Help Contribute by Scanning U.S. Coast Guard Records from the Vietnam War in the Innovation Hub!

Today’s post comes from Jessica Soden, National Archives Technician & former Innovation Hub Coordinator Detailee

During my time as the Innovation Hub Coordinator detailee, the National Archives added deck logs from United States Coast Guard cutter vessels (USCGC) involved in the Vietnam War (RG 26, Entry 330; NAID 559642) to the list of records that are available for scanning in the Innovation Hub. Anyone who is interested in the role that the Coast Guard cutter vessels played during the Vietnam War are welcome to come join us in the Innovation Hub at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC! You can scan records of USCGC vessels that served during the Vietnam War and help make the records accessible in the National Archives Catalog.

A port bow view of the Point class patrol boat USCG GLASS (WPB 82336). RG 330: Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, 1921–2008
Series: Combined Military Service Digital Photographic Files, 1982–2007
National Archives Identifier: 6392122

The USCGC records available for scanning in the Innovation Hub coincide with the “Remembering Vietnam” exhibit that is now open until January 6, 2019, in the National Archives Museum. The new exhibit primarily focuses on the impact that the Vietnam War had on society and presents both iconic and recently discovered National Archives records related to 12 critical episodes in the war.

If you have been inspired by the “Remembering Vietnam” exhibit to do more, we would encourage you to join us in digitizing the USCGC records in the Innovation Hub. Digitizing the USCGC records can be useful for individuals who served in the Vietnam War, including helping with Veterans Administration claims and providing more information for the family members of those who served and were killed in action during the war.

The memories and the personal effects caused from the Vietnam War will never fade, even though certain aspects, like the significance of the U.S Coast Guard during the Vietnam War, are rarely mentioned and are commonly unknown to the general public. I knew little about the role the U.S. Coast Guard played in the Vietnam War, so I met with NARA’s Navy/Maritime reference archivist, Mark Mollan. Mark provided me with some helpful background information and resources, and I conducted some research of my own and learned about the significant role the Coast Guard played in Operation Market Time during the Vietnam War. USCGC vessels patrolled Vietnamese waters, performed coastal sanction operations with the U.S. Navy, secured ports, performed explosive loading detachments with the U.S. Army, and provided helicopter pilots to serve in combat rescue missions alongside the U.S. Air Force. The Coast Guard also provided support for merchant vessel operations and helped manage navigation support for U.S. shipping. The Coast Guard was responsible for creating and maintaining several of the electronic navigation stations found throughout Vietnam and Thailand which provided critical positioning data for U.S. air operations.

Eugene “Gene” Bialek is one of the NARA volunteers who has scanned the USCGC records in the Innovation Hub since the records became available for scanning in September 2017. Gene is an oceanographer who has been volunteering here at NARA for over 22 years. He has worked on various different projects with Mark Mallon in the past and has published several different works, including the Handbook of Oceanographic Tables. Gene has been hard at work scanning the deck logs for the USCGC Point Glover. Although Gene has no personal ties with any of the vessels that served during the Vietnam War, he worked for the Navy and is interested in boats, sailing, submarines, lighthouse, and anything related to the water or oceanography. Gene says that he really enjoys scanning the USCGC records in the Innovation Hub because it gives him an opportunity to handle and read original records.

When I sat down and spoke with Gene about his experience scanning in the Innovation Hub, he told me about an interesting incident he came across while scanning, which is documented on page 4 of the USCGC Point Glover, 06/01/1967 – 06/30/1967. On June 2, 1967, the USCGC Point Glover responded to an aircraft that went down by a beach at position US 8621 and the two men onboard the aircraft were seriously injured. The USCGC Point Glover attempted to rescue the two men but the swell was too high so they had to send in a smaller boat. The smaller boat encountered difficulties, and one of the injured men was pronounced dead by a medic who arrived on scene.

