President's Day at the National Archives

Guest blogger Elizabeth Lieutenant, a Master’s student in Library and Information Science at The Catholic University of America, is a virtual intern in the Office of Innovation.


This week we celebrated President’s Day, a U.S. federal holiday that officially honors George Washington’s birthday. While the holiday may be for George, we at the National Archives love all our presidents equally. We’ve been celebrating by diving into our catalog and tagging photos of all of our nation’s presidents.

Curious about what tagging means and how you can get involved? Check out our previous blog post, where we discuss tagging the Online Public Access catalog. Tagging helps index the National Archives’ collections and allows you, our public users, to discover records. Have some ideas on improving your tagging experience? Let us know here on NARAtions or by emailing us at search@nara.gov.

Turn up “Hail to the Chief” and let’s get started!

We may not have any pictures of George, but we have the next best thing, a record of his portrait! This iconic portrait, painted by Gilbert Charles Stuart, can be found on the U.S. one-dollar bill. You’ll need a few of those if you plan on hitting some President’s Day sales at the mall.

George Washington, President of U.S, ca. 1860 - ca. 1865. NARA ID: 528597

George Washington, President of U.S, ca. 1860 – ca. 1865. NARA ID: 528597

FDR was born on January 30th, but we completely forgot to get him a present! Let’s hope this gigantic cake will make up for our absentmindedness.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt Receives a Birthday Cake in the Oval Office, White House from William Green of the American Federation of Labor, 01/30/1942. NARA ID: 6037481

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt Receives a Birthday Cake in the Oval Office, White House from William Green of the American Federation of Labor, 01/30/1942. NARA ID: 6037481

Uh-oh. Lookings like Franklin’s fifth cousin and fellow President Theodore wants a slice! Don’t worry, there’s plenty of cake for all our Presidents.

Photograph of Colonel Theodore Roosevelt. NARA ID: 594109

Photograph of Colonel Theodore Roosevelt. NARA ID: 594109

One of Ronald Reagan’s favorite things about being President was flying on Air Force One. You can visit his flying White House in person at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.

President Ronald Reagan waves as he prepares to board Air Force One for departure, 04/05/1984 NARA ID: 6387444

President Ronald Reagan waves as he prepares to board Air Force One for departure, 04/05/1984 NARA ID: 6387444

We don’t have too many records of current President Barack Obama in our Online Public Access Catalog, but we will when his term is over on January 20, 2017. Until then, you can browse the 317 records we do have, including this one.

Office of the Administrator (Lisa P. Jackson) - U.S. President Barack Obama in New Orleans, Louisiana [412-APD-608-2010-08-29_NOLAPOTUS_037.jpg], 08/29/2010. NARA ID: 6899821

Office of the Administrator (Lisa P. Jackson) – U.S. President Barack Obama in New Orleans, Louisiana [412-APD-608-2010-08-29_NOLAPOTUS_037.jpg], 08/29/2010. NARA ID: 6899821

Be sure to head over to our Online Public Access Catalog and start tagging! Show your appreciation for the work our Presidents do by tagging your favorite Presidential records.

To get started tagging, you’ll need to:

Tagging is a fun and easy way to make our records more accessible to the public. By tagging content in our catalog, you’re helping to connect other people to our records. This gives a whole new meaning to our records and helps make them “come alive” to a completely new audience.

We hope that you’ll share any tagging suggestions you may have in the comments below or emailing us at search@nara.gov. We’re always looking for new tips and tricks to help make your search easier, If you would like to see us cover a particular topic or theme, let us know! We’d love to hear from you.

Posted in Open Government, Photographs, Social Media (Web 2.0) | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

For Valentine’s Day, Ten Records About Love

Guest blogger Elizabeth Lieutenant, a Master’s student in Library and Information Science at The Catholic University of America, is a virtual intern in the Office of Innovation.


