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 ]