Archive for the ‘NARA Records’ Category

What’s New in the National Archives Catalog: Photographs from the Battle of the Bulge

Written on: March 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

The National Archives’ Strategic Plan includes the bold initiative to digitize our analog records and make them available for online public access.

Our new digitization strategy outlines the many approaches we will use to achieve this goal, and I am proud share with you the results of some of our recent digitization work.

Recently digitized by staff in the National Archives Still Picture Branch, these stunning color photographs from the Battle of the Bulge were taken by the U.S. Army Signal Corps in St. Vith, Belgium. The photos depict the wreckage in St. Vith in the days after units of the 7th Armored Division liberated the town in January, 1945.

Wreckage in St. Vith Belgium
Wreckage in St. Vith, Belgium. National Archives Identifier 16730732

Snowsuited Soldiers Walk through the Snow Covered Streets of St. Vith, Belgium
Snowsuited Soldiers Walk through the Snow Covered Streets of St. Vith, Belgium. National Archives Identifier 16730733

 

American Soldiers Man a Dug-In Mortar Emplacement near St. Vith, Belgium
American Soldiers Man a Dug-In Mortar Emplacement near St. Vith, Belgium. National Archives Identifier 16730734

M-4 Sherman Tanks Lined up in a Snow Covered Field, near St. Vith, Belgium
M-4 Sherman Tanks Lined up in a Snow Covered Field, near St. Vith, Belgium. National Archives Identifier 16730735

Yanks Trudge through Snow from Humpange,Belgium to St. Vith

Yanks Trudge through Snow from Humpange,Belgium to St. Vith. National Archives Identifier 16730736

I will be featuring more digitization projects in upcoming blog posts.

More photos from the Battle of the Bulge are featured on Today’s Document Tumblr, and you can read more about “The Bloodiest Battle” in Prologue Magazine.… [ Read all ]

Participate in the #1000pages Transcription Challenge

Written on: March 16, 2015 | 8 Comments

Calling all history enthusiasts and citizen archivists! Participate in the Transcription Challenge this week and help us meet — and surpass! — our goal of transcribing more than 1000 pages.

Join us in celebrating Sunshine Week and transcribe records in our new National Archives Catalog. We’ll be tracking our progress every day this week, so help us get to 1000 pages by Monday, March 23.
#1000pages graphic
Visit the Transcription Challenge webpage for more information. Use the hashtag #1000pages and tweet us @USNatArchives. Share with us what you discover in the records.

We have millions of pages of handwritten and typed documents that are waiting for you. Check out all of our Transcription Missions, or search for your favorite records.

You could work on transcribing more than 100 pages of the widow’s pension file for Harriet Tubman Davis or use your skills to read the difficult handwriting in the Papers of the Continental Congress.


Congress
Deposition of John Robins Regarding Hostilities at Lexington.
Transcribe this record

You can transcribe any record in the catalog by using the “View/Add Contributions” button underneath the digitized records. You’ll need to create a login to transcribe.

Since it’s Sunshine Week, it’s a great time to work on transcribing declassified records we have online.  You’ll see a classification and declassification markings, along with evidence of important historical events.  … [ Read all ]

What have you found in Founders Online?

Written on: February 5, 2015 | 0 Comments

Founders Online, a tool for seamless searching across the papers of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Alexander Hamilton, launched in 2013. Since then, the tool has grown to a fully searchable online database of over 165,000 documents, including thousands of documents that have not yet appeared in the published volumes.

The site has had nearly 750,000 unique visitors—an average of over 42,000 people each month.

We continue to hear remarkable stories about how researchers are using the site and the surprising items they’ve found. Here are some unique uses of the content found on Founders Online:

A Hamilton Oath of Allegiance FO

  • Gates Thomas, a composer and associate professor at Berklee College of Music, has written a cantata based on George Washington’s Revolutionary War letters found in Founders Online. You can hear the cantata in this “With Good Reason” radio broadcast at about the 26:00 mark.

 What have you found in Founders Online?… [ Read all ]

Creating a 21st Century Museum for the Mind

Written on: December 8, 2014 | 1 Comment

In a recent Wall Street Journal piece on the digital Einstein Papers Project, Walter Isaacson, waxed poetical about the “tingling inspiration of seeing original documents.”  Every day I am lucky to witness that “tingling” in the Rotunda of the National Archives as visitors stand in line to be in the presence of the Charters of Freedom.  On the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, more than 9,000 people stood in line for a weekend display of the original document.  Across the country in our many facilities, ordinary citizens get to examine original records in their family history journeys, researchers use originals to track down evidence, and our government is held accountable for its action by review of the records of decisions made or not made.

Isaacson is no Luddite!   He understands the value of digital access.  “…my brooding soon gave way to marveling about the benefits that will come when millions of curious people, with new technologies in hand, get to dive into the papers of historical figures.”  And he cites our Founders Online as an exemplar.  The ability to search across the papers of six Founders, including early access to unpublished letters, has already proven to be a great boon to historical research. Einstein

“Artwork: ‘Albert Einstein’ Artist: Elin Waite” National Archives Identifier 6343429

I, like Isaacson, “…hope that archives will remain inspiring … [ Read all ]

Military Pension Files: Frakturs

Written on: November 25, 2014 | 3 Comments

Did you know that military pension files may contain valuable details about family history? While military veterans who applied for benefits had to provide evidence of service, widows or heirs had to provide evidence of their relationship to soldiers. As a result, some military pension files in the National Archives contain very interesting, and sometimes surprising items.

