This week we’re publishing a series of posts by Ketina Taylor (Archivist) and Jenny Sweeney (Education Specialist) of the National Archives at Fort Worth.
Secretaries at the Conference of Secretaries in Dallas, Texas in June 1959 (online catalog identifier 7280640).
Today marks the beginning of Administrative Professionals Week.
Since the advent of television and the movies, Americans have come to love secretarial characters from Miss Hathaway in the Beverly Hillbillies to Mrs. Wiggins in The Carol Burnett Show to Jennifer Marlow in WKRP in Cincinnati to Doralee Rhodes in the movie 9 to 5. More recently, on the show Mad Men, Peggy Olsen is stirring things up: “He may act like he wants a secretary, but most of the time they’re looking for something between a mother and a waitress,” (season one).
In 1950, the number one job for American women was the secretarial occupation. The most common job for American women today is still the same (in Hillary Clinton’s world that would have been with a capital “S”). According to the U.S. Census, 96% of the approximately 4 million people who identify themselves today as secretaries (or something similar) are women.
One thing that might have united many secretaries was the specific educational opportunities available to them. The Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training in the Department of Labor offered secretarial and clerical training programs in various cities across the nation. The Bureau conducted these programs often as continuing education opportunities for government secretaries.
Among the holdings of the National Archives at Fort Worth are the records of the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training (RG 300). These documents, dating from the late 1950s to the late 1960s, offer insights into how secretaries were viewed and trained. They also offer a glimpse of an era gone by.
Each day this Administrative Professionals Week, we will give you a glimpse of the mid-century secretary.
So do you have what it takes to be a secretary in the 1950s or ’60s? Take the quiz below (double click on the image to enlarge) and see.
Brooke’s Your Reflector Number I (Personality) Quiz from the Secretarial Training Program in Waco, Texas from January 1959 to June 1959 (Online catalog identifier 7280725).
Today’s post is written by Dr. Greg Bradsher.
The National Archives of the United Kingdom has many interesting record series titles. One of my favorites is “Mussolini’s personal files (the ‘Handbag’ files).” This series consists of the papers that Mussolini was carrying in two handbags when he was captured in April 1945. Likewise, the National Archives and Records Administration has series of records with interesting titles. One such one is “Ciano Papers: Rose Garden,” which is found in the National Archives Collection of Foreign Records Seized, Record Group 242.
The story begins in 1940, when twenty-one year old Frau Hildegard Beetz went to work as interpreter and translator of Italian at both the Rome and Berlin offices of Amt VI (External Police Intelligence, SD) of the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA). In September 1943 she was chosen to become an agent and was assigned as secretary to Count Galeazzo Ciano, Benito Mussolini’s son-in-law and Foreign Minister of Fascist Italy, 1936-1943, then under house arrest in Italy. She was given instructions to report his activities to Amt VI. Ciano was subsequently sent to a prison in Verona, tried for treason, and executed by Mussolini’s newly established fascist government on January 11, 1944. Ciano had kept a diary and supporting papers that served as an annex to the diary. The supporting papers, dated from 1938 to 1943, contained documents relating to relations between Mussolini and Ciano with German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop; correspondence between Mussolini and Adolf Hitler; notes of conversations of Ciano and Mussolini with Hitler; correspondence between Ciano and Mussolini; and, documents relating to Italian-British relations and German-British relations. Some Nazi leaders desperately wanted both the diary and supporting papers, believing they would contain information useful to them as well as information discrediting Ribbentrop.
Edda Ciano, however, Galeazzo’s widow, escaped into Switzerland with the diary, where almost a year later Office of Strategic Services Bern Station Chief Allen W. Dulles filmed the diary for the United States government. But the original supporting papers were acquired in Rome by the Germans in January 1944 and were subsequently flown to Berlin. Beetz, upon returning to Germany in October 1944, was assigned the task of translating the supporting papers into German. Although working under security precautions, she managed to make an extra carbon copy of the German translation.
When Hitler ordered the destruction of the originals and translations of Ciano’s supporting papers in April 1945, Beetz buried the extra copy in her rose garden. In June 1945, when questioned by American counterintelligence officers, she led them to the rose garden, where the supporting papers were recovered. The documents were then transferred to the 12th Army Group Document Center and were subsequently transferred to the German Military Documents Section, Departmental Records Branch, Department of the Army. In January 1947, Howard M. Smyth, then the head of the Mediterranean Section, Historical Office of the War Department (later redesignated Office of the Chief of Military History (OCMH), Department of the Army), learned of them, and he borrowed them for official use.
