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U S D S - D O C S     •     R E C O R D     G R O U P S     5 9     &     8 4

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    This is the homepage for records of the United States Department of State relating to Nicaragua from the 1910s to the 1940s, which is mostly Record Groups 59 and 84, but also others, housed mostly in Archives II in College Park, MD.  There's a mountain of State Dept and related material on Nicaragua in these years, only part of which is inventoried online (63% at present, according to their website, here).  But it's still worth searching  (right:  Lebanon Valley College student researchers Missy Zellner, Nick Quadrini, and Katrina Wells hard at work on the 5th floor of Archives II, January 2011).

     To begin your Archives II online adventure, go to the Archives II homepage at http://www.archives.gov/dc-metro/college-park/.  Click "Research Our Records" and select "Archival Research Catalog."  Try typing "Department of State Nicaragua" in the search box.  You'll get 100 hits (unless you "Limit Results" to 2,000, in which case you'll get 2,000 hits).  Scroll through and click on one.  This takes you to a card-catalog looking page.  Now you can search by Record Group.   Play with it.  There's a lot inventoried here, but not everything is inventoried.  You'll need to actually go the Archives II building & register & get through security & consult with an archivist & submit a request & work through the boxes to see what's actually there — except for the collections that have been microfilmed, which is a fair lot for Nicaragua even though microfilm can be a pain to use.  But so too is shlepping a laptop & scanner & camera in & out of the National Archives, with its layers of security at every turn, but, where all things considered, the staff does a terrific job helping researchers & enforcing the rules fairly (most recently the locking-zippered-green-bag policy, out of which the staff currently is ironing out a few small remaining bugs).

The most useful records for my purposes are the following (these can be devilishly hard webpages to find):

Record Group 59: General Records of the Department of State  (external link HERE)

Record Group 84: Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State (external link HERE)

Under Record Group 59  we have the following, according to the official description:

"Central File (Record Group 59). The central file is the largest and most important category of State Department records. All State Department correspondence with U.S. diplomatic and consular offices in foreign countries, with foreign diplomatic and consular offices in the United States, and almost all other State Department correspondence and memorandums, are in the central file."

"Office or Lot Files (Record Group 59). This category is for all of the records originally filed at the State Department, but not in the central file. This includes records of organizational units, records relating to certain functions, special subjects, events or individuals. Some documents duplicate items in the central file; most do not."

Under Record Group 84, by the official language, we have the:

"Foreign Service Post Files (Record Group 84).  U.S. Embassies, U.S. Legations, and U.S. Consulates.  The third main category of records, Foreign Service Post Files, are all of the records originally filed at American embassies and legations (arranged by country) and consulates (arranged by city).  Correspondence between posts and the State Department duplicates the records in the Central Files in RG 59.  Post records include other types of documents and correspondence with local officials and other posts."

     For Record Group 84 there is a prominently featured Finding Aid titled "Filing Manual, 1912-48" with a 4.54 MB download size PDF file.  This file is totally useless and is not included here.

     On the other hand, for Record Group 59 there is a very useful little pamplet that a very kind archivist mailed to me some time ago — a relic, really, included as a series of JPEG files below — titled "National Archives Microfilm Publications, Pamphlet Accompanying Microcopy No. 632, Records of the Department of State Relating to Internal Affairs of Nicaragua, 1910-1929," published by the General Services Administration in 1967 (this is for "Microfilm 632" or  M632).  It is a gem of a pamphlet, written by James E. Primas, a real go-getter from the looks of it.  Here we see how Decimal File 817 on Nicaragua is organized.  The official classification for the originals of these records in the Archives II building today is Record Group 59, Stack Area 250, Row 24, Compartment 15, Shelf 15, with the box numbers running from around 7,950 to 8,200 or thereabouts.  Ask an archivist!   (Above:  inside the reading room of the 2nd floor of Archives II, where the winter sun comes streaming through the southeast-facing windows, making photographing documents challenging at times, such as mornings and afternoons... )  Here's the pamphlet:

 

     What about the records after 1929?  Those are under a different microfilm number & the originals probably located in a whole different Stack Area!  These have been designated Microfilm 1273 (M1273), Records of the Department of State Relating to Internal Affairs of Nicaragua, 1930-1944 (published 1983).  Then in the Decimal File Series of Record Group 59 there's the Records of the Department of State Relating to Political Relations between the United States and Nicaragua, 1910-1929, among others.  Going back to Record Group 84 for a moment, there's the Confidential U.S. Diplomatic Post Records, Central America, Nicaragua, 1930-1945, and other collections.  It gets a little complicated.

