Subscribe to email updates
Today’s post was written by Cody White, Archivist at the National Archives at Denver.
On February 28th, 1876, four Crow Indians enlisted in the U.S. Army as Indian Scouts at Fort Ellis Montana. Those four men: Curly, Goes Ahead, White Man Runs Him, and Hairy Moccasin, were under the command of Colonel Gibbons when on June 21, 1876 near Rosebud, Montana, they were turned over to Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer. The rest, as they say, is history.
With the battle (of Little Bighorn, or Greasy Grass) behind them, the four men returned to the Crow Indian Reservation to live out their lives, as one sees when working in the Crow Indian Agency files contained within Record Group 75 at the National Archives at Denver. Record Group 75, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, is a rich collection that often paints a full, cradle-to-grave snapshot of Native American life. These diverse documents chronicle the work of the agencies managing Indian reservations across the country. To demonstrate this, let us examine the historical record of Hairy Moccasin following that fateful afternoon Custer ordered him away before the famous last stand.
We first catch up with Hairy Moccasin 15 years later in an 1891 tribal census from the Census Rolls and Tribal Enumerations, 1889-1920 (NAID 1756288). He is married to Quick and the pair have two sons – Fire Head and Kills the Mud Thrower. Quick’s 70 year old mother also lives with them.
Detail of 1891 Tribal Census, Household of Hairy Moccasin
As the records show, the next ten years would be a tumultuous time for the young family. In the below entry from the series Registers of Indians by Families, 1901-1904 (NAID 1184790), 48 year old Hairy Moccasin is now listed alone with two different children. According to birth and death registers also maintained by the agency, both Fire Head and Kills the Mud Thrower passed away in 1893. Quick gave birth to Bird Eggs and Mary Hairy Moccasin before her own death on August 16, 1901 at the age of 40. The tragedies seemed to pile on as Hairy Moccasin lost his new daughter on March 7, 1902, followed by the death of Bird Eggs on October 1, 1903. Within 12 months of this 1902 family register entry, Hairy Moccasin was all alone.
Detail, 1902 Family Registry
Five years later Hairy Moccasin filed claim on a parcel of reservation land, as noted in this reservation tract book (from the series Tract Books, 1884-1907, NAID 1910428). The patent was granted in December 1907 and later records will indicate he remained a farmer for the rest of his life.
Detail, Reservation Tract Book
From a 1912 ledger in the Allotment Registers, 1907-1922 (NAID 1803560) we see an example of Hairy Moccasin’s “signature.” In the early 20th century it was found that many American Indians who could not write did not feel the traditional marking of an “X” was definite, personal, or binding when signing documents; as a result, the Bureau of Indian Affairs switched to using an individual’s thumbprint in some situations.
“signature” of Hairy Moccasin in an Allotment Register, 1912
In 1921 the Crow Indian Agency took an interest in ensuring that the veterans of the Indian Wars were accorded any due benefits and a flurry of correspondence over the next 20 years was sent between Montana and Washington DC – such as this 1921 letter from the Correspondence Files, 1910-1958 (NAID 1135936) discussing the pension applications of the scouts still alive, including Hairy Moccasin.
Letter from the Crow Agency to Byington & Wilson, December 5, 1921
Any relief Hairy Moccasin might have received from a military pension was short lived, however, as only 11 months later he succumbed to tuberculosis at the age of 68. We also note here that at some point he remarried, now leaving behind a widow named Strikes First.
Death Certificate of Hairy Moccassin, 1922, Correspondence Files (NAID 1135936)
Even after death the record trail continues as the Crow Indian Agency approved, recorded, and saved wills of tribal members. Here is the final will of Hairy Moccasin, disposing of his land, horses, and finances (Copies of Wills and other Heirship Documents, 1911-1939, NAID 1807683). While we now recognize Strikes First as the widow, there is nothing here indicating the relation, if any, of the other three beneficiaries.
Will of Hairy Moccasin
This is just one of the many stories that can be found in Record Group 75. Recognizing the tremendous historical value of these records, National Archives Research Services staff across the country have been working on a multiyear project to create a new website better detailing these holdings nationwide and how to find them. To access the website and learn more information about American Indian holdings at the National Archives, check out the webpage Researching American Indians and Alaska Natives.
In April of this year, Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, made a state visit to the United States. In June 1957, Abe’s grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, then Japan’s prime minister, made a similar visit to the United States. That visit came to symbolize a renewal of the strength of the U.S.-Japan friendship after World War II.
