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Jennifer Johnson, an exhibit curator at NARA, would love your help finding records in the National Archives with signatures.  She’s working on an exhibit and would love your suggestions.

At the National Archives, we have a range of signatures from the infamous (Lizzie Borden), to signatures of individuals before they were famous (Julia Child’s OSS paperwork), as well signatures that had the power to change someone’s life or to change history, such as a Presidential pardon.

Lizzie Borden signature

We would like your help to tag records with “signature” in our online catalog.  Don’t be restricted to any categories of records.  Tag records that you think are interesting or surprising.

To get started tagging, you’ll need to:

If you know of interesting signatures in records that are not yet available in our online catalog, let us know in the comments below with as much information as possible about the record.

Today’s post comes from Stephanie Greenhut, Education Technology Specialist, in the Education and Public Programs division.

We’re going to ring in the new year here at the National Archives with a special celebration to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Visitors to the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, can view the original document from Sunday, December 30, to Tuesday, January 1. The commemoration will include extended viewing hours, inspirational music, a dramatic reading, and family activities and entertainment for all ages.

For those who can’t make it to Washington or want to learn more, the National Archives presents The Meaning and Making of Emancipation. This eBook places the Emancipation Proclamation in its social and political context by presenting related documents from the National Archives’ holdings. These illustrate the efforts of the many Americans, enslaved and free, white and black, by whom slavery was abolished in the United States.

The Meaning and Making of Emancipation is available for free for multiple devices on our new eBooks page at

  • For iPad, download the interactive Multi-Touch book with iBooks on your iPad, or on your computer with iTunes.
  • For iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, download it with iBooks, or on your computer with iTunes.
  • For Android phone, Android tablet, iPhone, iPad, Nook, SONY Reader, other mobile device or eReader, or PC or Mac, download the ePub file from Open it with an eReader app on your phone or tablet, your eReader device, or an online ePub reader for your Mac or PC.
  • Read it online on Scribd or on your iPhone, iPad, Android phone, or Android tablet using the Scribd app.

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, during the Civil War. It formally proclaimed the freedom of all slaves held in areas still in revolt. After hosting a traditional New Year’s Day reception at the White House, and shaking hands with several hundred people, he signed the document with a shaky hand. President Lincoln said, “I never, in my life, felt more certain that I was doing right than I do in signing this paper.” Learn more and read excerpts from the eBook on the National Archives’ Pieces of History blog.

The Meaning and Making of Emancipation is the second commemorative eBook created by the National Archives. Exploring the United States Constitution celebrated the 225th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution. Each chapter connects one or more of the billions of records in the holdings of the National Archives to the principles found in the U.S. Constitution. This eBook is also available at

How do you like to get your news and information from the National Archives? Do you have access to what you need? How can we serve you better?

Tell us what you think! Take this 10-minute survey:

The survey will be available until midnight, December 6. Thank you!

* Update! The survey will now be available until midnight on December 13th. We look forward to your feedback!

Image of woman on phone

PFC Isabella Hardacre, Chicago, Illinois, a WAC telephone operator in U. S. headquarters at the Potsdam Conference in Germany disposes of hundreds of inquiries a day on the information phones of the headquarters switchboard., 07/15/1945


The National Archives is glad to announce that you may now connect with us on Google+!  Come on over and follow us for exciting posts about news, exhibits, research, genealogy tips, resources, citizen archivist updates and so much more.

Google+ is an online social community that aims to make sharing on the web more like sharing in real life.  With over a million users already, Google+ allows users to participate in events, video chat in a hangout, and subscribe to circles with information that is most interesting to them.  The National Archives is ready to start sharing with you, and we’d love to offer you circles to join that will streamline the content we are posting.  To see information in your news feed about a specific circle, all you need to do is click on the cover photo, and +1 the circle you’d like to join.

Are you interested in public programs and events in DC or from around the country?  Would you just like information about research, like record releases, genealogy events, or citizen archivist initiatives?  Or are you really looking for information for teachers to use in their lesson plans and classrooms?  Let us know on Google+! 

We’re excited about Google+ all over the National Archives, and that includes the Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero.  In fact, he’s so excited, he will be hosting our very first hangout!  Do you have a question for the Archivist that you’re dying for him to answer?  Here’s your chance to be heard!  Send your questions to the Archivist through Google+, Facebook, Twitter, or the blogs, and include the #AskAOTUS hashtag.  We’ll compile the questions and pass them on to the Archivist, who will answer as many as he can during the hangout.  If you can’t think of a question before the hangout, join us anyway, and continue to tweet us your questions with the #AskAOTUS hashtag throughout the session.  Ask him anything from what his favorite records are to what a day in his office is like.  Or maybe you are interested in what book he’s reading or his favorite museum in DC (besides the National Archives, of course!).   We’ll keep you posted on the date and time of the hangout, so circle the National Archives on Google+ for our latest updates!