USCG Point Glover, 06/01/1967 – 06/30/1967
Record Group 26: Records of the U.S. Coast Guard, 1785 – 2005
Series: Logbooks of Ships and Shore Installations, 1948 – 1972
National Archives Identifier: 75607001

If you are interested in helping us scan USCGC records from the Vietnam War, please stop by and see us in the Innovation Hub at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. In the Innovation Hub, we help researchers scan civil war pension files, bounty land warrant applications, carded medical records, and USCGC records. There is no cost to you for scanning, and we upload all of the files to the National Archives Catalog. You are also able to take a copy of the records with you if you bring a CD, flash drive, or have another way to save the files. The Innovation Hub is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you any questions, please feel free to email us at

Are you interested in helping out but can’t make it to Washington, DC? Not a problem! Help us tag and transcribe the USCGC records already scanned and online in the catalog. To learn more about tagging and transcribing, please visit the Citizen Archivist Dashboard.

Posted in Citizen Archivists, exhibits, Innovation Hub, transcription, Uncategorized | Tagged | 3 Comments

Moon Collectors, LLC Partnership Agreement for Public Comment

Over the past decade, NARA has engaged in digitization partnerships to expand the online collections we can make available to the public. We are excited to announce that the partnership agreement with Moon Collectors, LLC is ready for public comment. The agreement pertains to the digitization of motion picture films in NARA’s holdings.

Moon Collectors, LLC is a production team based in New York City, focused on gathering digital moving image content and the creation of documentary products for theatrical release, broadcast, and other distribution.

The partnership agreement is available for public review and comment on our Digitization Partnerships page. To submit feedback, please email, or leave a comment below. The agreement will be available for comment until February 9, 2018.

Please consult NARA’s Principles for Partnerships for more information about our digitization partnerships.

Posted in Digitization, partnerships, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Why do we engage Citizen Archivists?

Today’s post comes from Pamela Wright, National Archives Chief Innovation Officer.

Earlier this week we posted an invitation to help transcribe records in our holdings and it has sparked some thoughtful conversations about the role of crowdsourcing at the National Archives. For this specific crowdsourcing campaign we featured several “missions” that we wanted citizen archivists to help us with over the course of the week, inspired by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. One of these missions encouraged the public to help make slave ship manifests more accessible by transcribing printed and handwritten words to make them machine readable (and therefore searchable). This mission connects people intimately with documents related to slavery, including this country’s difficult histories surrounding labor, exploitation, and who gets to determine value. We wanted to take this opportunity to thank those who commented on this initiative for your feedback about the program and the way that we promote it. We strive to be inclusive and to nurture our community—your input helps us do that better.

This specific campaign is not a one-time project,  but part of a larger, long-term strategic goal to engage people with American history through public contributions to the National Archives Catalog. We’d like to provide some context around why we put our efforts and resources into nurturing a community of volunteers to participate in extending our mission by transcribing, tagging, and commenting on records.

As the nation’s record keeper, the National Archives is responsible for making the records of the U.S. Government available to the public. We have more than 13 billion pages of records in our holdings and are adding hundreds of millions of pages to that total every year. Processing, scanning, and inputting these records into our online Catalog is a vast and endless task for our relatively small staff (about 500 National Archives staff are responsible for describing and adding millions of digitized pages to the Catalog each year).

Our Citizen Archivist volunteer program enhances the amazing work our staff do every day across the country. In April 2010, the Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero, introduced the concept of the Citizen Archivist as a way to connect people with our mission. Our Open Government Plan further outlines initiatives that increase public engagement with the work of the National Archives. These  approaches leverage the collaborative power of the Internet to make more records accessible to the American people as well as increase the visibility and value of archives. Archivists on staff process and provide access to records that Citizen Archivists can further enhance through tagging, transcribing, and commenting.

The National Archives values the work of Citizen Archivists who dedicate their time to engaging with our holdings and help others to find and understand records. Volunteers work together to help transcribe difficult-to-read handwriting, making these records more accessible to everyone. Citizen Archivist activities also help people develop or deepen personal connections to primary sources. People with firsthand knowledge of records help contribute to and preserve cultural heritage. Citizen Archivists have also found value in engaging online with the records in a way that would not ordinarily be possible. They may not be able to visit a research room to handle the documents, or to pursue a career as an archivist, but they are empowered to participate in and contribute to the mission of the National Archives.

