Archive for the ‘NARA Records’ Category

Happy Fourth of July!

Written on: July 3, 2014 | 2 Comments

238 years ago, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. And John Adams envisioned future celebrations of the event.  In a letter to his wife, he wrote:  “It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn acts of Devotion to God Almighty.  It out to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward for ever more.”

Stilt-Walking Uncle Sam
A Stilt-Walking “Uncle Sam,” 06/1973. National Archives Identifier 549573

That vision of the future got off to a slow, but no less passionate start.  On July 5th 1777, John Adams wrote to his daughter from Philadelphia describing events of the first anniversary:  Invited to dine with President Washington aboard the frigate Delaware, Adams wrote:  “…we were saluted with a discharge of thirteen guns, which was followed by thirteen others, from each other armed vessel in the river; then the gallies followed the fire, and after them the guard boats.  The President and company were saluted with three cheers, from every ship, galley, and boat in the river.  The wharves and shores, were lined with a vast concourse of people, all shouting and huzzaing, in a manner which gave great joy to every friend to this country, and the utmost terror and dismay … [ Read all ]

The Allure of the Archives

Written on: June 30, 2014 | 6 Comments

Arlette Farge, Director of Research in Modern History at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris, has written a wonderful little book about doing research in archives.

“Contact with the archives begins with simple tasks, one of which is handling the documents.  Combing through the archives—a beautifully evocative term—requires a host of tasks, and no matter how complex the planned intellectual investigation will be, they cannot be bypassed.  They are both familiar and simple, and they purify one’s thoughts, temper the spirit of sophistication, and sharpen one’s curiosity.  These tasks are performed without haste, and necessarily so.  One cannot overstate how slow work in the archives is, and how this slowness of hands and thought can be the source of creativity.  But more than inspirational, it is inescapable.  The consultation of these bundles, one after another, is never finished.  No matter how carefully you prepare beforehand, sampling documents and putting together research guides in an effort to limit the number of texts you will have to consult, your patience will inevitably be tested.”

Archivist reviewing documents

Archivist Matt Law reviews Chinese Exclusion Act Files.; Location: National Archives at Riverside, Perris, CA; Photographer: Joseph S. Peñaranda

 

“Reading patiently, in silence, you will regularly run up against various obstacles as your eyes travel across the manuscript pages.  Many documents have deteriorated physically, and torn corners or … [ Read all ]

Patent of the Month: Higgins boats

Written on: June 6, 2014 | 0 Comments

Today marks the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion. To commemorate this anniversary, this month’s patent is Andrew Higgins’s landing boat. It is dated February 15, 1944, less than four months before D-Day.

LCVPs–or Higgins boats, as they are now commonly known –transported troops from the 1st Infantry onto Omaha Beach. They could each carry 36 combat-equipped infantrymen or 8,000 pounds of cargo. In all, 23,398 Higgins boats were produced during the war.

Higgins Boat Patent drawing

Higgins boat patent drawing page 2

 

From the holdings of the National Archives at Kansas City, “Lighter for Mechanized Equipment,” Patent Case Files, 1836-1993, NAID 302050[ Read all ]

Happy Memorial Day!

Written on: May 23, 2014 | 2 Comments

The photograph was taken at Soldier Field, Chicago, in July of 1967. The Navy’s Recruit Training Command at Great Lakes provided the manpower to create The Living Flag. In the upper right corner of the blue field, wearing a blue plastic bag over whitehat, stands recruit David S. Ferriero!

Remembering boot camp on this Memorial Day weekend.

Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois, July 8, 1967
“Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois, July 8, 1967: 10,000 sailors from the Great Lakes Naval Training Center form a living flag. Mayor Richard J. Daley and Rear Admiral William S. Guest, Commandant, Ninth Naval District, are the principal speakers at the event during which several classes of recruits graduated from the Training Center” . . .  428-N-1124035[ Read all ]

Patent of the Month: Tucker “Torpedo” Patent Drawing, 06/14/1949

Written on: May 6, 2014 | 0 Comments

During World War II, the South Side of Chicago was home to one of the largest war plants in the country, used by Dodge-Chrysler to build bomber plane engines. After the war, Preston Tucker leased two of the buildings to build his “Torpedo” car. This site is now the home of the National Archives at Chicago! Our National Archives Education team shares the full story on their Facebook page.

