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Fourth of July gathering at the home of Mayor Bob Fowler of Helen, Georgia, near Robertstown, after a holiday parade.

 

Ah, summer! Just the thought of it brings to mind ocean waves, picnics at the park, umbrellas by a poolside. And, of course, the 4th of July! Whether you’re barbecuing with a couple of friends  or taking a trip to the nation’s capital to see the museums and monuments, take a moment and dig through some history with us about the 4th of July.

That’s right—we’re reprising the Fourth on Foursquare! So look out for documents and photographs all celebrating Independence Day – from fireworks to cartoons to presidents. We’ll have a link to the document at each tip and location, so make sure to follow our Foursquare page tips to discover a little bit more about the 4th of July every day.



Today’s post comes from Victoria Blue, staff writer at the National Archives


Seven months after Hurricane Sandy swept over the Caribbean and up the Eastern seaboard of the United States, communities affected by this destructive storm are still working to rebuild their lives.

Today, we remember the past and present of the storm’s impact with Historypin’s newest project: “Hurricane Sandy: Record, Remember, Rebuild.” You can learn more about the project in Historypin’s video:

The Hurricane Sandy project is a shared online collection of local history as captured by individuals and cultural heritage institutions alike. Anyone can contribute images to the Historypin project to tell the story of their communities and neighborhoods before, during, and after Hurricane Sandy.

The National Archives contributed more than 30 digital images from our holdings to the Hurricane Sandy project.  These images document areas along the East Coast as they existed before the storm. Visit the project page to see images from our holdings pinned to their original locations on the map:

Hurricane Sandy project sreenshot

“The National Archives is proud to partner with Historypin for the Hurricane Sandy project. This project speaks to our mission of preserving records and making them available to the public,” said Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero. “While the National Archives’s buildings generally fared well in the storm, we know that many did not. Our staff have reached out to state archivists, and worked with other agencies to coordinate records recovery operations. It’s critical that these chapters in our nation’s history, no matter how devastating, are not forgotten.”

Other collaborators include Google, the Metropolitan New York Library Council, the Society of American Archivists, and the American Association of State and Local History. Local libraries and historical societies also shared photos of Sandy and other hurricanes reaching back to 1938.

You can view the project, explore memories of Hurricane Sandy, and make your own photo contributions at http://historypin.com/sandy.



Throughout this past year, the National Archives and Federal agencies have been working to implement the Digital Government Strategy by improving digital services to better serve you.

We’ve worked toward specific milestones that improve access to government information and we launched Archives.gov/digitalstrategy to report on our progress.  We sought your ideas for improvement in August and now you can see our progress toward making available mobile apps and web APIs.

Mobile:  We’ve mobile optimized FederalRegister.gov, released a mobile site for Presidential Documents, and a mobile app called “To the Brink: JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis,” which makes available photos, documents, and recordings from the related exhibit.

Presidential Docs Mobile Site

To the Brink Mobile App

To the Brink Mobile App 

Web APIs: We’ve expanded the FederalRegister.gov API to include the Public Inspection Desk and integration with Regulations.gov.  We’ve also included created an interactive dataset and API for Executive Orders from 1994 to 2012 on Data.gov.     

We continue to increase the records we make available on sites like Wikipedia and Flickr, which have robust mobile and web API capabilities.  These projects, in addition to our work on the Digital Public Library of America, greatly expand public access to government records.

Engaging Developers:  We launched Archives.gov/developer to promote innovative uses of our data and tools in the public and private sectors.  We’re participating in the National Day of Civic Hacking on June 1-2, 2013, by sponsoring several challenges related to visualizing historical datasets and developing a mobile app for researchers to easily upload digital images of historical records.  We’re looking forward to see what innovative solutions might be developed by the public.

National Day of Civic Hacking

All of our efforts, however, are only a piece of the larger Federal Government effort to improve digital services.  You can check out other agencies’ developer hubs and new mobile services and APIs, including a new API for the State Department’s Office of the Historian Ebook Catalog, which contains all of the ebooks from the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series.