February is upon us, and while it may be cold outside, we’re keeping warm with thoughts of the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday. Valentine’s Day, also known as the Feast of Saint Valentine, has been celebrated for centuries. While Valentines is sometimes exclusively thought of as a time for lovers, our top 10 Valentines Day records from the National Archives show there are plenty of different ways to celebrate the holiday.

Do you love your President? Why not send them a Valentine’s Day card to show how much you care:

F-88 12-A1-091 Berryman

St. Valentine’s Day, 02/14/1917. This illustration by cartoonist Clifford Berryman appeared in the Washington Evening Star on February 14, 1917, and depicts Woodrow Wilson’s confirmed re-election coming in the form of a Valentine’s Day card. National Archives Identifier: 6011195

Whoops! Bet these political figures weren’t expecting these “Valentine Surprises”:

6010696

Some Valentine Surprises, 02/14/1907. This illustration by cartoonist Clifford Berryman appeared in the Washington Evening Star on February 14, 1907, and depicts some Valentine’s Day surprises based on current political issues. National Archives Identifier: 6010696

Do you think President Roosevelt preferred his “Surprise” card, or this “Inappropriate” card?:

6010930

“Inappropriate Valentines”, 02/14/1912. This illustration by cartoonist Clifford Berryman appeared in the Washington Evening Star on February 14, 1912, and offers some humorous valentine cards placing major political figures at the time in some positions which are difficult to imagine. National Archives Identifier: 6010930

We hope Teddy doesn’t hold a grudge and revoke our invitation to the White House Valentine’s Day Party:

6907792

Office of the Deputy Administrator – White House Invitation in celebration of Valentine’s Day. National Archives Identifer 6907792

Many of our troops can’t make it home for Valentine’s Day, so this Master Sergeant is trying to make the day as special as possible:

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US Air Force (USAF) MASTER Sergeant (MSGT) Stan Pamphille, 86th Services Squadron (SVS), prepares assorted candies cups for the Valentine’s Day Customer Appreciation Luncheon, inside the Dinning Facility at Ramstein Air Base (AB), Germany, 02/14/2003. National Archives Identifier: 6633402

Being a military spouse on Valentine’s Day can be hard, so it’s important to try to make their day feel special:

040212-F-5343T-003

Left to right, US Air Force (USAF) First Lieutenant (1LT) Megan Kranenburg, with the 92nd Civil Engineer Squadron (CES), 1LT John Parrett, from the 92nd Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS) and Second Lieutenant (2LT) Kate Houston, with the 92nd Services Squadron (SS), Company Grade Officers group, take on the role of Cupid. They perform a complimentary vocal performance for Vanessa Bosshard, wife of STAFF Sergeant (SSGT) Kenneth Bosshard, assigned to the 92nd Communications Squadron (CS), for Valentines Day’s, 02/12/2004. National Archives Identifier: 6659618

Military service members will be getting a special delivery thanks to “Operation Valentine’s Day”:

020214-F-1166S-004

US Air Force (USAF) AIRMAN First Class (AIC) Joel Rose, 305 Aerial Port Squadron, loads Valentine’s Day packages onto a 60K loader, for Operation Valentine at McGuire AFB, New Jersey (NJ). This operation provides Valentine’s Day packages to troops who are deployed to overseas locations in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, 02/14/2002. National Archives Identifier: 6603744

While Veterans receive Valentine’s Day cards from the “Valentines for Veterans” program:

020313-F-6737G-004

Mr. Willie Huckley, a retired US Army (USA) veteran, receives a Valentine Day card from US Air Force (USAF) STAFF Sergeant (SSGT) Amie Kahler, 81st Training Group, Kessler Air Force Base (AFB) Mississippi (MS), during her Units annual Valentines for Veterans visit at the Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital in located in Biloxi, MS, 03/13/2002. National Archives Identifier: 6643686

The National Archives staff has been known to cut a rug on holidays:

3493299

St. Valentine’s Day Hop on the Mezzanine level outside Room 105, February 1975. National Archives Identifier: 3493299

And like any good Valentine’s Day party, we will have cake:

285496

Children cut Valentine party cake, ca. 1953. The children are students at Slim butte day School 1953-54. National Archives Identifier: 285496

What will you be doing to celebrate this special day? How about spending some time researching the things you love? You can search our online catalog or visit us in person at one of our many facilities. We would love to see you!

