Archive for the ‘Special Events’ Category
Just before Memorial Day, Eva Wall, a third grader at the Fiske School in Wellesley, Massachusetts wrote to tell me that her class was working on a Flat Stanley project. If you are not familiar with Jeff Brown’s 1964 children’s classic, illustrated by Tomi Ungerer, check it out. Eva sent me a hand colored flat Stanley and my assignment—write an illustrated short story about Stanley’s visit to Washington.
Stanley and I wandered up and down the Mall looking for photo ops. At the White House a friendly security guard reminded me that sticking things through the fence was not allowed—after Stanley had already posed on the other side!
He really wanted to climb the Washington Monument but the restoration work forced him to settle for a view from a nearby tree limb.
We stopped at the National Archives, of course, and dropped in on the Archivist of the United States.
But the real excitement came on Memorial Day when Stanley got to ride on a float in the parade down Constitution Avenue.
And who should he meet along the route? George Washington, himself!
And last week Eva got to share Stanley’s adventures with her classmates. I heard that Stanley’s picture with George Washington is hanging on the bulletin board! Thanks, Eva!… [ Read all ]
This afternoon, the National Archives launched Founders Online—a tool for seamless searching across the Papers of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Alexander Hamilton. Our National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) has been funding these projects in paper for some time. Working with Rotunda at the University of Virginia Press and the editors of the six papers project, Founders Online was created with NHPRC funding to provide simultaneous searching across all six collections at once.
Through Founders Online you can now trace the shaping of the nation, the extraordinary clash of ideas, the debates and discussions carried out through drafts and final versions of public documents as well as the evolving thoughts and principles shared in personal correspondence, diaries, and journals. This beta version of Founders Online contains over 119,000 documents, and new documents will be added to the site on a continual basis.
You can see first-hand the close working partnership between George Washington and Alexander Hamilton from their time in the Revolutionary War to Hamilton’s draft of Washington’s Farewell Address. Or read John Adams’ description of Congress as a place where “There is so much Wit, Sense, Learning, Acuteness, Subtilty, Eloquence, etc. among fifty Gentlemen, each of whom has been habituated to lead and guide in his own Province, that an immensity of Time, is … [ Read all ]
On the 15th of June in 1859, Lyman Cutlar, an American recently settled on San Juan Island, shot a pig which ” … having been at several times a great annoyance and that morning destroyed a portion of his garden … ”
Affidavit of Lyman A. Cutlar Regarding Pig Shooting, September 7, 1859
(click on image to view the complete 5-page document in our Flickr photostream)
The pig belonged to the British Hudson Bay Company who demanded compensation in the amount of $100. The astonished Cutlar valued the pig at less than $10. While not the shot heard round the world, it did mark the beginning of the Pig War-a border dispute between the United States and Canada. While that was the only shot fired, twelve years of posturing on both sides which included troops and navies and some soon to be famous Civil War principals, George E. Pickett and Winfield Scott. The Treaty of Washington between the United States and Great Britain was signed in 1871 and the San Juan Island matter referred to Kaiser Wilhelm I of German for arbitration and in October of 1872 ruled in favor of the United States.
An early commemoration of the anniversary of The Pig War was the excuse for the staff of the National Archives in Washington and our friends across the street at the Canadian Embassy to once again test public opinion-this time on bacon. Last … [ Read all ]
This week the American Society of Access Professionals (ASAP) honored the National Archives with its two highest awards. The President’s Award for Distinguished Public Service was awarded to Miriam Nisbet, Director of our Office of Government Information Services (OGIS). And the Director’s Award for Superior Public Service was awarded to the Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB). PIDB is an advisory board created by Congress to promote access to national security decisions and activities. Our Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) Director serves as the PIDB Executive Secretary and ISOO staff support the work of the board.
The President’s Award is the highest honor that ASAP grants recognizing distinguished and sustained contributions in the furtherance of the public interest with respect to access, privacy, and fair information laws, policies, and practices. ASAP noted Miriam’s work in FOIA at the Justice Department and then in the National Archives General Counsel’s office during the 1990’s, as legislative counsel for the American Library Association and then UNESCO in Paris. Special recognition was focused on her work to establish and head OGIS, created by the 2007 amendments to the FOIA. In accepting the award, Miriam pointed out that she had grown up along with the FOIA and that OGIS represents the maturity of a law that is one of the hallmarks of open government and democracy.
“Open for Business,” by cartoonist … [ Read all ]
Yesterday we celebrated the accomplishments of National Archives staff across the country in our annual Archivist’s Awards Ceremony.
I read from Senate Resolution 99 which commends public servants for their dedication and continued service to the United States and acknowledging that ” … public service is a noble calling.” I also read from President Obama’s Public Service Recognition Week greetings: “In communities across our country, public servants at the Federal, state, and local levels tirelessly carry out the work of our government. Diligently serving without the expectation of fanfare, they enforce our laws, teach our children, and lay a strong foundation for our Nation’s progress. Our dedicated employees are committed to a cause greater than personal ambition, and each day, they tackle many of our most urgent challenges and help us move closer to a more perfect Union.”
Photograph of desk installed in National Archives Library, 1950. National Archives Identifier 3493214
We created a little internal fanfare yesterday by recognizing staff for protecting and recovering stolen records, for outstanding service and support of our nation’s veterans, for achievement in engaging our citizens, for developing the Presidential Memorandum and Directive on Managing Government Records, for efforts to increase National Declassification Center production, to name just a few of awards tied closely to our Transformation pillars.