Here are the patent drawings for Tucker’s “Torpedo” car:

Tucker Torpedo

Tucker Torpedo

Tucker Torpedo Patent Drawing, 6/14/1949, National Archives Identifier 594674[ Read all ]

Modernizing Records Management

Written on: April 30, 2014 | 1 Comment

The Managing Government Records Directive (OMB M12-18) charges the National Archives and Records Administration to lead the efforts to modernize records management in the Federal Government.

The Directive focuses on two main goals:

  • agencies will require electronic recordkeeping by managing all their email in an accessible electronic format by the end of 2016 and managing all their permanent records as electronic records by the end of 2019.
  • agencies must demonstrate compliance with all records management laws and regulations.

I talked about the importance of the Directive in a post when it was issued in 2012. Since then, we passed several milestones. Agencies have identified Senior Agency Officials to lead records management in their programs and I have met with them to discuss the challenge and collaborate on solutions. And they have reported on their progress.

Industry Day

Staff members Meg Phillips, Don Rosen, and Chief Records Officer Paul Wester mingle with vendors at “The Managing Government Records Directive: A Grand Challenge for Industry” event in September 2013.

In September, we hosted a successful industry day for the Federal information management community and vendors with automated electronic records management solutions and services. It was an opportunity to meet and discuss the solutions and tools needed to meet the goals of the Directive.

We followed industry day with a request for information, asking vendors to describe … [ Read all ]

Be Bold: Connect with Customers

Written on: April 17, 2014 | 1 Comment

Connect with Customers
State Fair, 10/1972. National Archives Identifier 545457

The second of our new strategic goals is to “Connect with Customers.”

Having spent most of my career working with the public, customer service is a passion of mine. In my personal life I am always looking for exemplars—places where I am dazzled by attention to service, places which learn from their customers, places which put their customers at the center of the service equation.

At the National Archives, we connect with customers in a multitude of ways: nationwide, face-to-face, over the phone, across the desk, in our research rooms, in the classroom and of course, online.  We have a wide-variety of customer communities, including educators, historians, genealogists, researchers, veterans and now groups such as civic hackers, Wikipedians and many more. We need to become more agile, more creative in connecting with them – whoever they are, wherever they are, to deliver what they want when they want it.

But connection is not just about delivery, it is about engaging with the public in ways we have not done in the past. Much of the work we have been doing with Open Government has been about connecting with customers in new ways.  In speaking about Open Government, President Obama said, “Our commitment to openness means more than simply informing the American people about how decisions are made.  It means … [ Read all ]

Be Bold: Make Access Happen

Written on: April 15, 2014 | 12 Comments

Women Working at a Switchboard
Photograph of Women Working at a Bell System Telephone Switchboard. National Archives Identifier 1633445.

 

The first of our new strategic goals is to “Make Access Happen.”  Increasingly, access means digital, online access. Our first goal has one objective, to make our records available to the public in digital form to ensure that anyone can explore, discover and learn from our records.

Here are a few of the initiatives listed under this goal:

  • First, we want to complete the long journey of describing our holdings in our online catalog. We launched our first agency-wide online catalog in 2003, and now we are within just a few years of being able to say that over 95% of our records are described at the series level. Currently we are at 83% and going strong. Archivists across the agency continue to provide basic archival metadata to the catalog so that people around the world can know what we have.
  • We will also accelerate the processing of analog and digital records to quickly make our records available to the public. Foundational technology for that effort will be the development of a digital processing environment that will allow archival, digitization and description staff to work in an environment that supports and enhances accelerated processing of the records.
  • We want to digitize our records and to make them available online.
  • [ Read all ]

Patent of the Month: Eli Whitney’s Cotton Gin

Written on: March 14, 2014 | 1 Comment

When I was a kid growing up in Beverly, MA, every morning I would walk by the site of the cotton mill visited by George Washington. That mill, the Beverly Cotton Manufactory, even predated Eli Whitney’s cotton gin, which was patented 220 years ago today!

Eli Whitney’s Cotton Gin Patent Drawing, 03/14/1794

Eli Whitney's Cotton Gin

From Records of the Patent and Trademark Office, National Archives Identifier 305886[ Read all ]

Patent of the Month: Still Design, 1808

Written on: February 26, 2014 | 1 Comment

Stills similar to the one represented in this drawing were used to make distilled liquors and were commonly used in America during the early 19th-century. And their “descendants” are still being found in the mountains of rural America!

A preview of an exhibit planned for 2015 here at the National Archives: “Spirited Republic.”

Eli Barnum & Benj. Brooks Still Design Patent, 1808

Still Design Patent

Records of the Patent and Trademark Office, National Archives Identifier 305887[ Read all ]