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Korean War exhibit in Seoul features National Archives images

When Harry S. Truman Library Director Mike Devine flew to Seoul, South Korea, the last thing he expected to see was an enormous outdoor exhibit featuring photos from the holdings of the National Archives.

“In the last decade or so, we’ve had quite a number of researchers from Korea to the Truman Library to copy thousands and thousands of images. Still, I was surprised to see this in this big outdoor exhibit,” Devine said. “As I got closer, I was like, ‘Hey! That’s our stuff!’”

The outdoor exhibit was not co-sponsored by the National Archives but was the work of a private group. It showed the United States and United Nations support for the Republic of Korea in the aftermath of the North Korean invasion in June of 1951. The exhibit features more than 150 images from the Truman Library and other National Archives facilities.

The exhibit is on Seoul’s main thoroughfare in the city’s governmental center. Also displayed are the flags of the 67 nations that supported the people of Korea during the 1950–53 war and its immediate aftermath. It was sponsored by World Peace and Freedom United and is intended to provide young Koreans with a better appreciation for the significant international support that brought about the survival and development of the Republic of Korea.

“I wasn’t looking for this exhibit. It was just something I came across,” Devine said. … [ Read all ]

Descendants of the signers to read the Declaration of Independence on July 4

With Independence Day around the corner, we caught up with a few of this year’s speakers to get their thoughts on the Declaration of Independence, their connection to history, and celebrating at the National Archives.

Four descendants from the original signers will read the Declaration of Independence this year.

Three are members of the Society of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence and one is a member of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). While the Declaration of Independence holds special value for all Americans, the document holds a personal significance for the descendants of the signers.

“I feel a great sense of pride in this beautiful document,” said Laura Haines Belman, who is related to three of the Founding Fathers. “I’m happy to know it and to be reading it. There are certain phrases that have their own lives: ‘We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.’ As Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, when we gather three times a year in Philadelphia, the Declaration of Independence is read aloud at least twice a year. That phrase is something we all know—it just rings in the ears.”

Belman is descended from three signers: Samuel Chase of Maryland, William Ellery of Rhode Island, and Oliver Wolcott of Connecticut. Her son, John Chase Belman, will … [ Read all ]

National Archives specialists brings movies “Out of the Dark”

With a little archival magic, NARA staff bring historic films “out of the dark” and back into the public eye. This post is from Archives Specialist Marcia Kolko from the Motion Picture Sound and Audio office.

Now on a small screen near you: A movie about…movies!

NARA’s own Motion Picture, Sound and Video office and Preservation Lab recently produced “Out of the Dark: Bringing Films to Light at the National Archives.” They used Frank Capra’s classic 1944 documentary “The Negro Soldier” to present a behind-the-scenes look at the accessioning, processing, and preservation workflow for motion pictures. Follow “The Negro Soldier” from the time of its arrival at the Archives to its place on the shelf of the Research Room where it will be available to researchers both in the United States and, due to the international reach of ARC, around the globe.

To see how the Motion Picture Office and Preservation Lab preserves and protects America’s historic motion picture collection, tune in to the latest entry on NARA’s Inside the Vaults channel!

[ Read all ]

100 Years of Girl Scouts: Preservation Programs Director shares her Girl Scout story

As the Girl Scouts of the USA prepare to celebrate their 100th anniversary, we will be featuring stories from NARA staff who were former Girl Scouts. This post is from Director of Preservation Programs Doris Hamburg.

Happy 100th birthday, Girl Scouts! 

Juliette Gordon Low began the first Girl Scout troop in 1912 in Savannah with just a small group of girls. Today there are more than 3.2 million scouts around the world. In fact, about half of adult American women are Girl Scout alumnae. Girl Scout activities (including selling those delicious Thin Mints!) develop skills, confidence, and character, and help to make the world a better place.

I was a scout as a girl and more recently served as a leader for my daughter’s troop. Once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout! As a Brownie at age 8, little did I expect that Girl Scouting would have such an influence on my future. 

When I was in 10th grade, my troop was asked to help at  Lyndhurst, the newly opened National Trust for Historic Preservation museum. It was a splendid 19th-century Gothic Revival mansion overlooking the Hudson River in New York. At first, I sold postcards and souvenirs. As I learned more, I began giving tours. 

At Christmastime, it was wonderful fun to help festoon the beautiful house with holiday decorations. I imagined the house when it was occupied by the original families, … [ Read all ]

Homestead Act still stirs excitement 150 years later

In the wake of the 150th anniversary of the Homestead Act, the Exhibits Division’s senior registrar, Jim Zeender, and archivist Greg Bradsher flew out to America’s heartland to share a document that made it all possible.

Last month, they visited the Homestead National Monument of America, four miles west of Beatrice, NE, to install the exhibit. The Homestead Act of 1862 is a four-page document signed by Abraham Lincoln. Because it is written on parchment, the document is very sensitive to fluctuations in humidity. Great care was taken to ensure the case kept relative humidity steady as the Homestead Act traveled to Nebraska. This is the first time all four pages have been displayed.

“The Homestead Act is an important document because it opened the way for settlement of the west,” Zeender said. “It was an engine for immigration to the west, even bringing in people from overseas.” The act granted most Americans the ability to claim 160 acres of undeveloped federal land west of the Mississippi River as long as the claimants were at least 21 years old, lived on the land for five years, and showed evidence of making improvements. Its passage allowed 270 million acres of land to be settled in 30 states.

At the Homestead National Monument, Zeender and Bradsher were briefed on security, given tours of the museum, and gave a series of presentations on the Homestead Act … [ Read all ]