Archive for November, 2010

Blessings of Peace, Union and Harmony

Written on: November 24, 2010 | 0 Comments

President Lincoln issued a Proclamation of Thanksgiving in October 1863, which is well known for setting the precedent of our national holiday. Since 1863, we have celebrated Thanksgiving every year as a nation.

Another Proclamation of Thanksgiving was issued a year later by President Lincoln. October 1864 was a pivotal time during the Civil War. Atlanta had fallen to General Sherman a month before and Lincoln was not yet reelected.


Portion of page 1 of Lincoln’s 1864 Proclamation of Thanksgiving

The 1864 Proclamation begins, “It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year…”


Portion of page 1 of Lincoln’s 1864 Proclamation of Thanksgiving

On page 4 of the Proclamation, Lincoln states, “And I do farther recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of events for a return of the inestimable blessings of Peace, Union, and Harmony throughout the land, which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.”


Portion of  page 4 of Lincoln’s 1864 Proclamation of Thanksgiving

On this Thanksgiving, I encourage you to view the original pages of the Proclamation and read the complete text (both below).

By the President of the United States

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On Hallowed Ground: The History of Arlington National Cemetery

Written on: November 19, 2010 | 1 Comment

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of speaking with Robert Poole, author of On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery.

In the following video, Mr. Poole discusses his experience as a researcher at the National Archives and several Presidential Libraries, as well as the very first burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

What do you think is the most interesting story of Arlington National Cemetery?

For More Information:

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Happy Veterans Day!

Written on: November 11, 2010 | 4 Comments

Every day at the National Archives, we fulfill veterans’ requests for copies of their military records that document their service to our country. The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, MO is an office of the National Archives, which has over 80 million permanent records and receives over 5,000 requests for military records every day.

In celebration of Veterans Day, we created a video that helps explain the process of applying for military records. Watch the video to learn more about this important service we offer to veterans and their families.

On one of my first trips as Archivist of the United States, I visited the NPRC. I learned about the employees who do this work, the importance of the records in our holdings, and the process to fulfill requests for copies of records. I got a tour of the VIP vault, where the records of well known individuals are kept, including Elvis Presley, Clark Gable, Ronald Reagan, and General George S. Patton.

During my tour of NPRC, I did not expect the staff to present me with the records of my time in the Navy as a hospital corpsman during the Vietnam War. It was a very thoughtful gesture by the staff of the NPRC.


A portion of the cover of my military service records

enlistment-oathMy signature on the enlistment oath

The … [ Read all ]

The Impact of Theft

Written on: November 8, 2010 | 5 Comments

While I was the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the New York Public Libraries, E. Forbes Smiley III stole more than 70 maps from our Map Division and Rare Books division. Only 33 of the maps were ever recovered.

Mr. Smiley was a rare map dealer, and a trusted friend of the New York Public Library. He was influential in building the Lawrence H. Slaughter collection of English maps, charts, atlases, globes, and books relating to Colonial North America, now at the New York Public Library.


A map from the Lawrence H. Slaughter Collection
at the New York Public Library

E. Forbes Smiley III acknowledged stealing 97 rare maps from libraries he had befriended and then sold them on the open market. He was a thief. He assaulted history, betrayed personal trust, and caused irreparable loss of treasures whose value to future scholarship will now never be known. He committed his crimes for personal gain, profit, and prestige.

A hallmark of our society is that libraries, museums, and archives are open and accessible to the public. This fact also puts institutions at risk from individuals who wish to diminish our collective heritage for their own selfish purposes.

At the National Archives, we know what an awesome responsibility we have to be good stewards of our nation’s heritage. The security of the holdings of the National … [ Read all ]

Are these Records?

Written on: November 2, 2010 | 4 Comments

Federal agencies’ Facebook posts, YouTube videos, blog posts, and tweets… are all of these Federal records?

Increasingly, Federal agencies are using web 2.0 and social media tools to quickly and effectively communicate with the public. These applications, sites, and tools encourage public participation and increase our ability to be more open and transparent.


The informal tone of the content, however, should not be confused with insignificance. Agencies must comply with all records management laws, regulations, and policies when using web 2.0 and social media tools.

On October 20, 2010, the National Archives and Records Administration issued “Guidance on Managing Records in Web 2.0/Social Media Platforms” also known as NARA Bulletin 2011-02.

The bulletin says that the “principles for analyzing, scheduling, and managing records are based on content and are independent of the medium; where and how an agency creates, uses, or stores information does not affect how agencies identify Federal records.” The following questions are meant to help agencies determine record status:

  • Is the information unique and not available anywhere else?
  • Does it contain evidence of the agency’s policies, business, mission, etc.?
  • Is this tool being used in relation to the agency’s work?
  • Is use of the tool authorized by the agency?
  • Is there a business need for the information?

If the answers to any of the questions are yes, then the content is likely … [ Read all ]