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01 April 2013

How to research at the National Archives at Atlanta

Wm Kampe WWI draft registration. Original document scanned by Selma Blackmon at the National Archives at Atlanta

    Genealogists researching at the National Archives at Atlanta will find valuable sources in three forms: online, microfilm and textual. The National Archives at Atlanta is located at 5870 Jonesboro Rd, Morrow, GA 30260.

    Fold3AncestryInstitutional and Heritage Quest are free online databases available using the National Archives and Record Administration computers. Please limit the use of these NARA computers and printers to historical or family research. NARA staff and volunteers are available to aid the researcher with the database operations. As the staff is not able to research for each patron, a basic knowledge computer use is desirable. The computers are equipped with headsets. A computer is equipped for visually impaired patrons. Bring a USB flash drive to download images. The National Archives at Atlanta is setup for wifi, so bring your laptop.

    A greater part of the government documents have not been digitized, but have been microfilmed, examples of microfilm include Native American records and southern claims court records. Microfilm rolls are a source to check for clarity, example spelling on census records. Since microfilm rolls require less storage space that textual documents, many digitized original documents have been destroyed, example census records. The Atlanta branch has five microfilm or microfiche readers. One machine is read only; four machines have the capability to print or to download to a USB flash drive.

    A far greater number of manuscripts are available only as textual documents. These are the original paper form. The documents have been neither digitized nor microfilmed. As these documents are fragile, special precautions are necessary for their use. After filling out an application and presenting a photo ID, an archives researcher receives a free identification card. To the family historian holding the World War I draft card signed by an ancestor connects the generations. Textual records that may interest genealogists in Atlanta include the List of Aliens Admitted to Citizenship at Charleston, 1790-1860, World War I draft cards, slave sale documents, federal court cases, federal prison records and Tennessee Valley Authority documents.

    Please contact me, Selma Blackmon, with any questions or comments on researching at the National Archives at Atlanta.