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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 for updates, and we will keep you posted as the situation changes.

Due to the Federal Government shutdown, the National Archives ( 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:

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

email: or send a letter to:

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

The following post come from Bill Mayer, the Executive for Research Services at the National Archives.

Attention All Researchers:

The 3:30 pull for today has been cancelled.  An issue relating to federal payroll activities at 22 federal agencies nationwide has causes significant staffing issues.  In order to address these issues, we have had to take this step so other areas of public service are not affected adversely.

While we are making every effort to contain these problems, there is some possibility the afternoon pull scheduled for Monday, September 16, 2013 may be affected.  We will advise you of the situation as we receive information.

On behalf of all Research Services staff, I wanted to thank you for your continued patience.  Please feel free to contact me directly at


Today’s post comes from Alyssa Young and Yvonne Ruiz, student interns at the National Archives at Fort Worth, who came across an unexpected and eye-opening find amid the Galveston District U.S. Commissioner’s case files.

While perusing digitized records, Fort Worth Archives Director Meg Hacker found an interesting document in the midst of a seemingly unrelated collection.  Two graduate students, Alyssa Young and Yvonne Ruiz, were thus tasked with making sense of the series.  Masqueraded behind an apparently benign task was a fascinating journey through life in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries; sorting through the Galveston District U.S. Commissioner’s case files proved an intoxicating venture.

The actual content of the series differs greatly from its description, which defined the series as documents about foreign deserters in Galveston port.  Instead, the series comprises a wide array of issues from the Commissioner’s office, including indecent letters, production of counterfeit currency, and possession of government property.

The initial take-away seemed clear enough—accurately describing documents is crucial, and we would correct any mistakes.  But we also grew in our appreciation for the archival of human history, even seemingly unimportant documents.

Within minutes of opening the first box we were introduced to the series of emotions that would carry us through the project—intrigue, delight, shock and, occasionally, horror.  The unassuming boxes contained a treasure trove of court cases reaching the basics of our shared humanity.

Of most interest to us were the items not as important to court records.  Physical lewd and indecent letters (envelope and all) held our attention for much longer than their court case filings.  Although the latter maintains legal relevancy, accompanying artifacts uniquely reveal human behavior.


RG 21, U.S. Commissioners Case Files, Southern District, Galveston, 1887-1925



One favorite is the 1894 letter of a Sam McGee, a declaration of love to his “Lillie Dear.”  He confesses, “I want to be your paramour, and I want to take you to the opera some night when you feel like going.”

Letter 1

 RG 21, U.S. Commissioners Case Files, Southern District, Galveston, 1887-1925

Within the file is a second letter written to Lillie’s mother after she files charges against him.  Notice the handwriting difference.  The obvious care he took when writing to Lillie makes him all the more endearing.

Letter 2

RG 21, U.S. Commissioners Case Files, Southern District, Galveston, 1887-1925


What happened to our star-crossed lovers?  A mother’s disapproval didn’t stop Sam and Lillie, who were 19 and 16 years old, respectively, at the time the letter was written.  Census records reveal they were married a few years later!

Sam McGee’s sweet letter might lead to scoffs at the 19th Century definition of “lewd and indecent.”  Trust us—letter-writers of the time were as indecent as email-writers of today (and in the very same way).

Interacting with artifacts of a time past strengthens a primal connection between two worlds, regardless of the historical significance they’re assigned.  Though separated by the most impossible forces—geography, creed, and even time—human existence is ever-connected.  Our history teachers really were onto something.

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