We believe that Citizen Archivist activities result in more inclusive and expansive service to the public. The records in the National Archives tell the nation’s stories, document the actions of government officials and hold them accountable, and confirm the rights guaranteed to individuals. National Archives staff protect the records and make them accessible; what the public will do with them is limitless.

Manuscript entitled “13 Months in the U.S. Sanitary Commission,” by Jas. V. Hammer, Field Relief Agent, Baltimore, MD. National Archives identifier 24325411

Posted in Catalog, Citizen Archivists, crowdsourcing, Social Media (Web 2.0), transcription | 6 Comments

Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Partnership Agreement Available for Public Comment

The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) was founded in 1890 and is a non-profit, non-political volunteer women’s service organization dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving American history, and securing America’s future through better education for children. To learn more, please visit their website:

The agreement is available for review and public comment on our Digitization Partnerships page. To submit feedback, please email or leave a comment below.

The agreement will be available for comment until February 2nd, 2018 and supersedes the draft agreement previously posted on July 24, 2017.

Please consult NARA’s Principles for Partnerships for more information about our digitization partnerships.

Posted in Digitization, partnerships, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Cultural Institutions Invited to Participate in History Hub

This post was originally published on the History Hub blog.

Last month, we were thrilled to host a few dozen colleagues from the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and other cultural institutions to discuss their potential participation in History Hub. Below we’ve provided a recap of the event, which includes information relevant to museums, archives, and other cultural institutions interested in supporting research and connections with their collections and expertise. Please reach out to if you’d like more information, a demo, or to discuss your organization’s potential participation. The platform is free and open to all!

Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero, welcomes attendees. [Photo by Miran Grujic]

A Warm Welcome to Interested Cultural Organizations

David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, shared his hope that the technology behind History Hub will foster a new model for collaboration to benefit the American public:

“Together, we are a powerful voice for American history. With new technology and collaborative efforts, we are simply more than the sum of our parts.”  

He encouraged institutions interested in using the platform to share their views, questions, and suggestions early and often so that we can work together to make History Hub a success.

Ann Cummings, Executive for Research Services at the National Archives, shared her vision for History Hub as a place to solve the challenges faced by cultural institutions in the 21st century, with the potential to help us all to meet the evolving needs of today’s researchers.

What is History Hub?

Kelly Osborn, who leads the History Hub platform at the National Archives, summarized the background behind the development of History Hub. It started with research into how organizations can best communicate with and serve their audiences. She looked at trends in consumer expectations around immediate feedback, self-service capabilities, personalization, and a desire for human interaction. We were inspired by the success technology companies have had with online support communities that invite connections between staff, customers, and enthusiasts who bring their own expertise to the forum. Informed by these insights and models, the National Archives launched History Hub, a community of practice and crowdsourcing platform for people interested in researching history, both broadly and personally. It’s a place where people can get answers from multiple institutions as well as a community of citizen experts and historians. It’s a knowledge base that scales and improves in quality over time. And it’s a way for us to make information more “organization agnostic,” where the researcher does not have to know who has the answer before asking a question.

By creating a vibrant community on History Hub, we aim to:

  • Facilitate research and connect with new audiences
  • Enable contributions from the public and from subject matter experts of all stripes
  • Create a knowledge base that continually improves
  • Improve customer service for an audience accustomed to immediacy
  • Decrease our workload over time by increasing transparency

Who is using History Hub?

Dana Allen-Greil, Chief of Web and Social Media, presents on web visitation patterns. [Photo by Pamela Wright]

Dana Allen-Greil, Chief of Web and Social Media at the National Archives, shared data on History Hub’s current user base and web visitation patterns. History Hub has seen a steady increase in traffic and activity since launch, enabling continued growth of the knowledge base that powers the platform. With additional organizations coming on board to participate, and with search engines driving new visits as questions are answered (and then indexed by search engines), History Hub has the potential to reach and serve millions. She also described plans for user research and testing in the coming months as we continue to improve the platform and reach new audiences.

