June 18, 2012–the anniversary of the U.S. declaration of war against Great Britain–marked the official start of the bicentennial of the War of 1812. To help celebrate that anniversary and bring attention to one of America’s lesser known conflicts, let’s take a look at some of the records of that war, starting with an essential and perennial favorite: the War of 1812 pension application files.
Everyone generally knows by now that pension files offer some of the most fruitful information available for genealogy, and the 1812 files are no exception. Applications files by veterans of the war often contain details about their military service, sometimes even minute tidbits that don’t show up in their compiled service records. Something I discovered in the pension for my own 1812 ancestor, Daniel Heilman, who served in the 71st Regiment of Pennsylvania Militia, was that he claimed to have been “drafted” into the service–I suspect he probably meant “enlisted” since there was no formal military draft in the U.S. until the Civil War–and that he marched down to Marcus Hook below Philadelphia in the fall of 1814 to help repel a suspected landing of British troops. None of that is mentioned in his service record, but Daniel’s pension has it in his own words!
The applications for widows and dependents often prove to be even more valuable, because they had to prove their relationship to the deceased veteran. In those cases, personal family documents, such as marriage certificates, baptismal records, and even pages taken from family Bibles were sent in as evidence and became part of the official record. The applicants had no idea they would never get those precious family records back, and so the pension files often provide the only available source to locate such missing records.
The 1812 pension files are formally part of Record Group 15, Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, in the series “War of 1812 Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files” (RG 15, Entry 22; ARC 564415), and include over 180,000 case files relating to claims based on service between 1812 and 1815. Until recently, the only way to research these records was to visit the National Archives in person or request a copy of the file through the mail. A massive digitization project is now underway, sponsored jointly by the National Archives, the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), and Ancestry.com, to put color scans of these files on Fold3.com. About 3% of the files (over 250,000 documents) have been scanned so far, and you can follow the progress and view the posted images on Fold3. Digitization offers an invaluable way to improve access to important historical resources, so please check back often on the 1812 pensions, browse the files, and learn the wonderful stories they hold about America’s “Second War of Independence”!
This post was written by Ryan Butler, a student intern with the Social Media Team at the National Archives.
“Photograph of fireworks going off in the night sky by the Washington Monument, during ceremonies celebrating the 175th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence., 07/04/1951.” ARC ID 200339
Summer is upon us and Americans across the nation are preparing for Independence Day. While you’re lighting your grills and fireworks, take a moment with us to explore the history behind the 4th of July. In celebration of the 236th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, we will be posting a series of patriotic documents and photographs throughout the month of July on Foursquare. From the revolution to the celebrations, discover the history of Independence Day through our archival holdings. Every document will be linked to a tip at its historic location, so follow our Foursquare page tips every day this month for a new piece of patriotic history.
The following post is by guest bloggers Rebecca Warlow, Description and Digitization Supervisor, and Ann Cummings, Supervisory Archivist for Textual Records.
At the DC-Area Researchers Forum in November we announced that some records
would be moving from the National Archives at College Park to the National
Archives at St. Louis in 2012. The time has come for the move to St. Louis to
The records listed below are being transferred to St. Louis and
will be unavailable for research while they are being
Records being transferred to St. Louis
||Army General Courts Martial Case File 1918-1938 (RG 153 Entry 15-B)
||20th Century Military “Burial Case Files” 1915-1939 (RG 92 NM-81 Entry 1942) *Proposed for digitization
||20th Century Military Apps. For Headstones 1925-1963 (RG 92 A1 Entry 2110-C) *Currently being digitized
||Department of Memorial Affairs; Applications for Headstones and Markers, 1965-1985 (RG 15 A1 Entry 52) *Proposed for digitization
||Interim Control Forms (RG 92 A1 Entry 2110-B) *Currently being digitized
||Office of the Chief of Support Services – Memorial Division; Cemetery Branch; Application for Headstones and Markers, 1964-1970 (RG 92 A1 Entry 1942A) *Proposed for digitization
||Deceased and War Casualty Seaman’s Records, 1937-1950 (RG 26 A1 Entry 426)