When Smyth acquired the papers, they consisted of a couple of bundles of loose sheets of carbon copies in German without an index or table of contents. He arranged the papers in chronological order and numbered the pages with a stamping machine. He then prepared an index or table of contents of the papers initially sent to him, which comprised some 490 pages. In the Historical Office, Smyth and his colleagues wondered what to call the collection. Having learned that it was dug up out of a rose garden, they dubbed it the “Ciano Papers: Rose Garden.” This was the designation usually used in the citations to this material in the Historical Office. Having put the materials in shape for their use, the office then received a bunch of additional sheets. The integration of this additional material required a re-numbering of the pages and the preparation of a revised index that showed that the collection had grown to 223 documents, numbering 749 pages.
In the spring of 1947 arrangements were made to lend the documents to the State Department and to have them microfilmed. The microfilm is contained on Roll No. 4597 in the series of films made by the German War Documents Project, Microfilm Publication T-120. The microfilm is complete and gives the 223 documents that eventually constituted the documents in the series. The documents remained in the OCMH until they were transferred to the National Archives in January 1969. An English translation of Ciano’s diary, made in 1945, is contained in File L-230, Judge Advocate General Law Library, 1944-1949, War Crimes Branch, Records of the Judge Advocate General, Record Group 153. For more information about the “Rose Garden Papers,” Frau Beetz, and Count and Edda Ciano see Smyth’s essay “The Ciano Papers: Rose Garden,” that was published by Central Intelligence Agency’s Center for the Study of Intelligence.
Digitized images of the interregation record of Hildegaard Beetz is available at NARA’s partner site, Fold3.
TAGS 12th Army Group Document Center
, Allen W. Dulles
, Ciano Papers
, Department of State
, Galeazzo Ciano
, German Military Documents Section
, German War Documents Project
, Greg Bradsher
, Hildegard Beetz
, Howard M. Smyth
, Office of the Chief of Military History
, RG 242
, U.S. Army
, War Department
Today’s post is by College Park processing archivist Alan Walker.
True story: Thursday, March 28 was shaping up to be a typical day. I had before me a cart’s worth of boxes full of case files from the Department of Justice that needed to be listed for a spreadsheet of “temporary” files to be disposed. These particular case files dealt with disputes over the ownership of land and their subsequent settlements, known as “Suits to Quiet Title.”
As it happens, my family has some experience in such matters. My great-grandfather, Albert Norton, and his two brothers George and Howard owned a rendering plant on the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. From 1942 until the late 1970s the plant processed…well, I won’t go into the gory details. Suffice it to say that the plant, and others like it across the country, “rendered” a valuable service to meat processors. With increasing consolidation of the industry, especially in the Midwest, small producers like Norton and Co. couldn’t compete and so were sold off or otherwise disposed.
Now, at this point you can probably take a stab at what happened on that Thursday when I opened the first box of the day. In it, as so often happens, was a pile of loose papers that had become separated from their original folder. I spread the pile on my desk, looking for the telltale case file number stamped onto each document. My eyes lit upon the words “Alexandria, Virginia”, then “Waterfront Litigation”, then upon the name of my cousin Howard Rand Norton!
In September 1982, my great-great-uncle Howard’s grandson Howard Rand Norton III (known as Randy), signed a settlement with the Federal Government over the Norton and Co. property in Old Town. In this pile of papers, comprising case file 90-1-5-1355, is laid out the torturous history of waterfront land ownership from the 1950s to the late 1970s. And it is an issue that continues today, as evidenced by recent news articles on the topic.
Old Town Alexandria was a very different animal back in the days when the waterfront was dotted with military and light industrial operations, a far cry from the pricey townhouses, tony restaurants and dynamic art spaces that grace it today. Norton and Co. contributed its own sensory charms to the milieu; if you dare, you can just imagine the smell in the summertime. My Aunt Holly tells the story of how my great-grandfather would stride into Burke and Herbert bank to do some business, and the banker would greet him with “What’s that smell?” And without missing a beat, Albert Norton would say “That’s the smell of money!”
And for me, this one-in-a-million discovery is one to savor.
Postscript: The site of the Norton and Co. property is now occupied by Canal Place, a mixed-use development, as well as the Oronoco Bay Park. Randy Norton moved over to a more fragrant line of work, establishing several successful restaurants in Northern Virginia. He is currently the CEO of Great American Restaurants Group, which owns several popular restaurant chains in the area. And no; even with this shameless plug, I don’t get to eat for free!
The motto of the National Archives is “What is Past Is Prologue.”
Recently, while assisting a researcher at Archives II, I ran into my Dad, even though he died several years ago. A bit of background will help you understand. My father’s first Government service, like most in his generation, came in the military during World War II. He served in the 99th Infantry Division and saw action on Elsenborn Ridge on the north shoulder of the Battle of the Bulge, crossed the Rhine River at Remagen (the 99th was the first complete division across the river), helped round up hundreds of thousands of the German prisoners-of-war in the Ruhr Pocket, and was part of the race down into Bavaria. That’s him on the right in this picture (we do not know where the picture was taken or the identity of the other soldiers).
