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In July of 1939, Howard Hughes purchased the first Boeing 307 Stratoliner. Because of the plane’s pressurized cabin, the plane could fly at altitudes over 20,000 feet, allowing it to avoid rough weather. In this clip from Universal News, we see the multi-millionaire taking his new toy for a test drive. Hughes had hoped to use the Stratoliner to break his own round-the-world flight record, but Germany’s invasion of Poland in September made the attempt unsafe and the flight was cancelled. Boeing produced ten Stratoliners; the last remaining example is on display at the Smithsonian’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, near Washington, D.C.

From the release sheet:

GLOBE FLIER TRIES STRATOPLANE, SEATTLE, WASH.– Howard Hughes, millionaire sportsman pilot who set a new “Round-the-World record last year, takes off in a new giant Stratoliner on a test flight believed to herald a new globe-circling venture.

Stratoliner2

Howard Hughes prepares to fly his customized Boeing 307 Stratoliner for the first time.

You may view the complete newsreel, including stories about a flash flood in Kentucky, a royal wedding in Greece, pilot’s training in California, Girl Scout Mariners embarking on a one-week cruise, a lion-taming class in New Jersey, and others here. Note: the soundtrack for this newsreel no longer exists.

About the Universal Newsreel Collection at NARA:

The Universal Newsreel Collection is one of the most used motion picture collections at the National Archives and Records Administration. Universal Newsreels were shown in movie theaters twice a week, from 1929 until 1967, and covered a wide range of American life and history during that time period. Each release usually contained five to seven stories averaging two minutes in length.

In 1974, Universal deeded its edited newsreel and outtake collection to the United States through the National Archives (NARA), and did not place any copyright restrictions on its use (some stories may contain other underlying intellectual property or proprietary use rights).

While Universal disposed of many of the soundtracks, leaving the newsreels incomplete, supplementary material like scripts, shot lists, and event programs can be found in the production files, available for research at Archives II in College Park, Maryland.

Learn more about the Universal Newsreel Collection in this post and in this Prologue article. Watch other Universal Newsreels in our research room, in OPA, and on this playlist.



Decades after the Roswell Incident people are still fascinated by it. Last October we wrote about National Archives moving image holdings relating to Project Blue Book and unidentified flying objects (UFOs).

In addition to Project Blue Book we also have records relating to the alleged UFO crash in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. The U.S. Air Force (USAF) conducted several interviews in the early 1990s as well as researching textual records during the investigation into the crash, culminating in the publication of The Roswell Report: Fact vs. Fiction in the New Mexico Desert in 1995.

In 1997 the Air Force released a follow-up report titled The Roswell Report: Case Closed. Both reports are available in the series Moving Images Relating to “The Roswell Reports” Source Data Research Files, 1946 – 1996 (Local Identifier: 341-ROSWELL / National Archives Identifier: 566658). The Air Force also produced the video Roswell Reports in support of the textual report. This video provides great background information on the Roswell incident and subsequent investigation.

Roswell Reports (Local Identifier: 341-ROSWELL-1 / National Archives Identifier: 2788598)

We also have audio interviews with USAF personnel and alleged witnesses to a UFO crash in the series Sound Recordings Relating to “The Roswell Reports”, 1991 – 1996 (Local Identifier: 341-ROSWELLa / National Archives Identifier: 566843). The USAF interviewees discuss the dropping of anthropomorphic, or crash test, dummies from high altitude balloons to study freefall characteristics and improve parachute design.

One of the interviews is with Colonel Dan Fulgham, who was in a May 1959 parachute accident with Colonel Joseph Kittinger, Jr. and Colonel William Kaufman in New Mexico. The accident resulted in serious swelling of Fulgham’s head and discoloration of his face. Some people believe that the stories of the 1947 Roswell Incident and the injured men from the 1959 accident got confused and the two stories turned into the one that we hear today. You can hear about the accident in the two recordings below.

Interview with Col. David D. Fulgham, USAF (Ret.), May 26, 1995 (Local Identifier: 341-ROSWELLa-6)

Images of Fulgham’s injuries can be seen in Roswell Reports (above).

