Through out Pennsylvania’s history, the state has kept many different kinds of records on military service members. Find out all about these records with Aaron McWilliams of the Pennsylvania State Archive.
- Pennsylvania State Archive https://www.phmc.pa.gov/archives/pages/default.aspx
- Digitized PA State Archive records on Ancestry https://www.ancestry.com/ai/collections/PA/StateArchives
- Digitized PA State Archive records on Power Library https://digitalarchives.powerlibrary.org/psa/islandora/object/psa:root
- Military record index cards in ARIAS http://www.digitalarchives.state.pa.us
Watch on YouTube
Your Pennsylvania Ancestors is distributed through the following channels:
This is Denise with PA Ancestors, and I'm thrilled to welcome you back to another episode, and this time with my very first guest, Aaron McWilliams of the Pennsylvania State Archive. We are going to do a whirlwind tour of military records that Pennsylvania holds. So military records aren't just something that the federal government owns or has possession of. I mean, they do have them, but Pennsylvania also has their own set of records, and I think as a genealogist, you might want to check those out to discover more about your Pennsylvania ancestors and fill in some gaps before we get into the episode. Just a reminder, my super secret clubhouse area for people researching Pennsylvania genealogy. For first access to that and to find out more details, you're going to want to subscribe to my newsletter. The edition for this week will have some more information for you. It's likely to go out on the weekend. I'm trying to take advantage of the last bit of warm weather that we have here in Pennsylvania to do some outside work. I want to do preparing garden beds for spring so that when the first warm weather of spring hits, I'm ready to start planning and not know how do I get done these projects. So if I work ahead now, that'd probably be a good idea. And I just want to do a plug that if you did not listen to my episode on Journaling, I hope that you are taking up some journaling to get through all the things that we are dealing with as individuals and as communities and as a country. Right now, lots of changes going on. Lots of changes have happened over the past 18 months. Lots more are likely to happen over the next 18 months. Don't have a crystal ball, but just in the trajectory of the way things are going. And you might want a personal record of that for yourself, but also for your descendants. So check out the episode. If you're a newsletter subscriber, you can also get some prompts to help do that journaling if you're looking to journal about current events. And of course, it's always great to just journal for ourselves about what's personally going on with us. Now it's time for Aaron McWilliams, and I'd love to get your comments and feedback and hope that you are going to find some good stuff in military records about your ancestor. Folks, we have a treat here on your Pennsylvania Ancestors podcast. We have Eric McWilliams back. He was guest number one of the podcast and the most popular guest by if I looking at the viewership number and the last time Aaron and I talked was in the fall of 2019, which was approximately a decade ago. For me, emotionally, at this point, it's only been actually two years. But Aaron, I want to welcome you to the podcast. You are officially the head of the Public Services section of the Pennsylvania State Archives and I think an expert in all things Pennsylvania State Archives. So welcome to the podcast. Thank you for having me again. Yeah. Back. Oh, yes, I am here. But you are going to tell today about the military records that the Pennsylvania State Archives has. I think a lot of genealogists think of Narra and Washington, DC. When we think of military records, we immediately want to talk to them and everything, but the state of Pennsylvania actually was in charge of a lot of the military activity early on and it could be a great reference for mean kind of maybe the first thing Genealogists should know about those records. Is that a good place to start? Sure. Well, yeah, as you were saying, the Pennsylvania State Archives has military records for basically every conflict from the French and Indian War all the way up to Vietnam. You have the Revolutionary War of 1812. Mexican War whiskey. Rebellion is in there. We have something for every single conflict from that period all the way up to Vietnam. And most of those records are available to the public, of course, if you make an appointment. But in the past few years, most of those early records are available online in some way, shape or form, so people can access those via online. But yes, we are ready resource and oftentimes we are the facility that nera the National Personnel Record Center and some veterans groups go to when they can't find the records. At the federal level, there's always a chance that we would have something to at least reference an individual's service in one of the major conflicts. So yes, we have quite a large collection relate to military in our holdings. So the first conflict that a Pennsylvania resident would have been involved in was the French and Indian War. There were earlier conflict. There were earlier conflicts. I mean, you