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An A-File helps a journalist fill the gaps in her family story

October is American Archives Month. To celebrate, we are highlighting our staff around the country and their favorite records from the holdings in the National Archives.

Today’s staff member is Elizabeth Burnes, an archivist at the National Archives at Kansas City. Her favorite record is the Alien File of Miosche Slodovnik. Here’s Elizabeth’s story:

Researchers sometimes have the ”more is more” mindset as they track down documentation on their ancestors, but there are occasions where a single document can provide amazing insights. The Alien File (A-File) of Moische Slodovnik (A6316522) is a prime example.

A6316522 Page 1 - Application for Immigration Visa for Moische Slodovnik (A6316522), born 5/10/1898 in Poland.  [National Archives Identifier: 5349293]

A6316522 Page 1 – Application for Immigration Visa for Moische Slodovnik (A6316522), born 5/10/1898 in Poland. [National Archives Identifier: 5349293]

Moische’s great-niece, French journalist Annie Anas, had been researching her family history for about 15 years before she learned of his A-File. Growing up, Annie had learned that her grandparents died in the Auschwitz concentration camp and believed that the whole extended family met a similar fate. In 1973, Annie’s family by chance learned that Moische and two of his four children had successfully escaped the ghetto in Radun, Poland, after hearing that the Nazis planned to liquidate the ghetto on May 10, 1942.

Annie was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to meet Moische’s children, and during the visit she learned that Moische had traveled into the United States following World War II. This fact would come into play many years later when Annie began researching her genealogy and ran into difficulties tracking down information about her family, specifically her great-grandmother’s maiden name. After extensive research, finding records of Moische’s immigration to the United States seemed like the only possibility to locate the family name. Her searches had produced very little about Moische until she came across an entry for his A-File in the National Archives Online Catalog.

The six pages of Moische’s file included an Application for Immigration Visa, on which Moische listed his parents, Yehuda Slodovnik and Yahka Goldberg. Success! Annie now knew her great-grandmother’s name and had a list of prior residences. Born May 10, 1898, in Radun, Poland, Moische had spent his life until World War II in his hometown. He then moved to the ghetto at Radun for a year, fled to hide in the woods of Poland for two years, and eventually spent time in Berlin, Germany, and a displaced persons camp at Eschwege, Germany, until National Refugee Service, Inc. paid his passage to the United States. Annie had no idea how Moische had survived or what became of him at the end of the war.

Annie wrote to me: “I was very excited to receive copies of the file. I wanted to get your answer very quickly because I supposed it was the last chance to get the family information I had been seeking for so many years. Since most of my family died in the Shoah, it is not easy work. Learning my great grandmother’s name, finding out about Moische’s life, and obtaining his photograph are all very important for me because there are not many testimonies of what happened during the Shoah in little shtetles.”

 

A6316522 Page 2 - Listing of prior residences, including two years in hiding in the woods of Poland, from the Application for Immigration Visa for Moische Slodovnik (A6316522).  [National Archives Identifier: 5349293]

A6316522 Page 2 – Listing of prior residences, including two years in hiding in the woods of Poland, from the Application for Immigration Visa for Moische Slodovnik (A6316522). [National Archives Identifier: 5349293]

Though Moische lived only one year in the United States before he passed away, his A-File remains, holding clues to the struggles he and his family faced during the Holocaust and providing new leads for family historians like Annie to continue their research.

A-Files were created beginning April 1, 1944, by INS to record the experience of aliens as they passed through the United States immigration and inspection process.  The files hold a wealth of data including visas, photographs, applications, affidavits, correspondence, and more.  The National Archives at Kansas City maintains over 450,000 A-Files for individuals born 1910 and prior. Each A-File available through the National Archives is name searchable in OPA.  To learn more about the A-Files and the record request process visit:  http://www.archives.gov/research/immigration/aliens/a-files-kansas-city.html.