Posted in Events, Photographs, Research | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Ten Records We're Thankful to Have at the National Archives

Thanksgiving is an anticipated time of year…unless you’re a turkey!  While our traditions today may not even include the iconic bird (hello, Tofurkey!), this holiday is still cherished as a time to gather with friends and family and give thanks.  But before you start setting the table, enjoy a “harvest” of some of our favorite Thanksgiving records!

 

Thanksgiving turkeys have been granted a presidential pardon as early as President Lincoln, and it is a White House tradition that is still enjoyed in the modern day:

The President Receives Thanksgiving Turkey from Poultry and Egg National Board, Accompanied by Senator Everett M. Dirkson , 11/19/1963

The President Receives Thanksgiving Turkey from Poultry and Egg National Board, Accompanied by Senator Everett M. Dirkson , 11/19/1963. NARA ID 6817149

 

Though some turkeys granted an audience with the President had seen better days:

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Photograph of Sen. Olin Johnston of South Carolina presenting President Truman with a turkey from Wilton E. Hall of Anderson, South Carolina, as Colonel Lewis Jackson looks on., 11/25/1946. NARA ID 199536

 

And some turkeys, feeling the heat of the kitchen, attempted to escape!:

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President Reagan Attending Ceremonies to Receive the Annual Thanksgiving Turkey from Representatives of the National Turkey Federation on the South Lawn, ca. 1985. NARA IDs 6728685, 6919294, and 6919300

In the mood for more fowl hijinks?  Check out the Thanksgiving set on Flickr.

Outside of the White House, Thanksgiving is a tradition observed by Americans everywhere:

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Photograph of President George H. W. Bush Enjoying Thanksgiving Dinner with Troops, 11/22/1990. NARA ID 186423

 

How many people do you have coming over for dinner?  I bet you’re not making a vat of sweet potatoes like this “pilgrim:”

DN-SC-85-12223

A mess management specialist helps prepare Thanksgiving dinner aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS CARL VINSON (CVN 70), 11/24/1984. NARA ID 6393176

 

The Thanksgiving menu is often deeply rooted in tradition and certain merits can be hotly debated.  But do you have room on your table for Consomme and Braised Celery?

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White House Menu, 11/25/1948. NARA ID 6882375

Do you have a hankering for more presidential noms?  Don’t forget to follow OurPresidents on Tumblr and see what the White House has cooked up for the holidays!

 

This video clip certainly brings new meaning to “dressing the turkey:”

And this is certainly not your typical Thanksgiving Day Parade:

Working up an appetite for Thursday? Check out this playlist of other Thanksgiving-themed films recently digitized by our Motion Picture Preservation Lab.

Wild turkeys can fly, and we often see them feeding on the ground, but sometimes they even find themselves out to sea:

DN-ST-88-01758

Arabian Sea. A mess management specialist slices a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner aboard the amphibious assault ship USS OKINAWA (LPH 3), 11/26/1987. NARA ID 6432428

 

Sometimes we have a hard time squeezing in watching football and eating dinner, but this airman has holiday multitasking down to a science:

DN-SN-88-03255

An air controlman airman eats his Thanksgiving dinner while keeping an eye on the radar scope in the helicopter direction center aboard the amphibious assault ship USS OKINAWA (LPH 3), 11/26/1987. NARA ID 6430796

 

But no matter where you are, Thanksgiving is a time to spend time with those you love, and enjoy a good meal:

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Thanksgiving cheer distributed for men in service. New York City turned host to the boys in service today and cared for every man in uniform. Underwood and Underwood., ca. 1918. NARA ID 533729

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?  Let us know in the comments!