have the Queen Anne's War and such, I believe 1740s. But really record wise, it's fairly scant, at least for what we have related to it. You really don't see our military records kick off until you get to the French and Indian War with there were several Pennsylvania regiments that were raised at the time by the state. And then you also had associator units, basically volunteer militia units that were raised. And we have a spattering of records from that early time period, like a lot of officer returns. And we do have one or two muster roles related to that conflict. But that's kind of where our records really start off in our holdings, the French and Indian War. Okay, so that's good to know because if someone's looking at their ancestor in a particular county and knows that, they might notice that they're in the militia for that county. That's often recorded in tax records. I believe I've seen it on tax records. They had to pay, let's put it that way. This has been the summer for me of tax records for some reason, I have gone to counties and looked at tax records finally and looked at originals, and they're different in every single county. Spoiler alert. Like what they kept and how they kept it and what years they have, because not every year has survived. And they would write down they charged the guys $0.50 tax, I guess, to serve in the militia. Yeah, certain times they did. They did have basically kind of like I wouldn't call it a militia tax. I'd say it's more of a fine because it was levied against people who weren't serving as part of the militia. But that was later on that people would pay, that there were various taxes or I guess penalty tax penalties that people would pay depending on the time period. And during the revolutionary War, there was there was a tax levy against neighborhoods, not just people that weren't serving, but even older folks that couldn't serve. But there were certain taxes that were levied on a township or a group of individuals within a township, depending on if they were able to have a volunteer or find a volunteer to serve at particular time. So over the years, there was various militia fines and levies that were incorporated into the tax records. But the tax records really aren't the best way to identify if a person served in the militia. It depends on the time period. What's the best way to do it? The easiest ones are usually during the conflict time periods, revolutionary War of 1812. Those are very easy, and there's usually indexes. What's hard is the in between time periods for malicious service. In between those conflicts is there's usually less indexes, less organized, and there's often less records related to the individual units in between that time period. So it can be a little bit tricky. So I think the most popular conflict that Pennsylvania participated in is the Revolutionary War. By far probably the bulk of the request that you get in terms of military records, people wanting to prove that their ancestor served in that conflict. So what records? Just tell people, what records does the Pennsylvania State Archive have related to that, and how can you help? Lot I shouldn't say. I'm sure that a lot of them are digitized, but it's been my experience that you all have really tried to digitize as much as you can and make it available to people when it is very popular and under a lot of requests. Yeah, the Revolutionary War is definitely the most popular. The reason why, I mean, Civil War is always a popular one, but civil War, you do have a lot of records that overlap with the National Archives, so a lot of people go through there for the compiled service records and pensions. With the Revolutionary War, most individuals'ancestors served in the militia, and we have probably the largest collection of Pennsylvania militia records. So almost all roads lead to us in one shape or form, and there's very little overlap between the National Archives and other repositories with what we have for the Revolutionary War. So even if you hit those other ones, it certainly pays to come to us to do a search. And as you said, a lot of the records that we have are available online. Now, they're not the easiest records to search through on your own. It takes a lot of patience, even for me, in using microfilm. It takes a little bit of patience to navigate them. But it is possible to go through those records. And I usually tell people the first place to search would be our Revolutionary War Military Abstract card, and that's available online. You can access that by going to our website under Research online, and then under Digital Collections to access it. But those are basically three by five cards that are probably the best index to our Revolutionary War military service records that there is. It certainly doesn't cover every record, but if your ancestor served and appears on at least one class role or a muster role or a fine list, they're going to appear at least on one card. And then from there, we can build off of that to dive into some of the other records that we have, like the Revolutionary War accounts that's the major and then we do have pensions. The state did issue pensions that go with that, and they are available online. The bulk of the militia records that we have and the service