“In a Legendary Light”

We’re wrapping up our celebration of American Archives Month. Throughout October we teamed up the Academy of American Poets to publish original poems inspired by the holdings of the National Archives. To view the all the poets performing their original works, visit the National Archives YouTube Channel

Marilyn Monroe posing for the 3rd U.S.Infantry Division, 02/17/1954. (National Archives Identifier 531435)

Marilyn Monroe posing for the 3rd U.S.Infantry Division, 02/17/1954. (National Archives Identifier 531435)

Today’s poem, “In a Legendary Light” by Regie Cabico, was inspired by an image of Marilyn Monroe.

Born Norma Jeane Mortenson in 1926, Monroe endured a different childhood to become one of the most well-known sex symbols of the 20th century.

As a model, actress, and singer, Monroe dominated Hollywood during the 1950s and early 1960s.

This 1954 photo shows Monroe appearing with the USO Camp Show “Anything Goes.” She is posing before a group of enthusiastic fans after a performance for the 3rd U.S. Infantry Division in Korea.

Monroe’s life was tragically cut short in 1962 when she died of a drug overdose.

This photo is just one of the millions and millions of photographs housed within the National Archives. Many photographs can be viewed in our online catalog and on our Flickr page.

In a Legendary Light

by Regie Cabico

I walk with simple people
who wish me to believe that I am not an instant…

I lock the door and hear a knock. An angel peeks
from the corner of a mirage…
says my mother is the gardenia

a nurse planted in her breast pocket

My father’s a secret gauze, crinkling,
the day I breathed…

I don’t thank Fate, nor count my muses
but give thanks to mathematics,
the number 7′s breathless proportions.

When I was a model, I spoke as a model.

When I was an actress, I spoke as a girl
enamored by sunless rooms and yellow bars of spotlights.

(If the camera won’t love you, who will?)

My nose was crooked like a long bridal veil
plink, plink, plink, I got married.

I knelt at the tabernacle of chaos.

plink plink, plink, I got married
and mistook vodka for water.
A gallon of sleeping pills and I dream of Neptune.

Playboy parts scattered like bones on glassy paper.
A centerfold, the portable trap of my vulgar self.

I pretended to be a baby chick locked to what its eye first seizes.
a quiet blonde shell without a libretto

whose skirt flutters in wild pentameters-
a GI’s obscene flag.

I consider myself a missionary to the suburbs,
like McDonald’s or a really long rope.

A dimestore magic trick in legendary light.

“May Day May Day” cries the tabloids,
the lack-luster pages of my weekly planner.

Housewives want to be me
but I’m only a glass bottle poised in a publicity still.

I’m just a woman. Bewildering June.
Norma Jean. Lightheaded and I have strange dreams.


It’s time to #AskAnArchivist

We’re excited to participate in #AskAnArchivist on October 30! Archivists from our locations across the nation are ready to answer your questions on Twitter tomorrow.

We have archivists that concentrate on the history of the National Archives, work with audiovisual materials, declassify documents, textual reference, Presidential materials and more.

An Archives staff member shows off the cellulose acetate used for the lamination of documents. (64-NA-464; ARC 3493252)

An Archives staff member shows off the cellulose acetate used for the lamination of documents. (64-NA-464; ARC 3493252)

This is your chance to find out how archivists came to have these jobs, what they like or dislike, and what they do! No question is too serious or too silly–so find out about FOIA or learn about the invention of the Beach Cart.

The schedule is below, but feel free to tweet us questions ahead of time!

@usnatarchives

8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET 

Got a question for our Presidential libraries? Tweet a question to

@FDRLibrary, 10-11 am ET

@IkeLibrary

@JFKLibrary

@LBJLibrary, noon to 5 pm ET

@carterlibrary 8:30 am-12:30 pm and 1-3 pm ET

@WJCLibrary 9 am-noon CST

@bush41library 10-11 am CST

 

Schedule for @usnatarchives


8:30-9 am ET, Steve Greene
 

Steve Greene is an Archivist and the Special Media Holdings Coordinator for the Office of Presidential Libraries since 2010. Before that, Steve was the AV Archivist for the Nixon Presidential Library. Steve has worked with the Preservation, Processing and Reference Service on Stills, Sound Recordings and Moving Images at the Presidential Libraries for over 15 years.