After the war, Dad went to law school on the G.I. Bill and then joined the Department of Justice in 1948, beginning his long career as a dedicated public servant. He worked in the Department of Justice until 1961, then at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) until 1975, when he joined the Department of Labor. He retired in 1980 as an Administrative Law Judge. His official credential is one of the best pictures we have of him.
So, back to the researcher. I was assisting her with some Department of State records, but her research crossed over into Department of Justice files. She had a specific file citation and it was very easy to locate the pertinent files and screen them for use. In doing so, I concentrated on the contents of the files, not its cover. While returning the files to their proper location, however, I happened to glance at the list of users on the front of the folder, and a name jumped out at me . . . my own last name.
This could only mean that my father had handled the case file 60 years ago while working in the Department of Justice. (This was a few years before I entered the picture.) It should not have surprised me, since he worked for the Government and many Government records end up in the National Archives, but it caught me by surprise. My own personal prologue.
From time to time while working in the records, NARA staff find documents that provide new perspectives on events through which they lived. I recently had that experience.
I remember well the terrible humanitarian disaster that befell local populations as Yugoslavia ripped itself apart during the 1990s. I remember, too, how many commentators expressed surprise over the breakup of that country.
As I began working with the records of the Department of State and other foreign affairs agencies, I learned that to some of the experts in the U.S. government, what happened to Yugoslavia came as no surprise. The files contain many documents explaining the centrifugal forces in that country likely to take over after the death of Marshal Tito, who ruled in Yugoslavia from World War II to his death in 1980.
I recently located the following document that presaged the calamity to come. While it is not an analytical piece, it serves as good example of the developing understanding of the situation in Yugoslavia.
This memorandum was prepared by Walter R. Roberts, then the Deputy Associate Director (Research and Assessment) in the United States Information Agency (USIA), and sent to the Director of the agency, Frank Shakespeare. Among other jobs, Mr. Roberts served in the Office of War Information (OWI) during World War II, in the Department of State after the war, in USIA during the 1950s, and as a public affairs officer and as Counselor for Public Affairs in the U.S. embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia from 1960 to 1966. He ended his government career as Associate Director of USIA, the senior career position in that agency.
The Brzezinski mentioned in the last paragraph is Zbigniew Brzezinski. At the time he was a professor at Columbia University, but he earlier served on the Policy Planning Council in the Department of State and later became National Security Adviser to President Jimmy Carter.
Source: RG 306: Records of the United States Information Agency, Entry P-266, Office of Research and Assessment, Program Files, 1969-1971, File: IAS – Soviet Union/East Europe.
, Columbia University
, Counselor for Public Affairs
, David Langbart
, Department of State
, Frank Shakespeare
, Marshal Tito
, National Security Adviser
, Office of War Information
, Policy Planning Council
, President Jimmy Carter
, RG 306
, United States Information Agency
, Walter R. Roberts
, World War II
, Zbigniew Brzezinski
Today’s post is by National Archives Volunteer Bill Nigh. This is the sequel to his earlier post.
In my first post, I briefly described the volunteer project based on the records of the U.S. Secret Service (Record Group 87). I stated that this organization began its presidential security mission following a presidential assassination, but its initial mission was about money. Presidential security came an amazing 42 years later.
“Nation of Counterfeiters”, Hezekiah Niles, 18181
Prior to the Civil War, it is estimated that more than 1/3 of the currency in circulation was counterfeit, a number that would probably turn our present economic environment into ruin. Over 1600 state-chartered banks printed their own currency (bank notes); it is estimated that there were more than ten thousand kinds of paper2. That’s a number hard to conceive with our present system operating with essentially four paper denominations ($1, $5, $10, and $20). Obviously, the common businessman could not reliably determine whether or not the paper he held in his hand was counterfeit.
Counterfeit bills permeated the entire currency system. How did this happen? Each bank hired engraving firms to produce their own printing plates, dies, and currency. The counterfeiters would move in and work both sides of this business relationship. They would bribe the engravers for the plates or pay the engraver to produce a plate for their benefit. The counterfeiters would also acquire plates from the many failed banks or bribe bank officials to look the other way while confiscating the needed printing materials. As William Sumner in his 1896 classic book on the history of banking said: “a person receiving a bank note would inevitably turn to a counterfeit detector (a publication of known counterfeit bills) and scrutinize the worn and dirty scrap for two or three minutes, regarding it as more probably ‘good’ if it was worn and dirty than if it was clean, because those features were proof of long and successful circulation”3.
