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Constitution 225: There’s a “fifth” page the public has never seen

 

The Constitution Resolution, sometimes called the "fifth page" of the Constitution, will be on public display for the first time on September 14-19, 2012, in Washington, DC.

Millions of people have passed through the Rotunda of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, to see the original parchments that are our Charters of Freedom. They pause to look at the faded writing on the Declaration of Independence, the bold opening words “We the People” on the Constitution, and the straightforward enumeration of our Bill of Rights.

This year, for the first time, visitors will be able to see what is sometimes referred to as the “fifth page” of the Constitution—the Resolutions of Transmittal to the Continental Congress. A special display for the 225th anniversary of the Constitution in September, will feature this document. “It’s up there with the Constitution in terms of value,” says curator Alice Kamps.

The resolutions spell out how the new Constitution would be adopted by the United States and how the new government would be put into effect.

Instead of seeking the consent of Congress and the 13 state legislatures, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention proposed that the Constitution “be laid before the United States in Congress assembled” and then submitted  to  special ratifying conventions elected by the people in each of the states. Once nine states had ratified … [ Read all ]

Striking Gold in the Records

A vial of gold found in the case file of Heine v. Roth in the National Archives at Anchorage (Records of District Courts of the United States, RG 21)

People often refer to the National Archives as a “treasure trove” of history. Usually they’re referring to the wealth of knowledge documented in our billions of pieces of paper. But occasionally you come across something that would not be out of place in a real treasure chest.

At the end of the 19th century, thousands of gold-seekers headed to Alaska. Few found even enough gold to pay for the voyage north, but a little bit of the precious ore found its way into federal records at the National Archives in Anchorage.

The 1904 case of Heine v. Roth concerned waterfront property rights. George Roth had purchased land on the banks of the Chena River near Fairbanks and prospected for gold there. C. H. Heine also occupied land near the Chena and had filed a homestead claim on May 6, 1904, for 35 acres.

On July 15, 1904, Heine asked Roth to leave the property and had him arrested for trespassing when Roth refused. In court they argued over who had claim to the waterfront property, which was accessible only during low tide. Heine argued that Roth’s camp denied him access to the river. Roth argued … [ Read all ]

A Civil War Widow’s Story

Tintype of Adelia Springer and her daughter. (Widow’s Certificate #63958, Civil War and Later Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Widows and Other Dependents, Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, RG 15)

Intriguing discoveries are made all the time in the National Archives. This tintype of a woman and child doesn’t look like the typical federal record, let alone one associated with military records. But it was found in one of the 1.28 million Civil War Widows Certificate Approved Pension Case Files. Since 2007, a team of volunteers has been working on a project to digitize these records and make them available online, and from time to time, unexpected treasures turn up.

The file of one widow, Adelia M. Fish, holds quite a story. Her first husband, Joseph Springer served as a private in Company A, Seventh Michigan Cavalry, and died at Andersonville Prison in October 1864. She had four children under the age of 16 when she applied for her pension in June 1865.

In July 1872 Adelia married Jason B. Webb, and she was dropped from the pension rolls. Webb left their home in Battle Creek, MI, in the fall of 1872, and Adelia never saw him or heard from him again. Presuming him dead, she married a third time to Washington A. Fish in 1883. Adelia had no children by … [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: Herbert the Handsome

Mining engineer and future President Herbert Hoover, ca. 1900. (Hoover Library)

Herbert Hoover—successful businessman, international humanitarian, President during the Crash of 1929—and rugged mustachioed mining engineer? Yes, Bert Hoover started his career in the goldfields of Australia in 1897–1898. He then headed to China to develop coal mines, and he and his wife, Lou, were there during the Boxer Rebellion of 1900. Fun fact: Herbert is the only U.S. President to have been fluent in Mandarin Chinese.

Although we usually picture the 31st President as clean-shaven and impeccably turned out, pictures from his early days show a man with a bit of dash and swagger.

Today happens to be the anniversary of the dedication of Hoover Dam. The monumental dam across the Colorado River was dedicated on September 30, 1935. When construction was begun in 1930, the project was called the Hoover Dam, but after Hoover left office, Boulder Dam was the commonly used name and the name used at the dedication. Legislation in 1947 officially restored the name Hoover Dam.

If you want to learn more about Herbert Hoover’s pre-Presidential life, visit the Hoover Library. To learn about his humanitarian efforts during World War I, read “Herbert Hoover and Belgian Relief” in Prologue magazine.

Close-up of Hoover Dam transmission lines on the side of a cliff, ca. 1941, by Ansel Adams. (ARC 519850; 79-AAB-14)

Close-up

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9/11: The World Series and a President’s pitch

President George W. Bush throws out the ceremonial first pitch at Yankee Stadium before Game Three of the World Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the New York Yankees. (Photo by Eric Draper; courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Library)

This post is part of a series on September 11. As the nation’s record keeper, the National Archives holds many documents related to the events of September 11. In this series, our staff share some of their memories of the day and their thoughts on the records that are part of their holdings.

Today’s blogger is Alan C. Lowe, who has served as the Director of the George W. Bush Presidential Library since April of 2009.

In 2001, it was so fitting that the World Series included the New York Yankees in a duel with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The city of New York and indeed the entire nation were still reeling from the attacks of September 11. As devastated as we were, as much resolve as we had, we still sought some normalcy, some sign that the world was not completely different. The World Series, the championship of our national pastime, helped start the healing.

President George W. Bush was asked to throw out the first pitch in Game 3 of the Series, the first game of that championship to be held in New York, played … [ Read all ]