records, they're going to be on power library under the Comptroller General's Office. That's where the vast majority of everything is. And there's a lot of records under there. The Revolutionary War accounts, militia accounts is the primary one. Almost all the cards relate to that. And you also have the militia loan accounts that are on there, too. That's another major component of our collection that you can find on there. So it is possible to do all of it at home. Yeah, which is great news. So wait, what's militia loan account? Yeah, the militia loan account. If you've ever looked at our cards before, there are certain cards that have certificate numbers on them. Now, not all of them are related to militia loan, but the ones that are have in the lower right hand corner, it'll say militia loan accounts. Basically, those are IOUs from the state. They're basically bills of credit that the state gave out to pay militiamen who did some type of service during the Revolutionary War. Now, these certificates were issued after the war because they had to pay them eventually. So it begins 1784, but it's for service during the Revolutionary War period. Most of them relate to frontier service or guard duty at various camps, and they're a great resource. What you see on the card is not much card is the name of an individual, how much they were paid, maybe the county, York County militia. And that's it. But there is a way that you can dig through the records to identify what that service encompasses, the date, range of it. So that's a component where I'm telling you that the cards don't have all the information that you might need to dig through our records a little bit. But, yeah, that's what the militia loan accounts are, and they're one of the few records that is a means of proving that the person did serve when they served, and oftentimes where they served that particular tour of duty. I'm excited to learn about those and take a peek at them because I hadn't used those before, actually, or specifically looked at those. Did the state give out land in Pennsylvania to people who served in the revolutionary War? They did. The state did set aside what are known as donation lands in Pennsylvania along the kind of the western border, northwestern area of Pennsylvania. So think of basically Butler County. North to Erie County. They laid out ten districts within those present day counties for land to be given or granted to veterans of the Pennsylvania continental line. And that's key. The land was only awarded or granted to veterans of the Pennsylvania continental line who served to the end of the war. So if your ancestor served in the militia, they didn't qualify. If they served in the Pennsylvania line, a continental unit, they would only qualify if they served to the end of the war. If they served from, let's say, 1775 up through the mutiny in 1781, they would not have qualified for it. For it. So it's a very small group of men, but they did set land aside for them. Okay. And those records are online, the donation land records, you can find them on our web page. If you go under land records and then the land record indices, there's a link for donation lands, and you can see if maybe your ancestor got donation land. Pennsylvania, you just provided a great explanation for why I didn't find someone in there to find. So yeah, that's perfect. Yeah, you get some exceptions in there. The one exception to the Pennsylvania line are the ranger companies. There are special ranger companies raised in Pennsylvania, and they're kind of like they're right in between the Pennsylvania line and the militia. They served for longer tours than the militia, but they weren't technically part of the Pennsylvania line. So they're kind of like that gray area. So you have some people that served in those ranger companies that did end up getting some donation land. Okay. It wouldn't be genealogy if there wasn't some gray area. Things weren't this or that. There's always this, it depends area of research. So the next conflict, I always think of this one as like the Revolutionary War part two, only because it involved the same cast of characters, the War of 1812. So what records does Pennsylvania have around that? And I did actually find a widow who wrote that her husband served in the revolutionary war, when he clearly served in the war of 1812. So in her mind, I'm referencing such a continuation. It was still the same thing. It was the same people. We wanted them out. Get out. Sure. Yeah. For the war of 1812, we have a lot of the muster rolls, payrolls, and then we also have pensions related to it. And what you'll see with the records is there's usually a progression of information that gets added as you move through these conflicts. Usually get more and more the muster rolls get bigger and bigger with more and more information on the individuals. So with the war of 1812, we do have muster roles for most of the militia units that were raised during the conflict, along with the payroll that goes with it. And the payrolls, again, they can provide the unit, the name, the dates of service, where they went, and then sometimes they have their signatures on it, which is a nice little bonus that you'd have on there. And then, of course, you have the pensions. The