26 November 2010

It Was A Geek-Girl's Dream Come True

The Northern California Chapter of APG met last Saturday for an extra special field trip. Tim Cox (who must have used a primo juice card) made arrangements for our group to have a behind the scenes tour of The National Archives Pacific Regional Facility. Since it was a Saturday, it was closed to the public and we had the entire place to ourselves. I was beside myself with geeky, bookwormish delight!

The first order of business was filling out paperwork so that we could be issued a NARA researcher ID card.

Seated at the desk is NARA's Rose Mary Kennedy issuing a researcher's ID card to me (Sheri Fenley). Next in line from left to right is: Kay Ingalls, Suzy Miller, Ginny Meadowcroft , Mr. Rose (who drives Miss Christine) and Jeffrey Vaillant

With our researcher ID cards in hand, we gathered for a short introduction to the archives and Marisa Louie gave us an itinerary of the tour.

From left to right: Lisa Lee, Shelia Prada, Kay Germain Ingalls, Suzy Miller,Ginny Meadowcroft, Dave Fong, Christine Rose, Mr. Rose (who drives Miss Christine), Carolyn Ybara, Ron Cannon, me



In the accessions room are from left to right: Steve Danko, Kathryn Cannon, Ron Cannon, Marisa Louie (the archivist), Lisa Lee

After the tour, it was into the classroom for some mini-lectures about each of the record groups that are of the most use for a genealogist.

The record groups covered in class were:

RG 21 - Records of US District Courts: Naturalizations; bankruptcy, civil, criminal and other cases. Admiralty cases for coastal regions. San Francisco dates—1850-1970s. A major genealogical source.

RG 49 - Bureau of Land Management/General Land Office: homestead, mining claim, and other Federal public lands (only) transactions case files, tract serial register books and other registers; survey plats, and land entry and patent case files. San Francisco dates—1850s-1960s. SF has CA and NV State offices.

From left to right: me, Steve Danko, Suzy Miller, Ginny Meadowcroft , Christine Rose, Sharon Hoyt, Jeffrey Vaillant (standing), Kay Germain Ingalls, Janice Sellers, Lisa Lee and Marisa Louie (the archivist)

RG 85 - Immigration and Naturalization Service: Massive collection of immigration investigation case files, 1884-1950s, for Honolulu and San Francisco relating mostly to Chinese and other Asian immigrants. Some regions have INS compilations of naturalization records created by county superior courts.

RG 15 - Veterans Administration: c1918-1920s, World War I era only, programs for veterans rehabilitation, employment and training of disabled vets.

From left to right: Ron Cannon, Kathryn Cannon, Cath Trindle and Carolyn Ybarra

RG 147 - Selective Service System World War II: WWII SSS draft registration records are now available in most regional archives, but the master index is held by the National Personnel Records Archives for Military Records, in St. Louis. By mid-2011, WWII SSS records are scheduled to be centralized at MPRA-St. Louis.

RG 163 - Selective Service System World War I: Draftee lists and records of delinquents and deserters.

After the mini classes, we moved to the reading room where Marisa and Rose Mary had pulled some original records from each of the record groups that had been discussed in class for our viewing enjoyment.

Kay Ingalls and Carolyn Ybarra carefully study a case file from RG 21 that includes Deceased & Deserted Seaman Case Files.

Petition for Naturalization from RG 21 - U.S. District Courts

Many, Many thanks to Tim Cox for arranging this outing for our group. Extra special thanks to Marisa Louie and Rose Mary Kennedy for sharing their knowledge and expertise with us.

For anyone interested in conducting research at the NARA facility in San Bruno, California, here are a couple of tips that will make your trip a more productive one.

Use these online finding aids before your visit:

NARA's Online Microfilm Catalog allows researchers to determine the microfilm publications held by the San Bruno facility.

Use the Archival Research Catalog (ARC) to search for records in San Bruno

Call or email the archivists ahead of time to let them know the scope of your research project and when you plan to visit. Records can be pulled, ready for you to start in on when you get there. A heads up to one of the archivists and they can schedule some time to assist you with you project. Contact Rose Mary Kennedy or Marisa Louie.

San Francisco Federal Records Center

National Archives and Records Administration Pacific Region

1000 Commodore Drive

San Bruno, CA 94066-2350

Phone: (650) 238-3501
Fax: (650) 238-3507

email: sanbruno.archives@nara.gov

Another view of the stacks. I could spend days in here without coming up for air.

All photos taken by Tim Cox and used here with his permission.


  1. Words fail me. Better than chocolate. What a day... Thanks for sharing it.

  2. I LOVE the picture of the stacks. My legs got all wobbly when I saw it. Good thing I was sitting down!

  3. Thanks for sharing your wonderful day with us!