 

Posted in NARA Staff Favorites, Photographs, Social Media (Web 2.0), Veterans / Military | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Weird Records from the Depths of the Archives

Halloween is right around the corner, and at the National Archives we are well versed in the creepiest, weirdest records of the Federal government. Here’s our list of favorites that are sure to make you shudder with fear!

 

What’s more dangerous- a poison bottle equipped with spikes or the poison itself?:

Patent Drawing for T. Newman's Poison Warning Bottle, 06/02/1908

Patent Drawing for T. Newman’s Poison Warning Bottle, 06/02/1908, NARA ID 7369165

 

 

In doubtful cases of actual death:

Drawing for a Life - Preserving Coffin, 11/15/1843 - 11/15/1843

Drawing for a Life – Preserving Coffin, 11/15/1843 – 11/15/1843, NARA ID 595517

 

But if you are buried alive, you’ll want someone to find you, right?:

Patent Drawing for J. G. Krichbaum's Device for Indicating Life in Buried Persons, 12/05/1882

Patent Drawing for J. G. Krichbaum’s Device for Indicating Life in Buried Persons, 12/05/1882, NARA ID 6277693

 

 

A fire mask that looks like it will do more harm than help:

Patent Drawing for C. McIntosh's Fire Mask, 05/01/1883

Patent Drawing for C. McIntosh’s Fire Mask, 05/01/1883, NARA ID 6277700

 

 

A rascal officer in front of a creepy house:

Photograph of John F. Kennedy as a "Keystone Kop", ca. 1925

Photograph of John F. Kennedy as a “Keystone Kop”, ca. 1925, NARA ID 595979

 

 

Some spooky visitors in the Oval Office:

Halloween Visitors to the Oval Office. Caroline Kennedy, President Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Jr. White House, Oval Office., 10/31/1963  http://research.archives.gov/description/194260

Halloween Visitors to the Oval Office. Caroline Kennedy, President Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Jr. White House, Oval Office., 10/31/1963, NARA ID194260

 

 

Food safety is a big concern on Halloween.  Let’s hope this doesn’t show up in a trick or treat bag:

Early ketchup was made from fermented skins and cores. These fermenting tomato leftovers could explode and burst their containers, so benzoate of soda was added a preservative. However, the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, signed by President Theodore Roosevelt, meant that ketchup—and its rotting, explosive tomato ingredients—was now regulated. In the image above 1909, the company making “Squire Tomato Catsup” was prosecuted and fined $50 for making ketchup from “Decomposed Material.”

Early ketchup was made from fermented skins and cores. These fermenting tomato leftovers could explode and burst their containers, so benzoate of soda was added a preservative.
However, the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, signed by President Theodore Roosevelt, meant that ketchup—and its rotting, explosive tomato ingredients—was now regulated. In the image above 1909, the company making “Squire Tomato Catsup” was prosecuted and fined $50 for making ketchup from “Decomposed Material.”  See the Prologue Blog for the full story.

 

 

This kind of mystery meat is more trick than treat:

Postcards Regarding the Chicago Meatpacking Industry, 10/09/1907

Postcards Regarding the Chicago Meatpacking Industry, 10/09/1907, NARA ID 2657925

 

 

This creeping doll is just creepy:

Drawing of Creeping Baby Doll, 03/14/1871 - 03/14/1871

Drawing of Creeping Baby Doll, 03/14/1871 – 03/14/1871, NARA ID 595011

 

 

But not as creepy as this wall of “heads”:

Holyoke, Massachusetts - Paragon Rubber Co. and American Character Doll. Spraying face, hands, and arms (Jewish) A plus., 1936 - 1937

Holyoke, Massachusetts – Paragon Rubber Co. and American Character Doll. Spraying face, hands, and arms (Jewish) A plus., 1936 – 1937, NARA ID 518351

 

 

A very scary rodent trap:

Drawing of an Animal Trap by J. A. Williams, 12/26/1882

Drawing of an Animal Trap by J. A. Williams, 12/26/1882, NARA ID 6037260

 

 

Animals in the Archives make us squeamish, especially when they are a part of the record:

Letter from Charity Snider, with accompanying mole skin, from her Civil War Widow's Pension Application File. The paper bears the discoloration from the unusual enclosure. (WC843258, Record Group 15)

Letter from Charity Snider, with accompanying mole skin, from her Civil War Widow’s Pension Application File. The paper bears the discoloration from the unusual enclosure. See Prologue blog for the full story.