     Here's a list made by copying & pasting the most relevant-looking records listed online.  There's a lot here, and not all of it from the State Department, and not all from Archives II (though most is).  There doesn't seem to be any chronological or thematic order to any of it:

•  Regional Files, compiled 1922-1944, documenting the period 1920-1944.  ARC Identifier 1560885 / MLR Number NM84 77.  Maps and Charts, Photographs and other Graphic Materials and Textual Records from the War Department.  Military Intelligence Division.  Military Intelligence Service.  (03/1942-1947).  Archives II Reference Section (Military), Textual Archives Services Division, College Park, MD.  Series from Record Group 165:  Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs, 1860-1952.

•  Photographs and Illustrations Used in the 1899 "Report of the Nicaragua Canal Commission", compiled 1898-1898.  ARC Identifier 535449 / Local Identifier 185-NC.  Architectural and Engineering Drawings and Photographs and other Graphic Materials from the Nicaragua Canal Commission. (07/29/1897 - 03/1899).  Still Picture Records Section, Special Media Archives Services Division, College Park, MD.  Series from Record Group 185:  Records of the Panama Canal, 1848-1999.

•  Robert E. Peary Family Collection:  Photographs Relating to the Nicaragua Canal Surveys, compiled 1884-1888.  ARC Identifier 542471 / Local Identifier 401-XPN.  Photographs and other Graphic Materials from Peary, Robert E. (Robert Edwin), 1856-1920.  Still Picture Records Section, Special Media Archives Services Division, College Park, MD.  Series from Record Group 401:  National Archives Gift Collection of Materials Relating to Polar Regions, 1949-1978.

•  Summary of the Proceedings, compiled 1918-1918.  ARC Identifier 1488871 / MLR Number NC 155 110. 
Textual Records from the Honduras-Nicaragua Boundary Arbitration.  (1918-1918).  Archives II Reference Section (Civilian), Textual Archives Services Division, College Park, MD.  Series from Record Group 76: Records of Boundary and Claims Commissions and Arbitrations, 1716-1994.

•  United States Consular Records for Bluefields, Nicaragua, compiled 1873-1932.  ARC Identifier 980099 / MLR Number UD 164.  Textual Records from the Department of State.  U.S. Consulate, Bluefields, Nicaragua. (1873-1933).  Archives II Reference Section (Civilian), Textual Archives Services Division, College Park, MD.  Series from Record Group 84:  Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State.

•  United States Consular Records for Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, compiled 1931-1939.  ARC Identifier 1150676 / MLR Number UD 705.  Textual Records from the Department of State.  U.S. Consulate, Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua.  (1931-1939).  Archives II Reference Section (Civilian), Textual Archives Services Division, College Park, MD.  Series from Record Group 84:  Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State.

•  United States Consular Records for Managua, Nicaragua, compiled 1884-1935.  ARC Identifier 1135628 / MLR Number UD 547.  Textual Records from the Department of State. U.S. Consulate, Managua, Nicaragua. (ca. 07/21/1884-1939).  Archives II Reference Section (Civilian), Textual Archives Services Division, College Park, MD.  Series from Record Group 84:  Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State.

•  Aerial Photography of Nicaragua, compiled 1943-1947.  ARC Identifier 305445 / Local Identifier 30-NICARAGUA.  Photographs and other Graphic Materials from the Federal Works Agency.  Public Roads Administration.  Office of Engineering.  (07/01/1939 - 06/30/1949).  Cartographic and Architectural Records Section, Special Media Archives Services Division, College Park, MD.  Series from Record Group 30: Records of the Bureau of Public Roads, 1892-1972.

•  Photographic Prints and Negatives of U.S. Marine Activities in Nicaragua, compiled ca. 1976-ca. 1976, documenting the period 1912-1931.  ARC Identifier 532594 / Local Identifier 127-NP.  Photographs and other Graphic Materials from the Department of Defense.  Department of the Navy.  U.S. Marine Corps.  History and Museums Division. (ca. 1947 - ).  Still Picture Records Section, Special Media Archives Services Division, College Park, MD.  Series from Record Group 127:  Records of the U.S. Marine Corps.  (These are the photographs, nearly 1,000 in all, in the USNA2 Photo-Docs pages.)

