Celebrating 150 Million Digital Copies in the Catalog

Thanks to the persistence and dedication of many NARA staff and the help of our partners, the number of digital copies of our records in the National Archives Catalog has just surpassed 150 million. Digitizing large quantities of our records is an important goal for NARA because we know that not everyone can come to our facilities. Providing these records online democratizes access to them. The conditions of the pandemic helped us to further understand the importance of providing digital access to our records. I am very proud of the progress that the agency has made from providing less than one million records online a decade ago, to over 150 million records available through our Catalog today. And we plan to keep going.  

NARA has prioritized many of the records for scanning based on the records that have been most often requested by our researchers. So although digital copies account for only a fraction of the total number of records in our custody, we know that these are some of the most heavily used by our researchers.  

I asked staff to share some of their favorite additions to the Catalog over the past year and I received so many interesting responses that I think you will be interested in, too. I will be sharing their recommendations over the next few blog posts in celebration of our first 150 million.

Staff from the National Archives at New York highlighted RG 211 War Manpower Commission images.  There are 13 images in file 62.322 – Photographs, which is from the  Regional Central Files series, 1941 – 1946. This file unit contains photographs of women in the workforce. Photographs follow women throughout their work day; women were photographed posing for identification photographs and learning about proper attire, as well as working and relaxing with coworkers. Also included are photographs of farming and farm life, commissioned by the Farm Security Administration, and taken by Russell Lee, Dorthea Lange, Marion Post-Wolcott, and other FSA photographers.

Public transit users will find this relatable:  Don’t Envy the Cattle  from the file 536.27 – Transportation, Record Group 211 War Manpower Commission
This Margaret Bourke-White flag making photo is from the series General Correspondence, 1896 – 1942, in  Record Group 181Records of Naval Districts and Shore Establishments, 1784 – 2000.
Depositions from the Case Against the Charles
The Pink Charles case dated 1685 (RG 21 Vice Admiralty, one of our oldest holdings) involving slaves brought ashore in Rye, New York, is interesting. One of the volunteers at the NYC facility pointed it out to her mom during the pandemic, and she went in and did the citizen transcription.

Thanks to the staff in New York for sharing a few of the fascinating records that we hold at the National Archives and make available through our online Catalog.  

Do you have a favorite record from the Catalog?