[APG Public List] [BCG] Possible move of military records out of the NARA facility inWashington, DC

Claire Bettag claire at clairebettag.com
Tue Mar 8 21:08:08 MST 2011

I was taken aback when you said in your posting: "I have seen the conditions of the archives in DC (for the civil war pension files). There is no climate control." 

I don't think we can let that statement stand. I contacted Brenda Kepley at NARA for a clarification. She has posted the following on NARAtions (NARA's blog):

March 8th, 2011 at 3:18 pm
The Civil War Pension Files at the National Archives Building in Washington DC are all located in climate controlled stacks; the temperature and humidity of the stacks are monitored regularly by National Archives’ conservation staff.
Brenda Kepley, Chief
Archives 1 Processing Section
Textual Archives Services Division
National Archives and Records Administration
Another archivist, recently retired, who previously was responsible for these records added that "constant monitoring and controls" have always been in place at NARA. So I do not see how you can justify your statement. No doubt the facilities in St. Louis are fine and the staff is well trained to care for records. But to suggest that the records are less well cared for in the Washington DC facilities is inaccurate.

Certainly you and others in St. Louis might welcome a transfer of the records. Your argument rests on the contention that moving them would "benefit the records," because they would get care in St. Louis that is absent in Washington DC. That is just not the case.

Thank you.


Claire Bettag, CG, CGL
1685 34th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20007
202-436-2121 (cell)

CG (Certified Genealogist) and CGL (Certified Genealogical Lecturer) are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used under license by Board-certified associates after periodic competency evaluations. 

On 6 Mar, 2011, at 8:29 AM, Pat Stamm wrote:

> To all,
> I have seen the conditions of the archives in DC (for the civil war pension
> files). There is no climate control. The documents are brittle and aging. 
> Personally, I hope they do move the documents to specifically St. Louis.
> We will shortly open a new modernized, humidity controlled facility that
> will house the 20th Century military records. I have worked with the
> personnel of the facility. They are professionals who care about their
> assigned jobs of taking care of the 20th century military records. Newspaper
> articles here have touted a "more stringent storage requirements" than the
> old facility had. 
> There is another NARA storage facility, which I personally toured, in
> Valmeyer, Illinois. Records there are housed in a clean, climate-controlled
> areas designed for long-term storage and preservation. Each area has low
> lighting and air filtration.  
> In adjoining rooms, documents go through a process of restoring, preserving,
> digitizing, and storing the documents. Each document is given a specific id
> number before digitizing. With the process in place, there should be no
> misfiled military files. These documents are being treated with the archival
> respect that we as genealogists want and demand.  
> One thing I have learned this past year is that when you have change you
> also have impact. The focus question should not be if the records will move
> but rather if there is a move what will benefit the records and secondarily
> us as genealogists. 
> That is my two cents worth. 
> Pat
> Patricia Walls Stamm, CG, CGL
> Holds a Tested Concentration in Genealogical Instruction from the Board for
> Certification of Genealogists. Member of the Association of Professional
> Genealogists and Education Chairperson for St. Louis Genealogical Society.
> CG, Certified Genealogist, CGL, and Certified Genealogist Lecturer are
> Service Marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists used under
> license after periodic evaluation by the Board.

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