Archive for August, 2013

FDR’s BHAG

Written on: August 29, 2013 | 1 Comment

Robert D.W. Connor, the President of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) and recently retired first Archivist of the United States, in his address to the Society at their annual meeting in 1942 read a letter from President Franklin D. Roosevelt who had been awarded an honorary membership in the organization.  He called for “…the duplication of records by modern processes…”

FDR Letter

Letter from President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Robert Diggs Wembly Connor, 13 February 1942, Folder 668, Box 8 in the R. D. W. Connor Papers #2427, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

 

FDR acknowledged the magnitude of effort required:  “This involves, of course, a vast amount of work because of the volume of federal, state and local archives of all kinds—but I think that a broad plan would meet with hearty public support if it could be properly publicized.”

Which brings to mind the language in our draft Strategic Plan, one of the objectives under our goal of Making Access Happen.  In an effort to make an ever-increasing number of records available to the public we have promised to streamline processes, innovate, and collaborate with others to significantly increase the number of NARA records that are available to the public.  In fact, we have been so bold as to suggest that we “Digitize all analog archival … [ Read all ]

Thanks, Mr. Hollerer

Written on: August 12, 2013 | 0 Comments

Emery “Joe” Hollerer was my high school English teacher and on Friday night at the 50th Reunion of the Beverly (MA) Class of 1963 we all had a chance to thank him for the role he has played in shaping our lives.

Emery “Joe” Hollerer and David Ferriero

Emery “Joe” Hollerer and David Ferriero

My own love of literature and reading was fostered under his tutelage.  He expected us to read at least 50 pages a night and to this day if I miss my quota I feel the guilt!

Senior year this English class was responsible for the high school newspaper and many of us were on the literary magazine staff, so teaching writing was an important part of Mr. Hollerer’s portfolio.  Our efforts were returned with a rubber-stamped grading guide he developed—SPLAGM—which was the topic of much conversation Friday night!  Spelling, punctuation, logic, arrangement, grammar, and maturity.  One of my classmates admitted to him that he had always had someone else write his first and last paragraphs and Mr. Hollerer always praised only the first and last paragraphs of his papers!

Public speaking rounded out the curriculum for this class.  Getting up in front of our classmates was pretty traumatic but Mr. Hollerer, as he did in every class, made learning fun.  I particularly remember the week we did “demonstration speeches”—explaining how to do something.   A friend who … [ Read all ]

The Family Bible

Written on: August 2, 2013 | 11 Comments

The National Archives has many fascinating records documenting our history. Some of the most fascinating are contained in our Pension Files documenting veterans’ claims, or claims from their families, for benefits starting with the Revolutionary War. For a wife or parent to qualify for benefits on behalf of the deceased soldier they needed to supply proof of the relationship with that soldier. The result is a collection of letters, diaries, frakturs, embroidered family trees, photographs, and more than 100 Bibles containing family information. These files are heavily used by genealogists in their research on family histories.

Last month, one of our own, Jeffrey Kees who works at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, brought his Dad, John, to visit their family Bible. Jeffrey’s Great-Great-Great-Grandfather, Philip Kees fought in the Revolutionary War, and the Bible, which contains family history noted in the margins of the text, was submitted by his widow as proof of her relationship with Kees.

Staff Swearing In with Rev War BibleStaff Swearing In with Rev War Bible
Examining the Kees Family Bible.  Left to Right: John Kees, Trevor Plante, and David Ferriero

Jeffrey’s Great-Great Grandfather, William Kees, served in the 155th Pennsylvania Infantry during the Civil War and we were able to display those pension records also.

The highlight of the visit was fulfilling Jeffrey’s wish to repeat his swearing in (the oath of office all Federal employees take when … [ Read all ]