 

Many thanks to Today’s Document and the Prologue blog for their spooky contributions.  What is the creepiest, most skin crawling record you’ve found at the National Archives?  Let us know, and have a very spooky Halloween!

Posted in Miscellaneous, Questions, Research, Social Media (Web 2.0) | Tagged | 10 Comments

The National Archives is now on Instagram

This post was written by Addie Nguyen, a student intern in the Office of Innovation.


Who could ever pass up on using the mega-addictive Instagram? It makes a photographer out of anyone – just snap an ordinary, hum-drum pic of, say, a building as you’re walking down a street, then apply an ultra-hip, vintage-looking filter on it and voilà! Instant art! And because this is a social networking site after all, you can share your masterpiece with all your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr. Yes, The National Archives is pleased to say that—finally—we have joined the fun and are now a part of Instagram!

The National Archives has, since 1934, faithfully preserved, conserved, and captured American moments through photographs, videos, drawings, and documents in black-and-white, grayscale, color, sepia, cyanotype, monochrome, and many other formats.. Instagram allows us to continue capturing those precious American moments and put on our own artistic filter flair. How could we resist? #excited

Connect with us and take a peek of what the Archives is up to now, whether it be behind-the-scenes looks into our workplace, shots from upcoming and current exhibits, or special events in DC and around the country. And don’t shy away from sharing your photos and videos as well as you tour through our archival holdings! Find a cool document? Share it with us!

So ready your cameraphones, click away, and remember this: a picture is worth a thousand hashtags.

Penn Ave. entrance of US National Archives reopened on beautiful morning after the shutdown. #washingtonDC

A photo posted by US National Archives (@usnatarchives) on


 

Posted in Miscellaneous, Photographs, Social Media (Web 2.0) | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Federal Government Reopens

Congress has restored funding of appropriated activities and the National Archives has begun to resume normal operations.

The National Archives Building in Washington, DC and the National Archives at College Park, MD will be closed to the public today, October 17 to give staff time to ensure the proper protection of holdings.

Facilities around the country, including Presidential Libraries, will open to the public as they complete re-start procedures and are ready to accept visitors from the public.

Please check http://www.archives.gov/ for updates, and we will keep you posted as the situation changes.

Posted in DC-area Researchers, Research | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Federal Government Shutdown

Due to the Federal Government shutdown, the National Archives (www.archives.gov) is closed.  We are unable to post or participate in any of our social media channels during this closure. All National Archives facilities are closed, with the exception of the Federal Records Centers and the Federal Register until the Federal government reopens.

Posted in Miscellaneous | Leave a comment

Personnel Records to Move to National Archives at St. Louis

This post comes from James Rush, the Administrative Staff Director for Archival Operations in Washington, DC.


Staff at the National Archives at College Park are moving approximately 398 cubic feet of personnel related records to the National Archives at St. Louis.  The series being transferred complement the mission, function, and holdings of the National Archives at St. Louis.  It documents personal data and pertains to individuals, rather than organizations; and, logically belongs with the records that constitute the core holdings of the National Archives at St. Louis.  This relocation to St. Louis will facilitate more efficient archival research and public access to these records.

The records transferred to St. Louis are:

Series Title: Service Records of Shipping Personnel RG 178, NC-5 118 (NARA ID 7368316)

Closure Date at the National Archives at College Park:  September 24, 2013

Estimated Date Available for Researchers at St. Louis: October 7, 2013

Please keep in mind that the date listed above for opening the materials is an estimate.  If there is a significant change to this schedule we will post it in the consultation areas at the National Archives at College Park. You can also check the status of the records at St. Louis at the following website: http://www.archives.gov/st-louis

To request records at the National Archives at St. Louis, please contact that office in one of the following ways:

email: stl.archives@nara.gov or send a letter to:

National Archives at St. Louis
Attention: RL-SL
P.O. Box 38757
St. Louis, MO 63138-1002

Posted in DC-area Researchers, Miscellaneous, Research | 9 Comments

Today's 3:30pm Record Pull is CANCELLED

The following post come from Bill Mayer, the Executive for Research Services at the National Archives.


