Tuesday, February 27, 2007

NARA Rate Increases

Dick Eastman posted the news release about the National Archives and Records Administration increasing their rates for many records requested by mail.

Leland Meitzler posted much the same information, and included email and snail addresses for persons to comment on the proposed fee changes.

The consensus opinion among genea-bloggers and the APG list posters is that this is in response to the news some time ago that NARA funding would be restricted and the hours that the Archives branches are open were reduced significantly.

It is important to understand that many of these records are NOT on microfilm and available to researchers online or at an FHC - only the Revolutionary War Pension records are on microfilm, from what I've read.

On the APG list, one poster thought that this would be a boon for DC area professional researchers, since NARA's staff was their main competitor in providing Archives documents to researchers by mail. The researchers currently go to the Archives and copy documents available only at the Archives for their customers - they know how to deal with the system and find the documents efficiently.

While the proposed fee increase is not good news, it is not the end of the world. The documents are still available to all of us - but at higher prices by mail or in person at the Archives. It would be real smart to order documents now - at the current mail order prices - rather than wait until the prices rise. The date of the price increase is not given - but April 27, 2007 is the date for the closing of the comment process.

After the prices rise, using a professional researcher may be the best recourse. If the pertinent files are at a nearby Archives branch, going to the Archives branch will still be an option.

Does anyone know if the documents that have not been microfilmed (including the civil War Pension files) will be digitized and indexed by www.Footnote.com and offered on their commercial web site?

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