pensions were issued kind of in two groups. You have the legislative pensions. Like with the revolutionary war, people could petition their legislature and special act passed that would grant a pension or gratuity, depending on their service. They have that for the war of 1812. And then in 1866, they had a pension act that was passed that actually had forms that went with it that people could then apply. By 1866, of course, many were deceased at that point. So you have a lot of widows putting in to get a pension for that service. And those 1866 pensions are on ancestry.com, so you can access those. Okay. And the war of 1812 militia records, those are on power library. Okay. Under the auditor general's office. Find those. All right, perfect. And then the next big conflict is the civil war, is that correct? I'm not skipping anything. Well, if you say big, it match what you say big. I mean, of course, you have the Mexican war, 36 48. The Pennsylvania sent two regiments down for that. And we do have the muster rolls for those regiments and even some that weren't marched down. And again, they're like your typical muster roll. They're going to have name, I think, by that point. They have age and then the unit that they were a part of. You do get with those. In addition, you get state claims. Now, these are claims that were filed by those that served in those two regiments for basically, money owed for any number of things. It could just be for pay. It could be for equipment and stuff like that. And those are a good source to have, too. You can find little interesting tidbits in there. Sometimes you can find references to an individual, a widow that's writing in, asking for the pay that's due her husband. I've seen ones where it's the widow and they state that she was remarried, and it gives who she remarried to. I've seen ones that reference brothers fathers in it. So in addition to those typical must rules, you do have some of these state claim papers that can be of good use. Okay. And then, yeah, Civil War will be next. Yeah. And this is where you get a lot of overlap between the National Archives Civil War records and ours. By this point, they're doing things in duplicate. Triplicates so you have a lot of the same muster roles, muster in rolls or muster out rolls in our collection and at the National Archives. The biggest difference between what we have and what they have is our collection of Civil War muster rolls and related records are really light on the in between records. So we usually have muster in roles for the units and the muster out roles for the units and some of the in between muster and descriptive roles for new recruits. But we don't have those regular monthly or bi monthly muster know or morning reports and descriptions that they have at the National Archives. So I usually recommend people start with the compiled service records at the National Archives. If there's holes in there, they can certainly take a look at what we have in our collection to see what they can find. And the Civil War muster out rolls from our collection are all on ancestry, so they can access those. There the mustard in rolls, and some of the mustard descriptive roles have not been digitized yet, so there's a good chunk of ours that kind of have to come in or place a request to have found. Here's my tricky question with this, and I emailed you this question, and you pointed me in the right direction, as you always sue. But the people that did not gladly serve in the water, they either deserted, they were drafted and deserted, or they sort of hid out from the federal government. This happened a couple places in Pennsylvania. I was shocked to find out, again, my lack of knowledge of history sort of I just have this simplistic view of history, like, oh, everyone just picked up a rifle and went gladly. It's like, no, of course not. People disagreed with the premise of the war or having to serve or didn't want to go for whatever reason. There is a list of deserters, right, that is online? Yeah, we have an assortment. We have records with the actual units. We have some that are deserters lists specific, and we also have some that are kind of standalone series that have some deserters list in there. And we also have concierge objectors people that objected because of concierge scruples against serving. We do have records related to that and some of the 1862 draft records in our collection. That was one that was done by the state. So we do have a collection of those. A lot of those are online through power library that people can access and take a look at. I do have to say that with a lot of these deserters lists and even the casualty lists that we have, they're very spotty. I mean, we'll have some for some units, some regiments in some time periods, but then other ones we have absolutely nothing for, just kind of what has survived and come down the line to us. So there are a lot of holes. So if you are looking for a deserter or a casualty list, you certainly hit the National Archives with their compiled service records and also with the Provost Marshall, which dealt with a lot of the draft at the time. And their records at the National Archives certainly be a place to look. So I don't know if you can answer this or not. So if