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National Archives Research 2008

A broad range of Trail of Tears historians have long recognized that large quantities of key historical information relating to the Cherokee Removal still lies in various historical archives. There was a general agreement that many of these “buried” records were located in the National Archives in one of its two major Washington, D.C. facilities. To locate the records, a team of five researchers from the Trail of Tears Association’s Oklahoma Chapter applied, in early 2006, for a Challenge Cost Share Program agreement, which would underwrite the travel and per diem costs associated with a week-long trip to investigate National Archives records. Working with recognized archival experts, this team scoured thousands of pages of manuscript materials — primarily from RG 217 Accounting Officers of the Department of the Treasury) and more specifically Entry 525 (Settled Indian Accounts, 1817-1922). The team photocopied many of these records, organized the copied records, and forwarded copies to both the NPS and to the Sequoyah Research Center at the University of Arkansas Little Rock. The team successfully reapplied for funds in both 2007-8 and conducted similarly successful research trips. After the 2008 season, team member Marybelle Chase prepared a brief trip report in which she noted the circumstances of each summer’s trip and, in three separate reports, detailed the specific boxes and file numbers that the team investigated.

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