9-9:30 am ET, Amber Forrester 

Amber Forrester is an Archivist in NARA’s National Declassification Center, where she has worked for four years. She spends her days working with NARA’s classified holdings and living the NDC motto: “Releasing all we can, protecting what we must.” Amber holds an MLS in Archives & Records Management from the University of Maryland and a BA in American Studies and History from Case Western Reserve University.

9:30-10 am ET, Rebecca Collier 

Rebecca Collier is a Supervisory Archivist of the Textual Reference Archives II Branch at the National Archives in College Park, MD. She has worked in reference at NARA for over 29 years. Her unit assists the public daily and responds to requests concerning many topics including diplomatic, labor, commerce, treasury, National Park Service, American Red Cross records as well as military unit records during the 20th Century (especially WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War) and various intelligence agencies. She has a Master of Arts in History from Bowling Green State University in Ohio and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Ohio Northern University.

10-10:30 am ET, Jessie Kratz

As Historian of the National Archives, Jessie promotes the history and importance of the agency. She regularly writes articles and blog posts, and gives talks on Archives history. Before becoming Historian, Jessie worked at the Center for LegislativeArchives from 2000 to 2013 where she created publications and exhibits that highlighted Congress’s role in American history. Jessie has an M.A. from the George Washington University in Washington, DC.

11-11:30 am ET, Joseph Keefe

Joseph P. Keefe is an Archives Specialist and Reference Team Lead and Social Media co-coordinator with the National Archives Northeast Region-Boston and has worked for the National Archives for over 10 years. He began his National Archives career in the Federal Records Center where he worked in both research and the transfer of records into the facility. He moved to the archives in 2006 in his current position as an Archives Specialist. Joseph has a bachelor’s degree in History from Framingham State University in Framingham, Massachusetts, and a MA in American History from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

1-2 pm ET, Alan Walker

Alan is an archivist in Textual Processing at Archives II. He works with records of civilian Federal agencies, including those of the National Archives itself. He loves photography and worked with our photographic holdings in the Still Pictures unit here at the Archives for many years. Alan received his M.A. in History from George Mason University.

2-3 pm ET, Christina Jones and Ketina Taylor

Ketina Taylor started with the National Archives in 2000 in the Still Picture Unit in College Park, Maryland.  In 2005, she was promoted to archivist and moved to the State Department Reference Team and eventually the Civilian Records Processing Team. In 2007, Ketina accepted a position for the future George W. Bush Library, and in 2012, she was transferred to the National Archives at Fort Worth. 

3 pm ET, Gerald Ford Presidential Library

Elizabeth Druga and Stacy Davis will be available to answer questions. Elizabeth Druga is an archives technician at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She works with textual and AV collections. Stacy has been an archivist at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library since 2003. She participates in a wide variety of activities, including textual reference, accessioning, managing the Library’s digitization program, processing and description of collections, and supervising the Library’s work-study students. She started her National Archives career as an intern at the John F. Kennedy Library and later worked for the Still Pictures department at the National Archives in College Park.

3:30 pm ET, Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library

Jason Schulz, supervisory archivist; Meghan Lee-Parker, archivist; and Carla Braswell, archives technician, will be available to answer questions.

4:30 pm ET (1:30 pm PDT) Sue Karren

Sue has been with the National Archives for 28 years and is now the director of the National Archives at Seattle. Previously she also worked in the Chicago and Washington, DC, offices and often says, “Come see what we’re saving for you!” Sue has a Master’s degree in 20th-century military history but after 25 years in Seattle thinks of herself as a Western history generalist.

Presidential Libraries 

@FDRLibrary, 10-11 a.m.

Deputy Director and Supervisory Archivist Bob Clark will be answering questions. He has worked at the FDR Library since 2001

@LBJLibrary

Liza Talbot is a digital archivist at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, TX, where her reference responsibilities include questions about President Johnson and politics, speeches, and science. She also works to make the LBJ Library’s holdings–especially the spectacular photo, audio, and video collections–available on the web for everyone to use. Liza has a BA in History and English from Oberlin College and an MSIS in Archives and Digital Libraries and from the University of Texas, and she is very interested these days in Public History on the web; she created the LBJ Time Machine blog (http://lbjlibrary.tumblr.com/) to experiment with telling stories in new ways.