Statement of Witness and Transcript  341-ROSWELLa-6

 

Interview with Col. Joseph W. Kittinger, Jr., USAF (Ret.), June 23, 1995 (Local Identifier: 341-ROSWELLa-11)

Statement of Witness and Transcript  341-ROSWELLa-11

 

You can check out more interviews on YouTube.

Gerald Anderson Interview (Local Identifier: 341-ROSWELL-16 / National Archives Identifier: 2788892)

 

W. Glenn Dennis Interview (Local Identifier: 341-ROSWELL-14 / National Archives Identifier: 2788762)

 

Interviews with Jed Roberts, Marilyn Strickland & Alice Knight (Local Identifier: 341-ROSWELL-17 / National Archives Identifier: 2788893)



In 1939, the Fourth of July coincided with Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day at Yankee Stadium. A day usually reserved for parades and fireworks was transformed into one of the most solemn, heart-wrenching, and inspiring moments in the history of sports. It was here, before 62,000 fans, that Gehrig proclaimed he was the “Luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

Just a few months before Gehrig’s speech, the Yankees opened their season against the Boston Red Sox. Between the two teams, there were 11 future Hall of Famers and many other notable all-stars. The reliable Gehrig manned first base as he had done for over two thousand consecutive games. The series also marked the debut of a young ballplayer named Ted Williams. It was the only time Williams and Gehrig would face one another. Newsreel cameras were there to capture the event:

Opening Day, April 20, 1939.  Universal Newsreels: UN-11-765

Opening Day program from the Universal News Production Files: UN-11-765.  Pages 6 and 7 show the lineups for the two teams. (To navigate, click the arrows to advance through the program. Click on the image to open a new window with a larger image.)

After a few games into the season, Gehrig’s performance had noticeably declined. On May 2, Gehrig took himself out of the lineup for the first time in 2,130 consecutive games. Unbeknownst to him, he would never play again. Once again, newsreels were there to capture the moment:

Universal News UN-11-768.

The script from the production files reads: “In spring training camp, Lou Gehrig felt sure he could benefit the Yankee lineup, but the veteran first baseman voluntarily benched himself in Detroit before the Yankee-Tigers game! Thus ends a phenomenal series of over two thousand straight games. But he hopes to comeback in warmer weather. We hope he does!

Soon after Gehrig’s streak came to an end, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disease he is synonymous with to this day.  After hearing the news, the Yankee clubhouse made arrangements to honor their longtime all-star.

On July 4, 1939, the Yankees played a double header against the Washington Senators. Between the two games, players, coaches, and other notable figures came out to shower Gehrig with gifts and kind words.  The Yankees also began a new baseball tradition as they retired Gehrig’s number 4 uniform.

Gehrig almost did not speak.  As the ceremony came to an end and the microphones were being hauled away, the “Iron Horse” decided to say a few words. As Gehrig fought away tears, he made one of the most iconic speeches of all time. Newsreel cameras were on the scene:

Universal News: UN-11-786

It seems appropriate that Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day fell on Independence Day. In his famous Declaration, Thomas Jefferson ascribed that “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Despite his grim diagnosis and tragic decline, Gehrig embraced Jefferson’s unalienable rights. As he famously said, “I may have gotten a bad break, but I have an awful lot to live for.”

This Fourth of July marks the 238th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day. Both reflect the essence of what it means to be an American. 



In an effort to provide information on recently declassified motion pictures and sound recordings the Motion Picture, Sound and Video Branch will publish a quarterly list of newly declassified records.

This quarter’s list includes sound recordings relating to former Marine Sergeant Jon M. Sweeney who was a prisoner of war (POW) in Southeast Asia from February 19, 1969 to August 31, 1970. The catalog entry for this series (National Archives Identifier: 12005668) is not currently live in our catalog, OPA. We apologize for the inconvenience and will provide a link to this entry as soon as possible.

From April 1, 2014 through June 30, 2014 the following records were declassified.