One folder consists of cases dealing only with “bleached notes”. The term “bleached note” is counterfeit paper defined simply as low denomination money that is chemically processed to remove the ink, which is then reprinted with images of a higher denomination. Why do this? U.S. currency paper has a distinct appearance and texture that’s different from many other types of paper4, and this method excluded this discriminator.
An interesting case of bleached notes reads like a television police show. A Dr. Joe Johnson from Connecticut had supposedly perfected a bleaching process and wanted to produce counterfeit $100 bills. Learning about this, the Secret Service used two informants to convince Dr. Johnson that they could provide him an engraver’s plate for the $100 bill. The plan was to show Dr. Johnson the plate, produce a couple of bills for examination, and then arrest the doctor with the goods (the classic sting operation). The reports did not address the operation’s final outcome. (Report in “Bleached Notes” folder from ARC Identifier 1661969).
A question to consider is where was law enforcement? First, there was no national police force. Secondly, the federal government had the only constitutional authority to print money but there was never a challenge to the states’ rights to charter banks and print its own currency. Monitoring the state’s banking industry was sporadic at best. Thirdly, enforcement of counterfeiting laws was entirely local; many times local police looked the other way. Lastly, our economic system worked. We were a nation poor in gold and silver but desperate for credit and capital to satisfy our dreams and speculative nature. Counterfeit money picked up the slack5. However, big events frequently compel change and the next one found the federal government wanting money and lots of it.
The Civil War — We Need Money, Fast
To fund the enormously costly war, the federal government needed lots of money to pay its bills and its gold and silver reserves were quickly depleting. The Legal Tender Act of 1862 authorized Congress to print money ($150 million) and stipulated that the new currency (greenbacks) did not have to be backed by gold or silver. And just as significant, the legal tender status of the greenbacks required creditor acceptance, whereas creditors did not have to accept state bank notes. The greenbacks were popular, hailed as “patriotism of the people” by the New York Herald, but problems still remained for the Lincoln administration. More money was needed. The state bank notes still remained the primary medium of exchange, burdened with the counterfeiting issue.
Enter Senator John Sherman from Ohio, the younger brother of General William Tecumseh Sherman. Senator Sherman believed the existing circulation of state bank notes must be replaced with a uniform national currency issued by national banks6. Senator Sherman was one of the major proponents and activists of the National Banking Act of 1863 followed by another Banking Act in 1864. Together they granted the federal government the power to charter a new system of national banks, issue a new national currency, impose a tax on state bank notes (which forced state-chartered banks to sign up as a national bank), and punish counterfeiters. States’ rights were defeated; state bank notes went into decline. These series of events profoundly transformed our country’s economic order.
With the war coming to an end, the government now faced a direct threat to federal sovereignty: how to protect the integrity of the new national currency. A national police apparatus transcending state lines was seriously considered for the first time.
1 Stephen Mihm, A Nation of Counterfeiters (Harvard University Press 2007), 6.
2 Mihm 3.
3 Mihm 360.
4 Joel Zlotnick, “Counterfeits Made with Bleached U.S. Currency”, <http://www.counterfeitforensics.com/public/Counterfeits_Made_with_Bleached_US_Currency.cfm.
5 Mihm 15.
6 Mihm 315.
TAGS Banking Act
, Bill Nigh
, bleached notes
, Civil War
, General William Tecumseh Sherman
, Hezekiah Niles
, Joe Johnson
, John Sherman
, RG 87
, Secret Service
, states' rights
, volunteer finds
Today’s post (part one in a two-part series) is by National Archives Volunteer Bill Nigh.
When I was assigned my first volunteer project, one associated with the U.S. Secret Service (Record Group 87), I wasn’t sure what to expect. Like many my age, I picture the Secret Service agent climbing on the rear deck of the black limousine in Dallas in 1963. I recall the Clint Eastwood movie, “In the Line of Fire”, with the ever present sunglasses and the white coiled-wire ear buds. But what I discovered after several months on the project was far different than the presidential protection scenes. The material was so fascinating that I had to dig deeper into the history of this organization. I was hooked.
Project Purpose. The records of this project, spanning 1918-1937, comprise 510 boxes containing primarily operative reports regarding investigations of counterfeiters, suspicious financial activities, those threatening the President, and other correspondence. Our small group of volunteers is developing a finding aid. We log the following data into a spreadsheet for each folder of Secret Service reports:
- Reference Box Number
- Folder Designation (alphabetically arranged)
- Coverage Start Date
- Coverage End Date
- General Record Types (Textual Records, Artifacts, Photographs, Maps and Charts, etc.).
Since volunteers are part of Education and Public Programs in Museum Services, we were asked to identify cases that might be of interest to the general public.