 @CarterLibrary

8:30-10:30 am, 1:30-3 pm ET, Ryan Rutkowski is an archivist at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library. At the Carter Library, he processes records, responds to research requests, and assists the AV Archivist with her projects. In his eight years as an archivist (3 years with Carter), Ryan have developed skills in the areas of archives and records management, exhibit design, policy creation, and historical research and writing. Ryan received his MA in Public History from Loyola University Chicago.

11:30 am-12:30 pm ET, Amanda Pellerin is an archivist at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library working mainly with the foreign relations materials in the collections. Amanda also has responsibilities in digital projects at the Carter Library including the ongoing processing of oral history collections. She has worked in the archival profession for 10 years (4 years with Carter) gaining experience in processing sensitive collections, donor relations, outreach initiatives, and policy development. She has a Masters in Heritage Preservation from Georgia State University and Masters in Library and Information Sciences from Valdosta State University.

@WJCLibrary, 9 am-noon CST

A group of archivists from the William J. Clinton Presidential Library will be available to answer questions: Brittany Gerke, Racheal Carter-Ragan, Jamie Metrailer, Kara Ellis, Kim Coryat, and Whitney Ross.

@bush41library, 10-11 am CST

Michelle Bogart is a certified archivist with an MSIS in archives.  She has worked in collecting and administrative archives and has been at the Bush Library for 5 years.

 


“The Conversation”

In celebration of American Archives Month, the National Archives is teaming up with the Academy of American Poets. Throughout the month we’ll be publishing original poems inspired by the holdings of the National Archives. To view the poets performing their original work, visit the National Archives YouTube Channel. 

Transcription of John Glenn's Flight Communications, February 28, 1962. (National Archives at Fort Worth, TX)

Transcription of John Glenn’s Flight Communications, February 28, 1962. (National Archives at Fort Worth, TX)

Today’s poem, “The Conversation” by Sandra Beasley, was inspired by her personal connection to the transcript of John Glenn’s Official Communication with NASA’s Command Center upon his retry after orbiting the earth.

U.S. Astronaut John Glenn was the first American to conduct a manned space orbit of the earth on February 20, 1962, aboard Friendship 7. Glenn traveled for nearly five hours, going 17,500 miles per hour, 160 miles above earth. He circled the planet three times before heading back.

This is the official transcript of his in-flight communication with Mission Control in Florida documenting the events upon reentry.

Despite some touch-and-go moments, and potential problems with his life-saving heat shield, the spacecraft, which Glenn had to manually control, splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean. Glenn, unhurt, was then picked up by the destroyer USS Noa off the coast of Bermuda.

The mission was a huge gain for the United States, which was then engaged in a the space race with the Soviet Union.

The National Archives has over 40 facilities nationwide. This document is housed within the Records of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration at the National Archives at Fort Worth, Texas.

For the entire transcript visit the National Archives website.

The Conversation

By Sandra Beasley

Fireflies, Col. Glenn calls them—
banging the capsule’s wall to prove
their movement. This
will be the gesture Hollywood

claims as history—how space
dazzles even the seasoned airman,
maddens like Titania’s touch.
The movie version sees

what he sees: Florida yawn, Delta yawp,
a sunrise inside every hour,
lightning over the Indian Ocean.
Yet the operatic soundtrack, paced

in gilded silence, is not what he hears.
Wonder-ese is not the language
he speaks. For this,
we turn to the transcript. Pilot

to Cap Com; Cap Com to Pilot.
This is Friendship 7, going to manual.
Ah, Roger, Friendship 7.
Pilot, Texas Cap Com, Cape Canaveral.

Cap Coms chiming in from Canary,
Canton, Hawaii, Zanzibar, India,
Woomera: every visual check
on the gyros, inverter temp,

every correction to pitch and yaw,
fuel, oxygen, Ah, Roger, Ah, Over.
Say again your instructions please.
Over. Do you read? Standby.

