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Was Harding’s mistress a spy? The National Archives knows and tells.

Today’s post comes from Miriam Kleiman of the National Archives Public Affairs Staff.

I’ve worked at the National Archives for many years and have always been content with our 13 Presidential libraries (Hoover through Bush 43). Sure, I’ve thought wistfully about a Washington, Adams, or Lincoln Library. But only recently did I long for a Warren G. Harding Library to be part of NARA!

Warren G. Harding. (111-P-1627, National Archives Identifier 530676)

Warren G. Harding. (111-P-1627, National Archives Identifier 530676)

Our neighbors down the road at the Library of Congress recently shared online more than 1,000 pages of love letters from Warren Gamaliel Harding to his longtime paramour, Mrs. Carrie Fulton Phillips.

I’ve read letters between John and Abigail Adams, and between Harry and Bess Truman. And while interesting, those seem G-rated in comparison to the wild, impassioned, heated, salacious letters (the early 20th-century version of sexting) from Warren to Carrie.

Is this news?

Historic Presidential affairs are not news; we’ve long heard of Harding’s carnal appetite. He boasted to a group of reporters: “It’s a good thing I’m not a woman. I would always be pregnant. I can’t say no.” Even during his Presidency, there were reports of mistresses, dalliances with young aides, and even illegitimate children.

But many of the affairs of other past Presidents didn’t leave a paper trail.

What is unique about this affair is the newly available extensive … [ Read all ]

Indian Treaties at the Museum of the Indian Museum

Almost 220 years ago, representatives of the United States and more than 1,600 people from Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy (Six Nations—Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk, and Tuscarora) gathered together near Canandaigua, New York (the Finger Lakes region) to discuss peace and friendship.

On November 11, 1794, more than 50 chiefs and sachems, including Cornplanter and Red Jacket, signed a treaty. The treaty returned substantial tracts of land to the Haudenosaunee, which it had lost a decade earlier, but restricted the Haudenosaunee from making any further land claims for themselves. George Washington’s agent, Timothy Pickering, signed for the United States.

This fall and for the next six months, an even greater number of people will be able to see the treaty at the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington, DC. On September 21, the museum opened the exhibition “Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations.”

Eight treaties negotiated between 1790 and 1868 between the United States and Native Nations form the core of the exhibition. The original treaties are permanently housed just across the Mall at the National Archives, and one original will be rotated in the exhibition every six months. The Canandaigua Treaty, which has never before been exhibited, will be shown for the first six months.

From left: Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Oren Lyons; Tadodaho of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chief Sidney Hill; Suzan Harjo (Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee), guest curator of the “Nation to Nation” exhbition; Kevin Gover (Pawnee), director of the National Museum of the American Indian; and Jim Gardner, Executive for Legislative Archives, Presidential Programs, and Museum Programs at the National Archives, welcome the Treaty of Canandaigua to the museum. (Kevin Wolf/AP Images for the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian)

From left: Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation

[ Read all ]

Archivist welcomes visitors back to the National Archives

Archivist of the United States David Ferriero welcomes a visitor to the reopened National Archives Museum on October 17, 2013.

Archivist of the United States David Ferriero welcomes a visitor to the reopened National Archives Museum on October 17, 2013.

At 1 p.m. on October 17, the doors to the National Archives Museum on Constitution Avenue opened for the first time since September 30. Archivist of the United States David Ferriero greeted the first visitors to enter the building.

“It’s really nice to see people roaming the halls again. I’m proud of the fact that we were able to open our doors as quickly as we did,” said Ferriero. “It’s clear that our visitors are extraordinarily grateful to spend this special time with the documents.”

The message from the Archivist and other staff was “We’re happy to be back,” and the visitors’ feelings were the same.

Visitors had come from across the country and around the world. One couple from St. Louis, MO, had been in Washington three years ago but missed the National Archives. This time they were determined to come to the Archives. Two other California visitors came from the north and south: Los Gatos and Orange County.

Visitors from Italy were among the first people to enter the reopened building, and they were followed by people from several countries. A couple from Japan had been in Washington since Friday and were happy to be able to visit the Federal museums after all. Two men from the United Kingdom—one from London … [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: Sir Frederick Bruce

Today’s blog post comes from Katrina Wood, a summer intern with the Public Affairs Office.

Sir Frederick Bruce

Sir Frederick Bruce, British diplomat and Minister to the United States at the end of the Civil War. (111-B-1510; National Archives Identifier 525715)

As I took a self-guided tour of Embassy Row in Washington, DC, and paused at the statue of Winston Churchill at the British Embassy on Massachusetts Avenue, I thought of all the diplomats and representatives who have made homes in Washington.

Sir Frederick Bruce was a highly valued diplomat in Queen Victoria’s service. Somewhat surprisingly, he seems to be portrayed in a fashion slightly more casual than his lengthy political and diplomatic career would suggest.

Sir Frederick held posts from colonial secretary and consul-general to envoy extraordinary and chief superintendent of British trade in China. He was a native of Scotland, born in Broomhall, Fifeshire.

In 1865, when Sir Frederick was the British Minister in China,  he received a new assignment as Minister to the United States. He arrived in New York only one week before the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and never officially met the President.

The diplomat did not survive the President  very long. Sir Frederick died in Boston on September 19, 1867. His obituary in the New York Times praised him for performing his ministerial functions “faithfully and earnestly, but with no … [ Read all ]

Death Takes No Holiday: Full Military Honors at Arlington in 2014

[Today's post comes from Rod Ross, an archivist in the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives. While researchers come to Rod every day to learn from his knowledge of congressional records, he recently had to consult an Archives colleague for an unusual task outside the office.]

Arlington National Cemetery (330-CFD-DF-SD-03-18020; National Archives Identifier  6606577)

Arlington National Cemetery (330-CFD-DF-SD-03-18020; National Archives Identifier 6606577)

Sometime in 2014—because Arlington National Cemetery has a substantial backlog, causing delays of eight or nine months—I expect to attend a funeral of someone I barely knew in life, Odis Frederick Quick (1916–2013).

I live in an apartment house in Southwest Washington, DC. Not long ago, I received an email asking me if I knew Odis Quick, who “lives or lived” in the building. The writer was renting an apartment in the coop but wanted to buy. She had seen mail piled up in front of a unit and wondered if it might be available.

On Saturday, August 17, I asked at the front desk if they knew the status of the Quick apartment. The woman there did indeed know.

Odis Quick had died in a hospice in mid-May, and his body had been taken to a funeral home, where it remained. Mid-May to mid-August—that’s unbelievable, I thought. The woman at the desk said that a fellow resident in my building, Bob McIntosh, had been with Odis in the … [ Read all ]