The National Archives’ Online Public Access (OPA) system will be down for maintenance from May 10 to May 25, 2013. We are in the process of rolling out a new version of OPA that will bring the catalog up to date. After the updated system is rolled out, the catalog will be updated on a weekly basis. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience as we work to improve the system!

You may wish to use the Archival Research Catalog (ARC) for your research during this period of downtime. The descriptions or catalog records will be available in ARC, although all digital images in ARC will be unavailable for this period. Please check out OPA after May 25th!

If you have any questions, please contact us at search@nara.gov


Please bear with us as we bring you a new and improved online public access catalog!
["Aircraft Schools. Boys training as maintenance men at Aero Industries Technical Institute, 05/01/1940. National Archives Identifier 532186]

 



Today’s post comes from Stephanie Stegman, Volunteer at the National Archives at Fort Worth


The Fort Smith Criminal Case Files, 1866-1900 used to be difficult to search, but not anymore.  These Wild West court cases offer a glimpse of what life was like on the frontier between western Arkansas and the Indian Territory, which today is Oklahoma.  The National Archives at Fort Worth has a new website designed to guide you step by step through these colorful records.

Research Guide screenshot

The United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas was unusual because from 1851 until 1896 its jurisdiction extended westward, beyond the state of Arkansas, and into Indian Territory.  Tribal courts heard cases involving crimes committed among their own members until 1885.  However, most of the criminal offenses that occurred in this large area of 74,000 square miles were tried at the federal district court level.  These cases include a large number of liquor violations and larceny, such as stealing horses, as well as instances of murder and mayhem that we commonly associate with classic Western television shows.

John Middleton

Acting Lt. Governor of Texas, Barnett Gibbs’s Proclamation for the Apprehension of John Middleton, 04/21/1885  (National Archives Identifier 5898031)

After a fire at the original court seat in Van Buren, the Western District of Arkansas moved to Fort Smith on the Arkansas River in 1871 and into the recently closed U.S. Army barracks building in 1872.  For the next twenty years, the court heard cases from Indian Territory, where the lawless often went to hide out and ran into other criminals as well as law-abiding citizens.  The Fort Smith court records mention not only the defendants, but also some of the victims, witnesses, U.S. marshals, deputy marshals, and other court employees.

The criminal case files (also called defendant jackets) have been scanned and are available online through Ancestry.com.

Sam and Belle Starr jacket on Ancestry.com screen capture

These records tell sensational (and sometimes graphic) stories from the history of the American West with cases involving infamous outlaws: the “Bandit Queen” Belle Starr, the Dalton Gang, Crawford Goldsby (alias Cherokee Bill), and murderer-turned-silent-movie-star Henry Starr, to name a few.  Famous lawmen and jurists like the legendary black U.S. Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves and “Hanging” Judge Isaac C. Parker also make frequent appearances.

One researcher found 287 separate cases that mention Bass Reeves.  A former slave from Texas, Reeves had a distinguished career as a deputy marshal and served the federal district court for 32 years.  This number isn’t surprising, given his long career and his knack for capturing suspected criminals.  The men (and a few women) who were deputy marshals did the majority of the court’s work.  They served writs, gave testimony, and led posses as well as transporting and capturing or killing outlaws.

Oath of Office for Bass Reeves, 1889 (National Archives Identifier 6851120)

The National Archives at Fort Worth’s new research guide provides a description of these and other resources to explain the “who, what, when, and where” of the criminal case files.  In addition to case files, related court records also may help researchers to create a more complete picture of a particular case.  For a number of years, Fort Worth’s volunteers have worked to flatten documents, index records, and understand how these bits and pieces fit together.  Now all of these efforts are available online.

To learn more, visit the National Archives at Fort Worth’s website:  http://www.archives.gov/fort-worth/finding-aids/fort-smith-case-files/

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