Both President Dwight Eisenhower and Prime Minister Kishi had a passion for golf and as planning for the visit began, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles sent the following telegram (that he personally drafted) to the American ambassador to Japan, Douglas MacArthur II (the famed general’s nephew):
Telegram from Secretary of State Dulles, May 17, 1957
Ambassador MacArthur replied with the following message:
Telegram from Ambassador MacArthur, May 18, 1957
The President and Prime Minister played golf on the afternoon of June 19 at the Burning Tree Club at which time the following photograph was made:
President Eisenhower is second from the left; Prime Minister Kishi is wearing the dark shirt. The other gentlemen are not identified.
- The telegrams come from file 033.9411 in the 1955-59 segment of the Central Decimal File (NAID 302021), part of RG 59: General Records of the Department of State.
- The photograph is Image 79-AR-4250-H from White House Photographs Taken by Abbie Rowe, 1941-1967 (NAID 520052) in RG 79: Records of the National Park Service.
- A selection of documents about the visit is printed in Foreign Relations of the United States: Japan, 1955-57, Volume XXIII, Part 1.
- For more on the overall U.S.-Japan relationship, see The Clash: U.S.-Japanese Relations throughout History by Walter LaFeber.
I appreciate the assistance of my colleagues Cathleen Brennan and Marcus Martin in securing a copy of the photograph.
Today’s post was written by Cody White, Archivist at the National Archives at Denver.
The United States National Park system, its scope and breadth unrivaled in the world, boasts hundreds of parks, monuments, sites, recreation areas, and even the White House within its purview. Saved from development and also federally managed, the most notable geological features within the United States have been preserved and in doing so has also created prime filming locations for Hollywood when unspoiled, natural scenes are required. Accorded its own category in the National Park Services’ (NPS) alphanumerical correspondence filing system, here are three examples of motion pictures filmed on park property that can be found in the National Archives at Denver holdings.
In September of 1949 a battle raged in No Thoroughfare Canyon at the Colorado National Monument; a battle, however, in which there were no casualties as it was a scene for the film Devil’s Doorway, released in 1950. In this first image we see the cast receiving instructions for the mock battle which took place ¼ mile inside the monument boundary. In the second image we see the filming commencing. According to the filming proposal, all scenes requiring structures such as a sheep farm were set up on leased land adjacent to the park.
These filming requests typically contain the same documentation. There is an introductory letter in which the producer or location manager explains what will be done in the park. That is then followed up with the formal contract and deposit for damages. After the filming there is a letter from the park superintendent verifying everything was cleaned up and then oftentimes letters go back and forth clarifying the proper National Park Service byline in the film credits. In this letter from MGM Studios detailing the Devil’s Doorway filming, the producer takes the possibly unnecessary step to assuage the NPS that no sheep will actually be blown up in the park.
Letter from MGM Studios to Robert Rose, Administrative Records (NAID 602229), RG 79
Today Harrison Ford can be regarded as one of the leading actors of his generation, playing everything from the President of the United States to a swashbuckling space smuggler, yet in 1967 he was still just a struggling young actor when he received his first screen credit in Columbia Pictures A Time for Killing, originally entitled “The Long Ride Home.” Several scenes were filmed within Zion National Park, such as a covered wagon ambush on the second switchback below the Zion-Mt Carmel Tunnel as well as various scenes along the Virgin River near the Great White Throne parking lot. From the Zion National Park correspondence files (General Correspondence Files, 1950-1967, NAID 1048636) comes this stub for the $1,000 deposit check issued to the National Park Service to cover any damage. According to further correspondence the sites were cleaned up to the superintendent’s satisfaction so the original check was returned to Columbia Pictures.
Check stub for $1000 deposit, General Correspondence Files (NAID 1048636), RG 79
There have been many motion pictures with scenes filmed at the Carlsbad Caverns National Park, the park standing in for everything from a cave in Africa in King Solomon’s Mines to a cave in the old west in Cave of the Outlaws. It appears that in the 1940s and 1950s the Carlsbad Caverns were the go-to cave set location for filmmakers, including director Terry Morse of the low budget science fiction film Unknown World.
Among the film permit correspondence files within the park records (General Correspondence, 1930-1969, NAID 939395) is this script excerpt, the part of which was filmed at the cavern and possibly sent along with the request to demonstrate what was being proposed. If you secure a copy of Unknown World this scene can be viewed at the 26 minute mark.