Initial Findings. After months of work, I found most of the cases involved illegal use of currency, for example, cases of forgeries of checks, bonds, and notes — particularly government issues, and counterfeit money. I estimate that currency cases number more than 95% of the reports; I also found a few terrorism cases. But where were the presidential security reports? Though the numbers of terrorism cases encountered are few up to this point in time, they are astonishing to read. Here is one such case.
Black Legion. My first report on one particular day immediately got my attention. It was correspondence between Secret Service Chief Moran and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director J. Edgar Hoover (shown below). Hoover’s letter informed the Chief that the FBI had learned of a possible threat against President Franklin Roosevelt (this was May 1936) by a radical group named the Black Legion. It was known that the Black Legion believed the government was occupied by the country’s enemies: Catholics, Jews, and foreigners. The Legion vowed “to defeat Roosevelt in 1936, by ballot if possible, by force of arms if necessary”1. It was thought that a march on Washington was imminent. The FBI had acquired this information from the City Editor of a Flint, MI, newspaper who had spoken with three informants/former members of the Black Legion. After interviewing the informants and the local police, the Secret Service operatives determined that the Black Legion was a dangerous organization but there was no immediate credible threat.
Black Legion Report in “Black” folder, ARC Identifier 1661969
The Black Legion, operating in the 1930’s, was a hate-based quasi-paramilitary organization with a mission to enforce its version of Americanism. Operating in Ohio and Michigan, it numbered between 20,000 and 30,000 strong; some contend it splintered from the Ku Klux Klan. As an example of how it ruled its members, the resignation of a member triggered a reprisal of violence or even death to that member. Its reign of terror ended when eleven members were convicted of murder in 19362.
Delving further into the history of the U.S. Secret Service, I discovered that this organization was founded just after a presidential assassination, but its initial mission had nothing to do with presidential security. It was about money. The presidential protection mission came 42 years later.
This post will be continued next week.
1 William Carlson, SS Operative Report, May 26, 1936.
2 Detroit News, “Michigan History (August 5, 1997) http://apps.detnews.com /apps/history/ index.php?id=151.
Today’s post is by Dr. Greg Bradsher.
Englishman Nicholas Cresswell, during July 1777, wrote in his journal that the American army was composed of a “ragged Banditti of undisciplined people, the scum and refuse of all nations of earth.” Baron Curt von Stedingk, a Swedish colonel in French service, described the American army in Savannah during 1779 as being composed “almost wholly of deserters and vagabonds of all nations.” These were somewhat exaggerated descriptions, yet at times they seemed very true and therefore concerned the revolutionary leaders. Their ideal was a disciplined army composed of Whigs who had a stake in society. They desired an army composed of men who shared the same cultural, political, and social background and beliefs. What was desired—mature domestic yeomen—did make up the bulk of the army surrounding Boston during the summer of 1775, but by the end of the year many of those had left the service when their enlistments terminated. Thereafter, because of the difficulty in recruiting such an army, and military necessity, many who did not share a stake in American society as they envisioned it enlisted in the patriotic forces.
The first group taken into the American military forces against the wishes of most Americans were African Americans, a people many had feared to arm. Even though African American soldiers had demonstrated their skill and courage at Lexington and Bunker Hill, General Washington issued orders that they were not to be recruited, although those already enlisted could remain. The Continental Congress in September rejected a motion to discharge all African American soldiers, but a council of officers at Cambridge, MA, on October 8, 1775, unanimously agreed to discharge all slaves. By a large majority, they agreed that free Blacks in service should not be reenlisted. Washington concurred.
Late in 1775, however, because of difficulty in recruiting, Washington allowed African Americans to reenlist. Learning this, Congress informed Washington that he could continue to reenlist those who had faithfully served at the siege of Boston, but no others. This restriction was lifted during the following years as enlistments slackened, and African Americans, including slaves, were encouraged to join both the Continental Army and the state military forces. By the summer of 1778, there were over 750 African Americans serving in the Continental Army, and by 1780 both Rhode Island and Connecticut had all-Black companies, except for the officers.
This increasing use of African Americans did not take place without protest. Six members of the Rhode Island Assembly opposed the decision of their body to raise Black companies, expressing the fear that the world would believe the Americans were attempting to win their rights and liberties with a band of slaves. General Schuyler asked General Heath if it was “consistent with the Sons of Freedom to trust their all to be defended by Slaves?” Heath agreed it was not.
Opposition to allowing African Americans to fight, as one would surmise, was greater in the southern states. One southerner wrote that arming them was “the child of a distempered imagination.” Nevertheless, from the beginning of the war, Virginia allowed African Americans to join the militia, and South Carolina (the only southern state to do so) allowed them to be enlisted and even resorted to drafting them in 1781.
