Is the National Archives a research frontier you haven’t conquered yet? Well, that frontier just got a lot easier to tame. The Archives has released its own series of expert how-to videos on its most in-demand topics on its YouTube Channel at

The Know Your Records series introduces you to the creation, content, and use of valuable records created by the federal government. You’ll be able to make new inroads into your own American ancestral frontier along the trails of military, Freedmen’s Bureau, and other records groups when you check out new workshops like these:

  • Access to Archival Databases for Genealogists (runs 55 minutes). This is an introductory level-discussion of the more popular parts of the 27 genealogically-interesting series of electronic records in the Archival Databases run by the National Archives. Learn the mechanics of searching these data files directly online.
  • Army Service in the Civil War (runs 1 hour and 2 minutes). Learn to research Army service records of Civil War soldiers on both sides of the war. This video covers two major record groups: RG 94, the records of the Adjutant General (or chief record-keeper) for the Union Army; and RG 109, comprised of the Confederate records that survived the war and were turned over to War Department.”
  • Documenting Death in the Civil War (runs 1 hour and 22 minutes). Learn how the War Department documented both Confederate and Union soldiers’ deaths on the battlefield, in military hospitals and prisons.
  • Exodus to Kansas: The 1880 Senate Investigation of the Beginnings of the African American Migration from the South (runs 1 hour and 5 minutes). Learn more about the journey and experience of thousands of refugees from the Reconstruction-era South to Kansas as shown in the 1880 Senate investigation of this mass migration.
  • Let No Man Put Asunder: Freedmen’s Bureau Marriage Records (runs 1 hour and 12 minutes). Learn more about marriage in the African American experience and specifically how to research African American marriage records within the Freedmen’s Bureau collection (1865-1872), the “richest and most extensive documentary source for investigating the African American experience in the post-Civil War and Reconstruction eras.”
  • National Archives Records on (runs 56 minutes). Learn from Ancestry’s own lead family historian, Anastasia Harmon, what National Archives records are available on Ancestry and strategies for searching for your ancestors on this mega site. She digs into much-used (but not always well-used) record groups like the U.S. federal census records, passenger arrival lists, border crossings and passport applications.

Of course, many of us don’t have known Civil War or African American ancestors. But everyone can learn from the first and last lectures on the list above (even if you only use at your local library). So start exploring these free workshops, and soon you’ll be navigating the frontiers of your own American ancestry.

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