•  Fleet Ho, 1930.  ARC Identifier 2767362 / Local Identifier 428-NPC-44523.  Moving Images from the Department of Defense.  Department of the Navy.  Naval Photographic Center.  (09/18/1947 - ?).  Motion Picture, Sound, and Video Records Section, Special Media Archives Services Division, College Park, MD.   Item from Record Group 428:  General Records of the Department of the Navy, 1941-2004.

•  SURVEY OF ROUTE FOR NICARAGUAN CANAL, 1929-1930, 1936.  ARC Identifier 24698 / Local Identifier 111-H-1193.  Moving Images from the Department of Defense.  Department of the Army.  Office of the Chief Signal Officer.  (09/18/1947 - 02/28/1964).  Motion Picture, Sound, and Video Records Section, Special Media Archives Services Division, College Park, MD.  Item from Record Group 111:  Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, 1860-1985.

•  [Nicaragua - Puerto Cabezas - Consulate]  Consulars Reporting of Interest to the apartments and independent establishments of the governments, 1931-1931.  ARC Identifier 1403350 / MLR Number UD 705.  Textual Records from the Department of State. U.S. Consulate, Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua.  (1931-1939).  Archives II Reference Section (Civilian), Textual Archives Services Division, College Park, MD.  File Unit from Record Group 84:  Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State.

•  [Nicaragua - Puerto Cabezas - Consulate]  Misc Record Book, 1931-1933.  ARC Identifier 1403317 / MLR Number UD 705.  Textual Records from the Department of State.  U.S. Consulate, Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua.  (1931-1939).  Archives II Reference Section (Civilian), Textual Archives Services Division, College Park, MD.  File Unit from Record Group 84:  Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State.

•  [Nicaragua - Bluefields - Consulate]  Correspondence 600, 1926 - 1926.  ARC Identifier 1355180 / MLR Number UD 164.  Textual Records from the Department of State.  U.S. Consulate, Bluefields, Nicaragua.   (1873-1933).  Archives II Reference Section (Civilian), Textual Archives Services Division, College Park, MD.  File Unit from Record Group 84:  Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State.

•  [Nicaragua - Bluefields - Consulate]  Correspondence 868.1-892.43, 1929-1929.  ARC Identifier 1355198 / MLR Number UD 164.  Textual Records from the Department of State.  U.S. Consulate, Bluefields, Nicaragua.  (1873-1933).  Archives II Reference Section (Civilian), Textual Archives Services Division, College Park, MD.  File Unit from Record Group 84:  Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State.

•  [Nicaragua - Bluefields - Consulate]  Correspondence 610-704, 1930-1930.  ARC Identifier 1355201 / MLR Number UD 164.  Textual Records from the Department of State. U.S. Consulate, Bluefields, Nicaragua. (1873-1933).  Archives II Reference Section (Civilian), Textual Archives Services Division, College Park, MD.  File Unit from Record Group 84:  Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State.

•  [Nicaragua - Bluefields - Consulate]  Ships Daily Journal, 1920-1928.  ARC Identifier 1355244 / MLR Number UD 164.  Textual Records from the Department of State. U.S. Consulate, Bluefields, Nicaragua.  (1873-1933).  Archives II Reference Section (Civilian), Textual Archives Services Division, College Park, MD.  File Unit from Record Group 84:  Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State.

•  [Nicaragua - Bluefields - Consulate]  Marine Extended Protest, 1928-1928.  ARC Identifier 1355255 / MLR Number UD 164.  Textual Records from the Department of State. U.S. Consulate, Bluefields, Nicaragua.  (1873-1933).  Archives II Reference Section (Civilian), Textual Archives Services Division, College Park, MD.  File Unit from Record Group 84:  Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State.

•  Record Book, compiled 1933-1962.  ARC Identifier 1697331 / MLR Number UD 3047.  Textual Records from the Department of State. U.S. Embassy, Nicaragua. (ca. 03/27/1943 - ).  Archives II Reference Section (Civilian), Textual Archives Services Division, College Park, MD.  Series from Record Group 84:  Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State.

