I have always enjoyed visiting the North Carolina State Archives that is located in downtown Raleigh. But I rarely have the chance to get down there on a Saturday anymore. Especially since I’ve been trying to get my feet in the door with the Wake County Public Library system. Because of this, I have been working several Saturdays a month for the past 6 months or so and will continue to do so until I graduate from UNC in May. Even if I could visit the Archives on a Saturday, they have started limiting their hours from 9 am to 2 pm. They used to be open until 5 pm. It’s unfortunate; however, as we’ve seen from archives across the country, funding is short and they are doing what they can to stay open to the public and I am grateful that they are open 5 days a week and on Saturdays!
The North Carolina State Archives does have an alternative for ordering records for those people who have a busy schedule and cannot visit the Archives during regular business hours. If you live In-State, you can order records via an online form found on their website. They recommend that you read about what they will and will not search for you and that you provide as detailed a description as possible in your request. I decided to give this a try and order some records I had been looking for.
You can request materials from the “Services” link on the left side of the page. Clicking on the “Requesting Information by Mail” link will take you to the general information page which includes information about what kind of requests the Archives CAN and CANNOT answer. This page also has a link by which NORTH CAROLINA RESIDENTS can order materials – just click on the link at the top that says “North Carolina Residents.”
You have the option to submit an online form via email or to print out the form and submit by snail mail. When completed, click the “Submit Request” button and if you checked the box to “Send a copy of this request to your e-mail address,” then a copy of your request will be delivered to your email box. I created a special filter in my email to send all of these requests to.
You won’t receive a reply back from the Archives until an invoice is ready for your review and approval. My first request for a marriage record was placed on 12/23/2012 and I received an invoice on 1/3/2013. It took 11 days to receive a reply, however this was probably delayed due to the holidays. In my reply, I was given the option to print the invoice and either pay by check or credit card and then mail back the completed invoice to the Archives, allowing for up to ten business days for delivery of copies of materials.
The alternative option, and the one I chose to use, is to pay the invoice online using the Archives’ new Correspondence Portal. I talked about this in a previous post. This is the section of the online ordering process that Out of Staters can use to order materials. They are charged a flat $20 fee for each record.
Speaking of fees, although it is free to order records for North Carolina Residents, there is a $2.00 minimum copying fee associated with each order. That is what I was invoiced for. I still find this to be a fairly reasonable rate considering it is about 25 miles from my house to the Archives. If I were charging the IRS rate of $0.55 / mile to drive there and back, it would cost almost $30 round trip!
Using the online portal to pay my invoice was quick and easy. I entered my shipping address and credit card information into the form and then submitted it. I received 3 emails immediate after my order was processed. One was from the Archives letting me know my order was received and would be processed. Two additional emails arrived from the NC Dept of Cultural Resources letting know that my credit card was charged $2.00 for my order.
Copies of the record I ordered should arrive in the mail any day now. Have you ordered materials from the Archives? If so, feel free to share your experiences below or email me at ginger.reney [at] gmail.com.