Lessons Learned to Date at the National Archives

Becky Collier, Research Services’ History Hub Coordinator at the National Archives, shared the experiences of the Research Services Focus Group using History Hub to respond to researcher inquiries. She stressed the need for establishing internal policies and processes, as well as social media training for staff. Looking towards the future, she noted that the reference staffs were excited by the potential of the platform, as well as the opportunity to collaborate more closely with other institutions.

What We’ve Heard from Organizations Interested in Participating

Darren Cole, History Hub community manager, shared common questions and concerns that have been expressed by organizations during discussions about their potential participation, as well as how we plan to address them. Questions about moderation and notification systems for participants are the most common. Attendees had the opportunity to dig into these further during the brainstorming session in the second half of the meeting.

The Library of Congress and Smithsonian Institution:

Representatives of other institutions also briefly shared their plans and perspectives on participating in History Hub:

Jeffrey Flannery, Head, Reference & Reader Services, Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress, conveyed the Librarian of Congress’ support for History Hub and the Library’s initial outline for participation. New Library of Congress experts will be joining History Hub in the new year!

Michelle Delaney, Senior Program Officer for History and Culture, Office of the Provost / Under Secretary for Museums and Research at the Smithsonian Institution, sent a note of support (she was unable to attend), stressing how History Hub represented a new and much needed collaborative approach to digital access and outreach, and further noted how it aligns closely with the Smithsonian’s strategic plan to broaden digital access and education outreach.

Brainstorming: How Can History Hub Address Your Audience Needs?

Participants were encouraged to brainstorm in small groups, sharing their ideas about how History Hub could address user needs, as well voicing their questions and concerns about implementing participation within their organizations.

Group discussions focused on four key questions:

  1. What are some common frustrations your audiences express in trying to conduct research or find information? What types of resources are your users seeking most often?
  2. How might a community forum experience help your audiences?
  3. What is the biggest benefit of collaborating with other cultural institutions on this platform?
  4. What would success look like for your institution? What concerns do you have about being successful?

Participant small group brainstorming in the Innovation Hub. [Photo by Miran Grujic]

A few common themes emerged during the discussion:

Researcher Frustrations: Knowing where to start, even down to which institution to begin at, was cited as a frequent frustration for researchers. Not knowing how or where to ask their questions is a formidable challenge and researchers find the institutional structures daunting.

Researcher Needs – Getting Started, Tailored Guidance: Researchers are looking for better guidance, in essence “connecting the dots” to getting started in hands-on research. Requests for personalized help, such as information on specific items and artifacts is common. More digitized primary source documents and online finding aids are also popular requests.

Benefits to Users: Community building was recognized as a clear advantage of the platform. The ability for researchers and other users to come together through History Hub to share ideas, resources, and answers came up several times.  

Benefits to Institutions: The ability to link related collections and topics across institutions was seen as a clear benefit of the platform. Participants also saw the potential to break down barriers not only between institutions, but within organizations as well.

Institutional Success: Participants looked forward to an improved ability to disseminate information, and getting away from email and other similar 1-to-1 interactions. They were especially hopeful of being better equipped to more fully answer the “hard” research questions.  

Institutional Concerns: Adapting the new platform to existing internal cultures and processes was a common concern among participants. The potential of the platform to “open the floodgates” of questions was mentioned frequently, especially when staff are already juggling other priorities and workloads. Addressing the varying needs of different audiences was seen as challenge, and participants were also concerned about how to measure performance, success, and other reporting requirements.

We’d like to thank all our colleagues for taking the time to come out and share their viewpoints and work with us on making History Hub a platform for everyone. We look forward to collaborating with you!

What’s Next?

Posted in Community of Practice, Events, GLAMs, History Hub, Innovation Hub, Online Research, Research, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Join us for an Hispanic Heritage Month Edit-a-thon on October 11, 2017

Hispanic Heritage Month Wikipedia Edit-a-thon announcement with Wikipedia logo

Come out to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month with a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon on Wednesday, October 11, 2017 from 10 AM – 1 PM in the Innovation Hub at the National Archives in Washington, DC. Register for this free event on Eventbrite.

This event is hosted by Wikimedia DC, the National Archives’ Hispanic and Latino Organization employee affinity group (HALO), and the Office of Innovation.

