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Archives Spotlight: The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York.

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York, was the first Presidential library built in the United States. President Roosevelt led its conception and building, and he is the only President to have used his library while in office.

FDR decided to build the library in order to preserve the documents he had written and collected throughout his life. Before Roosevelt, Presidential papers were considered the property of the President. The documents were taken from the White House by the President when he left office and were later sold, scattered, or kept privately within families. Some Presidential records eventually landed in the Library of Congress, but not many, to the frustration of historians. The Roosevelt Library and all succeeding Presidential Libraries preserve Presidential papers for the public and educate the public about the past. The public is welcome to use the research rooms at all 13 Presidential Libraries.

But the library doesn’t only hold President Roosevelt’s official papers.

While the library undergoes a major renovation to bring its infrastructure up to the Archives’ preservation standards, the museum is presenting the largest photography exhibit ever assembled on the lives of the Roosevelts. “The Roosevelts: Public Figures, Private Lives” includes nearly 1,000 images of their childhoods, family life, and political … [ Read all ]

Archives Spotlight: The John Fitzegerald Kennedy Library and Museum

The John Fitzgerald Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is located in Boston. The staff collect, preserve, and make publicly available over 48 million items related to the 35th President. These records include not only JFK’s writings and belongings, but also records of some of his family members, his administration officials, and other individuals and organizations.

The John Fitzerald Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum on Columbia Point in Boston, Massachusetts.

The permanent exhibits include materials from his 1960 Presidential campaign against then-Vice President Richard Nixon; the “Space Race” exhibit, featuring the Freedom 7 space capsule; a collection of Kennedy’s personal effects from the Oval Office; and video samples of the President’s televised press conferences—Kennedy used television extensively  to communicate with his constituents.

If you love Jackie Kennedy’s iconic style, check out the permanent exhibit “First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy” on her involvement in American arts and culture. The library also holds many of Jackie Kennedy’s clothes, photos of which are online.

The famous “pink coat,” designed by Oleg Cassini, was worn by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy on her arrival in New Delhi, India, during her state visit on March 12, 1962. John Fitzgerald Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

Genealogists might enjoy the fascinating history of the Kennedy and Fitzgerald families, which is on permanent display with a collection of family heirlooms, artifacts, and photographs.

The

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Constitution 225: Conservation and Re-encasement

 

Given the care and consideration with which conservators now treat the Constitution, it’s jarring to see early photos of its handling. In this photo, taken in 1921, a man holds the third page of the Constitution in an oak frame, just before putting it on top of some mail sacks and a cushion in a Model-T Ford postal truck to transfer it from the State Department to the Library of Congress. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/96507341/

In light of the upcoming 225th Constitution Day on September 17, I spoke with Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler and Catherine Nicholson, two of the very few people who have touched the Constitution in the last century, about how they approached the task of conserving the Charters of Freedom.[ Read all ]

Plucked from our records: Pasquale Taraffo and the Harp Guitar

 

This photograph of Pasquale Taraffo found in the National Archives.

“Attachments,” the current exhibit at the National Archives in Washington, DC, tells the stories of some of the millions of people who have entered and left the United States.

One visitor, Pasquale Taraffo, came to the United States three times—once for a concert tour of New York City and California in 1928–29, once as a crew member of a ship that docked in New York in 1933, and once for a concert stop in New York in 1935.

Born in Genoa, Italy, in 1887, the musician began giving guitar concerts at age nine. He eventually switched from the traditional guitar to the harp guitar, a 14-string instrument mounted on a pedestal. Taraffo started touring abroad in 1910, performing on his own and with other musicians. Known as “the Paganini of the guitar”—a reference to the legendary Italian violinist—he was wildly popular around the world and especially in South America.

When he came to the United States, he applied for a visa based on artistic abilities, and probably had to submit evidence of his exceptional talent in order to enter the country. Photo postcards of Taraffo with his harp guitar, along with a handbill for his 1926 concert in Corregio, Italy, were found, but these documents were separated from any of his other documents, mixed … [ Read all ]