Saturday, October 4, 2014

Ping Pong Back to VA

Last month I received an update from the National Personnel Records Center, National Archives at St. Louis, on my inquiry into the Spanish-American War pension file of Harl Cain. Yesterday another update arrived in the mail, sending me back to the Veterans Administration FOIA Office. I'm definitely feeling like a ping pong ball, after having first wrote to the VA on 5 May. Thanks go out to the thorough check conducted by the NARA Supervisory Archivist in St. Louis looking into my request, they did send me two update letters and provided me with a clear answer of where they searched and how to proceed with my request. A redacted transcription of the letter is below:

September 25, 2014

Request for VA XC/Pension File

This is in response to your request dated May 5, 2014, which you submitted to obtain copies of the XC/Pension File for Harl Cain. The records we are receiving from the NARA facility at Lee's Summit, MO, for the XC number listed above, have arrived at the National Archives at St. Louis. I regret to inform you that the file you seek was not among those received. A review of the VA BIRLS system indicates that this file was transferred from VA custody on 6/7/65. The records we are receiving are only those that were transferred in 1955. Therefore, we believe that the file you seek is still in VA legal custody.

Please contact the VA FOIA/Privacy Act Officer at the following address: [VA Regional Office in Baltimore].

I am sorry for the delay this causes you. You may contact me at [redacted] if you have any questions.
That was a nice response to receive. I can see the NARA team in St. Louis spent time looking for the file. Again, it is kind that they took the time to send me back a clear and thorough reply.

Using this information, I sent an email back to the VA FOIA/Privacy Act Officer in Baltimore and copied the Archivist in St. Louis, providing the VA with the information from NARA St. Louis and asking that they check their files in the records transferred from VA custody in 1965. So, we'll see. This is a long process. I have no idea what is in the file - it may have no information on the parents of Harl and Mary Alice, or it could open up new lines of research that would only be known from the contents of the file. It is worth the wait.

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