someone deserted from one of these because these Pennsylvania citizens were essentially federalized, right? They were considered a part of a federal troop when they joined. They weren't a part of the Pennsylvania militia. So the federal government was trying to track them down. And the Adjunct General's Office, I guess, would write letters to try to find these men. Where did those letters go? Did they go to the Pennsylvania State government? I'm assuming they weren't writing individuals that they were possibly asking the Pennsylvania State government to help assist in tracking them down in the counties or were they writing directly to the county, do you know? I don't know. And honestly, I haven't come across a lot of those now. Sometimes I come across records or letters related to deserters mixed in with some of the regiment correspondence that we have for most of the regiments, pennsylvania volunteer regiments, we do have correspondence. Most of that is just bickering between officers and jockeying for position. So it's a lot of pick me, pick me, not him kind of thing. But you do have some of those things mixed up in there where you have either complaints against an officer or you do have references to deserters being brought up and other things like that. That's where I've seen some of those things. I can't say that I found a lot mixed in with either executive correspondence and stuff like that. That's not to say that we might not have a spattering kind of mixed in, but I really haven't come across too many of those floating around, so I don't know where they all went. There might be some records at the National Archives still that you have reference to. Yeah. The National Archives does have them. They have 83 lineal feet. I can tell you the record group look it up, but I remember the 83ft because the index to it apparently is like 4ft. And I had an appointment to go research this and of course they closed again. I shouldn't say of course, but unfortunately they closed again and the index is apparently a bear because it's not indexed by name, it's indexed by something else. Like it involves a system that the clerk would have understood a little bit better. So I was interested I had booked a day just to go through the index. Well, it was 4 hours, but I'll let you know. I was just curious. I was like, maybe I can pick up the correspondence on this side. If it was the count thinking maybe the county sheriff or something, because the county sheriff would know who the guys were. I mean, they have marshals too, located all around that would hunt people down too. That's a possibility, yeah. Basically send them around and they can certainly I'm sure the term is wrong, but have some type of boss build up and search for individuals. But yeah, that would be my first because they would go in groups of men, I guess, to try to find it wasn't one guy came out to round it was a group of them came to round up the missing men from what I've read so far. So I'll let you know. Okay. Theology. You go down these trails where you're like, well, what was the process to find men who deserted? Let me figure it out. So the next conflict after this, the Spanish American War. Yeah, I'm kind of skipping ahead. Yeah. After the Civil War, that's pretty much yeah. The next the next major one that comes up did we send troops to fight in the Indian Wars, as it's called out at west? In our records, the Indian Wars occurred much earlier. When you find references, like in some of the legislative acts for pensions, they refer to the Indian Wars. They're referring to basically the period between the end of the Revolutionary War and basically the 1795 with the Treaty of Fallen Timber. So that in Pennsylvania records is usually referred to as the Indian Wars. So when you find that and you'll find if you look at any of the Revolutionary War pension Acts that were passed, almost all of them say Revolutionary War and Indian Wars. And that's what they mean by Indian Wars. For us, really, we didn't take part of the Western Indian Wars that was largely federal. Federal that would have taken place. Of course, you certainly had Pennsylvanians that joined the federal army and did that. But we really don't have records related to those Western Indian Wars in our collection. Okay. So it really would be the Spanish American War would be the next one that we can counter just for anyone listening, we know that the term is Native Americans. We're calling it the term it's filed under Native American. You're going to be disappointed. That's not what Native American meant at the time. Native American was used in a different context at the time. So spanish American war. So this is probably, in my mind, a significant turning point in how people served and kind of what the purpose of war was for a lot of us. Yeah, it was a big change. Yeah. I mean, you went from volunteers for the most part to basically federal army that you did. You would have a National Guard later on, but they would be federalized and brought in. In this case, you have basically the volunteer groups that were brought in. That's where you get the Rough Riders and such like that from. But yeah, it is kind of a turning point, and we certainly have a lot of records related to it. I think we had the Pennsylvania