Site search

Site menu:

Find Out More

Subscribe to Email Updates

Archives

Categories

Contact Us

On Display: The Japanese Instrument of Surrender

Today’s post comes from Darlene McClurkin, from the National Archives Exhibits staff.

Signing the Instrument of Surrender, September 2, 1945. (General Records of the Department of the Navy, National Archives)

Signing the Instrument of Surrender, September 2, 1945. (General Records of the Department of the Navy, National Archives)

On September 2, 1945, in a formal ceremony aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, Japan, representatives of the Japanese government signed this Instrument of Surrender, officially ending World War II.

The terms called for “the unconditional surrender to the Allied Powers of the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters and of all Japanese armed forces and all armed forces under Japanese control wherever situated.” Although it preserved the Japanese Imperial House.

Signing for Japan was Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu and General Yoshijiro Umezu, Chief of the Army General Staff.

General Douglas MacArthur, Commander in the Southwest Pacific, signed for the United States and accepted the surrender in his capacity as the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers.

Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz also signed for the United States.

Then representatives from eight other Allied nations signed, including the Republic of China, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union. The ceremony took less than 30 minutes.

General Wainwright unveils exhibit of surrender document, September 12, 1945. (National Archives Identifier 4477174)

General Wainwright unveils exhibit of surrender document, September 12, 1945. (64-NA-421; National Archives Identifier 4477174)

After the Japanese Instrument of Surrender was presented to President Harry S. Truman at the White House on September 7, 1945, it was put on exhibit at the … [ Read all ]

The First Dog, Fala Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt, Fala, and MacKenzie King at Quebec, Canada for conference, 9/11/1944. (National Archives Identifier 196995)

Eleanor Roosevelt, Fala, and MacKenzie King at Quebec, Canada for conference, September 11, 1944. (National Archives Identifier 196995)

In celebration of National Dog Day, today’s post comes from Meagan Frenzer, graduate research intern for the National Archives History Office in Washington, DC.

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum maintains documents of critical participants within the FDR administration.

This list includes prominent figures such as Frances Perkins, Harry L. Hopkins, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., and, surprisingly, President Roosevelt’s dog, Fala.

The Scottish terrier became a national figure as President Roosevelt’s loyal, four-legged companion.

When his distant cousin Margaret “Daisy” Suckley gave the terrier as a Christmas gift in 1940, President Roosevelt renamed the terrier Murray the Outlaw of Falahill after his famous Scottish ancestor.

Photograph of Eleanor Roosevelt and the late President Roosevelt's dog, Fala, at the dedication of the Franklin D. Roosevelt home at Hyde Park, New York, 4/12/1946. (National Archives Identifier 199362)

Photograph of Eleanor Roosevelt and the late President Roosevelt’s dog, Fala, at the dedication of the Franklin D. Roosevelt home at Hyde Park, New York, April 12, 1946. (National Archives Identifier 199362)

Shortened to “Fala,” the terrier accompanied the President on trips and attended key meetings, including the 1941 Atlantic Charter Conference.

Fala enjoyed entertaining international dignitaries and famous visitors with his tricks.

In his travels, Fala met British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the Queen of the Netherlands, and Mexican President Manuel Camacho.

During World War II, Fala served as an honorary Army private and became the national president of Barkers … [ Read all ]

The 60th Anniversary of the Presidential Library Act of 1955

Today’s post comes from Meagan Frenzer, graduate research intern for the National Archives History Office in Washington, DC.

Presidential Libraries Act of 1955, August 12, 1955. (General Records of the U.S. Government, National Archives)

Presidential Libraries Act of 1955, August 12, 1955. (General Records of the U.S. Government, National Archives)

Signed into law on August 12, 1955, the Presidential Libraries Act of 1955 (PLA) established a system to preserve and make accessible Presidential records through the creation of privately erected and Federally maintained libraries.

The precedent for the PLA began with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Before President Roosevelt’s terms, Presidential records were considered private property, which Presidents took with them upon leaving office.

They then donated the papers to repositories like the Library of Congress, or their collections remained at their estates.

President Roosevelt hoped to change this tradition by creating a single location where all of his papers would be available for the public.

He proposed the creation of a library, which would be donated to the U.S. Government. This library would then come under the control of the National Archives, which was established during Roosevelt’s administration.

FDR speaking at the dedication of the FDR Library and Museum in Hyde Park, NY, June 30, 1941. (FDR Library, National Archives)

FDR speaking at the dedication of the FDR Library in Hyde Park, NY, June 30, 1941. (FDR Library, National Archives)

Though President Roosevelt’s actions regularized the procedures of preserving the papers of future Presidents, other Presidents encountered difficulties when trying to emulate their predecessor.

For instance, governmental budgetary concerns regarding Presidential libraries slowed the transfer process … [ Read all ]

On Exhibit: Voting Rights Act of 1965

Today’s post comes from Alex Nieuwsma, an intern in the National Archives History Office in Washington, DC.

The Voting Rights Act, August 6, 1965 (signature page). (General Records of the U.S. Government, National Archives)

The Voting Rights Act, August 6, 1965 (signature page). (General Records of the U.S. Government, National Archives Identifier 299909)

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a milestone in American history. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed it on August 6, 1965, marking the culmination of decades of efforts toward African American equality.

The 15th Amendment, passed in 1870, clearly stated that “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

In response, many southern states issued voting tests to African Americans that all but guaranteed they would fail and be unable to vote. Furthermore, the Supreme Court ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), upheld the “separate but equal” doctrine permitting racial segregation. While African Americans were legally citizens of the United States, they commonly had separate drinking fountains, stores, bus seats, and schools.

The civil rights movement grew immensely after the Supreme Court’s Brown v. The Board of Education ruling in 1954, which struck down the Plessy v. Ferguson decision and deemed the segregation of schools to be unconstitutional.

The leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr., further propelled the movement.

A Baptist preacher in … [ Read all ]

On Exhibit: Bloody Sunday

Between 1961 and 1964, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) held a voting registration campaign in Selma, Alabama, a town known to suppress African American voting.

When their efforts were stymied by local enforcement officials, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), led by Martin Luther King, Jr., pushed Selma into the national spotlight.

On March 7, 1965, 600 civil rights protesters attempted a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, the state capital, to draw attention to the voting rights issue.

Led by Hosea Williams of SCLC and John Lewis of SNCC, the marchers crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River on their way to Montgomery. There they encountered Alabama state troopers and local police officers who gave them a two-minute warning to stop and turn back. When the protesters refused, the officers tear-gassed and beat them. Over 50 people were hospitalized.

Photograph of the Two Minute Warning on Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965. (National Archives Identifier 16899041)

Photograph of the two-minute warning on Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965. (National Archives Identifier 16899041)

The events became known as “Bloody Sunday” and were televised worldwide.

A few weeks later a march from Selma to Montgomery was completed under federal protection.

Later than year, on August 6, 1965—partly due to the efforts of civil rights activists in Selma and around the nation—President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act. This act attempted to remove barriers faced by African Americans in exercising their constitutional … [ Read all ]