||Old USMC Enlisted OMPFs “Service Records of Enlisted Men,” 1867-1904 (RG 127 A1 Entry 76-A) *Proposed for digitization
||Panama Canal Railroad Company Official Personnel Files, 1896-1920 (RG 185 A1 Entry 162)
||American Citizen Official Personnel Folders, 1904-1920 (RG 185 A1 Entry 176)
||Panama Canal Official Personnel Folders, 1903-1920 (RG 185 A1 Entry 163)
||German Civilian Personnel Files, European Command (RG 531 UD Entry 999)
||Officer Orders & Officer Personnel Jackets, South Pacific Force (RG 313 UD Entry 1062)
||Merchant Vessel Personnel Division; Card Records of Licenses Issued to Merchant Marine Officers, 1910-1946
||201 Chaplain Files, 1917-1950 (RG 247 NM-3 Entries 484-B; 484-C; 484-D; 484-E; 484-F; 484-G)
The schedule for closing the records to prepare for transfer to St. Louis:
Closure Date at College Park or
Estimated Date Available for
Researchers at St. Louis
|Burial Case Files (College Park)
||June 22, 2012 (Files A-J)
||October 1, 2012
|Burial Case Files (College Park)
||July 6, 2012 (Files K-Z)
||October 1, 2012
|Burial Case Files (College Park)201 Chaplain Files (College Park)
||July 20, 2012
||October 1, 2012 (Burial Files)
|201 Chaplain Files (College Park)General Courts Martial Case Files (College Park)
||August 3, 2012
||October 1, 2012 (201 Chaplin Files)December 1, 2012
(General Courts Martial Case Files)
|General Courts Martial Case Files (College Park)
||August 17, 2012
||December 1 , 2012
|General Courts Martial Case Files (College Park)
||August 31, 2012
||December 1, 2012
|General Courts Martial Case Files (College Park)20thCentury Military Applications for Headstones, 1925-1963 (College Park)Department of Memorial Affairs; Applications for Headstones and Markers, 1965-1985 (College Park)
|December 1, 2012
(General Courts Martial Case Files)December 15, 2012
(20thCentury Military Applications for Headstones, 1925-1963)December 15, 2012
(Department of Memorial Affairs; Applications for Headstones and Markers, 1965-1985)
|Department of Memorial Affairs; Applications for Headstones and Markers, 1965-1985 (CollegePark)Internment Control Forms (College Park)Office of the Chief of Support Services – Memorial Division; Cemetery Branch; Applications for Headstones and markers, 1964-1970 (College Park)Officer Orders & Officer Personnel Jackets, South Pacific Force (College Park)German Civilian Personnel Files, European Command (College Park)American Citizen Official Personnel Folders, 1904-1920 (College Park)
|December 15, 2012
|American Citizen Official Personnel Folders, 1904-1920 (College Park)Panama Canal Official Personnel Folders, 1903-1920 (College Park)Panama Canal Railroad Company Official Personnel Files, 1896-1904 (College Park)Old USMC Enlisted OMPFs “Service Records of Enlisted men, 1867-1904” (Washington, DC)Deceased and War
Casualty Seaman’s Records, 1937-1950 (Washington, DC)Merchant Vessel Personnel Division: Card Records of Licenses Issued to Merchant Marine Officers, 1910-1946 (Washington, DC)
|October 12, 2012
||January 1, 2013
The dates listed above are estimates. We don’t anticipate
closing the materials at the College Park or Washington DC facilities any
earlier than the dates listed. If there is a significant change to this
schedule we will post it in the consultation areas at College Park and
Washington DC and here on NARAtions. You can also check the status of the
records at St. Louis at the following website:
To request records at the National Archives at St. Louis, please contact
that office one of the following ways:
National Archives at St.
P.O. Box 38757
St. Louis, MO
information please visit:
Today’s post comes from National Archives at Kansas City staff members, Archivist Elizabeth Burnes and Exhibit Specialist Dee Harris.
- Photograph, Improvement Missouri River in Vicinity of Glasgow, MO, August 1881. RG 77, Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers, Omaha District. (National Archives at Kansas City)
The National Archives at Kansas City welcomed four local Wikipedians for a meetup and scanathon (based on similar past events) on Saturday on June 16, 2012. The meetup theme was “Between the Rivers” and focused on photos and textual holdings related to the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. This event was the first of its kind for a National Archives (NARA) regional facility, as well as a first for the Kansas City Wikipedia community. An IP-based notice for logged-in Wikipedia users and and personal notifications to e-mail and wiki talk pages promoted the meetup, and a Wikipedia events page allowed participants to obtain further information and submit an RSVP. The full day event included a welcome by Director of Archival Operations Lori Cox-Paul, an exhibit tour by Exhibits Specialist Dee Harris, a video conference and slideshow presentation with NARA Wikipedian in Residence (Washington, DC) Dominic McDevitt-Parks, and project time in the research room coordinated by archives staff members Elizabeth Burnes and Jessica Edgar. Participants had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects including scanning, transcription, researching/editing articles, and tagging.