We also celebrated long term service milestones of … [ Read all ]
This week, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will dedicate the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the campus of Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas. The facility will open to the public on May 1.
Bush Library exterior, evening. Photo courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Center
The Bush Library is the 13th of NARA’s federally owned Presidential libraries, whose holdings span eight decades of American history. It also increases our presence in Texas, where we already operate the Lyndon B. Johnson Library in Austin, George H.W. Bush’s library in College Station, and our regional archives and records center in Fort Worth.
We look forward to developing partnerships with the George W. Bush Presidential Center and with SMU to present joint programming, share our expertise, draw on our holdings, and bring together SMU’s academic departments and the library. These kinds of partnerships at the 12 other Presidential libraries have enriched the learning experience for students and scholars.
Without the preservation of and access to these Presidential materials, the history of our nation would be incomplete. They document the key decisions and policies and how crucial decisions were made. Also, through exhibits, educational initiatives, and public programs, the libraries perform a critical outreach mission in their communities and beyond.
The new Bush Library holds 70 million pages of textual … [ Read all ]
On Monday, April 15, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum suffered a fire. It was quickly managed and extinguished by first responders from the Boston Fire Department and the Boston Police Department. My sincere thanks go to them for their extraordinary efforts. I am grateful that no one was injured.
This fire occurred around the same time as the awful attack in Copley Plaza during the Boston Marathon. Our hearts go out to the victims of that terrible, terrible event. I have close ties to Boston. I have run that marathon with those people in the past and have had friends and relatives cheering for me at that finish line. I found this incident to be particularly sad and troubling.
The Boston Police Department is investigating the cause of the fire and initial indications are that it was not connected to the bombings at the Boston Marathon. Please remember the people affected by the tragedy in Boston on Monday, and wish for their resilience and for their healing.
Today, the work of the American people continues in Boston, and my heartfelt congratulations go out to the people who have been working hard to develop the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), which is launching online today. Unfortunately, Monday’s tragedy occurred at the very steps of where the official gala launch was planned to be held, the Boston Public Library. The gala has … [ Read all ]
The Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) at the National Archives has been hard at work this year developing recommendations to the President of the United States to transform the national security classification system. PIDB is an advisory committee established by Congress to advise and provide recommendations to the President and other executive branch officials on the identification, collection, review for declassification, and release of declassified records of archival value. In addition, PIDB advises the President on policies regarding classification and declassification of national security information.
Through their “Transforming Classification” blog, they have solicited hundreds of public comments and ideas on ways to reduce inefficiency and increase public access to improve our classification and declassification system.
The work of the PIDB embodies the principles of open government, transparency and participation, and I encourage you to provide your feedback on their blog as they continue to tackle the challenge of improving the national security classification system, especially as it relates to digital records.
On Thursday, December 6th, the Public Interest Declassification Board will host an open meeting to discuss its recommendations to the President on Transforming the Security Classification System. The full Report to the President will be published online on December 6th . The meeting will focus on the Board’s fourteen recommendations, centering on the need for new policies for classifying information, new processes for declassifying information, … [ Read all ]
In 1997 President and Mrs. Clinton created the White House Millennium Council with the theme “Honor the Past—Imagine the Future.” The Council asked former presidential and congressional medal winners and students from across the country to identify artifacts, ideas, and accomplishments which represent America at that time in history for inclusion in a National Millennium Time Capsule. The sounds of Louis Armstrong, a photograph of U.S. troops liberating a concentration camp, children’s art, and a model of the Liberty Bell are some of the more than 1300 contributions made. And a package of Twinkies!
The Time Capsule now resides at the National Archives and I had a chance to talk with some of the staff involved in processing the contents of the capsule for long term preservation. “In perpetuity” is imbedded in the DNA of the National Archives, after all. So…how did the Twinkies stand up to our rigorous standards? While they do have a reportedly long shelflife—14 years in one source—they failed the perpetuity test. The fact that Twinkies had been originally included was, of course, documented, but in the end they were eaten!
Photo courtesy of Larry D. Moore CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
I have a long history with Twinkies, culminating in winning the New Year’s Eve Dessert Contest while at the MIT Libraries with my Sarah’s Surprise recipe. I … [ Read all ]
Veterans Day has special meaning for us at the National Archives where we hold the almost 112 million individual personnel files and medical records of the men and women who have served in the military. Housed in St. Louis, Missouri and Valmeyer, Illinois, more than 800 staff process, protect, and service those records to ensure that veterans and their families can receive the benefits due to them, can document family histories, and can received replacement medals and awards. More than 5,000 requests are received each day and I am so proud of the dedication the staff brings to their work, often going the extra mile to ensure that our veterans get what they need.
Photograph of San Francisco Yeomen attached to the Naval Reserve, June 1918. National Archives Identifier: 533764
Another more than 10 million military service records and pension files from earlier wars—American Revolution through the Philippine-American War—are serviced in Washington, DC.
Each one of those records, as is the case with each record in our custody, tells a story. Two of thousands of stories:
A veteran’s family wrote hoping to confirm a story regarding a real “Great Escape” during World War II. Staff discovered that the veteran had been captured by the Germans in 1944 and sent to a labor camp in Poland. He escaped by tunneling under the wire fence, disguised … [ Read all ]