•  [Nicaragua - Managua - Consulate]  Correspondence Classes 866.32-892.8, 1934-1934.  ARC Identifier 1391769 / MLR Number UD 547.  Textual Records from the Department of State. U.S. Consulate, Managua, Nicaragua. (ca. 07/21/1884-1939).  Archives II Reference Section (Civilian), Textual Archives Services Division, College Park, MD.  File Unit from Record Group 84:  Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State.

•  [Nicaragua - Managua - Consulate]  Correspondence Classes 600-892.8, 1933-1933.  ARC Identifier 1391764 / MLR Number UD 547.  Textual Records from the Department of State. U.S. Consulate, Managua, Nicaragua. (ca. 07/21/1884-1939).  Archives II Reference Section (Civilian), Textual Archives Services Division, College Park, MD.  File Unit from Record Group 84:  Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State.

•  [Nicaragua - Managua - Consulate] Confidential File, 1933-1933.  ARC Identifier 1391778 / MLR Number UD 547.  Textual Records from the Department of State. U.S. Consulate, Managua, Nicaragua. (ca. 07/21/1884-1939).  Archives II Reference Section (Civilian), Textual Archives Services Division, College Park, MD.  File Unit from Record Group 84:  Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State.

•  Classified Telegrams Received, compiled 1932-1947.  ARC Identifier 1729312 / MLR Number UD 3082.  Textual Records from the Department of State. U.S. Embassy, Panama. (ca. 03/23/1939 - 01/10/1964).  Archives II Reference Section (Civilian), Textual Archives Services Division, College Park, MD.  Series from Record Group 84:  Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State.

•  Lists, Reports, and Other Records, compiled 1927-1928.  ARC Identifier 1957865 / MLR Number I-2 226.  Textual Records from the Department of the Navy. U.S. Marine Corps. 5th Marine Regiment.  (06/08/1917 - 09/18/1947).  Archives I Reference Section, Textual Archives Services Division, Washington, DC.  Series from Record Group 127: Records of the U.S. Marine Corps  [Digital Copy Available]

•  Chinandega, Nicaragua.  Marines and Bluejackets who returned with ballot box from Somotillo, 1928.  ARC Identifier 532591 / Local Identifier 127-N-527091.  Photographs and other Graphic Materials from the Department of Defense. Department of the Navy. U.S. Marine Corps. (09/18/1947 - ).  Still Picture Records Section, Special Media Archives Services Division, College Park, MD.  Item from Record Group 127:  Records of the U.S. Marine Corps.

•  United States Consular Records for Corinto, Nicaragua, compiled ca. 1867-1934.  ARC Identifier 1137820 / MLR Number UD 290.  Textual Records from the Department of State. U.S. Consulate, Corinto, Nicaragua. (1867-1937).  Archives II Reference Section (Civilian), Textual Archives Services Division, College Park, MD.  Series from Record Group 84:  Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State.

•  Intelligence Reports of the District of Leon, compiled 1928-1928.  ARC Identifier 1948901 / MLR Number I-2 195.  Textual Records from the Nicaragua. Guardia Nacional.  Archives I Reference Section, Textual Archives Services Division, Washington, DC.  Series from Record Group 127:  Records of the U.S. Marine Corps.

•  Selected Correspondence of the Intelligence Department, compiled 1928-1932.  ARC Identifier 1948958 / MLR Number I-2 200.  Textual Records from the Department of the Navy.  U.S. Marine Corps.  (1834-09/18/1947).  Archives I Reference Section, Textual Archives Services Division, Washington, DC.  Series from Record Group 127:  Records of the U.S. Marine Corps.

•  Reports, Lists, and Other Records, compiled 1930-1932.  ARC Identifier 1956157 / MLR Number I-2 224.  Textual Records from the Department of the Navy. U.S. Marine Corps.  2nd Brigade.  Office of the Quartermaster.  (1927-1933).  Archives I Reference Section, Textual Archives Services Division, Washington, DC.  Series from Record Group 127:  Records of the U.S. Marine Corps.

•  Correspondence Relating to the Election, compiled 1928-1928.  ARC Identifier 1949014 / MLR Number I-2 207.  Textual Records from the Department of the Navy.  U.S. Marine Corps.  2nd Brigade. (1927-1933).  Archives I Reference Section, Textual Archives Services Division, Washington, DC.  Series from Record Group 127:  Records of the U.S. Marine Corps.

