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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

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

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

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

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

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  http://research.archives.gov/description/194260

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.”

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

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

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

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

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. (WC843258, Record Group 15)

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!



This post was written by Addie Nguyen, a student intern in the Office of Innovation.


Who could ever pass up on using the mega-addictive Instagram? It makes a photographer out of anyone – just snap an ordinary, hum-drum pic of, say, a building as you’re walking down a street, then apply an ultra-hip, vintage-looking filter on it and voilà! Instant art! And because this is a social networking site after all, you can share your masterpiece with all your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr. Yes, The National Archives is pleased to say that—finally—we have joined the fun and are now a part of Instagram!

The National Archives has, since 1934, faithfully preserved, conserved, and captured American moments through photographs, videos, drawings, and documents in black-and-white, grayscale, color, sepia, cyanotype, monochrome, and many other formats.. Instagram allows us to continue capturing those precious American moments and put on our own artistic filter flair. How could we resist? #excited

Connect with us and take a peek of what the Archives is up to now, whether it be behind-the-scenes looks into our workplace, shots from upcoming and current exhibits, or special events in DC and around the country. And don’t shy away from sharing your photos and videos as well as you tour through our archival holdings! Find a cool document? Share it with us!

So ready your cameraphones, click away, and remember this: a picture is worth a thousand hashtags.



Congress has restored funding of appropriated activities and the National Archives has begun to resume normal operations.

The National Archives Building in Washington, DC and the National Archives at College Park, MD will be closed to the public today, October 17 to give staff time to ensure the proper protection of holdings.

Facilities around the country, including Presidential Libraries, will open to the public as they complete re-start procedures and are ready to accept visitors from the public.

Please check http://www.archives.gov/ for updates, and we will keep you posted as the situation changes.



Due to the Federal Government shutdown, the National Archives (www.archives.gov) is closed.  We are unable to post or participate in any of our social media channels during this closure. All National Archives facilities are closed, with the exception of the Federal Records Centers and the Federal Register until the Federal government reopens.



This post comes from James Rush, the Administrative Staff Director for Archival Operations in Washington, DC.


Staff at the National Archives at College Park are moving approximately 398 cubic feet of personnel related records to the National Archives at St. Louis.  The series being transferred complement the mission, function, and holdings of the National Archives at St. Louis.  It documents personal data and pertains to individuals, rather than organizations; and, logically belongs with the records that constitute the core holdings of the National Archives at St. Louis.  This relocation to St. Louis will facilitate more efficient archival research and public access to these records.

The records transferred to St. Louis are:

Series Title: Service Records of Shipping Personnel RG 178, NC-5 118 (NARA ID 7368316)

Closure Date at the National Archives at College Park:  September 24, 2013

Estimated Date Available for Researchers at St. Louis: October 7, 2013

Please keep in mind that the date listed above for opening the materials is an estimate.  If there is a significant change to this schedule we will post it in the consultation areas at the National Archives at College Park. You can also check the status of the records at St. Louis at the following website: http://www.archives.gov/st-louis

To request records at the National Archives at St. Louis, please contact that office in one of the following ways:

email: stl.archives@nara.gov or send a letter to:

National Archives at St. Louis
Attention: RL-SL
P.O. Box 38757
St. Louis, MO 63138-1002

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