had 16, I want to say 16 regiments that participated in the Spanish American War. The vast majority of them never left the states. They made it down, know, hung out there at camp for a while, did some marching, and then headed back north. So a very few of them went either to Puerto Rico or Cuba. There's a few that went to the Philippines a little bit later, but the vast majority of them just basically took a train ride, a quick vacation. I wouldn't say vacation. It was pretty rough down to the south and then back up. And there's a great index if you want to know if your ancestors served in the Spanish American War. There's a record of the Pennsylvania Volunteers in Spanish American War. It's a book that was put out by the state back then, and it's available online everywhere. If you know Pennsylvania volunteers, Spanish American War, it'll pop up Google Books, I think archives.org, Hathy Trust, everybody has this volume, and it covers all the units, all the Pennsylvania volunteer units in it. It's got an index in the back. It has a summary for each regiment, what they did, where they went, and then basic information about each of the individuals in those units, when they mustered in, where they marched to, if they died, and so forth on there. So it's a great summary that people can start out with, and then we do have muster roles related to those units, and that's certainly the next step to take a look at those. Those aren't digitized, but what's nice about them is they added a whole bunch of information in the remarks fields for the individual. So in the muster out, they'll go over whether the person had Dysentery, how long they had it, if they had special command, if they went AWOL, all kinds of remarks related to individuals in their service. So it provides a great deal of detail. Of course, you have some variance depending on the captain, the clerk for that particular unit, how detailed they got, but it can be a wealth of information almost day to day in some cases for some individuals in their service during that time that you can come across. I love the remarks field. I love people that blab tell me gossip in that field. And the Spanish American War is the first conflict where. You actually have the compensation applications that became a staple for the 20th century conflict. Tell me about the 20th century and the compensation forms. There are a wealth of information. I'd love those for as a genealogist doing descendency research and trying to track my DNA matches. So I need to track people down and figure out how I'm actually related to them when they come up in my DNA database. And compensation forms have helped me figure out who people are. Yeah, beginning with 1934, and that act covered both World War I and it covered Spanish American War. And it covered some of the conflicts, box rebellion and such that took place kind of in between. If you had anybody that served there, of course, that was more federal, but federal, whether they're federal troops or Pennsylvania volunteers, they would have been covered by these compensation applications. And what they were was the state basically paying a gratuity in recognition of their service to the veterans. And the amount varied depending on the length of term, whether they're wounded or not, foreign domestic service over time, I believe the maximum amount was $500. And I think that stayed steady all the way through Vietnam. I think the maximum amount is $500 that they could receive wasn't adjusted for inflation. There's one for, like I said, the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II. They did one for Korea. I can talk about that a little bit more. And they did one for Vietnam, and they actually did one for the Persian Gulf War, too, later on. But, yeah, they can be a wealth of information, especially Spanish American War and World War I. I mean, they ask all kinds of questions on there. You get your parents names, you get children, wife, where they were born. You get what units they were in, what grade they were percent wounded, so if they got gassed, they might be 20%. And when they were discharged, what engagements they were involved in. It's just a great wealth. And in addition to that, for World War I, you also get we refer to them service compensation files because you do get a little card that was put out that summarizes their service from the War Department that was sent out. So you can get a lot of information for World War I and their compensation compensation records. Okay. Are those the ones that are digitized on anst? Yes. Okay. Spanish American War, World War I, World War II. They're all digitized and on ancestry.com. So you can take a look. World War II becomes a disappointment because all of that information well, I won't say all of it, but a good chunk of it gets kind of taken away. You don't get the engagements. You don't get the unit that the person served in, especially when it was army or Army Air Guard or Army Air Force. So you lose that information, but you do still keep the person's name, where they were born, when they entered service, domestic foreign dates of service and beneficiaries. So it can name wife, children and parents on there, be a good source. But World War II does drop the unit, which is what most a lot