This event will focus on Wikipedia articles related to Hispanic and Latino heritage and will highlight related resources from the National Archives. No prior experience editing Wikipedia is necessary. We will have an Introduction to Editing Wikipedia session and a discussion of Hispanic and Latino records and resources with a member of HALO. You can check out the suggested list of articles and sources on the Wikipedia meet up page for the event.

Event: Wikipedia Hispanic Heritage Month Edit-a-thon

When: Wednesday, October 11, 2017, 10 AM – 1 PM

Register: Sign up on Eventbrite or email if you have questions

Who: No previous experience or advanced technical skills required!

What to bring: Photo ID; Laptop or tablet

Where: Innovation Hub, National Archives Building, 700 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, DC.  Please use the Research Entrance to access the Innovation Hub.




Posted in DC-area Researchers, Events, Innovation Hub, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

How Museums and Institutions Can Use Remembering WWI, featuring the Columbus Museum

Today’s post comes from Kerri Young of Historypin, app developer on the US National Archives’ recently completed Remembering WWI tablet app.  You can learn more about the app’s initial launch on the blog of the American Association of State and Local History

Columbia Museum using WWI app with artifacts

The US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) recently launched Remembering WWI, a tablet app that enables the reuse of newly digitized and expertly preserved WWI-era films and photographs. Using these and other partner content as a basis for enrichment and narrative-building, you can create collections in a way that complements your existing WWI programming. Here are a few ideas for how you might use the app in your institution:

  • Add a selection of your own local WWI collections into the app for your community to explore (done through mapping platform Historypin)
  • Use NARA curated collections in exhibits and museum tours
  • Use the app in educational programming
  • Create collections using NARA and partner content on WWI-era themes you’d like visitors to explore
  • Download photos for reuse in museum programming

In practice: The Columbus Museum, Georgia

Since launching the app, we’ve started to hear from different institutions on ways that they might incorporate it into their WWI programming. The Columbus Museum, an American art and history-focused institution based in Georgia’s Chattahoochee Valley, has already hit the ground running. Their Assistant Collections Manager, Lauren, gave us some great examples for how the app can feed into both their educational programming and gallery tours:

On using both Historypin and the Remembering WWI app:

“Both platforms allow us to share collections that can’t always be on display. This helps protect our more delicate items, provide context for installed exhibits, and it allows people to see a snapshot of an exhibit if they can’t physically visit the museum. For example, our WWI in the Chattahoochee Valley exhibit ends on August 27. But users will be able to access many of the objects and exhibit labels long after de-installation. Additionally, our Education Department can continue to use this information to supplement tours in our permanent history gallery.”

Columbus Museum’s collection, “WWI and the Chattahoochee Valley" on app and Historypin

The Columbus Museum’s collection, “WWI and the Chattahoochee Valley,” on both Historypin and the app.

On their collaboration with local teachers:

“The Columbus Museum is part of the Muscogee County School District and, as such, has a strong connection with regional teachers. Our Education Department holds regular professional development events for teachers. These events introduce educators to resources at our museum that meet grade specific education standards. Remembering WWI will definitely be one of those resources. Teachers can use all of the collections on the app to illustrate the events of the war while also using our collection to literally bring the war home. We may create some of our own collections on the app using resources from all of the curators to share with interested teachers.”

She also shared some fantastic photos with us of the app in use at the museum:

Columbia Museum using WWI app on visitor tour

“The first shows our Director of Education giving a tour with the app. We have two paintings by Frederick Judd Waugh, a camouflage artist for the US Navy, who specialized in “dazzle camouflage.” We’re able to use the app to show images from the US National Archives’ collection “Women’s Reserve Camouflage Corps of WWI” to show visitors what dazzle camouflage was and discuss how American artists participated in the war effort.”

Columbia Museum using WWI app with artifacts“The second image shows a mess kit that we have on display next to [app partner] The National WWI Museum and Memorial’s “Food in the Trenches” collection.






Columbia Museum using app to add context to artifactsThe third, and last, image shows a photo from the US National Archives’ “Children’s Activities in WWI” next to a certificate for a Red Cross Auxiliary School in Muscogee County illustrating how citizens of all ages participated in the war effort.