The meetup theme was directly related to an upcoming exhibit at the National Archives at Kansas City. “Between the Rivers” looks at how the states of Iowa and Missouri have been shaped by the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers that run through them. The exhibit will explore the effects of the rivers on Iowa and Missouri’s environment, culture, and economy from the 1830s to the 1930s. The Wikipedian meetup produced products that will be used in developing the exhibit, which opens on September 25, 2012. One project involved scanning historic images of river conservation work on the Missouri River from the Missouri River Basin Commission in the 1880s. Another project consisted of transcribing information about packet boat and steamboat vessel licenses issued by the Bureau of Navigation from 1862 to 1864. A final river-related project involved transcribing an Iowa Admiralty court case relating to the Northwestern Union Packet Company, the steamer Phil Sheridan, and the barge T. Fawcett.
The meetup was a great success! Project results include: 53 scanned images from the Missouri River Basin Commission, 190 transcribed vessel licenses, numerous keyword-tagged images within NARA’s Online Public Access system, and a transcribed admiralty court case. You can see examples of the work illustrating this blog post. Additionally, the Wikipedians established connections within their local community, project products can now be uploaded into Wikimedia Commons and Wikisource for use by researchers, and the National Archives at Kansas City opened the door to future collaboration. The opportunity for future meetups is exciting in light of the recently released Open Government Plan which prominently features discussion of the powerful role that “citizen archivist” activities (such as Wikipedian meetups) can play in fulfilling NARA’s institutional mission.
- Vessel license for the Mollie McPike, September 5, 1864. RG 41, Department of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of Navigation (From series 4616197) (National Archives at Kansas City)
The biggest lesson learned from this first meetup was that establishing a foothold with Wikipedians can be difficult. Wikipedians in the Kansas City area did not have an existing listing of participants (Wikipedians in many large cities have worked to build collaborative online communities based on their geographic location) and we had to determine the best means of reaching out. The National Archives managed to put on the first success Wikipedia meetup of any kind in Kansas City. Establishing a connection with this diverse pool of participants required patience, a creative approach, and a willingness to become a part of the Wikipedia community with hopes that the group will slowly build over time. The prospect of future growth has us ready to schedule more meetups though, and we’re set to expand our presence in the Wikipedia community!
The National Archives–Wikimedia collaboration falls under the GLAM-Wiki (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums) initiative. If your institution is interested in joining the dialogue between archives and Wikipedians you can get in touch about GLAM-Wiki by emailing email@example.com or by checking out the upcoming fall campaign “Wikipedia Loves Libraries” (for archives and other institutions, too).
We know that you must be wondering when the dust will settle in the Archives I research center. So far, the classroom, finding aids room, and microfilm research room have been reconfigured. The cork floor and the new wood paneling are beautiful.
The floor in the research commons (lobby) remains a work in progress. When the carpet was pulled up, the concrete slab (which was original to the building in what was built to be a records storage stacks area) proved too uneven for quickly installing the new cork floor or providing the necessary clearance for the new doors to swing.
The Grunley team has completed the removal of the carpet glue, laser mapped the floor, and this past weekend poured the leveling compound. This process will now be followed by the installation of the cork floor in the evenings of the week of June 26. If all goes well, the cork floor is scheduled to be sealed the night of June 30 and then left to dry for 24 hours. If we run into difficulties, the schedule could slip by a week.
We anticipate that the locker room will be completed by late July. Stay tuned to NARAtions for more progress reports on the construction activities at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC.
“The following program is brought to you in living color by CBS.” Wait. That’s not right. But it might have been if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had its way back in 1950. The variation of the long-used advertising slogan by the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), first uttered in 1957, may not have been conceived unless a lawsuit had transpired to delay the color television process.
Civil Action No. 50C1459 from the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Chicago, began in 1950 as the FCC gave its blessing for the Columbia Broadcasting System’s method for color television to be the nationwide standard. Immediately injunctions were filed against the FCC, not only by NBC but also the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and the RCA Victor Distributing Corporation.
Exhibit page from the court case featuring the FCC's decision on its selection of a color TV standard
RCA had been developing a competing color TV system which the FCC had dismissed. Another company, Color Television Inc., also had created a system not chosen by the government agency. So the FCC selection of CBS gave it the exclusive franchise in the field of color TV. In fact, an exhibit in the case from 1947 submitted by the FCC discusses how in September 1946 CBS had requested the Commission to “authorize the operation of commercial color television stations in the frequency band 480 to 920 megacycles and to amend its Standards of Good Engineering Practice Concerning Television Broadcast Stations ….” At that time, the FCC said the Columbia Broadcasting System did not meet its standards.