of people are looking for to try and figure out. And the reason why is because probably they did send their discharge papers. They weren't kept. So we don't have what's referred to as DD 214s for World War Two with the compensation files. But that may be the reason they didn't really need it. They just need the basic information on the individual and the time of service. Okay, and did you want to talk about Korea? You kind of hinted OD, it's an odder one. It sounds like Korean War. They did do compensation again, they did do the Gratuity. The unfortunate thing is those applications were lost in the Agnes floods. So you don't have the applications like you do for World War II and World War I and Vietnam. The only thing that survives for it are the batch sheets and the batch sheets themselves. It's basically a computer listing of the people that got the compensation and how much. So it'll provide the first and middle initials and the last name, the number of months foreign in domestic service, and the amount paid in the batch number and service number. And that's it. It won't provide any more detail than that. However, it is evidence of honorable service. So we have people from the National Personnel Records Center and elsewhere that use that information to grant benefits. So at least we have that. The other problem with it is to find a name, you need to have a service number because the only index is service number and you're talking about tens of thousands of entries and the only way to find it is with the service number. So that's another stumbling block for Korean that you don't have with the other ones. Right. So it's kind of an outlier. Yeah, the back and forth, the service numbers and it's like that with St. Louis too, some of the files. Okay, so what didn't I ask you about that? I should have while we're talking about military service records and then I want to wind up with you giving a good teaser about the new archives building. Okay, I'll quickly touch on Vietnam. We do have Vietnam records. They are still restricted, of course, because individuals are still alive for Vietnam and those are ones that have Social Security numbers on it. So it doesn't mean you can't get access. If the individual is deceased and you have a death certificate and it's a relative, we can certainly get it to you. So it's not like they're completely unavailable. It's just of course they're alive. There is some sensitive information on there and we can't necessarily get that out. But those do have DD 214s usually with them. So if person's looking to verify service, the veteran themselves looking that they need it. We do have those records. If they applied, of course they have to have applied for the compensation we might have. That always good to remember. They had to have applied for all, for all of these. The only exception to that would be the World War I because it comes with those service cards that were from the War Department. So if they serve, there should be at least that service card. Okay. But yeah, they had to apply for those applications for the gratuity of those. Good. So the biggest change coming to the Pennsylvania State Archive, I hope this is the positive change is the new building being built. It looks fabulous. I mean, in terms of the design and the intention of the use of the building. So tell us how is the packing going, how the process going? And everyone's favorite question, when can we expect to visit that new building? Well, everything's going as planned. The building I don't know if we don't really have photos up online of the progress, but it is going up, and it's going up quickly. I mean, it is a building. There are walls up and they have a roof on top. So it is taking shape. It is now physically there, and it's slated for July, I believe, for the building to be complete, or at least the turnover of the keys that might be completed. But that doesn't mean that's when we're opening up, that's just when we have the building and say, okay, you can start the move. The move process is probably going to take some time, a month or two, it's hard to say. As I was telling you before, we have old elevators, very old elevators that break down frequently, and you can fit one skid at a time on there. So it's a slow process. But for inventory and getting things set up, we're moving right along. So if the elevators hold up, it shouldn't be that long of a wait. Maybe in a year, maybe September or October, we might be opening the doors. If those elevators break down, we got to cut a hole in the wall or do something like that. That could be a slight delay, but we're keeping our fingers crossed that the building holds up and we're able to get those things out and over. And once we do, it's going to be a completely different world. We are working on, of course we've been digitizing things that's going to continue. There won't be really any microfilm anymore. Like if you've been to our search room and gone through that, we've been digitizing it. We've been putting some of that online. What we can online and the microfilm that we can't for various reasons, they'll be available on site. So you're not going to have the readers, the old readers anymore. You're not going to have the cabinets that you're going to have to deal