Fun stuff: Mapping your WWI content on Historypin

As the Columbus Museum’s examples indicate, institutions can participate in this project by adding their own WWI-era collections to the tablet app. If you contribute through the dedicated Remembering WWI collection on Historypin, your items will automatically appear in the app.

Historypin allows you to map out each of your items so your audiences can engage with your content geographically (rough locations are okay, e.g. “France”). And if you do happen to know the exact location of where a photo was taken, Historypin has tools to help you overlay it onto Google Street View! We love this example from the Connecticut State Library, a participant in this project who is also spearheading their own state-wide WWI initiative:

Animated gif of historic image superimposed on modern street map photo

A submarine float travels down Maint St. in Hartford, Connecticut during WWI. Pinned by the Connecticut State Library to Historypin.

Thus, by contributing your own collections, you can leverage these two free platforms to further engage your audiences with your WWI content, while also helping the Archives build a national collection of WWI primary sources.

Here are a few great examples of institutional collections in Remembering WWI:

For a step by step walkthrough for how to contribute, see this post.

We’d love to hear ideas for how you’d like to use Remembering WWI where you are, or share how you’re already using the app, so please shoot an email to Kerri at or use the hashtag #RememberingWWIapp on Twitter.  

An overview of the app’s features.You can read more about how to use the app here.


Posted in Digitization, partnerships, Photographs, Uncategorized, Veterans / Military | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Tips for Social Media Success

Social Media at the National Archives started almost 10 years ago with the Records Express blog in 2009, and our first strategy in 2010. Since that time we’ve grown rapidly, and the landscape of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram (and many others!) has evolved as well. When we rebooted our Social Media Strategy earlier this year, one of our goals included cultivating a social media community of practice, and sharing our best practices with other cultural institutions. These Tips for Social Media Success are for that community!

Women sitting at typewriters around a table in black and white photo

NYA:Illinois:Vocational Guidance:brush-up classes to improve typing ability: group picture of woman at typewriters, 1937. NAID: 197156

Every year, more than 200 National Archives staff actively contribute to 130 social media accounts on 14 different platforms, reaching hundreds of millions of people (a major feat!) Creating that much consistently engaging content can be a challenge, so it helps to focus on some concrete goals. For NARA, the FY2017-2020 social media strategy defines those goals as telling great stories, deepening engagement, growing our audience, and cultivating an internal social media community of practice.

Tips for Telling Great Stories

  • Have a goal and vision for the kind of conversation you’re hoping to start.
  • Make sure to include a link to NARA or another trusted .gov, .edu, or .org site so that your readers can easily learn more.
  • Include an image to illustrate your message. Pictures are powerful, so make sure the overall mood of the image matches the rest of the post.
  • Talk about the history of the record and back it up with a supporting resource.
  • As a government agency, it’s important to be politically neutral; be friendly, encouraging, and diplomatic. Remember that you’re speaking as an official voice of the National Archives.
  • It’s great to be lighthearted, just make sure it’s appropriate for the context of the records you’re sharing (Presidential vacations? Yes! Memorials to serious events? Nope.)
  • Use proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Whenever possible avoid using government-specific jargon or acronyms. While it’s second nature for us to refer to the agency as NARA, it doesn’t mean much to the casual reader.

