which increases the risk of information loss and may then require treatment, including mending. 

Raw rubber is too sticky and soft in its natural state, so chemicals such as sulphur are added through a process called vulcanization to make it tougher, which in turn makes it stiffer and less sticky. Polymer “chains” inside the rubber have crosslinks that make the rubber stronger. Over time, light and oxygen break those chains into smaller pieces, which returns the rubber back to its original soft and sticky state. If left in the same environment, new cross links are formed, which hardens the rubber, and it eventually becomes brittle.

At the National Archives in St. Louis, the Preservation Program encounters hundreds of rubber bands every day. Part of our training and outreach to other departments in the building who handle records is the importance of understanding proper fastener use, including safe removal from documents. Working together, we can contribute to the longevity of these important records.

Did your ancestors work on the construction of the Panama Canal? The records of these workers are a rich resource for genealogists.

All personnel records for the Panama Canal are a part of RG 185 Records of the Panama Canal, and are located at the National Archives at St. Louis​.

The records may provide a lot of genealogical information such as the age, place of birth, parent’s names, occupation, and whether the employee was single or married.

To learn more about what records we hold, how to use them, and what you will find, check out the first “how-to” post on “Rediscovering Black History”:

Image: Placing granite in the hollow quoin. Dry Dock No. 1, Balboa, June 21, 1915. National Archives Local Identifier 185-HR-4-26J164.


It’s the end of the week! Here’s a peek at what our staff in the Paper Lab at the National Archives at St. Louis did this week: mold remediation.

Mold is one of an archivist’s arch-enemies! The staff do lots of mold remediation to make the records safe to handle.

Working with mold means you need protection, and so Steve is getting ready to work with gloves on, mask on, and coat at hand (folded up on the bench next to him).

See more of their work from this week over on Twitter at @ThisIsArchives.