You can be honest. This
is Godspeed-less, workaday chatter.
This is not what you’d save if
the National Archives were in flames.

You’d grab those proclamations.
You would cart the Magna.
You’d roll up the Constitution
like a favorite dorm-room Van Gogh,

and run. But I’ve got this one.
Because in these pages
my grandfather lives forever—
a Navy captain charged

with Glenn’s vitals, stretching
his stethoscope across 162 miles
and 18 tracking stations.
I hear him in each pressure check.

I see him biting his lip,
leaning toward a bank of dials
while the retropackage breaks, burns.
No one knows if the heat shield

will hold. Captain Pruett
goes unnamed. This
is how history claims us:
not in the gesture of one but

in the conversation of many,
the talk that gets the job done.
We climb into the syrup-can capsule
to circle the Earth three times.

The miraculous swarm, we realize,
is condensation. The light
will wink at us,
flake and ice of our own breath.


The National Archives at New York

We are wrapping up our month-long celebration of American Archives Month with a post about the National Archives at New York City.

In 1950 the National Archives and Records Service (NARS), which was then part of General Services Administration (GSA), began a pilot Federal Records Center project. The original objective of the Federal Records Center was to provide a central depository for economical and efficient storage, maintenance, and servicing of inactive Federal records.

Federal Records Building, Brooklyn, NY, 1950. (Records of the National Archives)

Federal Records Building, Brooklyn, NY, 1950. (Records of the National Archives, RG 64)

As part of this project, NARS secured warehouse space at the Brooklyn Naval Supply Activities Depot, located at 29th Street and 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, totaling 50,000 square feet. The Brooklyn FRC received its first records in May, 1950—the records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The building that housed the original Brooklyn FRC, pictured here, still stands—it is now the home of the Metropolitan Detention Center.

The New York Federal Records Center moved in 1952 from Brooklyn to what was known as the “Federal Office Building” located at 641 Washington Street in Manhattan—at the corner of Washington and Christopher Streets.

Federal Office Building, (New York Federal Records Center), 1952 (Records of the National Archives)

Federal Office Building, (New York Federal Records Center), 1952 (Records of the National Archives, RG 64)

The FRC occupied 330,000 square feet of space on 10 floors of the Romanesque Revival structure.

Completed in 1899, the building was originally a United States Appraisers Warehouse; it is now luxury apartments named “The Archive.” The building is on the National Register of Historic Landmarks.

In 1969 the National Archives established regional archives branches in 11 of its FRCs including the Washington Street building in New York.

In 1974 the Archives vacated the Washington Street property because it lacked sufficient fire safety standards. They began moving the Federal Archives and Records Center to the Military Ocean Terminal at Bayonne, NJ.

The FRC was located in Bayonne until 1998, when the Department of Defense decided to close the Military Ocean Terminal. As a result, the New York FRC needed to relocate.

At that time the center housed nearly 1.2 million cubic feet of records from Federal agencies in the New York/New Jersey area, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The Archives sent its nonclassified holdings to Kansas City, MO, and the classified records to the Washington National Records Center in Suitland, MD.

A view from the National Archives Varick Street Location, 2009. (Courtesy of the National Archives at New York City)

A view from the National Archives Varick Street Location, 2009. (Courtesy of the National Archives at New York City)

In 1992 the National Archives moved its Federal Archives from Bayonne to a new downtown location on Varick Street, not far from the Washington Street FRC location.

At Varick Street the National Archives occupied space on the 12th floor—with spectacular views.

In 2009 the National Archives began plans to move the National Archives at New York into the Alexander Hamilton Custom House Building at One Bowling Green in lower Manhattan.

The Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House building was completed in 1907 and served as the Custom House for the port of New York until 1973, when the U.S. Customs Service moved to the World Trade Center.

In 2013, after months of delay caused by Hurricane Sandy, the National Archives at New York City opened its new research, education, and exhibition facility on the third floor of the Custom House Building.

Alexander Hamilton Custom House Building, New York City, 2014. (Photo Courtesy of the National Archives History Office)

Alexander Hamilton Custom House Building, New York City, 2014. (Photo Courtesy of the National Archives History Office)