•  Correspondence Relating to Civilian Complaints in the District of Matagalpa at Jinotega, compiled 1928-1928.  ARC Identifier 1943630 / MLR Number I-2 191.  Textual Records from the Nicaragua.  Guardia Nacional.  Archives I Reference Section, Textual Archives Services Division, Washington, DC.  Series from Record Group 127:  Records of the U.S. Marine Corps.

•  Selected Correspondence of the Intelligence Department, compiled 1928-1932.  ARC Identifier 1948958 / MLR Number I-2 200.  Textual Records from the Department of the Navy.  U.S. Marine Corps.  (1834-09/18/1947).  Archives I Reference Section, Textual Archives Services Division, Washington, DC.  Series from Record Group 127:  Records of the U.S. Marine Corps.

•  Record Book, compiled 1899-1950.  ARC Identifier 4477130 / MLR Number P 539.  Textual Records from the Department of State.  U.S. Consulate, Matagalpa, Nicaragua. (1899-1950).  Archives II Reference Section (Civilian), Textual Archives Services Division, College Park, MD.  Series from Record Group 84:  Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State.

 

     What about microfilmed materials?  If you go to the National Archives homepage and enter "microfilm Nicaragua" in the upper-right search box, you'll get 46 mostly worthless hits.  But if you put "order online" in the search box, the first item that appears ("Order Online") will take you to a page with a blue button screaming out  PROCEED TO ORDER ONLINE!   If you click on that (or on the screaming button here) — and then click "Microfilm" —  and in the search box put "Nicaragua" — the following ten records should appear, all of which can be requested via inter-library loan, if you ask for 3-4 reels at a time (M632 among them, the biggest of the bunch and the richest on topics of interest here): 

Publication number

Publication Title

Record Group

Record Group Title

Number of Rolls/Fiche

C85

Records of the U.S. Department of State Relating to Internal Affairs of Nicaragua, 1960-1963

59

General Records of the Department of State

4

M1273

Records of the Department of State Relating to Internal Affairs of Nicaragua, 1930-1944

59

General Records of the Department of State

53

M632

Records of the Department of State Relating to Internal Affairs of Nicaragua, 1910-1929

59

General Records of the Department of State

106

M633

Records of the Department of State Relating to Political Relations Between the United States and Nicaragua, 1910-1929

59

General Records of the Department of State

2

M634

Records of the Department of State Relating to Political Relations Between Nicaragua and Other States, 1910-1929

59

General Records of the Department of State

3

T152

Despatches From U.S. Consuls in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, 1847-1881.

59

General Records of the Department of State

4

T348

Despatches From U.S. Consuls in San Juan del Norte, Nicaragua, 1851-1906.

59

General Records of the Department of State

21

T538

Despatches From U.S. Consuls to Cape Gracias a Dios, Nicaragua, 1903-1906

59

General Records of the Department of State

1

T634

Despatches From U.S. Consuls in Managua, Nicaragua, 1884-1906

59

General Records of the Department of State

5

T797

Notes from the Nicaraguan Legation in the United States to the Department of State, 1862-1906.

84

Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State

4



    That's a whole lot of records, and a pretty confusing filing system.  It's also far from comprehensive.  So instead of retaining the arcane filing systems of the US Department of State, this website simplifies things by collapsing Record Groups 59 and 84 together (the distinction seems pretty arbitrary anyway) and inventorying all State Department documents chronologically, with thematic tags to facilitate searching.  Any remaining material in Archives II that doesn't derive from the records of the Department of State (such as the General Correspondence of the Secretary of the Navy, the Regional Files of the Military Intelligence Division, 1922-1944, and so on) is slotted into other categories, especially M-Docs, Guardia, USMC-Docs, Photo-Docs, in ways that seem to make the most sense.  (Above:  Lebanon Valley College student researchers Nick Quadrini, Missy Zellner & Katrina Wells still going strong on the 5th floor!)

     Hence this navigation box, which appears at the top & bottom of all USDS-Docs pages (none of these pages are created yet but will be soon).

U S D S - D O C S     •     R E C O R D     G R O U P S     5 9     &     8 4
thru 1927 1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 1933 +

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 And thus concludes our introductory excursion into the relevant records of the United States Department of State!

Archives II, College Park, MD

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U S D S - D O C S     •     R E C O R D     G R O U P S     5 9     &     8 4
thru 1927 1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 1933 +

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