But by 1950, the revised system was approved by the FCC; a “Brief for the Government” explained how the FCC held hearings and field tests of different systems from 1949-1950.
The system chosen was based on a mechanical color wheel with a spinning color disc converter and an adjustable handle with three positions: one for receiving black and white programs, one for receiving color programs in black and white, and one for receiving color programs in color. CBS said it planned on remaining strictly a broadcasting entity and that it did not intend on entering the manufacturing side. However, it did plan on airing color shows in the New York City region. And the network began a “publicity barrage” for its new device. Although CBS said it would make its color patents available to others in the industry, royalties involved had been estimated to be $50 million.
The costs affiliated with buying an adapter to attach to TV sets ranged from $15 to $50 which would allow color telecasts to be picked up, although the picture would be “coarse.” For $60 to $150, a converter could be purchased to attach to the set that would bring the color picture in directly. Finally, color receivers were going to be manufactured at a cost of anywhere from $200-$500.
And where money is involved, controversy is sure to follow. David Sarnoff, who at the time was chairman of RCA, said, “We regard this decision as scientifically unsound and against the public interest. The hundreds of millions of dollars that present set owners would have to spend and that future set owners would have to pay to obtain a degraded picture…reduces the order to an absurdity.”
One of the primary objections was that the quality of the CBS product was inferior to others in the development phase. Engineers claimed that the CBS system was incompatible because color signals could not be picked up with current televisions. It was estimated that between 7 and 8 million sets were in use in the United States.
There were many parties who played roles in the case besides the primary three listed on the civil action. Pilot Radio Corporation filed an intervening complaint saying it was “one of the pioneers in the field of television,” and it “suffered substantial harm” because of the FCC order. The complaint said the government agency should not impose “arbitrary and capricious” rules on the public which “is fearful that black and white sets will be obsolete in view of the Commission’s determination on color.” Furthermore, the Commission had “no power to regulate or control the manufacture of television receivers” and that it approved a CBS system that was “not yet ready for commercialization and which was far from satisfactory….”
Also, Local 1031, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, AFL (an unincorporated labor union), filed an intervention since it “represents persons employed by various manufacturers of radio and television receivers, parts and equipment… and allied products.” The complaint stated that a “violent overturn in the industry, and a complete loss of public confidence in the purchase of any television receivers at all has been averted only by the vigorous counter-offensive of the original plaintiffs in this action.”
Most parties with vested interests reported on the controversy. Retail stores noted there was a decline in television sales as consumers waited for the resolution of the issue and perhaps the creation of color television sets in the near future. Even electronic industry stock prices declined in October 1950, according to some articles, because of the unknown effect of how the FCC ruling would play out; it was to take effect in November 1950.
Advertisements sprang up in newspapers across the country. The case has several exhibits of ad facsimiles showing how companies tried to allay the perceived fears of consumers about how much they will have to spend on new television receivers. For instance, one from Raytheon Television features the headline “What are the Straight Facts About Color Television?” although, interestingly, no TV sets are pictured in the advertisement. In addition, General Electric took out a full-page spread in the New York Times with the headline, “Nobody is going to obsolete [sic] over 100 million dollars worth of TV entertainment!”
Frank Stanton, the President of CBS, was one of the many who filed affidavits in the case. Of course, Mr. Stanton dismissed the plaintiffs’ objections saying they would not suffer “irreparable injury caused by…the FCC’s order adopting standards for the color system developed by CBS….” He contended the only injury the plaintiffs would suffer would be to “their pride and publicity” but that the public would be hurt should the order be suspended.
Contrarily, the affidavit of C.B. Jolliffe, an Executive Vice President of RCA, countered that for the “first time in its history, the Commission has established standards over the protest of the scientists, engineers, and technicians of almost the entire radio and television industry.”
As we often find when studying history, everything old is new again. A few years ago when the United States converted to high definition digital television, there was an uproar nationwide, especially since there was a cost element involved. Although the digital conversion was mandated by Congress to begin in 2006, it was postponed a couple times before coming to fruition in 2009.
But back in 1950, the protestations were overwhelming. The Order from the three presiding judges in the case allowed the temporary restraint and suspension of the FCC decision until April 1951 or until it was officially terminated by the Supreme Court where the District Court sent the suit. All the “plaintiff-intervenors” were, most likely, pleased their pleas were heeded, including NBC and its impending, colorful trademarked peacock.
