Whenever I see a film that starts with the phrase “Based on a True Story,” the second I get home I immediately start looking up to see where dramatic license was taken. This happened most recently after seeing “American Hustle” which is based on the ABSCAM sting operation of the 1970s (though that film opened with a more truthful statement—“some of this actually happened”).
Films based on major historical events are often based on records from the National Archives. This is especially true with the upcoming film “The Monuments Men” which opens this Friday, February 7th.
The film tells the story of the Monuments Men—a group of curators, art historians, artists, architects and archivists from the Allied nations who volunteered to help preserve the culture of Europe by protecting its works of art. During Germany’s conquest of Europe, a Nazi party group known as the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (or ERR) stole millions of paintings, manuscripts, sculptures, furniture and other cultural materials. These cultural artifacts were slated either for destruction or to be displayed in a future Fuhrermuseum. In the final months of World War II and continuing for years afterward, the Monuments Men worked to protect these treasures and return them to their rightful owners.
In the war’s aftermath, The Monuments Men were aided by the discovery of 39 photo albums created by the ERR documenting their theft. These albums also served as evidence during the Nuremburg Trials as proof of the massive Nazi art looting operations. These 39 albums are now part of the National Archives. And recently, 3 additional albums taken by individual US troops during the war have been donated to the National Archives by Robert Edsel, author of the book on which the upcoming film is based and founder of the Monuments Men Foundation. One of these photo albums is on display at the National Archives in Washington, DC through February 20th.
But you don’t have to go to Washington, DC to see that album and others that document the work of the Monuments Men. They have been added to DocsTeach!
Just visit www.docsteach.org/documents and search “monuments men” to find documents and photographs about their exploits. There you can find photos of the discovery and the return of works by artists such as Rembrandt, Rubens, and Manet. In addition, selections are highlighted from volumes compiled as evidence for the Nuremburg trials.
For more information about the Monuments Men and related records at the National Archives:
In celebration, the National Archives has teamed up with other federal agencies and cultural institutions to provide digital content, including resources for teachers.
Along with the Library of Congress, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, we pay tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society on www.africanamericanhistorymonth.gov. The site includes teaching resources, exhibits and collections, images, audio and video, and a list of upcoming events.
Specifically for teachers, we share several online learning activities from our DocsTeach site:
Do you know what this document is? A famous person and event are revealed in the DocsTeach activity that features it.
Many related primary sources can be found on DocsTeach as well.
The National Archives also highlights:
Our partner organizations share valuable resources too, like Legends of Tuskegee from the National Park Service and Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project from the Library of Congress.
You can find these resources and more at www.africanamericanhistorymonth.gov.
Earlier this month we released a new version of our DocsTeach App for iPad, including support for iOS7 and iPad Mini!
You can use the app to share primary source-based learning activities from DocsTeach.org with your students to access on their iPads. Choose activities from our ever-expanding collection, or design your own assignments. All you have to do is create a classroom on DocsTeach.org and share the auto-generated code with your students.
Just follow these steps:
1) Log in to DocsTeach.org on your computer. (DocsTeach is a Flash-based site, so you won’t be able to do this on your own iPad.) Find activities that you want your students to complete. Bookmark each by clicking on the star; this saves them in your account.
Or create new activities yourself using our activity-creation tools. To learn more about registering for a free account or creating activities on DocsTeach, watch our video tutorials.
2) Whether you found or made the activities, click on “Account” and place them in a “classroom.” Watch our classrooms tutorial for step-by-step instructions.
3) Each classroom you create will have its own classroom code. To get your code (when logged in to DocsTeach on your computer), click on the name of the classroom with the activities you want to share. Once in that classroom, you will see text at the top that includes your classroom’s unique sharing URL and a six-digit alphanumeric code for the DocsTeach iPad App.
4) Direct your students to open the DocsTeach app on their iPads and type in your classroom code. They will see the activities that you put into your classroom and can do them on their iPads!
Have you created classrooms for assignments, group work, or assessments? We’d love to know what works with your students!
DocsTeach.org and the DocsTeach App for iPad are made possible in part by the Foundation for the National Archives.
Our partner organization—National History Day (NHD)—is presenting a new online learning series for the over 600,000 students who enter the NHD contest each year. Students from across the country will develop original, historical research performances, websites, documentaries, exhibits, and papers to present at affiliate local and state contests, where they will have the opportunity to advance to the national contest in June. To assist them in their craft, NHD is hosting a series of Google Hangouts.
NHD is partnering with National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Smithsonian Museum of American History, the Newseum, Carnegie Museum of Art, and the Minnesota Historical Society to offer students an opportunity to learn from experts in the field. Each hangout will focus on a different category, and is open to all students and teachers.
Students can register for the hangouts, at no cost, at: http://www.nhd.org/hangouts.htm. Those attending the events will be able to submit questions to noted presenters, including:
Louise Lippincott, Chief Curator and Curator of Fine Arts, Carnegie Museum of Art – Lippincott has been the head of the fine arts department at the Carnegie Museum of Art since 1991. She is noted as having been instrumental in the installation of several celebrated exhibits during her tenure. Lippincott will lead the Website Google Hangout.
Websites – Tuesday, January 28 – 7pm ET / 4pm PT
Brian Horrigan, Lead Exhibit Developer, National Traveling Exhibit – Horrigan has been an exhibit curator at the Minnesota Historical Society since 1990, and has been responsible for several major, NEH-funded exhibitions. Horrigan will lead the Exhibit Google Hangout.
Exhibits – Thursday, January 30 – 7pm ET / 4pm PT
Anna Kassinger, Multimedia Curriculum Specialist, Newseum – Kassinger is a multimedia curriculum specialist at the Newseum. She has an Ed.M. in arts in education from Harvard Graduate School of Education, and previously worked at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum, where she developed digital art classes for teens. Kassinger will lead the Paper Google Hangout.
Papers – Tuesday, February 4 – 7pm ET / 4pm PT
Laurie Kahn, Resident Scholar, Women’s Studies Research Center, Brandeis University – Ms. Kahn is an award winning director for non-fiction films. Her film, A Midwife’s Tale, won a national EMMY for Outstanding Non-Fiction, and her film TUPPERWARE! was nominated for a national Best Nonfiction Director EMMY. Ms. Kahn worked on the Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years 1954-1965, The American Experience, FRONTLINE’S Crisis in Central America, and All Things Considered. She has taught at Northeastern University, Brandeis University, and Tufts University, guest lectured around the country, and is a Resident Scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis. Kahn will lead the Documentaries Google Hangout.
Documentaries – Thursday, February 6 – 7pm ET / 4pm PT
For additional information regarding attending the Google Hangouts please email email@example.com.
by Carol on January 21, 2014
In many cases, depending upon the type of research you or your students are doing, it might become necessary to actually step across the threshold of the National Archives. Thousands upon thousands of records are stored there that have not yet been scanned or placed online. Some may never be.
There are 15 research facilities of the National Archives across the United States. The buildings don’t look exactly the same. Some were built especially for the National Archives, but some may be as humble as converted government warehouses. However, the experience inside is largely the same.
The National Archives Building in Washington, DC
The National Archives at College Park (Maryland)
The National Archives at Seattle
We want students to visit us, as well as adults. National Archives records are waiting for resourceful researchers to help discover the truth about history. The documents themselves may have been sitting for decades, untouched, waiting to be uncovered.
When entering any National Archives a facility, there may be a security officer greeting you at the door and specific procedures to follow. Someone will tell you what to do. Occasionally, you may simply walk into a lobby with an attendant at a desk. Either way, with very little effort you will get in. (If you are younger than 14, we would like you to come with an adult.)
Microfilm Research Room at the National Archives at Seattle
Once you are inside, you will need to speak with someone about your project. The attendants and archivists will help you. If you will be looking at original documents, they will have you fill out a researcher application, provide some identification, and read some rules of conduct in order to receive a researcher card. Then you may narrow down your search by reviewing “finding aids.” Once your materials are identified, the attendant will disappear into the “stacks” and ask you to come back at a specified time to retrieve your materials.
Of course, the archives “stacks,” shown below, are not open to the public. Only the archives staff members have access to them.
“Stacks” of Documents in the National Archives
The boxes on these shelves often hold what appear to be ordinary file folders. These files are from the file cabinets of federal agencies and are stored in the Archives for various reasons. One of those reasons is their importance to future historians!
Archival file box from the National Archives at Anchorage
File folder from the National Archives at Anchorage
Other types of records include photographs, maps, and drawings (at all facilities), and motion picture film and audio tapes (only at our College Park location).
For some of the facilities, it is best to make an appointment with an archivist in advance. That way, you will have some boxes already pulled from the “stacks” when you arrive. Advance appointments are not available at all locations.
You can find more information, hours of operation, contact email addresses and phone numbers, and a map of our locations at http://www.archives.gov/locations.