DAR Library and Genealogy Resources at Continental Congress

Written by: Stacie Newton, DAR Library Director
May 2, 2018

Continental Congress is fast approaching!  As you are planning your schedules and preparing your packing lists, don’t forget about Genealogy Research.

The DAR Library and the Office of the Registrar General have several different learning opportunities that you might want to plan into your schedule.  Tuesday morning the Library will be hosting a Library Orientation for Congress attendees.  This is a great opportunity to learn more about the Collection if you haven’t visited the Library before.  Even if you visit the Library often, this is a good opportunity to find out about some of the new equipment and features that we’ve added to the Library in the last year.  Tuesday afternoon, the Office of the Registrar General is hosting a series of presentations entitled “News You Can Use—Tips from the Office of the Registrar General.”  You can learn more about the specific topics in these presentations in the Congress App or on the Congress schedule.  Wednesday morning the Registrar General’s Forum will also offer a presentation related to genealogical research.  Be sure to check the Congress schedule or the Congress App for additional presentations and networking events related to genealogy research and the preparation of Applications.

Once you’ve looked at the educational opportunities that you’d like to plan into your schedule, be sure to plan for research time in the DAR Library and the Seimes Technology Center.  In the DAR Library, you can access our print materials (books, manuscript files, etc).  The Library also has several computers available for quick Library Catalog searches.  The Seimes Technology Center has more than 20 computers where you can access the GRS—including Record Copies, supporting documentation, GRC book images, and Patriot Records Project images—as well as online subscription databases like Ancestry.com, Fold3.com and FamilySearch.org.  You can also access our microfilm collection in the Seimes Technology Center.  Keep in mind that genealogy research can take time and during our busy periods, you may need to wait in line for to access to a copier, book scanner or computer.  If you need to view materials that are housed in our closed stacks (manuscripts, file case items, or certain designated books) you may need to allow time for the Library Staff to retrieve those items for you.  If you can’t plan for one long research session, then you may want to plan to return to the Library for several shorter research sessions during the week.

Help is always available in the DAR Library.  Our Library staff members are very knowledgeable about our Collections and about Genealogy Research and DAR standards.  We can direct you to the location of a specific book or item and provide you with some general research help.  But, during Congress we won’t have time for in-depth research consultations.  Fortunately, there are a group of “Balcony Volunteers” available at various times throughout the week to help with those trickier research problems.  These volunteers are all experienced Volunteer Genealogists, Lineage Research Committee Members, and/or Registrars.  There is one important thing to remember about asking for help with your research: if your question involves an Application or Supplemental for which you have already received an Additional Information Request (AIR) letter, then the Library Staff and Balcony Volunteers will not be able to assist you.  If you need information or help resolving this type of issue with an Application or Supplemental that is already under review, you will need to make an appointment with the Staff Genealogist who wrote you the letter.   You can contact the Genealogy Office or the Staff Genealogist to make an appointment to discuss your research.  Keep in mind that many of the Genealogy Staff have other appointments and commitments during Congress, so might want to schedule your appointment before you arrive at Congress to make sure that there aren’t any scheduling conflicts.

As you’re thinking about your research time, make sure that you have a research plan in place. 

  • What questions do you need to find evidence to answer? 
  • What types of resources does the DAR Library have to help you answer those questions? 
  • What materials do you need to bring with you to make sure that you have all the information that you need to evaluate the sources that you find?

Be sure to consult the DAR Library catalog before you come.

  • Make note of the Call Words for the items you’re interested in; whether the materials are print (in the Library) or digital (in Seimes) 
  • Review the catalog record to determine if the item that you need is in closed stacks and will need to be retrieved by a staff member.  You will need to allow for the extra time that it will take for the items to be retrieved for you.

Think about the “copies” that you might need to make. 

  • Some items like Record Copies, Supporting Documentation and images from online databases must be printed in paper and require payment in the form of cash, check or credit card.
  • Other print materials (pages from books) can be reproduced in paper or digital form on our copiers or scanners using coins, bills or copy cards; or as digital photos for a daily flat fee

For additional DAR Library research tips, refer to our previous blog post “Preparing to Visit the DAR Library During Continental Congress” and follow the DAR Library on Facebook.

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