with. You're just going to have computers, and you'd be able to work with those, which will be great because you'd be able to download it. And we're also looking at different user interfaces, too. We'll still have Power library, but we're looking at other things on site that we can use. So there's a lot of moving parts that we're going through right now. A whole different system for us, barcodes and everything. So it'll be a different environment. It'll be a learning experience for us. So if you're one of those first people to walk in, bear with us anything new, we'll be trying it out. But there's always bound to be things that we didn't think of, the bugs that we have to work out. But we're excited. It's going to be a lot bigger space, and it's exciting. It really is. Yeah, I can't wait. I think your boss mentioned balloons. There's going to be a lot of balloons in a celebration when that building opens because it's just the culmination of a lot of work, obviously, on all your part to plan to plan and design and think ahead, because you're thinking ahead, like 50 years to do this. It lasts you all a while, not in the space you're in. So you've got to think, well, how much stuff are we going to collect? Hopefully they make a rounding error or something like that. The period we're going to be out of luck. But yeah, that's digitized everything, right? I know this Pennsylvania has allowed a lot of records currently to be digitized and kept in digital form because we just create more paperwork, obviously, in modern times than maybe we did 50 years ago. But you can't digitize everything forever. Things have to exist on some form of paper or they just do. You got to think about the lag, too. There's a lag. Most agencies keep records for 25 years, maybe 50 years before it's scheduled to come to us. So you have that long lag period where we are still going to be receiving a lot of stuff in paper format. But it's going to be that slow transition where as we go 25 years down the line, it's going to be a lot more digital. But we're probably still going to get that little tail end of some of those older records that have that long retention. But with the agencies that we're getting, yeah, perfect. I can't wait. So I'm sure you can't wait to some days and other days, the biggest thing there is, there's going to be dedicated parking for patrons and for staff. So that's the big I didn't mind, though, walking across the it's not a campus, but walking across the Capitol Building. I'd park on the other side. Okay. So I got to walk past the Capitol Building because it's a gorgeous building and the layout there. And then I come around. It was fun. I don't know. Maybe I'll do it again, I haven't made an appointment yet since you guys have reopened, just to tell people that for right now, at the time we're recording, you are open for research appointments, right? Yes. Wednesday, Thursdays and Fridays by appointment only. And the way that we typically have is we have appointments in the morning and afternoon, so they're from like nine until noon and then from one until four that people can schedule time for. I usually say it's figure two to three weeks out to schedule every now and then it gets weird. Like middle of October, people are calling in September and scheduling it so you had nothing for September and then like a whole block in the middle of October. So you get weird things like that. So you can certainly call or email and ask about times and then we can work out a time to fit you in. And it'll probably be appointment only, certainly through the end of the year and it might continue into next year because again, we're going to be kind of in that moving mode that if it's working, we'll just stick with it. Yeah. As we run frantically around with the last minute things to try and get ready that I'm sure we're going to be doing. So it might be that packing up a whole building, everything, it just blows my mind. Well, we started over five years ago. That started the whole inventorying and packing, so we've been doing it for a while. This building has been in the process for 20 years, on and off, trying to get it done, and now it's here. It's exciting. Yeah. Oh, that's great. I'm glad we're all here to see it. So our time has wound up. So I hope people enjoyed this really fast. Speed run through the military records of Pennsylvania. If they have more questions, to email the archives. Right. For specific record set, but do check out. You guys have done a great job in terms of educating people on your website. Read all the links about what you're interested in. You have research guides up on your website. Read everything, think about it. Compare it to what you as a genealogist have already. So you ask a good question of the archives when you email because you can tell their types are really valuable. They're busy packing and getting ready for the new space. But anything else that you want to let people know before we wrap up? No, we're good. Okay, awesome. Aaron, it is just always great to talk to you and just see you and I can't wait to see you in your new digs. All right, well, it's been a pleasure and I can't wait to see everybody in their new digs. That'd be great.
© 2019–2022 PA Ancestors L.L.C. and Denys Allen. All Rights Reserved.