Congress, during the British invasion of South Carolina and Georgia in 1779, suggested using slaves under white commissioned and noncommissioned officers, compensating slave owners for any loss they may suffer. Alexander Hamilton, for one, thought the plan a good one, believing slaves, having lived a life of subordination, would make good soldiers. But he doubted that southerners would readily accept such a plan, believing “prejudice and private interest will be antagonists too powerful for public spirit and public good.”
Hamilton was correct in believing the plan would not be adopted, for as one southerner wrote after learning of it, “We are much disgusted here at the Congress recommending us to arm our Slave, it was received with great resentment, as a very dangerous and impolitic step.” Despite the rejection of the plan, some Continental officers and civilian leaders continued to lobby for it, believing that the threat posed by a British army outweighed the danger of using slaves.
Col. John Laurens, once elected to the South Carolina legislature in 1782, raised the possibility of the state enlisting an African American regiment under his command. This recommendation was not adopted, as “the prejudice against the measure,” according to Lewis Morris, Jr., “are so prevailing that no consideration could induce them to adopt it.” The legislature did, however, agree to the limited use of American Americans for fatigue duty.
It has been estimated that some 5,000 African Americans served during the American War for Independence in various guises, primarily as sailors aboard privateers. Many served in the Continental Army. A Hessian officer observed in 1777 that “no regiment is to be seen in which there are not negroes in abundance, and among them there are able-bodied, strong and brave fellows.” They served as well and with the same degree of bravery as their White contemporaries. African American Rhode Island and Virginian Continentals were reported to have made excellent soldiers and distinguished themselves in many engagements.
Freedom for most slaves serving in the military forces did not come as a result of their service. However, the American Revolution (as distinct from the American War for Independence) created a “contagion of liberty” (to borrow the chapter title from Bernard Bailyn’s Pulitzer Prize–winning The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution). The ideas espoused about freedom and liberty were found to be inconsistent with the realities of the political and social landscape of America, and calls for change arose. As a result, changes in many facets of American life were made. With respect to slavery, between 1777 and 1804, antislavery laws or constitutions were passed in every state north of the Ohio River and the Mason-Dixon Line. I would like to think the recognition of the service of African Americans in the patriot cause, in addition to the “contagion of liberty,” had some role to play in the abolition of slavery, at least in the northern states.
TAGS African Americans
, Alexander Hamilton
, American Revolution
, American War for Independence
, Baron Curt von Stedingk
, Bernard Bailyn
, Bunker Hill
, Colonel John Laurens
, Continental Army
, George Washington
, Greg Bradsher
, Nicholas Cresswell
, Rhode Island
, South Carolina
Jazz great Dave Brubeck died on December 5, one day short of his 92nd birthday. Since then, there have been many retrospectives – in print, on television, on radio, and on line. Almost all of those remembrances mention the goodwill tour of Poland and the Far East that Brubeck and his quartet made in 1958 at the behest of the Department of State. The Department described Brubeck and his combo as well qualified to make the trip: “As a serious jazz artist with some classical training and background, we believe Mr. Brubeck can add a new dimension in correcting certain overseas misconceptions on American jazz.”
While the documentation in the Department’s central file on the 1958 trip is not extensive, the reports found there present a picture of a successful and well received visit of “‘cool’ or ‘horn-rimmed’ jazz.” Here are some extracts from those reports:
From Poland (Embassy Warsaw Despatch #355, 24 March 1958):
[In Krakow][i]t started with a musical greeting of the Quartet (by a delegation of local musicians) at the railroad station at five o’clock in the morning. For two evenings the collegiate generation of Krakow packed the Rotunda auditorium and applauded vigorously. Following the first evening concert, the piano was hauled from the concert hall to the Literary Club for a jam session that continued until three o’clock the next morning. Here all the ‘cats’ gathered to hear and be heard. There were over two hundred present at this session alone. And while none of the members of the Brubeck Quartet speaks any foreign language, there was considerable demonstration of skill in this modern international language.
From Turkey (Embassy Ankara Despatch #363, 12 December 1958):
Reports continue to be heard from Istanbul and Izmir, as well as here, about the “marvelous”, “wonderful”, “excellent”, etc. representation job done by all members of the Quartet and their families in addition to their concerts. The morning that they left Ankara, two boys who had gone to the airport stood shaking their fists at the plane, and the young French horn player, with tears running down his cheeks cried “It’s terrible, terrible! We are like children without a father now that he (Brubeck) is gone!” Although all of the responses to Brubeck did not match the emotion of this little scene, reactions were unanimously enthusiastic, and each performance a sell-out. . . .
While in Ankara, Mr. Brubeck asked a member of the USIS cultural staff to prepare a tape that would include representative music of Turkey. A tape was made with excerpts of such early phases as the Drums of Mehter (more commonly known as the Janissary music) up through today’s better known Turkish composers’ works. Based on this tape and his recollections of Turkey, Brubeck later composed the “Golden Horne,” which is included on a disk called “Impressions of a Trip”. . . .
