National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) archives.gov
hosted a seminar at an LDS genealogy fair I attended last Saturday.
Below are some interesting statistics.
NARA does not have the money nor manpower to put all of its records
online. NARA holds over 12 billion pieces of paper.
The most requested item of NARA?
I suggested it was Passenger Arrival Records. Wrong!
It's actually a photo of Elvis and President Nixon in 1970 during the
time when Elvis wanted to be a member of the Secret Service. Really!
In 1900 there 43 million people in the U.S., 23 million were foreign born.
In 1906 there were 935,915 immigrants to the U.S. Of those 935,915,
only 38,296 were 45 years of age or older.
In 1920 1,139,578 people indicated that they had been born in Poland.
Starting in 1929, photos were required on the Certificates of
Naturalization so if your ancestor became a citizen prior to that
date, stop looking for a certificate that has a photo of them.
Each branch of NARA has its own web site and may list its holdings
which could be different than what is shown on the NARA main web site.
Things I had forgotten:
If you are looking for an immigrant who arrived in the U.S. between
1565 and 1819, check _Filby's Passengers and Immigrants Lists Index_.
The following web site can be searched to find out if an entity other
than NARA has digitized certain records. For example if you searched
on U.S. Census 1940 you would see that ancestry.com has digitized
Census records (1940 on) are being digitized from the original records
and not from microfilm.
If you read this post as well as the one titled, "LDS Genealogy Fair"
you should have a pretty good idea of why that baptismal record you
want hasn't been digitized or indexed. There are just too many records