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Before there was a National Archives

Posted by Stephen B. McCartney on Saturday, 17 January 2015, at 5:46 p.m.

The great historian, Annie Abel, did much of her research on her three books about the American Indian as Slave Holder (mostly, the Five Civilized Tribes) before the 1934 establishment of the National Archives (and, the 1935 opening of their building). She was finding records in garages, old leaky barracks, temporary wartime buildings, half flooded basements, and the like. I mention this herculean effort she made so as to point out how fortunate we are to have what War Department and Ordnance records which have survived. Five percent hits o serial numbers, is, in reality, quite high, all things considered. The only place I can think of which will. sometimes, work out, are the tens of thousands of courtsmartial. Once in a while, there are aerial numbers of weapons stolen by deserters, which will show names and units of the miscreant. This, too, would be a herculean effort and will still be hit and miss.


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