From Ceylon [Sri Lanka] (Embassy Colombo Despatch #1154, 9 May 1958):
Mr. Brubeck was most gracious about signing autographs and listening to young musicians who followed him around. The entire Quartet was outstanding in this respect and left an excellent memory of their good manners and engaging personalities. The newspapers carried many pictures showing Mr. Brubeck surrounded by young autograph fans.
From Pakistan (Consulate General Dacca Despatch #315, 14 May 1958):
Western music is strange to most people in this part of [the] world but Jazz has a greater universal appeal than classical music to the Pakistanis. This may be explained by the fact that the “Blues” note or fourth is quite common in Bengali melodic structure. Further, the driving rhythms of Jazz, especially the varied accents of progressive Jazz, are very similar to those used in both folk and classic Bengali music. Many of the Pakistanis among the capacity crowd who attended the Shahbagh concert were pleasantly surprised, especially by those numbers where the drums were most emphasized. Introduction of numbers by the Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer helped the audience to understand the music and to realize that Jazz as performed by this group is a true art form.
From Afghanistan (Embassy Kabul Despatch #628, 7 May 1958):
[Saxophonist Paul Desmond was ill and did not participate.] The members of the trio were received with great interest and enthusiasm by a cross-section of people in Kabul, ranging from Shah Mahmoud and Shah Wali, members of the Royal Family, at the opening concert, to members of the university and schools who had heard the Brubeck records and gave the group a first-class welcome. The Embassy is of the opinion that this visit was not only successful but valuable in establishing American entertainment at a new level in Afghanistan. . . .
It is tempting to overestimate the value of so successful a mission, and to read into it a more lasting impact than perhaps is the case. But the performances by the Brubeck trio are without question one of the most successful entertainment episodes which have occurred in this city for a considerable time and . . . Brubeck, by his simple dignity, his friendliness and the fact that all members of the group are attractive American people, have placed us at least for the moment in a position where we have outpointed our Soviet competitors. The Embassy cannot speak too highly of the value of a comparatively small, highly talented group who meet people easily and well who conduct themselves with quiet poise. . . .
From Iran (Embassy Tehran Despatch #1023, 22 May 1958):
Playing to three audiences totaling some 2200 people in Tehran and Abadan, the appearances of the Brubeck Quartet in Iran were an outstanding success. The music was of an unaccustomed but dynamic type which won over the younger generation and interested the older and in every way was a program asset in presenting one of the aspects of American culture.
The personality of the group was very winning and provided that indefinable characteristic that makes Americans appealing on the personal level. . . .
From Iraq (Embassy Baghdad Despatch #1219, 25 June 1958):
When news first broke that Brubeck would appear in Baghdad, it was received by the Baghdadi jazz lovers with electrifying enthusiasm. Requests had been made for so long by this segment of the population that they could hardly believe their ears when they heard the news. Tension mounted and enthusiasm increased daily for approximately a month until the night of May the 8th when he presented his first program in Khayyam Theater to an enthusiastic audience composed of high ranking Iraqi Government officials, members of the foreign colonies and jazz loving Iraqis. This audience of over 1500 was immediately won, not only by Brubeck’s music, but also by his charming personality. A matinee performance was given the following day primarily for the Iraqi college students. In spite of final examinations which were taking place at this time, more than 500 enthusiastic jazz fans gave Brubeck and his “boys” a standing ovation, wild with enthusiasm.
Source Note: All quotations are from documents in File 032 Brubeck, Dave Jazz Quartet, in the 1955-58 segment of the Central Decimal File, Record Group 59: General Records of the Department of State.
, Central Decimal File
, Dave Brubeck
, RG 59
, Sri Lanka
Today’s post is written by Dr. Greg Bradsher.
On the morning of August 7, 1942, the Marines landed on Guadalcanal, relatively near an airfield that the Japanese had begun constructing, and the relatively small number of Japanese on the island melted into the jungle. The following day the Marines began collecting Japanese souvenirs near the airfield. On August 9 a 1st Sergeant with the 11th Marines (artillery) reported that he saw some members from the 1st Marines, First Marine Division, returning from chasing the Japanese and that they had acquired Japanese souvenirs. The following day this sergeant reported that he went into a Japanese weather station, found weather charts, and “other interesting things.” Around August 10 or 11, members of 11th Marines found in some rubbish near a tool shed among scattered papers, blank notebook paper which they divided among themselves. Within a few days many Marines were writing letters on Japanese paper, as well as using Japanese occupation money they had found at the airfield to buy souvenirs, and by August 13 one gunnery sergeant had began conducting a small class in Japanese flower arrangement; his text a beautifully illustrated book on the subject recently published in Tokyo and picked up as a souvenir.
