How to Retrieve Census Records from National Archives
The National Archives and Records Administration, also known as NARA, holds the responsibility of maintaining official records for our country. Established by Congress in 1934, the NARA serves to maintain records for the three key federal branches of government.
American citizens are legally entitled to obtain or retrieve information from these records. Oftentimes, individuals utilize the records in order to investigate one's family history, to verify governmental or military service, or to discover more details about a special interest or topic.
Information to Access Records from NARA: Record Loans and Online Inquiries
The documents and records associated with the National Archives are stored in an array of locations across the country. Specifically, documents are held in settings such as libraries, regional centers, and other governmental facilities.
According to the National Archives' loan policy, individuals can access and view official documents and materials for up to 365 days, although this time period may be limited for more valuable items. For individuals interested in simply retrieving information without the intent to take the item(s) on loan, then public records can be viewed and accessed through a network of saved microfilms.
With the ease and support of technology, most of the documents from the National Archives can be accessed via the internet; specifically, as the National Archives works in conjunction with select state libraries, one can potentially meet with their local media center specialists for guidance in searching and viewing the archives.
Understanding the Types and Methods for Accessing Census Records
If you are specifically aiming to access national census data, then you should be keenly aware of the divergent types and varieties of census documents. Depending on the census information that you are seeking to obtain, the National Archives stores census data in locations such as:
- The Census Bureau
- National Archives of the United States
- Respective Branch Offices
- Individual locations (ie: census data on a school may be preserved by the individual campus. Similarly, census data pertaining to inmates can be saved by each correctional facility)
If you are aware of the specific census record for which you are seeking, then your quest to access the records should be surprisingly easy. To view records, individuals can opt to pursue a variety of search options:
- Citizens can personally visit the National Archives building and / or any National Archives regional offices (locations are in multiple states / cities).
- Citizens can search via their state libraries and / or state archives offices.
- Historical societies and research facilities often have ready access to specific census records.
- The records saved on microfilm can be purchased from the government (purchasing information can be found at archives.gov.
- Free online resources, such as USGenWeb, often provide individuals with transcriptions of various records.
- Private websites, such as ancestry.com and heritagequest.com, provide individuals with census documents held by the National Archives (note: websites may charge for transcripts and / or documents; however, materials obtained and accessed online through the government are free of charge)