Rolling into Court

by on October 19, 2012

As Halloween approaches, our thoughts turn to candy — and court cases.  A sweet combination of both can be found in Record Group 21, the U.S. District Court, the Northern District of Illinois, Chicago.  Civil case number 47C1770 was filed in 1947, when the Life Savers Corporation sued the Curtiss Candy Company for trademark infringement.

In 1947, Life Savers parent company filed suit claiming Curtiss violated Trade-Mark Reg. 355,158, which is a Life Savers candy wrapper design.  In the “Complaint,” Life Savers Corporation said its “exclusive right in its trade-mark and distinctive package design and color scheme each exceeds the sum of Three Thousand Dollars ($3,000), exclusive of interest and costs, and the acts of defendant herein complained of have damaged plaintiff in excess of said amount and if not restrained, will greatly impair, if not destroy said value.”

Life Saver patent

Life Savers Corporation Patent Application, October 1937

Life Savers wanted to protect its brand, which celebrates its centennial this year; Pep O Mint was first introduced in Ohio in 1912.  Wint O Green followed in 1918, and the five-flavor roll, the primary product in the case, came out in 1935.

The Curtiss Candy Company, too, had been around for a long time when the suit was filed.  Curtiss was founded in Chicago in 1916.  Known most famously for Baby Ruth and Butterfinger candy bars, Curtiss began making rolled hard candies, varying its product line.

The “Memorandum Opinion” states the main issue with the case.  The style and colors of the packaging were so similar that Life Savers claimed there would be “actual confusion of goods between the products of the plaintiff and defendant.”  Curtiss, however, said its own label was “distinctive and totally different,” and “great pains and much care have been taken to avoid any possible confusion.”

Curtiss Candy 1947

Curtiss Assorted Fruit Drops wrapper, 1947


The court realized that the profit margin on a “simple disk-like piece of hard candy of different colors and flavors” was large, so it was not surprised that a “simple sugar concoction” would have many others entering the market.  However, it understood that Life Savers, as one of the leaders in that business, wanted to “maintain its position.”

There was an analysis of the wrappers, including the positioning of two blue squares with “Curtiss Assorted Fruit Drops” and three “Life Savers Five Flavors” printed across the entire roll “as to be visible and prominent in whatever position that package may lie….”  However, the court was inundated with witness testimony acknowledging “there has been some actual confusion of goods.”

Life Savers package 1947

Life Savers wrapper, 1947

Depositions of witnesses were taken in different cities to show that consumers were so used to simply reaching for the multi-colored packaging of Life Savers that Curtiss would be able to take advantage of this with its own colored label.  One witness, Lillian Poshkus of St. Louis, when asked about her candy purchase, answered, “I just go right up to the counter and I see the different colored package and I pick that up, put it on the counter and pay for it.”  Several others answered similarly.

But the court considered more than just the colors.  For instance, the diameters and dimensions of all the packages were identical.  Moreover, buying mints is typically an impulse purchase, so consumers are not inclined to take such “care and caution in the selection of goods” as they would take to buy clothes or shoes, the judge said.

“It is probable that a great majority of purchasers do not care particularly what they get so long as they get a package of mints, and it is just as probable that the confusion can be attributed to the size and shapes of the various packages as to the exact wording and coloring of the labels,” the opinion stated.

Indeed, that was one of Curtiss’s claims, saying the “Defendant has not adopted the registered trademark of Plaintiff nor any ‘colorable imitation’ of any registered mark.”  Further the position of the defendant said the “striped effect produced by the picture or representation of the contents of a package is a functional device equally available…and widely used by manufacturers of candy of this type.”

Even in 1948, when the defendant filed its brief, an issue came up that continues to affect the contemporary marketplace.  Curtiss used examples from testimony where some witnesses refer to generic small candy drops as Life Savers.  “Typical of marks of this kind are the marks Frigidaire for the household mechanical refrigerator, Vaseline for petroleum jelly, Kodak for small cameras, Aspirin for the familiar headache remedy, etc.  The term Life Savers itself may have suffered this deterioration because of a developing usage of this word by consumers to mean any small round candies, regardless of the brand.”

Curtiss concluded that Life Savers was attempting “to prevent anybody from putting out assorted fruit drops in a multi-colored label.  If successful, Plaintiff will thus insure that all people who want assorted fruit drops will of necessity be compelled to purchase those of the Plaintiff,” and endowing it “with a monopoly of assorted fruit drops.”

U.S. District Court Judge Elwyn Shaw dismissed the complaint, concluding, “I believe that the defendant has taken every reasonable means to prevent confusion of goods, and unless Life Savers Corporation is to be given a patent on all colored and candy mints it must be held that the trade-mark is not infringed.”

The case was then appealed by the plaintiff, and went to the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, Chicago, shortly after the civil case was completed in 1949.  It supported the lower court decision, again siding in favor of the Curtiss Candy Company.  Nevertheless, Life Savers’ value was not destroyed as the complaint alleged.  Although its ownership has changed hands over the years and they are now made by Wrigley, a division of Mars, Incorporated, the round disk candies with the holes have remained afloat.

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