NARA vs National Archives

 
 
 
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miclew
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NARA vs National Archives

First Reference Note - 

In EE, there are some sources that use the acronym NARA (i.e. federal census records) and some that use National Archives (i.e. cash entry files).  Does it matter?  

EE
EE's picture

miclew,

NARA is the acronum for a government agency: National Archives and Records Administration. (EE 2.13)  The National Archives is a facility operated by that agency.  To complicate things, NARA was previously known as NARS: the National Archives and Records Service.

When we cite original records at the National Archives, the facility, we write out the identity of the archives. When we cite publications by the agency--such as the census microfilm--we cite the agency as the publisher. The first time we cite the agency, of course, we write out the name in full, then place the acronym in parentheses after it. From that point on, we can then use the acronym alone.

To further complicate things, you will notice that some EE citations to microfilmed records will cite NARS as the publisher, but will identify the film as NARA film. That's not a typo. The film originally published by NARS is now known by NARA numbers.

Don't we wish that government agencies would quit changing their identities? It's almost as frustrating for researchers and writers as all the website reorganizations and dead URLs. 

 

The Editor

miclew
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Tell you what.  I will make it easy on myself and just follow your examples :) 

EE
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Miclew, that works. But understanding why something is done is the best way to save the time you'd spend searching for just the right example. :)

The Editor

cknox
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Jumping in on this thread....  Two questions...

Just to be clear... I'd like clarification on using NARA vs. National Archives and Records Administration as the first reference note of a census record.  I had an instructor at NGS insist that I write out "National Archives and Records Administration" instead of "NARA" in every reference note. Yet EE shows most examples as NARA.  

Here is my reference note based on her example:

1. 1920 U.S. census, Johnson County, Kansas, population schedule, Olathe, Enumeration District (ED) 113, sheet 6A, p. 119 (stamped), dwelling 156, family 160, Henry G. Henley and family; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 June 2017), citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm publication T625, roll 535.

I've seen other citations spell out National Archives and Records Administration and then add (NARA) too.  I understand that would be the case the first time you reference the National Archives and Records Administration, but if you're citing...say 30 different census pages and several different census years within one document, should I use... National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), National Archives and Records Administration or just NARA, after the first census cited? 

Thanks

Connie

EE
EE's picture

Connie, anytime we use an acronym (whether it's NARA or FHC or anything else) we should, at first use, write out the name in full, followed by the acronym in parentheses. EE does that also. See 2.13.

As you say, if we're citing umpteen documents from NARA microfilm in any given piece of writing, we would follow that practice for the first usage. Then we're free to use NARA every instance thereafter.

The Editor