Motion Pictures:

Local Identifier                       Title

72-GENERAL-6 CORVUS LAUNCH 1954 (N-1930)
72-GENERAL-14 CORVUS (LAW MP77-119, E PRINT) A-7209
72-GENERAL-15 CORVUS (LAW MP BID 113D – 114D) A-7209
72-GENERAL-21 LARK INTERCEPT, 1951
72-GENERAL-22 S-7284 SPARROW I  STAGE #5
72-GENERAL-29 S-3329  XAAM-N-2  SPARROW 1, 1953
72-GENERAL-30 Preliminary Evaluation Test of AN/URQ-5 (XN-1)
72-GENERAL-34 SEA SPARROW FILM REPORT (T-4850)
72-GENERAL-35 OPERATION BULLPUP EVAL. REPORT (CA. 1959) J-33412
72-GENERAL-39 CORVUS (ENC #3) T-8872
72-GENERAL-40 CORVUS (ENC #2) 1955
74-G-2 Flares 4/29/59
74-G-4 [No Title]
74-G-5 Mine Drops 6/15/56
74-G-13 BOAR [J12] 2/20/53
74-G-18 THE TRITON MISSLE, 1957 [J12]  07/06/59
74-G-20 SUBROC REPORT #1, NOL [X5/2-3]  04/10/59
74-G-23 HAWK GUIDANCE FLIGHTS [X11/2]  1956-57
74-G-24 HAWK [X11/2]  10/02/56
74-G-26 HIGHLIGHTS OF SIDEWINDER TEST PROGRAM 9/53-7/54 [S78-1 (126)-1]  11/16/54
74-G-27 HIGHLIGHTS OF SIDEWINDER TEST PROGRAM 9/53-2/54 [S78-1 (126)-2]
74-G-28 SIDEWINDER, HIGHLIGHTS OF TESTS [X11]  11/01/55
74-G-29 PROJECT X-55, SIDEWINDER, US NAVAL ORDNANCE TEST STATION [S78-1 (126)]  07/09/54
111-SFR-174 The Korean Situation: November 1951
342-FR-949 HALF A LOAF:  EVALUATION OF AN ANTICROP WEAPON
342-USAF-76341 SAC Command and Control  11/16/76
343-GENERAL-2 F-14 FIRST FLIGHT 12/21/1970
343-GENERAL-3 F-14 TV CLIP
343-GENERAL-4 Aircraft Accident on USS Ranger, C-2A
343-GENERAL-5 E2A-1 INGRESS AND EGRESS, 1963
343-GENERAL-6 LAMPS Mark III TEST PROGRAM
343-GENERAL-11 E2C FIRST FLIGHT
343-GENERAL-12 E2A REFUELING C-130
343-GENERAL-15 Light Airborne Multipurpose System
343-GENERAL-16 LAMPS TEST BED DEVELOPMENT
343-GENERAL-17 LAMPS Mark III 1981
343-GENERAL-23 TF30-P412A
343-GENERAL-25 LAMPS Test Bed Project
343-GENERAL-26 NARAD Briefing Report: LAMPS [Light Airborne Multipurpose System]
343-GENERAL-27 LAMPS DV-98 AT SEA
343-GENERAL-30 LAMPS
343-GENERAL-32 LAMPS DV/98 AT SEA
343-GENERAL-36 E2C PROGRAM STATUS 1973
343-GENERAL-38 F-14 PROGRESS REPORT #3, Fall 1972
343-GENERAL-39 F-14 REEL
343-GENERAL-41 FRONT F-14
343-GENERAL-42 F-14 DROP 1977
343-GENERAL-43 F-14 Gun Camera
343-GENERAL-45 #23 TF-30 P412 CONTAINMENT
343-GENERAL-46 F-14 Engine Vulnerability Testing
343-GENERAL-47 F-14 PROGRESS REPORT – FALL 1971
343-GENERAL-48 F-14 Armament Suitability Test Nav Air Systems Technical Film Report
343-GENERAL-49 AIR COMBAT MANEUVERING ca. 1970s
343-GENERAL-53 F-14 PROGRESS REPORT #5: The Operational Tomcat
343-GENERAL-58 F-14 FORRESTALL DECK – HANDLING & LAUNCH JUNE, 1972
343-GENERAL-59 F-14 ON-BOARD CAMERAS (?) – “MIKE GUENTHER” MAR 74 SIGHT EVAL
343-GENERAL-60 NAVAL UNDERSEA R&D TEST CENTER, SAN DIEGO PART TWO
343-GENERAL-61 ACTIVE TV FILM FOR PM 15
343-GENERAL-62 AN E-2A HAWKEYE MISSION
343-GENERAL-63 Multi-Frequency Hi Range Resolution Radar: Swimmer Detection [4/10/68]
343-GENERAL-64 Walleye  [March 11, 1967]
343-GENERAL-65 Seadart Hydrodynamics Demonstration Report [March 1956]
343-GENERAL-66 XV-3 Summary Report
428-AER-13-57 Bullpup Technical Film Report
428-MN-8215 OPERATION AESOP/(SPARROW ONE) (MN-8215/A-6159), 1955
428-MN-9179 ANNUAL GUIDED MISSLE PROGRESS REPORT (N-2002)
428-MN-9161C GUIDED MISSILES OF THE ARMED FORCES

