Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Visit to the National Archives

Yesterday I visited the National Archives in New York City at 201 Varick Street.  (They plan to relocate this year.)  The tour was sponsored by the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society.  The National Archives' main genealogical holdings include federal census records, naturalization records, and military records.  You can view census records at home now, so you may find the repository more useful for the naturalization records and military records.  The presentation focused on Alien Files, or A-Files.  Such a file was created for an immigrant, or alien, who was not naturalized as of April 1, 1944.  Individuals who were born before 1909 and who have A-Files are indexed online.  I have few recent immigrants in my family trees, but I managed to find a match in their online index to show you an example.  After locating someone in the index, you can then order the Alien File from the Kansas City office.  Locating an individual in the online index can provide you with a date of birth and location, as well as other names used.  The file itself may contain information such as parentage and copies of original documents, perhaps birth certificates and marriage records.

Only result for "Regenye" from the online Archival Research Catalog of the National Archives.
You can use the "Scope & Content" tab to possibly identify if the entry matches your person of interest.
If you think there is a match, go ahead and order the A-File.
Over at Ancestry.com, a check for Joseph Regenye provides us with his draft registration card for World War II.
The date of birth on the draft registration matches the date in the A-File, so we know we have the same person.


NARA will also offer the 1940 federal census on April 2, 2012.  There is no name index yet.  You can search the digitized images for a place name for guidance.  If your subject of interest was at the same address in 1930 as 1940, you should not have too many enumeration districts to view.  If you have no address for your subject, then you may have to wait for a name index.  You can also identify enumeration districts at SteveMorse.org.

Archival Research Catalog result for digitized image of "Verona" to identify enumeration district
in the (unreleased) 1940 federal census.

In the 1930 federal census, the Newark City Home for Boys in Verona, Essex County, New Jersey
was in enumeration district 7-615.  In the 1940 census, the Home was in district 7-366.
Note the decreasing population of the institution from 252 in 1930 to 71 in 1940.