For example, this beautiful Fraktur illustrating a family record was found within the file documenting the military service of Peter Hunt, who served during the American Revolutionary War.

Fraktur, Peter Hunt, Connecticut and New York
From the Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application File of Peter Hunt.
National Archives Identifier 300092

 

We know from his pension application that Peter Hunt was born on Sept 28, 1757, in Dover, Dutchess County, New York. He married Hannah Benson on September 15, 1779, in Dutchess County.

On October 8, 1832, Peter Hunt made an application for pension while a resident of Kortright, Delaware County, New York, and was issued pension in 1833. According to Peter’s declaration to obtain pension, he enlisted in the United States Army in 1776 as a private commanded by Captain Childs and served in his Company of Infantry. Soon after, he enlisted into a Company of Artillery commanded by Capt. Andrew Moody in a regiment of the New York Continental line.

Peter first enlisted as volunteer in the militia in 1775 … [ Read all ]

By the Numbers

Written on: October 24, 2014 | 6 Comments

The holdings of the National Archives are vast. With more than 12 billion pages of textual records alone, it is essential that we continue to explore and employ innovative strategies to provide effective access. By understanding how you currently access our records and better understanding your unique needs, we will be better positioned to ensure your success in using the country’s records.

Women from are getting into vocational schools to learn war work
Analyzing our work.
From Record Group 208: Records of the Office of War Information, 1926 – 1951. National Archives Identifier: 535579

 

Here’s what some of our data shows:

Physical Visits:

Number of visits to all NARA facilities in FY2014: 4,163,905; up from 4,112,813 in FY13

  • Number of visits to our exhibits in FY2014: 3,451,044; up from 3,204,642 in FY13
  • Number of researcher visits to all NARA facilities in FY2014: 104,366; down from 114,096 in FY13

Number of written requests answered by all NARA offices in FY2014: 1,065,513; down from 1,132,525 in FY13

  • Number of written requests (includes fax, letter, email) received by all NARA archival offices in FY2014: 114,577; down from 122,442 in FY13
  • Number of written requests received by the St. Louis Military Personnel Records Center in FY2014: 950,936; down from 1,010,083 in FY13

Website and Online Catalog:

  • Traffic to Archives.gov: We had 31,093,042 visits from 22,869,469 visitors who viewed 86,729,808 pages, up 6% from FY13
  • Percentage of online users
[ Read all ]

The Scan Plan: Our Strategy to Digitize the Vast Holdings of the National Archives

Written on: October 9, 2014 | 8 Comments

The National Archives’ Strategic Plan includes a simple, but audacious initiative: to digitize our analog records and make them available for online public access. We have over 12 billion pages of records, so yes, this is our moon shot.

To achieve this goal, we know we need to think in radically new ways about our processes, and we have started by creating a new digitization strategy.  From the time we published our 2008 digitization strategy through today, we have scanned over 230 million objects.  This is a huge number, but we have a long road ahead.  Our new strategy pushes us further.

Scanning technique demonstrated by Mattie Woodford
Scanning technique demonstrated by Mattie Woodford, Powell Group film scanner, taken April 1961. National Archives Identifier 7665735.

We know we cannot do all of this by ourselves. We will continue to collaborate and build on efforts with private and public organizations to digitize records, as well as branch out to citizen archivists, other federal agencies and institutions worldwide. We will develop clear processes and technologies to support a workflow from staff digitization efforts, as well as ensure that records arriving at NARA are accompanied by standardized metadata, and make them available online in a shorter period of time.

We will set measures and track progress for each of these approaches, because we believe we can make digital access happen and we … [ Read all ]

Happy Labor Day!

Written on: August 29, 2014 | 0 Comments

“A truly American sentiment recognizes the dignity of labor and the fact that honor lies in honest toil.” -Grover Cleveland

Public Law 53-95: An Act Making Labor Day a Legal Holiday, June 28, 1894
General Records of the U.S. Government, National Archives and Records Administration

Labor Day Act[ Read all ]

Happy Birthday, Annie Oakley!

Written on: August 22, 2014 | 1 Comment

Letter to William McKinley offering to raise a troop of 50 lady sharpshooters to fight the Spanish American War.  They would provide their own rifles and ammunition.  Unfortunately, women were not allowed to serve at that point in our history.

Annie Oakley letter to William McKinley

Letter to President William McKinley from Annie Oakley. April 5, 1898. National Archives Identifier 300369[ Read all ]

Special Visitors

Written on: August 18, 2014 | 0 Comments

Tracy Bray contacted us recently and wondered if she could bring her father and family for a special visit to the National Archives in Washington.  It was a surprise for her father, Harry Edward Neal Jr.  The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution have special meaning to all of us and especially to the Neal family.  Mr. Neal’s father, Harry Edward Neal, was the Secret Service Agent in charge of getting those precious parchments into protective custody at Fort Knox during World War II.

Photo of Harry Edward Neal

Photo of Harry Edward Neal

The Charters had not yet been transferred to the National Archives and were housed at the Library of Congress.  Other documents slated for this secret mission included The Gutenberg Bible, Lincoln’s Second Inaugural and Gettysburg Addresses, and the Lincoln Cathedral copy of the Magna Carta which had been on display at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City.

Agent Neal’s detailed report to Frank J. Wilson, Chief of the Secret Service, is fascinating.  An armored truck “under suitable guard” moved the material from the Library of Congress Annex to Union Station where a drawing room and adjoining compartments on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad train leaving at 6:30 p.m. on the 26th of December 1941.

A wonderful letter from then Librarian of Congress, Archibald MacLeish, captured the emotion of the moment in his letter … [ Read all ]