Excerpt from Script of Unknown World, General Correspondence Files (NAID 939395), RG 79
In all three of these cases the records seem to indicate the experience was a good one for both the National Park Service and the film studio but this wasn’t always the case; for an example of when things don’t go according to the agreed upon filming proposal be sure to check out my previous Text Message entry “’North by Northwest’ Starring…Mount Rushmore?”
Today’s post is written by Chris Naylor, Director of the Textual Records Division.
I recently opened a fortune cookie that contained a saying with special significance to me. This phrase, “The best prophet of the future is the past,” originally attributed to Lord Byron, returned to me a few days later as I reviewed a document at the National Archives.
By September 1970, the Nixon Administration was becoming increasingly concerned about the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s (PFLP) targeting of airlines for violent attacks and hijackings as a means of furthering the organization’s agenda. The PFLP had already hijacked an El Al flight from Rome, Italy in July 1968, opened fire on an El Al plane in Athens, Greece about to take off for New York on December 26, 1968, attacked an El Al jet in Zurich, Switzerland in February 1969, hijacked a TWA flight departing from Rome in August 1969, and attempted to hijack a TWA flight from Rome to New York on December 21, 1969. In addition, the PFLP-General Command, a splinter group, attempted bombings aboard Austrian Airlines and Swissair Flights on February 21, 1970. The Swissair Flight was destroyed killing all 41 passengers and crew in the first successful mid-air bombing conducted by terrorists.
On September 6, 1970 the PFLP simultaneously hijacked four commercial aircraft in Europe destined for New York City in what came to be known as the Dawson’s Field Hijackings. Teams of two hijacked a Pan Am, a TWA, a Swissair, and an El Al flight. The hijacking of the El Al flight failed when two El Al plainclothes security guards shot and killed a male hijacker and wounded a female. The Pan Am flight ended when the hijackers released the passengers in Cairo, Egypt and blew up the plane. The Swissair and TWA flights were diverted to Dawson Field, an abandoned British airbase in the Jordanian desert. The 306 people, including passengers and crew, became hostages. The PFLP demanded the release of numerous terrorists held in several countries in return for their release of the hostages and gave a clear message that they were targeting the United States in addition to Israel.
President Nixon recognized that the PFLP had carried out these hijackings as a dramatic method of attacking the foreign policy of the United States and was determined to have the U.S. Government take the lead on addressing this problem. He spent the next several days discussing with his senior advisors various means to respond to this growing threat. On September 11, the President issued a statement announcing several actions as part of a comprehensive antihijacking program, including:
- The placement of specially trained, armed U.S. Government personnel on flights of U.S. commercial airliners.
- Extension, under Department of Transportation auspices, of the use of electronic surveillance equipment and other surveillance techniques by U.S. flag carriers to all gateway airports and other appropriate airports in the United States and–wherever possible–in other countries.
- The acceleration of ongoing efforts by the Departments of Transportation, Treasury, and Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Office of Science and Technology, and other agencies to develop security measures, including new methods for detecting weapons and explosive devices.
- To facilitate passenger surveillance, appropriate agencies of the Federal Government were to intensify their efforts to assemble and evaluate all useful intelligence and to disseminate such information to airlines and law enforcement personnel.
- The State Department and other appropriate agencies were to consult fully with foreign governments and foreign carriers concerning the full range of techniques which they use to foil hijackers.
During the White House Press Conference on September 11, FAA Administrator John Schaffer and Assistant to the President Peter Flanigan discussed the program to inhibit further hijacking of U.S. airlines and answered several press inquiries (see document below).
Throughout the 1970s, the Federal Aviation Administration developed numerous new procedures to protect commercial aircraft from hijackers, including mandatory screening of all passengers. On September 11, 1981, Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 108 went into effect, which extended and consolidated airline security requirements to provide for the safety of persons travelling aboard aircraft against hijackings and other criminal acts.
Excerpt from Civil Aviation Security Section of the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of the Secretary 15th Annual Report, Fiscal Year 1981.
Over the next two decades however, airplane hijackings remained a threat to civil aviation. On September 11, 2001, exactly thirty-one years to the day that President Nixon initiated his program to deal with airplane hijackings and 20 years to the day of the implementation of FAR 108, 19 al Qaeda operatives simultaneously hijacked four airplanes and carried out the most devastating terrorist attacks on U.S. soil in history. In his Address to the Nation that evening, President George W. Bush assured Americans that “Our first priority is to get help to those who have been injured, and to take every precaution to protect our citizens at home and around the world from further attacks.” These tragic events reawakened a national discussion of aviation security and began anew the U.S. Government’s efforts to develop government-wide programs to counter hijackings.