Tips to Deepen Engagement

  • Tweet about topics you know and love; your passion and expertise will show!
  • Add a personal touch to a post, and talk about interesting discoveries you’ve made; readers often appreciate a human perspective.
  • Social media is a two-way street that gives the agency a human element. Respond when appropriate, but you don’t need to feed the trolls.
  • Not all posts require a response; if you see an opinion, rant, bait, etc, you do not have to reply.
  • Civil discussion, debate, and disagreement are welcome in the comments, and often when there’s a disagreeable commenter, the community corrects them and the conversation gets back on course.
  • NARA’s comment policy is here to help you! If you think a comment clearly violates the policy, or if you believe someone is trolling your social media account, contact the Social Media Team before deleting or blocking anything. When dealing with less-than-positive comments, keep the following in mind:
    • Don’t feed the trolls! In other words, try not to engage. Unless the individual is using language that clearly violates the policy or you’re getting frequent complaints from other users, it’s often best to just ignore.
    • Not all negative commenters are trolls. Many people turn to social media in the hopes of having a problem resolved. If you can help, or know of someone who can, these situations can often become great customer service opportunities.
  • Most platforms allow edits for posts, which is great for a typo or misspelling. If you see a mistake (or are called out by a user!) a quick edit and casual acknowledgment can usually remedy the situation. If you don’t have an option to edit (like on Twitter), just correct yourself in a follow up reply to the post. While it may be tempting, don’t delete your posts! It might seem like a good idea in the moment, but can lead to more complications down the road if users think we aren’t being transparent.
  • Since social media interactions are not face to face, it’s best to avoid sarcasm in our posts (we wouldn’t want someone to interpret it in the wrong way!).
  • Try to resist the temptation to set the record straight when facts are misrepresented. In most cases, the community will self-correct if you give it time.

Tips to Grow Our Audience

  • Focus on quality content: strive to create posts that are relevant, timely, and have a clear call to action.
  • Set goals; determine what it is you want to achieve and where your audience is located online.
  • Listen. Pay attention to the questions and ideas that your followers are sharing. If you see trends, try to tailor some of your content to align with those general interests.
  • Some trends are also controversial topics, so consult with your colleagues to determine if they could lead to hot water.
  • While going viral can be awesome, we don’t want it to come at the expense of undermining the public’s trust in us as neutral stewards. Audience growth should always support NARA’s mission and social media goals.
  • Use relevant industry #hashtags on topics, conferences, and issues to reach your target audience, but first check out how they’re being used elsewhere online.
  • Recognized cultural or research institutions, relevant university departments, and other government agencies are fine to follow / retweet / cross-post / etc. Non-profit, non-partisan organizations with missions similar to the National Archives are a safe bet when it comes to interactions on social media.
  • While we can’t endorse non-government products or events, it’s fine to share updates about programs or events related to the Archives. For instance, if your location is hosting a book talk, feel free to invite your followers and let them know that the author will be signing copies afterwards. If you’re ever uncertain about where the line is, just email the Social Media Team.

Join Our Community of Practice

  • Use the Social Media and Digital Public Engagement ICN page to share ideas, ask questions, and connect with other social media account owners
  • Join the agency wide bi-weekly social media meetings to share ideas and learn new skills. Meetings are co-hosted by Office of Innovation’s Social Media Team, Communications, and the Office of Presidential Libraries and open to any staff interested in social media at NARA. Check the ICN group for current dates, times, and call-in numbers or to review notes from past meetings.
  • Get to know your environment. Following accounts run by other NARA offices and cultural institutions is a great way to become familiar with tone.
  • Have a second set of eyes. If a post feels like it touches a hot topic, have a second person review it—text, hashtag, and image together—before posting.
  • NARA’s Social Media Team (located at Archives II in the Office of Innovation), can help you:
    • Set up new social media accounts (fill out a project proposal form and email it to
    • Work with general counsel to negotiate and amend a Terms of Service Agreement with a new platform you want to join (browse NARA’s signed TOS list)
    • Determine comment policy violations
    • Troubleshoot technical problems
    • Brainstorm ideas for campaigns, a use case for a tool, or general social media ideas
    • Support Twitter chats, Instameets, and other campaigns (big or small!)
    • Contact platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.
    • Connect with other staff for collaboration on a project
  • NARA’s Communications Team (located at Archives I in the Office of Public and Media Communications) manages the main @USNatArchives accounts on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, and can help:
    • Help review posts that may touch on a hot topic and need a second set of eyes
    • Amplify your post/message with a boost from NARA’s main accounts
    • Connect you to agency-wide campaigns on social media
    • Answer a press inquiry or respond to a reporter who may contact you through your social media account (email

What Shouldn’t I Say?

