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Trying Out the Beach Wagon

by on February 25, 2014


Today’s post comes from Alan Walker, archivist at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.


Some of us at the National Archives may remember schlepping these carts around the stacks in Archives I. Did you know that one of NARA’s own invented it?

Dr. Grover presents Helen Beach with a $25 award for her table design, August 1948

Dr. Grover presents Helen Beach with a $25 award for her table design, August 1948

 

Helen Beach was an archivist in the General Records Division, and she was frustrated with trying to manage double-shelved records with the carts then available. So she came up with her own design.

RG 64, A1 155, case file 147-S4

Record Group 64, A1 155, Case Files for Employee Suggestions, 1944-1949. Case File 147-S4

National Archives Identifier: 7541348

RG 64, A1 155, case file 147-S4

Record Group 64, A1 155, Case Files for Employee Suggestions, 1944-1949. Case File 147-S4

 

Her suggestion was forwarded to the carpenter shop, where the design was refined:

table design diagram

 

From November 1946 to June of 1947, the proposal was sent around to various divisions for comment. On June 9, approval was granted for its construction. At the end of October, the prototype was built and delivered for testing. By July of 1948, various units had tried it out and submitted their impressions of the “Beach Wagon” (as it came to be called), and Assistant Archivist Robert H. Bahmer approved a $25 cash award for her idea.

RG 64, P 75 "Press Releases, 1935-1964"

Record Group 64, P 75 “Press Releases, 1935-1964″

RG 64, P 75 "Press Releases, 1935-1964"

Record Group 64, P 75 “Press Releases, 1935-1964″

And the story even made the papers!

news article

So, what brilliant ideas have you come up with lately?

*Update: Great ideas really are timeless. The staff at Archives I still use Miss Beach’s “wagon” to this day! When we support our innovators, great things are bound to happen.

Photos by Marie Maxwell.

Beachorg1

Beach cart 2

 

 


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