Archive for the ‘Special Events’ Category

Happy Birthday Waldo!

Written on: July 17, 2013 | 3 Comments

This is the birthday of Waldo Gifford Leland, born this day in 1879 in Newton, Massachusetts.  He was a historian with careers at the Carnegie Institution and the Library of Congress, and played an important role in the creation of the National Archives.

Leland’s portrait hangs among those of the previous Archivists of the United States.  And I discovered him on a recent afternoon when I noticed that there were 10 portraits.  Counted them twice.  Thought maybe someone had made a mistake and I was number 11, not 10!

Waldo Gifford Leland portrait
Portrait of Waldo Gifford Leland, 1879-1966. From RG 64, Records of the National Archives
The portrait was dedicated on October 24, 1957.

 
Leland was a student of J. Franklin Jameson at Brown and Jameson’s mentee.  Leland took an early interest in archives, compiling the “Guide to the Archives of the Government of the United States in Washington” and searching across the United States for the correspondence of the Continental Congress delegates.

In 1907 he presented a paper to the Columbia Historical Society in Washington stressing the need for a national archives—the beginning of his campaign for preserving the records of the country.  In 1909 he presented his paper, “American Archival Problems,” at the American Archivists Conference, which he helped organize.  In 1912 he wrote “The National Archives:  a Programme” which outlined the poor condition of … [ Read all ]

Happy Fourth of July!

Written on: July 3, 2013 | 1 Comment

In 1776 when John Adams was envisioning future celebrations of the Declaration of Independence he said:

“It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty.  It ought 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 forever more.”

While he didn’t mention the National Archives and our annual commemoration I am sure he would be pleased with how the home of the Declaration of Independence celebrates this day.  Hundreds of people will be gathering on the Constitution Avenue steps of the National Archives to participate in a dramatic reading of this Charter of Freedom by Abigail and John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Ned Hector, and George Washington.   What better way to prepare for the Fourth of July parade in the Nation’s capitol?!

[ Read all ]

A New Deal for a New Generation

Written on: July 1, 2013 | 0 Comments

On the last day of June of 1941, Franklin Delano Roosevelt stood at the entrance to his library in Hyde Park, New York—the first of the Presidential Libraries—and dedicated it to the American people with these words:

“It seems to me that the dedication of a library is in itself an act of faith.

To bring together the records of the past and to house them in a building where they will be preserved for the use of men and women in the future, a Nation must believe in three things.

It must believe in the past.

It must believe in the future.

It must, above all, believe in the capacity of its own people so to learn from the past that they can gain in judgment in creating their own future.”

“…an act of faith.”  These words are as true today as they were in 1941.  In fact, just this past April, in dedicating our newest Presidential Library, George W. Bush quoted those words from President Roosevelt.

AOTUS speaking at FDR Rededication ceremony
David Ferriero addresses the crowd at the FDR Library Rededication Ceremony on June 30, 2013

 

Yesterday at Hyde Park, we rededicated the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, the culmination of a multi-year renovation project and exhibit redesign.   A Presidential Library is and must be a living entity.  President Roosevelt, who created the … [ Read all ]

Flat Stanley’s Magical Visit to Washington

Written on: June 17, 2013 | 0 Comments

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.

student letter

 

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!

White House

 

He really wanted to climb the Washington Monument but the restoration work forced him to settle for a view from a nearby tree limb.

Washington Monument

We stopped at the National Archives, of course, and dropped in on the Archivist of the United States.

AOTUS office

AOTUS and Obama

But the real excitement came on Memorial Day when Stanley got to ride on a float in the parade down Constitution Avenue.

Parade Float

And who should he meet along the route?  George Washington, himself!

George Washington

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 ]

Founders Online

Written on: June 13, 2013 | 0 Comments

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.

founders online website

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 ]

Round Two of US-Canadian Rivalry

Written on: May 20, 2013 | 3 Comments

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 … ”

Cutlar affidavit Page 1

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 ]

Open Government Appreciations

Written on: May 15, 2013 | 2 Comments

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.

berryman - open for business 6011066
“Open for Business,” by cartoonist … [ Read all ]

Happy Public Service Recognition Week!

Written on: May 8, 2013 | 0 Comments

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.”

National Archives desk
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 ]

George W. Bush Presidential Center Dedication

Written on: April 25, 2013 | 0 Comments

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.

GWB Presidential Library
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 ]

The Spirit of Boston

Written on: April 18, 2013 | 7 Comments

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 ]