Attention All Researchers:

The 3:30 pull for today has been cancelled.  An issue relating to federal payroll activities at 22 federal agencies nationwide has causes significant staffing issues.  In order to address these issues, we have had to take this step so other areas of public service are not affected adversely.

While we are making every effort to contain these problems, there is some possibility the afternoon pull scheduled for Monday, September 16, 2013 may be affected.  We will advise you of the situation as we receive information.

On behalf of all Research Services staff, I wanted to thank you for your continued patience.  Please feel free to contact me directly at Bill.Mayer@nara.gov.

 

Posted in DC-area Researchers, Miscellaneous | Leave a comment

A Love Letter Like No Other

Today’s post comes from Alyssa Young and Yvonne Ruiz, student interns at the National Archives at Fort Worth, who came across an unexpected and eye-opening find amid the Galveston District U.S. Commissioner’s case files.


While perusing digitized records, Fort Worth Archives Director Meg Hacker found an interesting document in the midst of a seemingly unrelated collection.  Two graduate students, Alyssa Young and Yvonne Ruiz, were thus tasked with making sense of the series.  Masqueraded behind an apparently benign task was a fascinating journey through life in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries; sorting through the Galveston District U.S. Commissioner’s case files proved an intoxicating venture.

The actual content of the series differs greatly from its description, which defined the series as documents about foreign deserters in Galveston port.  Instead, the series comprises a wide array of issues from the Commissioner’s office, including indecent letters, production of counterfeit currency, and possession of government property.

The initial take-away seemed clear enough—accurately describing documents is crucial, and we would correct any mistakes.  But we also grew in our appreciation for the archival of human history, even seemingly unimportant documents.

Within minutes of opening the first box we were introduced to the series of emotions that would carry us through the project—intrigue, delight, shock and, occasionally, horror.  The unassuming boxes contained a treasure trove of court cases reaching the basics of our shared humanity.

Of most interest to us were the items not as important to court records.  Physical lewd and indecent letters (envelope and all) held our attention for much longer than their court case filings.  Although the latter maintains legal relevancy, accompanying artifacts uniquely reveal human behavior.

Charge

RG 21, U.S. Commissioners Case Files, Southern District, Galveston, 1887-1925

 

 

One favorite is the 1894 letter of a Sam McGee, a declaration of love to his “Lillie Dear.”  He confesses, “I want to be your paramour, and I want to take you to the opera some night when you feel like going.”

Letter 1

 RG 21, U.S. Commissioners Case Files, Southern District, Galveston, 1887-1925

Within the file is a second letter written to Lillie’s mother after she files charges against him.  Notice the handwriting difference.  The obvious care he took when writing to Lillie makes him all the more endearing.

Letter 2

RG 21, U.S. Commissioners Case Files, Southern District, Galveston, 1887-1925

 

What happened to our star-crossed lovers?  A mother’s disapproval didn’t stop Sam and Lillie, who were 19 and 16 years old, respectively, at the time the letter was written.  Census records reveal they were married a few years later!

Sam McGee’s sweet letter might lead to scoffs at the 19th Century definition of “lewd and indecent.”  Trust us—letter-writers of the time were as indecent as email-writers of today (and in the very same way).

Interacting with artifacts of a time past strengthens a primal connection between two worlds, regardless of the historical significance they’re assigned.  Though separated by the most impossible forces—geography, creed, and even time—human existence is ever-connected.  Our history teachers really were onto something.

Posted in Genealogy / Family History, NARA Coast to Coast, NARA Staff Favorites | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments