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When most Americans think about U.S. Customs today, they probably imagine answering questions at the airport or at border crossings about their stay in a foreign country. While that is one of its major roles, Customs has also played a major role in the growth and development of the United States—collecting tariffs (or taxes) on imports.

An Act for Laying a Duty on Goods, Wares, and Merchandises imported into the United States

An Act for Laying a Duty on Goods, Wares, and Merchandises imported into the United States, 7/4/1789

Raising money was so important to the early Federal government that the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th Acts of the First Congress dealt with setting up the Customs Bureau. From 1789 until the passage of the 16th Amendment (income tax amendment) to the U.S. Constitution in 1913, tariffs collected by Customs were a major source of federal revenue. Tariffs helped support the growth and development of our nation. Tariffs also allowed the U.S. industries to grow by encouraging Americans to purchase from domestic companies by raising the price of foreign goods.

The tariff was administered in dozens of Custom Houses across the country. One of these locations, the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House at One Bowling Green in Lower Manhattan, is now home to the National Archives at New York City.

Aerial view of the tip of Manhattan, 1942 (modified)

Aerial view of the tip of Manhattan, 1942 (modified)

Alexander Hamilton US Custom House, home of the National Archives at New York City

Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, home of the National Archives at New York City

Completed in 1907 by architect Cass Gilbert, the U.S. Custom House is a monument to international trade and the United States government. Statues representing the Asia, America, Europe and Africa decorate the exterior façade. Carved within the capital of each column is the face of Mercury, Roman god of commerce. On the interior, the grand rotunda is surrounded by large murals depicting ships entering the Port of New York. These murals were completed in 1937 as part of a New Deal program.

Rotunda of the U.S. Custom House in New York City, 1937

Rotunda of the U.S. Custom House in New York City, 1937

At the time of its construction, the Port of New York was the busiest port in the United States accounting for the majority of customs revenue. Though the Custom House cost over $7 million to build (approximately $175 million in 2013 dollars), the revenue collected at the Port of New York covered that amount in less than a month. U.S. Customs abandoned the Custom House building in the early 1970s for modern facility located at 6 World Trade Center. The Custom House at One Bowling Green stood empty for over a decade as some proposals called for the building to be torn down. The Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian moved into the Custom House in 1987 and 1994 respectively. The Custom House became home to National Archives at New York City in February 2013.

Now through October, visitors to the Welcome Center can see an early Customs record in our New York on the Record gallery. The Brig Persis sailed into New York Harbor on August 5, 1789 carrying various goods destined for merchant William Seton. He would pay a fee of $774.71 to import these goods. This payment would be the first Customs duty ever collected by the United States government.

New York Vessel Arrivals, August 1789- March 1795

New York Vessel Arrivals,
August 1789- March 1795

 The Center for Legislative Archives is marking the 225th Anniversary of the First Congress by sharing documents from this formative time via Tumblr, Twitter, and Education Updates. Follow #Congress225 for more documents you can use in your classroom.

Visitors can see the volume of New York Vessel Arrivals in the New York on the Record gallery in the Welcome Center of the National Archives at New York City.  It is located on the 3rd floor of the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House at 1 Bowling Green in Lower Manhattan.



A heartfelt congratulations to students who participated in National History Day this year!

We’re very pleased to extend a special congratulations to those students who worked with us and researched at a National Archives facility, and earned spots as finalists—and winners—at the National Contest in College Park, MD, this month!

  • Sarah Puchner and Christopher Puchner, of Millbrook, AL, placed third in Junior Group Exhibit with their entry: “Eminent Domain: The Expansion of Government Responsibility and the Erosion of Private Property Rights.” They researched at the National Archives at Atlanta. Sarah and Christopher attend Outlook Academy and studied with teacher Laura Puchner.
NHD Student Researching and with Project

Mary Kate researching at the National Archives at Chicago, and in front of her project at the Smithsonian Museum of American History with NHD’s sponsor, Kenneth Behring.

  • Mary Kate Baughman, of Palatine, IL, placed first in Junior Individual Exhibit with her entry: “The Living Dead: The Radium Dial Painters of Ottawa, Illinois and Their Impact on Workplace Safety.” She researched at the National Archives at Chicago. Mary Kate attends Immanuel Lutheran School and studied with teacher Dave Saunders.
  • Allie Tubbs, of Johnston, IA, placed first in Junior Individual Performance with her entry: “Lou Hoover’s ‘Tempest In A Teapot’: Changing African American Rights and First Lady’s Responsibilities.” She researched at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library. Allie is a student at Summit Middle School and studied with teacher Colleen Ites.
  • Erin Lowe, of Kansas City, MO, placed second in Junior Individual Performance with her entry: “Where Are Our Rights?: The Repatriation of Mexican American Citizens During the Great Depression.” She researched and attended NHD clinics at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library. Erin attends Pembroke Hill School and studied with teacher Dan O’Connell. In addition to placing second in her category, she also won the Latino-American history prize sponsored by the National Park Service!
  • Hannah Scott of Odessa, MO, placed third in Senior Individual Exhibit with her entry: “Women of Steel: The Rights and Responsibilities of America’s Arsenal for Production.” She researched and attended NHD clinics at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library. Hannah attends Odessa High School and studied with teacher Paula Hawk.
  • Rachel Priebe of Riverside, CA, Senior Individual Documentary finalist with her entry “Waters in the Wilderness: The Right to Utilize or the Responsibility to Protect?,” researched at the National Archives at San Francisco. She attends Martin Luther King High School and studied with teacher Ned Hocking.
  • Carmen Li, Kevin Liu, and Kevin YangSenior Group Website finalists with their entry “Confronting Bombingham,” worked with us at the National Archives at Philadelphia. They attend Masterman High School and studied with teacher Elana Solomon.

The following students researched at the National Archives in Washington, DC, and moved on from the DC competition, held at the National Archives Museum, to Nationals:

  • Zola Bzdek, Junior Individual Documentary, “Watergate: The Rights and Responsibilities of the Press”
  • Daniel NugentJunior Individual Documentary, “The Rights and Responsibility of the Removal Act of 1830″
  • Eli Moraru and Jacob WeitznerJunior Group Documentary, “The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire: How Horror Brought Rights to Laborers” (Outstanding Entry for DC)
  • Connor Yu and Andre TamJunior Group Documentary, “Rights and Responsibilities: How Japanese Americans responded to their internment during World War II”
  • Sarah Carleton, Junior Individual Exhibit, “Forced Sterilization in the Early Twentieth Century”
  • Meredith Ellison, Junior Individual Exhibit, “Women’s Fight for Equal Rights: Title IX”
  • Peter Dart and Owen Hanson, Junior Group Exhibit, “The Barbary Pirates: U.S. Responsibility to Protect Maritime Trade”
  • Alex Harris and Joshua EmanuelJunior Group Exhibit, “Child Labor: The Crusaders against the Exploitation of Children”
  • Ashley HarrisJunior Paper, “The Meat Inspection Act”
  • Dylan Hurst, Junior Individual Website, “African Americans’ Right to Vote: A Long Journey”
  • Joseph Edwards and Zachary Greene, Junior Group Website, “The Rise of the Environmental Justice Movement”
  • Chaya BettsSenior Individual Exhibit, “Henrietta Lacks”
  • Ja/Quon Blandin, Emmanuel Ojomo, Marquell Campbell, and Julien SimmsSenior Group Exhibit, “Miranda v. Arizona
  • Jason Umana, Miguel Portillo, and Leideen EscobarSenior Group Exhibit, “The Atomic Bomb”
  • Tyrone Powell, Senior Individual Website, “The Greensboro Sit-Ins”
  • Jennifer Ventura, Milan Jones, and Mesgana Dagnachew, Senior Group Website, “The Nuremberg Trials”

The following students researched at the National Archives at Atlanta, and moved on from the state competition to Nationals:

  • Andrew YountJunior Individual Exhibit, “Forty Year Death Watch in Tuskegee: Right to Know, Responsibility to Tell”
  • Susie DorminyJunior Individual Performance, “The TVA: Rights and Responsibilities in the New Deal”
  • Kimora AndersonJunior Individual Website, “Heart of Atlanta Motel v. The United States: Challenging the Civil Rights Act”
  • Anthony Dukes, Senior Individual Performance, “Rights of the Displaced-Responsibility of the TVA”
  • Anna Weekly and Devin SnyderSenior Group Performance, “Mary Breckenridge and the Frontier Nursing Service: How the Cry of One Woman Changed the World”
  • Thomas DorminySenior Individual Exhibit, “Rights and Responsibilities: Ensuring Justice at Nuremberg”
  • Will HoppingSenior Individual Website, “‘I Won’t Be Contrary’: TVA, Chickamauga, and the Dispossessed”

We look forward to working with even more students during next year’s NHD contest!

Our National History Day help page includes: information about how to research at a National Archives facility, online tools and databases, and upcoming workshops and webinars!

Check our Facebook page for inspiration from the Archives—each Thursday we post a document that connects to the upcoming “Leadership and Legacy in History” theme.

We made every effort to include all students we knew of who researched at the National Archives and made it to the National Content. If you know of other students who did, please acknowledge them in the comments section!

National History Day in Washington, DC, is administered by the National Archives with support from the Foundation for the National Archives and its sponsor Capital One.



Family History.  Archival Adventures. Free giveways. And Theodore Roosevelt.   What do these things have in common?  All are available at the National Archives at New York City on June 24th.

Night at the Museums Logo

The National Archives at New York City will participate in the Night at the Museums  as part of this year’s River to River festival.

Lower Manhattan is home to a diverse and concentrated collection of historic sites and museums including the Museum of Jewish Heritage, Federal Hall National Memorial, the National Museum of the American Indian, and the newly opened National September 11 Memorial & Museum.  These institutions, and others, all within walking distance of each other, will open their doors for free admission on Tuesday, June 24th.

Night at the Museums Map

The National Archives at New York City will keep its Welcome Center, Research Center and Learning Center open to the public through 8:00 pm.

Visitors can explore original signature documents in our New York on the Record gallery in our Welcome Center.  Original documents on display include ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov’s petition for naturalization,  a bankruptcy case file for famous crooner Dean Martin, and a Presidential pardon signed by Martin Van Buren.  Visitors can then stop by our Research Center to investigate their family history through passenger arrival, census, and  naturalization records. Plus so much more!

Our Learning Center will be the place to be to discover and uncover national treasures of New York.  Visitors can go on an archival adventure, explore archival facsimiles, and even take home a copy of their favorite document from the National Archives.  Theodore Roosevelt himself (as portrayed by James Foote) will be there to talk about his life at 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm.  Come to shake the 26th President’s hands In addition, all visitors to the 3rd floor Learning Center will receive a free “national treasure” giveaway.

IMG_3477

 

Visit www.nightatthemuseums.org to find out more about the event!

The National Archives at New York City is located on the 3rd Floor of the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House at 1 Bowling Green in Lower Manhattan.  

 

 



Today’s post comes from Jenny Sweeney, education specialist at the National Archives at Fort Worth. 

Have you ever wanted to share the treasure trove of documents held at the National Archives with your students? Interactive Distance Learning programs are just the thing for you!

Rhesus Monkey in a molded couch for a space flight

One of our past programs covered animals in space! This is a Rhesus Monkey in a molded couch for a space flight. National Archives Identifier 6734340

Educators from the National Archives will visit your classroom and bring the National Archives to you…virtually.

Starting in the 2014–2015 school year, a whole new menu of programs will be available on topics ranging from the United States Constitution, to World War I, to Baseball.  There will be programs for all grade levels and all programs are FREE of charge.

Each program will focus on document-analysis strategies. Please stay tuned so that you can include one of these programs in your planning for next school year!

As the permanent home of the Constitution, we offer programs connecting this founding document to our government’s actions. National Archives Identifier 1667751



Tomorrow is June 6th—the 70th anniversary of D-Day.  To commemorate this important historical event, we published a new activity on DocsTeach that focuses on two documents related to D-Day.  The Night Before D-Day challenges students to compare and contrast a public statement and a private note written by General Dwight Eisenhower before the invasion to gain a better understanding of the mindset of Eisenhower.

Photograph of General Dwight D. Eisenhower Giving the Order of the Day

Photograph of General Dwight D. Eisenhower Giving the Order of the Day

The activity focuses on two documents that vary considerably in appearance, tone, and message.  The first is Order of the Day that was shared with 175,000 troops on the eve of the invasion.  Eisenhower worked on the language of this Order for months, carefully choosing his words to inspire the troops.  The second document is noticeably rougher—a misdated message scrawled on a piece of paper taking full blame for a potential failed invasion.

Screenshot of Activity

Teacher “missmorgan810″ gave us an on-the-ground report about using these documents in her classroom via Twitter. She told us at @DocsTeach that she “had students argue whether it was right/wrong of Eisenhower to write a failure letter.” The activity went “Surprisingly well! I expected everyone to put the same answers but their explanations even made me rethink my opinion!”

Don’t primary sources generate great discussions? According to missmorgan810, “Primary resources have allowed me to see a whole new side of my students. It’s awesome!” We agree!

We suggest teaching with this activity in units related to World War II. Students in grades 6-12 may work either individually or in small groups. Approximate time needed is 20 minutes. The activity can be found under The Great Depression and World War II (1929-1945) or directly at http://docsteach.org/activities/5832/detail.

To begin the activity, ask students to read both documents.  Model careful document analysis with your students by directing their attention to the types of documents, any unique marks apparent, and the five Ws and H.  Then focus their attention on similarities and differences in the style, tone, audience, and message of these documents.  After reading, discuss these similarities and differences.

Specific questions to discuss include:

  • How does Eisenhower describe the invasion?
  • How does Eisenhower describe the troops?
  • How does Eisenhower describe the enemy?
  • How does Eisenhower describe his role in the invasion?

After discussing these details, ask students to imagine the mindset of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, commander of the Allied forces in Europe during WWII, felt the night before the attack.

WWII: Europe: France; “Into the Jaws of Death - U.S. Troops wading through water and Nazi gunfire”

WWII: Europe: France; “Into the Jaws of Death – U.S. Troops wading through water and Nazi gunfire”

This could be a great activity for exploring Dwight Eisenhower for the 2015 National History Day “Leadership and Legacy in History” theme too!

This activity was adapted from an article formerly published on www.archives.gov/education by David Traill, a teacher at South Fork High School in Stuart, FL.

 

 

 

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