  • Since social media content can cover an array of topics, sometimes it’s helpful to know what type of content is off limits.
  • If you think your post might be in one of these categories, hold off from posting:
    • partisan or politically biased
    • violates the Hatch Act
    • endorses or denigrates a religion
    • denigrates a particular demographic group
    • contains personal attacks
    • abusive, threatening, unlawful, harassing, discriminatory, libelous, obscene, false, or pornographic
    • infringes on the privacy or rights of any person
    • violates any other NARA policy or federal law
    • contains content that is privileged, confidential, private, sensitive, non-public, pre-decisional, (including financial information) or in violation of any rights, such as copyrights.
  • If you’re ever unsure if your post could fall into one of these categories, just send it to the Social Media Team before posting.

Want a quick checklist to put on your desk? Here you go!

Social Media Success Checklist

Posted in Community of Practice, Social Media (Web 2.0) | Tagged | 15 Comments

How to participate in the US National Archives’ Remembering WWI: A Guide for Local Institutions

Today’s post comes from Kerri Young of Historypin, app developer on the US National Archives’ recently completed Remembering WWI tablet app.  You can learn more about the app’s initial launch on the blog of the American Association of State and Local History.

The National Archives has collaborated with the Library of Congress, Smithsonian Museum of American History, and the National WWI Museum and Memorial to build the collection of primary source content available in the Remembering WWI app. Now, we also invite your local institution to contribute.


Remembering WWI is a national collaborative effort, aimed at helping teachers and local institutions easily explore a rich collection of WWI film and photo primary sources from the US National Archives (NARA) and aforementioned national partners. Collection-creation is at the heart of the app experience, where in addition to exploring teachers and institutions can reuse this content to create their own WWI narratives. By contributing your own content, you can help contextualize the experience of WWI at the local level and grow this national collection of WWI primary sources. Institutions who contribute their own materials will also be able to reuse NARA and other institutional content to enhance the narratives within their own in-app collections, for use locally in their own centenary programming or museum tours for example.

What kinds of materials can I contribute?

We currently have WWI-related photographs, films, and objects (photos of uniforms, equipment, etc) in the app. Other scanned materials, such as letters and other documents in your collection, are also welcome.

Where do I upload?

If you are interested in adding content to the app, you will need to upload through Historypin. You cannot upload through the app itself. Any material appearing in the Historypin Remembering WWI collection will appear in the app.

Remembering WWI collection on Historypin

The Remembering WWI collection on Historypin. Any collection you create here will automatically appear in the app.

What are the steps?

1. Are you uploading large amounts of content? If yes, you’ll want to use Historypin’s bulk uploader where you can easily gather your photo or film data on a CSV. Contact Kerri at for more information. If no, start at Step 2.

2. Create a free Historypin account. Go to to sign up and create a profile on behalf of your institution.

Historypin offers several free ways to sign up for an account.


Before adding content, click this button within the Remembering WWI collection on Historypin to  create a blank themed collection.

3. All content must go into a themed collection. We’re surfacing all featured content in the app as curated collections to make content easily discoverable. Before doing any uploading, first create a collection by going to the Historypin Remembering WWI collection and clicking “Add a Collection.” Once you’ve added details, click “Add a pin” from within the collection to start uploading. Note that those who choose the bulk uploader will go through a different process.

4. View your content in the app or on Historypin. As you add pins to your collection, they will automatically appear in the app. To view your collection in the app, download it here. Alternatively, your collection on Historypin is there for sharing as well!

Your institution’s collection will appear here in the app’s main collection list.


More Resources

Posted in Digitization, Films, partnerships, Veterans / Military | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Partnership Agreement for Public Comment

Over the last decade, NARA has engaged in digitization partnerships to increase digital access to the records in our custody and we continue to look for opportunities to grow those partnerships. We are pleased to announce a new partnership agreement with the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).

The DAR was founded in 1890 and is a non-profit, non-political volunteer women’s service organization dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving American history, and securing America’s future through better education for children.  To learn more, please visit their website:

The agreement is available for review and public comment on our Digitization Partnerships page.  To submit feedback, please email or leave a comment below.

The agreement will be available for comment until August 4, 2017.

Please consult NARA’s Principles for Partnerships for more information about our digitization partnerships.

Posted in Digitization, partnerships, Uncategorized | 3 Comments