A little over week later, in the darkness of the morning of August 21 a newly landed Japanese force of about 900 men from the 28th Infantry Regiment, termed the Ichiki Force, commanded by Colonel Kiyono Ichiki, tried to cross the sand bar at the mouth of the Ilu in a bayonet assault designed to overrun the positions occupied by the 2nd Bn., 1st Marines, protecting the east flank of the perimeter. For many Marines and others the myth of Japanese invincibility was shattered at the Tenaru (as the battle at the Ilu would be mistakenly called). Almost all of the Ichiki Force were killed, wounded, or captured. Coast Watcher Martin Clemens, who later visited the battlefield, wrote in his book Alone on Guadalcanal, that “we had great difficulty with Marine souvenir hunters as we searched for maps, orders, and the like.” Indeed, as soon as the fighting ended, the souvenir hunting began. Robert Leckie, recalled in his book Helmet For My Pillow, that “moving among them [the dead Japanese] were the souvenir hunters, picking their way delicately as though fearful of booby traps, while stripping the bodies of their possessions.” The packs of the dead were inspected. They contained the inevitable diary and Japanese flag, as well as small amounts of candy and cigarettes. Many of the dead Japanese officers and non-commissioned officers carried heavy leather dispatch cases containing maps of the area, notebooks, and other records. This souvenir hunting would continue several days. Maj. Gen. A. A. Vandegrift, the commander of the First Marine Division, would later report to the Commandant of the Marine Corps that during the August 10-21 period a great deal of captured material was wasted through pilfering and souvenir hunting.
Despite the setback at the Tenaru, the Japanese were determined to recapture the airfield, named Henderson Field, which had become operational on August 12, and drive the Marines off Guadalcanal. Assigned the task was the 35th Infantry Brigade, commanded by Maj. Gen. Kiyotake Kawaguchi. In early September Kawaguchi landed his forces on Guadalcanal and moved them through the jungle and launched a surprise attack, primarily aimed at a ridge near the airfield held by the combined raider and parachute battalions, commanded by Lt. Col. Merritt A. Edson, which had been brought over to Guadalcanal from Tulagi at the end of August.
An estimated 2,000 soldiers from Kawaguchi’s brigade attacked the ridge (later termed Bloody Ridge and Edson’s Ridge) on the nights of September 12-13 and 13-14. The Marines held their position and at daylight on September 14 the Marines found upwards of six hundred dead Japanese on the ridge slopes and nearby jungle.[see image number 3] Souvenir hunters quickly moved around the bodies in search of swords, fire arms, flags, and other such items. A 1st Sergeant with the 11th Marines went out to the battlefield on September 16 and 17 looking for souvenirs. He found some and noted that the Marines there had all sorts of souvenirs from the battlefield, including some exquisite swords.
By the time the 2,852 men of the U.S. Army’s 164th Infantry began landing on Guadalcanal at dawn on October 13, the Marines had an abundance of souvenirs with which to trade or sell. The soldiers came with hundreds of cases of assorted candy bars. Bartering began about 9am with Hershey bars or Butterfingers being exchanged for a sword or flag. Often the flag was one that the Marines had made, which, to make it appear more authentic, included Japanese script copied from Japanese canned goods. The Marine Pioneers, according to Guadalcanal veteran Kerry Lane, in his Marine Pioneers: The Unsung Heroes of World War II, traded souvenirs to the soldiers for “food, new socks, dungarees and even shoes.” The Marines also traded or sold souvenirs to the crews of ships that had brought the soldiers to Guadalcanal. It was not just the enlisted Marines who were into bartering. General Vandegrift recalled in his Once A Marine, that he had an aide trade sailor’s cold storage eggs and canned ham in return for a Japanese rifle or sword.
Reading the various accounts of the Guadalcanal campaign one gets the impression that the Marines seemed obsessed with souvenirs. Newspaper correspondent Ira Wolfert, in his 1943 classic Battle for the Solomons, recalls the story of when in mid-October 1942 on Guadalcanal an American pilot told him of a conversation he had with a captured Japanese bomber pilot, who claimed to have been a graduate from the Ohio State University. The Japanese said they were fighting for Togo and the Germans were fighting for Hitler, “but your Marines seem to be fighting for souvenirs!” William Manchester, another Guadalcanal veteran, wrote in Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War that “We used to say that the Japanese fought for their emperor, the British for glory, and the Americans for souvenirs.”
Although souvenir collecting, according to some, represented the one major industry on Guadalcanal, the mission of the Marines and soldiers were removing the Japanese from the island. This was accomplished at the beginning of 1943, but not before the death of 1,598 American ground combat forces (1,152 of them Marines).