This blog continues with Part II – Cockpit Doors
- Statement by the President and Press Conference of John H. Shaffer, Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration, and Peter M. Flanigan, Assistant to the President, Office of the White House Press Secretary, September 11, 1970; File: 1970 – 8040 – Hijacking (NAID 663289); Subject and Correspondence Files, 1959-1982 (NAID 623341); Department of Transportation. Federal Aviation Administration. Office of the Administrator; Record Group 237; National Archives at College Park
- U.S. Department of Transportation Office of the Secretary 15th Annual Report Fiscal Year 1981, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington D.C. (TD1.1: 981)
- Statement by the President in His Address to the Nation, White House Office of the Press Secretary, September 11, 2001. Retrieved May 2015
RG 64, entry NA-273A. Center Market, looking southwest on 9th St., 1928
What do these three have in common? They all are properties within the District of Columbia, properties that appear in National Archives Textual series housed in Washington, DC.
Initially, I had hoped to trace the property ownership of the land upon which the National Archives Building in Washington sits through a few series, which name the owners of taxable properties in the city. Unfortunately for this project, the Center Market building and National Guard armory located on the block where the National Archives currently sits, were on a “reservation” which tends to be government property. Therefore there was little change in ownership, despite a change in use.
When at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. There is a popular coffee shop chain a few steps away from the National Archives Building. It sits in the Fireman’s Insurance Building at the corner of 7th Street and Indiana Avenue NW. In regards to real estate it sits on Square 458, lot 5. In the District of Columbia the different blocks are identified as squares, which are further divided into lots. That is, unless the square is a reservation. Once again and unfortunately for this project, the series I wanted to highlight ranged from 1883 to 1938, a time when Fireman’s Insurance owned the Fireman’s Insurance Building. No change in owner and no change in use.
For the sake of this project, which is to show potential researchers where they may find information about District of Columbia properties and their owners, I needed to find a property that changed hands more than twice between 1883 and 1938. I chose Carter G. Woodson’s office and home. Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950) is considered to be the father of Black History month. He lived and worked at 1538 9th Street NW, which currently sits on Square 365, lot 819. Looking back at the Baist real estate map, the lot was letter C.
1937-38 General Assessment. RG 351, entry P 1. Woodson’s name is highlighted.
Working backwards, let us begin with entry P1 from Record Group 351, General Land Assessment Files, 1902 – 1938 (NAID 4748936), noting that all the series explored are from RG 351. In the volume for 1937-1938 Carter G. Woodson is listed as the owner of Square 365, lot C. He is still listed as the owner in the 1923-1924 volume. Woodson purchased the property in 1922, and this is reflected in the 1921-1922 volume where Ida J. Heiberger is named as the assessed. From the 1914 to 1922 volumes, Ms. Heiberger is listed as the owner. In the 1902-1903, 1905-1906, and 1911-1912 volumes the assessed party was Jacob Xander. A little research using other tools such as newspaper, census databases, and other online resources reveal that for Dr. Ida J. Heiberger and Mr. Jacob Xander the 1538 Ninth Street NW building was not their residence.
In RG 351 entries P 28 A and B General Assessments, 1883 – 1903 (NAID 7861714) we can look at the years 1883 to 1900. For 1899-1900 the owner remained Jacob Xander. This changed sometime between 1897 and 1898, as a lawyer by the name of Saul S. Henkle is listed as the owner. Previously, between 1883 and 1890, the building was owned by his sister (according to the 1880 census) Clorinda S. Henkle. The city directories say she resided at 1538. Saul Henkle lived there for a few years with his sister, but never when he had ownership. If we wanted to look even further back we would have to look at PI-186 entry 47, Taxbooks, 1824-1879 (NAID 1488302) which cover the years 1824-1879.
RG 351, entry P28. Owner of 1538 9th St NW highlighted.
Other series were examined to see if there was anything more to be learned. RG 351 entry P 23 Records Concerning General Assessments and Plats, 1896 – 1897 (NAID 7868344) confirmed what we already discovered. Entry 22, Tax Assessor Card Files, 1905 – 1977 (NAID 7788693) yielded nothing, since there were no great changes to the building structure. Another tax assessment series, P 30, Field Assessment Books, 1889 – 1930 (NAID 12021790), provided basic tax related data but, gave no information about the owner.