Microfilm is one of NARA's most highly used resources and is especially important to genealogists. NARA maintains and provides access to microforms that NARA has accessioned from others and has made itself. Included are microfilmed census records, passenger lists, and pension files. These resources are available in NARA research rooms around the country, and many can be purchased and rented. Unfortunately, access to information about the existence and location of microfilm copies has been inaccurate and not easily accessible to either the public or NARA's staff.
Therefore, NARA has created a database that contains brief descriptions for the approximately 3,100 numbered microfilm publications that NARA has. From this database, researchers are able to search and display information by keyword in title, by publication number, by record group number, and/or by NARA facility location. If the microfilm is available for rent or purchase, ordering instructions are available.
The microform publication information is available to the public and staff on the web through the NARA Archival Information Locator (NAIL).
"The idea of such a microfilm system evolved from meetings I had with genealogists in Denver in May of 1998," Mr. Carlin said. "I'm pleased that we've been able to turn that idea into reality and make the locator available for use. This should greatly facilitate genealogical and many other kinds of research."