Friday, April 27, 2007


For those of us who do any sort of research, the National Archives and Records Administration is an invaluable aid. As the official Archives of the United States of America, if your research involves anything Government-related, you pretty much have to go through NARA.

Unfortunately, it's looking as though someone at NARA has discovered that there may be money to be made in the archives business.

Now, I don't mind paying a reasonable amount to cover the paper cost and the cost of having an intern hit the 'Copy' button, but as an example, NARA is about to jump the cost of getting a copy of a Civil War pension application from $37 to $125 -- other copies to be priced similarly.

Normally, I'd say that that's all well and good, the free market will tend to the messy details -- how-some-ever we are dealing with the Federal Government here and free market checks-and-balances won't apply.


There was a site for filing comments on the proposed rate change, however the 'Comments' section appears to have been disabled.

Shocked, shocked I am.

We might as well make our Congresscritters earn their monthly paycheck, so you might consider contacting them here and suggesting that some heavy leaning on NARA might not be amiss.



Anonymous said...

Thanks for the "heads up", LawDog.

This site may prove useful to me in my future research.

Matt G said...

Last I had heard, (two years ago), we still had two Civil War pensioners yet living.

Or did I hear that one had died, recently?

The confluence of circumstances to allow pensioners some 142 years after the end of a war are pretty impressive-- take a very, very old man who had served in the War at a very, very young age. Have that aged man marry a very, very young girl who then manages to live to be very old. THEN, add in the coincidence that said ancient man must have correctly registered for the war, maintained his status as a veteran, and not have gotten lost by the V.A. THEN, the V.A. must have registered his young bride as his widow, deserving of pension benefits, upon his death.

But how cool would it be to see that old GramMaw's pension check stub said "U.S. Civil War Pension" on it?

At this time, Wikipedia's keeping track of our last surviving veterans. Only three left in the U.S. from WWI, bless them.

Anonymous said...

It's not a matter of making money, unfortunately. NARA's budget got slashed this past year, so to make up for shortfalls and to keep all their services going (including copy requests), they have had to up prices. They also had to reduce the hours available for researcher visits.

- A DC archivist

Anonymous said...

I don't care if NARA's budget got slashed. I care about mine and literally millions of other people
s' research being critically curtailed by the exorbitant 'upping' of prices. To go from $37 to $125 is absolutely ridiculous. Particularly considering $37 was absurd in the first place. Let NARA go after some of the equally ridiculous government grant give-aways. Or maybe stop funding research into why the purple people-eater went extinct. Or, better still, use some of that $300 I sent up there for copies of COMPLETE FILES of several ancestors, some years ago (and I'm not the only one to fall victim of this with NARA). One of the files contained the RW pension application of a gggg-grandfather. Only when I got the packet, marked in red in a childish hand "Complit file copied!!!!" It didn't include the pension.
a TX Researcher

Anonymous said...

I've spent hundreds, no , make that thousands, of hours at the facility outside Boston and at the Library of Congress doing genealogical research. I have also done a fair amount of remote records requesting, receiving documents of quality ranging from exactly what was requested to "what the hell is THIS?"

Though most folks at those locations were helpful, it was obvious even then, between 18 and 10 years ago, that the law of supply and demand and the demands of customer satisfaction regarding service did not apply.

There is no profit motivation, so the fewer requests the better off they seem to be. Customer satisfaction never apeared to be a player, or if it was, it was only in the form of waiting for comment, because none were ever solicited of me despite my many hours and visits.

My complaints were few, but then I went into it with low expectations.