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“A Carpapalooza: An American Anthem”

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 works, visit the National Archives YouTube Channel. 

Poster, "Eat the Carp!" 1911. (National Archives Identifier 5710027)

Poster, “Eat the Carp!”
1911. (National Archives Identifier 5710027)

Today’s poem, “A Carpapalooza: An American Anthem” by Regie Cabico, was inspired by documents from the National Archives exhibit “What’s Cooking Uncle Sam.”

The exhibit is currently traveling, and you can still see highlights online.

Using original documents from the nationwide holdings of the National Archives, the exhibit explored the Government’s efforts to inspire, influence, and control what Americans eat and the unexpected consequences, dismal failures, and life-saving successes of those efforts.

For example, this 1911 Bureau of Fisheries poster encouraged Americans to eat carp—a fish that was introduced to American waters in 1877 and quickly proliferated.

Documents like these trace the origins of government programs and legislation aimed at ensuring that the American food supply is ample, safe, and nutritious. They also reflect the effects the Government has had on our food choices and preferences.

Sometimes comic and sometimes tragic, the records reveal the evolution of our beliefs and feelings about food.

A Carpapalooza: An American Anthem (Excerpt)

by Regie Cabico

I can write about colonialism,
Disney, riots and … [ Read all ]

“Much Tattooed Sailor Aboard USS New Jersey”

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. 

Much tattooed sailor aboard the USS New Jersey. 12/1944. (National Archives Identifier 520883)

Much tattooed sailor aboard the USS New Jersey. 12/1944. (National Archives Identifier 520883)

Today’s poem, “Much Tattooed Sailor Aboard USS New Jersey” by Jehanne Dubrow, was inspired by a photograph of sailors during World War II.

Lt. Comdr. Charles Fenno Jacobs took this photograph of two sailors in December 1944. Jacobs was part of the Naval Aviation Photographic Unit—a group of military photographers, under the command of Edward Steichen, who documented activities of the United States Navy during World War II.

Like other photographers in the Naval Aviation Photographic Unit, Jacob’s photos focused on the human side of war. He captured this image while on assignment to photograph life—both on and off duty—on the ship USS New Jersey.

Here Jacob’s camera captures a sailor tattooing a shipmate aboard the battleship.

For more Charles Fenno Jacobs photos, visit our online catalog.

Much Tattooed Sailor Aboard USS New Jersey

By Jehanne Dubrow

Squint a little, and that’s my husband
in the photograph, the sailor on the left—

the one wearing a rose composed of ink
and the … [ Read all ]

“Catawba Cotton Mill”

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 works, visit the National Archives YouTube Channel.  

Some of the doffers and the Supt. Ten small boys and girls about this size out of a force of 40 employees. Catawba Cotton Mill. Newton, N.C., 12/21/1908, (National Archives Identifier 523141)

“Some of the doffers and the Supt. Ten small boys and girls about this size out of a force of 40 employees.” Catawba Cotton Mill. Newton, N.C., 12/21/1908, (National Archives Identifier 523141)

Today’s poem, “Catawba Cotton Mill” by David Wojahn, was inspired by a Lewis Hine photograph of child workers in North Carolina.

From 1908 to 1912, Hine took approximately 5,000 photographs of children’s working and living conditions for the National Child Labor Committee. Hine photographed children engaged in a variety of industries across the United States.

Hine’s lens captured images of children—some as young as three years old—working in agricultural field work, canneries, cotton mills, factories, peddlers in street trades, and in coal mines.

In this photograph, doffers and their supervisor pose for the camera at the Catawba Cotton Mill in Newton, North Carolina. When the bobbins on the spinning machines became full, doffers were responsible for removing the full bobbins and replacing them with empty ones. This particular mill employed 40 workers; 10 of whom were small children.

Hine’s photographs became influential in the movement to enact child … [ Read all ]

“The Buttonhook”

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 works, visit the National Archives YouTube Channel.  

Ellis Island, N.Y. Line Inspection of Arriving Aliens, 1923 (National Archives Identifier 6116683)

Ellis Island, NY, Line Inspection of Arriving Aliens, 1923 (National Archives Identifie 6116683)

Today’s poem, “The Buttonhook” by Mary Jo Salter, was inspired by a National Archives photograph of Ellis Island showing uniformed inspectors examining newly arriving immigrants eyes.

In 1892 the Federal Government assumed the responsibility for inspecting and admitting or rejecting all immigrants seeking entry to the United States.

At immigration stations such as Ellis Island, arriving immigrants encountered immigration inspectors, who determined if they met the legal requirements for admission, and medical officers from the US Public Health Service (USPHS), like those pictured here, who examined them for evidence of “loathsome or dangerous contagious diseases,” which could be grounds for exclusion.

During the early years of the 20th century, trachoma, an infectious eye disease that could lead to blindness if left untreated, became one of the leading reasons for excluding immigrants on medical grounds. To check for trachoma USPHS officers would flip back immigrants’ eyelids using their fingers or a buttonhook, an implement originally intended for fastening the small buttons common on shoes and … [ Read all ]

“The Posner Affair”

Continuing our celebration of American Archives Month, today’s post comes from Christina James, an intern in the National Archives History Office.

As the inscription on the west side of the National Archives Building reads, the National Archives is home to “the chronicles of those who conceived and builded the structure of our nation.” Primarily thought of as a place where history is preserved, one can easily overlook the ways in which historical events have directly affected the National Archives.

Ernst Posner, undated. (Records of the National Archives)

Ernst Posner, undated. (Records of the National Archives)

During World War II, the National Archives found itself under attack by the Senate Subcommittee on Independent Agencies regarding ties between the National Archives and German archivist, Ernst Posner. A short chapter in National Archives history, this incident is recorded in the Personal Files of Solon J. Buck as “The Posner Affair.”

Born in Berlin in 1892, Ernst Posner was a German citizen who had served in World War I and later became an archivist at the Prussian State Privy Archives. Prior to the start of World War II, Posner eagerly sought to leave Germany and hoped to relocate and secure an archival position in the U.S. He first met Solon J. Buck in 1938 while visiting and lecturing in the United States. Shortly after his return from this trip, Posner was arrested and imprisoned following the Nazi … [ Read all ]