 

Sound Recordings:

Local Identifier           Title

127-IIFa-5 TAPE # 159 22 FEB 69 SWEENEY (HAVANA IN ENG)
127-IIFa-6 TAPE -SWEENEY 5 DEC 69
127-IIFa-7 TAPE -SWEENEY 5 DEC 69
127-IIFa-8 TAPE -SWEENEY 9 DEC 69
127-IIFa-9 TAPE # 194 – SWEENEY, J.M. PFC USMC HANOI 29 DEC 69
127-IIFa-10 TAPE # 195 – SWEENEY, J.M. PFC USMC LIBERATION RADIO 22, 28, 30 DEC 69
127-IIFa-11 TAPE # 195 – SWEENEY, J.M. PFC USMC LIBERATION RADIO 22, 28, 30 DEC 69
127-IIFa-12 TAPE # 196 – SWEENEY, J.M. PFC USMC LIBERATION RADIO 22 DEC 69 1430
127-IIFa-13 TAPE # 196 – SWEENEY, J.M. PFC USMC LIBERATION RADIO 22 DEC 69 1430
127-IIFa-14 TAPE SWEENEY, 26 MAR 1969
127-IIFa-15 TAPE SWEENEY, 26 MAR 1969
127-IIFa-16 TAPE SWEENEY/BROWN XMAS 1969 MSG.
127-IIFa-17 TAPE SWEENEY USMC MOSCOW 2200 GMT 17 JAN 70
127-IIFa-18 TAPE SWEENEY # 233 USMC MOSCOW 2200 GMT 17 JAN 70
127-IIFa-19 TAPE SWEENEY MOSCOW 2200 GMT 17 JAN 70
127-IIFa-20 TAPE # 234 SWEENEY, PFC JON M. USMC HANOI 2300 GMT 19 JAN 70
127-IIFa-21 TAPE # 235 SWEENEY, PFC JON M. USMC MOSCOW P&P 1030 GMT 21 JAN 70
127-IIFa-22 TAPE # SWEENEY, PFC JON M. USMC MOSCOW 1030 GMT 21 JAN 70
127-IIFa-23 TAPE SWEENEY, JON M. USMC MOSCOW 1030 GMT 21 JAN 70
127-IIFa-24 TAPE # 305 SWEENEY, JON M. PFC, USMC HANOI 1300 GMT 30 APR 70
127-IIFa-25 TAPE # 314 SWEENEY, JON M. PFC, USMC HANOI 2300 GMT 14 MAY 70 (MALE VOICE W/AMERICAN ACCENT)
127-IIFa-26 TAPE # 323 SWEENEY H – 6 JUL 70
127-IIFa-27 TAPE # 323 SWEENEY H – 6 JUL 70
127-IIFa-28 TAPE # 323 SWEENEY H – 6 JUL 70
127-IIFa-29 TAPE SWEENEY, 8 JUL 70, HAVANA RADIO LTR PFC SWEENEY, 8 JUL 70 (READING)
127-IIFa-30 TAPE # 335 SWEENEY 11 JUL 70
127-IIFa-31 TAPE # 335 SWEENEY 11 JUL 70
127-IIFa-32 TAPE # 335 SWEENEY 11 JUL 70
127-IIFa-33 TAPE # 665, SWEENEY 13 JUL 70 (ADDRESS TO VIETNAMESE PEOPLE BEFORE HIS DEPARTURE FOR SWEDEN)
127-IIFa-34 TAPE SWEENEY, 13 JUL 70
127-IIFa-35 TAPE SWEENEY, 13 JUL 70
127-IIFa-36 TAPE SWEENEY, 13 JUL 70
127-IIFa-37 TAPE # 1 SWEENEY, HANOI 1300 GMT 17 JUL 70
127-IIFa-38 TAPE # 2 SWEENEY, HANOI
127-IIFa-39 TAPE # 3 SWEENEY, INTERVIEW # 3, HANOI 17 JUL 70
127-IIFa-40 TAPE # 4 SWEENEY, INTERVIEW # 3 (CONT’D and # 4, 17 JUL 70)
127-IIFa-41 TAPE # 339 SWEENEY, HANOI, 17 JUL 70
127-IIFa-42 TAPE # 339 SWEENEY, HANOI, 17 JUL 70
127-IIFa-43 TAPE # 339 SWEENEY, HANOI, 17 JUL 70
127-IIFa-44 TAPE # 339 SWEENEY, HANOI, 17 JUL 70
127-IIFa-45 TAPE # 6 SWEENEY, INT # 6 HANOI, 17 JUL 70
127-IIFa-46 TAPE # 7 SWEENEY, INT # 7 HANOI, 17 JUL 70
127-IIFa-47 TAPE # 8 SWEENEY, INT # 8  & PART OF INT # 9, HANOI, 17 JUL 70
127-IIFa-48 TAPE # 9 SWEENEY, CONTINUATION OF INTERVIEW # 9 TO END OF TAPE, HANOI, 17 JUL 70
127-IIFa-49 TAPE # 10 SWEENEY, BEGINNING OF INTERVIEW # 10 TO END OF TAPE, HANOI, 17 JUL 70
127-IIFa-50 TAPE # 11 SWEENEY, BEGINNING OF INTERVIEW # 6 TO END OF TAPE HANOI, 17 JUL 70
127-IIFa-51 TAPE # 352 SWEENEY, STATEMENT, 1 SEP 70

