Posts Tagged ‘National Archives’

Carlisle Student Files

April 13, 2016

Several times over the years I have been writing this blog, people have requested information on Carlisle Indian School students that, if it existed, could only be found in the paper records in the National Archives in Washington, DC. Traveling to Washington to look at the Carlisle Student Records in person is impractical for many people. Even for those of us who live close enough to make day trips, it isn’t easy. Parking garages aren’t inexpensive and learning the National Archives’ procedures for retrieving files are nontrivial. Having photocopies made to take copies of records home with you isn’t cheap either. Plus, the copies are stamped disallowing you from making copies of these copies to give to others. The Archives does allow researchers to submit requests from their homes to have Archives’ personnel retrieve the records of interest, make copies of them, and mail the copies to the requester. Significant time delays and costs are involved.

Fortunately, those of us who want to access Carlisle Indian School Student Files have another option now. The Dickinson College Archives have scanned the Carlisle Indian School Student Files and have made them available to researchers. One need not come to Carlisle to access these files because Dickinson College makes them readily available on their website. I give Dickinson high marks for their site. Retrieval is easy and straightforward and retrieved records can be printed on your home printer.

To access the site, key in or click on On the left side of the Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center screen, you will see a box under Search All. Enter the name of the student whose records you would like to see in this box and click on the search button. I generally start with the student’s last name to avoid problems with spelling and inconsistent recording of the first name. Also, many siblings attended Carlisle. In their files, information about the person in whom you’re interested can sometimes be found.

<to be continued>


A Visit to the National Archives

September 10, 2009

Yesterday, we did some research at the National Archives in Washington, DC. Where the Carlisle Indian School student files reside—the ones that still survive, that is. The National Archives are located in a beautiful building at 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue. The building isn’t hard to find but parking is a challenge for us small-town folk. First, we found a two-hour meter that wouldn’t take quarters, only nickels and dimes. A helpful guard told us an empty spot in front of our car was legal but lacked a meter because it broke. That took care of the first two hours. Now to start the research.

After passing through security and being wanded because my belt buckle (I think) set off their alarm, we were directed to the station where ID cards are assigned. After taking an on-line course, we filled out a computer form for the ID cards and had digital photos taken. In a few minutes more we had new photo IDs that were good for a year. (Later in the day, a guard noticed that our IDs expired on 9/9/2009, so we had to get new ones made that expired on 9/9/2010.) Next stop: pull requests.

Researchers do not wander through the stacks of archives for good reason as evidenced by the politician who was found with documents stuffed up his pant leg. So, one must request the documents desired by submitting forms—in quadruplicate, one student per form, maximum 20 forms per pull. A man showed us how to fill out the forms and we hurried to get them in for the 11 o’clock pull (Records are pulled at 10, 11, 1:30 and 2:30, also 3:30 on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday because they are open to 9 p.m. on those days.). After filling out a set for the 1:30 pull, we moved the car to the back side of the building that had the European-style parking ticket machines. Only after giving it my credit card did I notice the two-hour maximum and that cars would be towed after 4 p.m. Two hours later, I found a parking garage that was open to 7 p.m.

Files from the 11 o’clock pull appeared in the reading room around noon, so it was time to go to work. One thing that surprised us was that we didn’t have to wear gloves when handling these 100-year-old documents. Once we found files we wanted to duplicate, it was time to make photocopies. Earlier we bought debit cards for that purpose. We found enough material to have the need to add money to the cards. Being aware that the cashier went home at 5 p.m., we put more money on the cards than we thought we’d need so we could make all the copies we needed. The bottom line of the card states, “Unused value on this card is not refundable.” Now we have a reason to make another visit to the Archives.