Archive for June, 2014

The Allure of the Archives

Written on: June 30, 2014 | 6 Comments

Arlette Farge, Director of Research in Modern History at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris, has written a wonderful little book about doing research in archives.

“Contact with the archives begins with simple tasks, one of which is handling the documents.  Combing through the archives—a beautifully evocative term—requires a host of tasks, and no matter how complex the planned intellectual investigation will be, they cannot be bypassed.  They are both familiar and simple, and they purify one’s thoughts, temper the spirit of sophistication, and sharpen one’s curiosity.  These tasks are performed without haste, and necessarily so.  One cannot overstate how slow work in the archives is, and how this slowness of hands and thought can be the source of creativity.  But more than inspirational, it is inescapable.  The consultation of these bundles, one after another, is never finished.  No matter how carefully you prepare beforehand, sampling documents and putting together research guides in an effort to limit the number of texts you will have to consult, your patience will inevitably be tested.”

Archivist reviewing documents

Archivist Matt Law reviews Chinese Exclusion Act Files.; Location: National Archives at Riverside, Perris, CA; Photographer: Joseph S. Peñaranda

 

“Reading patiently, in silence, you will regularly run up against various obstacles as your eyes travel across the manuscript pages.  Many documents have deteriorated physically, and torn corners or … [ Read all ]

Patent of the Month: Higgins boats

Written on: June 6, 2014 | 0 Comments

Today marks the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion. To commemorate this anniversary, this month’s patent is Andrew Higgins’s landing boat. It is dated February 15, 1944, less than four months before D-Day.

LCVPs–or Higgins boats, as they are now commonly known –transported troops from the 1st Infantry onto Omaha Beach. They could each carry 36 combat-equipped infantrymen or 8,000 pounds of cargo. In all, 23,398 Higgins boats were produced during the war.

Higgins Boat Patent drawing

Higgins boat patent drawing page 2

 

From the holdings of the National Archives at Kansas City, “Lighter for Mechanized Equipment,” Patent Case Files, 1836-1993, NAID 302050[ Read all ]

One Year of Founders Online

Written on: June 4, 2014 | 0 Comments

This month we celebrate the one year anniversary of the launch of Founders Online – a tool for seamless searching across the papers of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Alexander Hamilton. In the past year, the site has received over 400,000 visits.

An example of the power of the site shows in its great search results. When I searched for “Cotton,” “Beverly,” and “Washington,” the results returned the exact document I had in mind – a diary entry by George Washington written in 1789 remarking on his visit to the cotton manufactury in my home town of Beverly, Massachusetts.

Founders Online GW diary entry[ Read all ]

The Next Generation

Written on: June 3, 2014 | 3 Comments

Who says civics is dead?  Click on the video and watch these 5th graders in action!  And then read their petition.  Enough said!

 

[ Read all ]