 

Descriptive information for declassified records can be accessed by searching for the item number, ex. “341-IR-38-56”, in NARA’s Catalog (OPA). You may also search on the Declassification Project Number (NND), if you know one. For example, searching on the declassification number “NND 64803” returns entries that are part of Declassification Project 64803. A list of declassified textual records can be found on the National Declassification Center’s web page.

Check out the post “From Top Secret Vault to Open Stacks: Declassification of Moving Images” to learn more about the declassification process. Lists of other recently declassified moving images and sound recordings can be located by clicking on the Declassification Quarterly Reports category on the left side of the blog.



This week, we’re featuring a speech President Harry S. Truman made June 28, 1947, at the closing of the annual conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Truman called for the government to protect not just civil liberties, but civil rights. The “recent events” Truman references in the speech included horrific acts of violence against African-American veterans. In December, the President’s Committee on Civil Rights presented their report outlining the current state of civil rights and the role the federal government should take to achieve greater equality. In January of 1948, President Truman issued executive orders to end segregation in the federal work force and the military.

From the release sheet:

TRUMAN ASKS EQUALITY. Washington: Pres. Truman, speaking at the Lincoln Memorial before the vast throng of Americans, demands that we fight harder to provide equality for all our citizens.  He calls for end of racial barriers.

Truman1

Truman’s speech marked the first time that the President of the United States addressed the NAACP.

You may view the complete newsreel, which also includes stories of political unrest in France, senior citizens descending on Washington to support the Townsend Plan, and a plan for universal military training here.

About the Universal Newsreel Collection at NARA:

The Universal Newsreel Collection is one of the most used motion picture collections at the National Archives and Records Administration. Universal Newsreels were shown in movie theaters twice a week, from 1929 until 1967, and covered a wide range of American life and history during that time period. Each release usually contained five to seven stories averaging two minutes in length.

In 1974, Universal deeded its edited newsreel and outtake collection to the United States through the National Archives (NARA), and did not place any copyright restrictions on its use (some stories may contain other underlying intellectual property or proprietary use rights).

While Universal disposed of many of the soundtracks, leaving the newsreels incomplete, supplementary material like scripts, shot lists, and event programs can be found in the production files, available for research at Archives II in College Park, Maryland.

Learn more about the Universal Newsreel Collection in this post and in this Prologue article. Watch other Universal Newsreels in our research room, in OPA, and on this playlist.

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