EPILOGUE: The suit made its way quickly to the Supreme Court in March 1951. Case number 565 was decided in May 1951 ruling in favor of the FCC. No doubt the plaintiffs’ appeasement was short-lived.
, civil action
, Federal Communications Commission
, National Broadcasting Company
, Radio Corporation of America
, Supreme Court
, U.S. District Court
On Friday, the National Archives released the updated Open Government Plan that will guide our efforts in transparency, participation, and collaboration for 2012-2014.
Over the past two years, we’ve implemented most of the 70 tasks we set out to accomplish in our 2010 Open Government Plan, including major initiatives in records management, declassification, and FOIA, as well as redesigning Archives.gov and FederalRegister.gov.
Within our newly updated plan, you will see the specific items we plan to work on over the next two years, including:
- Strengthen our culture of open government by revisiting the strategic planning process;
- Improve employee engagement, including launching an agency-wide mentoring program;
- Improve internal collaboration and knowledge sharing through the use of our internal collaboration network;
- Strengthen our relationships with individual citizen archivists and groups, while exploring new crowdsourcing tools;
- Move Archives.gov to the cloud, implement a content management system and launch a web page for developers
- Establish a new Records and Information Management Network to support our internal records management;
- Issue a Records Management Directive outlining a 21st century framework for managing government records;
- Process backlog records related to the Katyn Atrocities, POW/MIA concerns, and the Cuban Missile Crisis; and
- Work with the General Printing Office to develop a mobile app for the Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents.
To learn more about open government at the National Archives, visit Archives.gov/open. Read the AOTUS Blog post, “Solving the Problems of our Time.” To provide feedback on the updated Open Government Plan or our related efforts, please comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Mall is just days away from an influx of thousands of Girl Scouts for Girl Scouts Rock the Mall: 100th Anniversary Sing-Along. I hope they shipped in enough Thin Mints for the party!
The National Archives has some great events planned coinciding with the Girl Scouts’ centennial celebration – including exhibits, a film, and a special entry to the National Archives Experience for Girl Scouts in uniform and their families on June 8, 9, 10 from 8:30 – 9:30 a.m.
Do you want to help celebrate the Girl Scouts’ big anniversary? How about joining us in a “tagalong” to tag Girl Scout-related images in our online catalog? Here are just a few to get you started in our catalog. Here are three of my favorites:
I bet these Girl Scouts made s’mores after their hard work at Camp Tocanja!
Photograph of Senior Girl Scouts Planning Projects in Wildlife Habitat Improvement Work at Camp Tocanja, 08/1962 NAID 2132072
Did you know that the First Lady is the National Honorary President of the Girl Scouts? I wonder if they get free cookies?
Photograph of First Lady Bess Truman at the White House with a delegation of Girl Scouts, who are presenting her with a glass paperweight in honor of her service as their organization's honorary president since 1945, as two unidentified Girl Scout leaders look on: (left to right) Loretta Gallegos, 8; Susan Schneider, 11; Joanna Rodman, 8; Marian East, 16., 12/03/1952 NAID 200404
These Girl Scouts are enjoying their lunch in New York City!
Girl Scouts Lunch Alongside Rockefeller Center Fountain 5th Avenue Side, 06/1973 NAID 551641
Some possible tags include – Girl Scout, green sash, badges, troop, camping, First Lady.
If you have questions about tagging or our tagging policy, please contact us at email@example.com.
For more information about the Girl Scout’s centennial celebration events at the National Archives, please see our Calendar of Events page, as well as our press release.
Researchers are invited to read the minutes of the Researcher Forum meeting on May 18, 2012, posted to the DC-area Researcher Forum web page. The main feature of the meeting was a discussion with NARA’s digitization partners: Sabrina Petersen from Ancestry.com; Aaron Spencer from Fold3 (formerly Footnote.com); and John de Jong from FamilySearch.org. Rebecca Warlow of NARA’s Open Government office led the discussion.
The date of the next meeting will be set/announced after the new Executive for Research Services has had an opportunity to come on board and become familiar with office programs, including our Researcher Forums.
Stay tuned to NARAtions and our website for more updates and announcements!
We can do it!, ca. 1942 - ca. 1943 (ARC ID 535413)
Have you signed up yet to index the 1940 census? Volunteers have indexed just over 70 million names in the census. Your help is needed to finish indexing the millions of names that still remain.
Census Card Puncher (ARC ID 513295)
How can you help? Join the 1940 Census Community Indexing Project at www.the1940census.com. To get started you will need to download and install the indexing software, register as an indexing volunteer, and download a batch of images to transcribe.
Have you been indexing the 1940 census? Share your experiences with us here on NARAtions!