Halloween is right around the corner, and at the National Archives we are well versed in the creepiest, weirdest records of the Federal government. Here’s our list of favorites that are sure to make you shudder with fear!
What’s more dangerous- a poison bottle equipped with spikes or the poison itself?:
Patent Drawing for T. Newman’s Poison Warning Bottle, 06/02/1908, NARA ID 7369165
In doubtful cases of actual death:
Drawing for a Life – Preserving Coffin, 11/15/1843 – 11/15/1843, NARA ID 595517
But if you are buried alive, you’ll want someone to find you, right?:
Patent Drawing for J. G. Krichbaum’s Device for Indicating Life in Buried Persons, 12/05/1882, NARA ID 6277693
A fire mask that looks like it will do more harm than help:
Patent Drawing for C. McIntosh’s Fire Mask, 05/01/1883, NARA ID 6277700
A rascal officer in front of a creepy house:
Photograph of John F. Kennedy as a “Keystone Kop”, ca. 1925, NARA ID 595979
Some spooky visitors in the Oval Office:
Halloween Visitors to the Oval Office. Caroline Kennedy, President Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Jr. White House, Oval Office., 10/31/1963, NARA ID194260
Food safety is a big concern on Halloween. Let’s hope this doesn’t show up in a trick or treat bag:
Early ketchup was made from fermented skins and cores. These fermenting tomato leftovers could explode and burst their containers, so benzoate of soda was added a preservative.
However, the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, signed by President Theodore Roosevelt, meant that ketchup—and its rotting, explosive tomato ingredients—was now regulated. In the image above 1909, the company making “Squire Tomato Catsup” was prosecuted and fined $50 for making ketchup from “Decomposed Material.” See the Prologue Blog for the full story.
This kind of mystery meat is more trick than treat:
Postcards Regarding the Chicago Meatpacking Industry, 10/09/1907, NARA ID 2657925
This creeping doll is just creepy:
Drawing of Creeping Baby Doll, 03/14/1871 – 03/14/1871, NARA ID 595011
But not as creepy as this wall of “heads”:
Holyoke, Massachusetts – Paragon Rubber Co. and American Character Doll. Spraying face, hands, and arms (Jewish) A plus., 1936 – 1937, NARA ID 518351
A very scary rodent trap:
Drawing of an Animal Trap by J. A. Williams, 12/26/1882, NARA ID 6037260
Animals in the Archives make us squeamish, especially when they are a part of the record:
Letter from Charity Snider, with accompanying mole skin, from her Civil War Widow’s Pension Application File. The paper bears the discoloration from the unusual enclosure. See Prologue blog for the full story.
Many thanks to Today’s Document and the Prologue blog for their spooky contributions. What is the creepiest, most skin crawling record you’ve found at the National Archives? Let us know, and have a very spooky Halloween!