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Time for (school) lunch

"Your community can sponsor a school lunch program for its children" Make America Strong set. Poster number 10, 1941–1945 (44-PA-1313; ARC 514939)

Schools around the country are back in session, and while course loads may vary greatly, students from kindergarten to high school all have a slot in their schedules for lunchtime.

On Wednesday, September 8, the National Archives in Washington will be showing the documentary film Lunch Line as part of our series of programs related to the exhibit “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” Lunch Line looks at the Federal National School Lunch Program, which began in 1946 and today feeds more than 31 million children a day. The film examines the origins of the program, shows how it works today, and brings together leaders from all sides of the school food debate to discuss its challenges and its future.

“What’s Cooking” contains several items related to the National School Lunch Program. One of these is a 1966 letter, handwritten on a school lunch menu, expressing to President Lyndon Johnson the “hope that this program can continue at a reasonable price for all students in our district.” There are also recipes for 100 portions of “ham shortcake” and other cafeteria offerings. The Today’s Document Tumblr blog is even dedicating this week’s posts to the school lunch, and you can find this poster and more there.… [ Read all ]

9/11: An Address to the Nation

President George W. Bush delivers an address to the nation at 8:30 p.m. on September 11, 2001, regarding the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the hijacked airplane that crashed in rural Pennsylvania. Photo by Paul Morse; 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.

Elizabeth Lanier, Malisa Lewis, and Jill Zawacki have been archivists at the George W. Bush Presidential Library since January 2010. They are currently processing textual records of the Bush administration.

As children, we recall asking family members questions such as “Where were you when John F. Kennedy was assassinated?” or “What was it like to hear about the bombing of Pearl Harbor?” We never anticipated that one day we would be able to answer a similar question: Where were you on September 11, 2001? Several future George W. Bush Presidential Library staff members were actually in New York City on that day, while others were listening to teachers in high school or college classes. Regardless of our location or age, we all felt a … [ Read all ]

World War I food conservation: “Pan de la libertad”

Recipes for "Pan de la libertad para conservar el trigo." (Records of the U.S. Food Administration, RG 4, National Archives at San Francisco)

Recipes for "Pan de la libertad para conservar el trigo." (Records of the U.S. Food Administration, RG 4, National Archives at San Francisco)

“What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?,” our current special exhibition in Washington, DC, examines the Government’s effect on what Americans eat. Government influence was especially visible during wartime, when many food products were reserved for feeding the troops and our Allies.

During World War I, the U.S. Food Administration, headed by Herbert Hoover, urged the American people to voluntarily conserve food, especially wheat, meat, fats, and sugar. Recognizing that a successful program had to reach out to all Americans, the agency distributed printed materials in several languages, including Italian pamphlets in New York City, Chinese food conservation notices in Hawaii, and Spanish recipes in California.

The featured recipes for “pan de la libertad” (liberty bread), using corn, oat, and barley flour instead of wheat, were found in the files of the California State Food Administration, housed at the National Archives at San Francisco. According to a note at the bottom, recipes were translated into Spanish for counties with significant Spanish-speaking populations.

An all-out publicity campaign was waged to educate the citizenry about the need for food conservation and how … [ Read all ]

What’s Cooking Wednesdays: Crimes against butter

Charles Wille was sent to the Federal Penitentiary at Leavenworth in 1915 for crimes against butter. (ARC 596115)

The Federal Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas, has housed some famous and infamous inmates, such as “Birdman of Alcatraz” Robert Stroud and Machine Gun Kelly. In the early 20th century, the prison took in some less likely felons—violators of the Oleomargarine Act of 1886.

How did trafficking in this popular butter substitute become a Federal offense? Well, almost immediately after New York’s U.S. Dairy Company began production of “artificial butter” in 1871, regulation began. Dairy interests pushed Congress to pass the 1886 act, which imposed a two-cent tax (per pound) on margarine and also required manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers of margarine to obtain margarine licenses.

By 1902, 32 states had bans on coloring margarine yellow to make it look more like butter. That same year, Congress increased the tax to 10 cents a pound for colored margarine but imposed a lesser tax of a quarter of one cent per pound on the uncolored stuff.

The exhibit “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” includes the story of felons convicted of violating sections of the Oleomargarine Act and sent to the Federal prison at Leavenworth. Some tried to pass the margarine off as butter; others tried to evade the tax by reusing tax stamps again and again.

Joseph Wirth (along with his

[ Read all ]

Thursday caption contest

"I'm just saying, I think I saw a shark, but it could have been something else."

Congratulations, Teresa Martin Klaiber, for bringing a smile to the face of Gwen Granados, our guest judge from the National Archives at Riverside. She shared this photograph with us, and we all agreed it was eminently caption-worthy. (Teresa, if you send an e-mail to prologue@nara.gov, I can send you your 15% discount code to use at the National Archives eStore.)

The photograph is in a file on “Porpoises, 1965–1967,” among the records of the  11th Naval District in Record Group 181, Records of Naval Districts and Shore Establishments. Its original caption reads, “Sam the Sea Lion and his trainer Walley Ross.”

OK, captioners, get your thinking caps on for this week’s challenge. This Sunday is Mother’s Day, so maybe these ladies are celebrating their day! Write your own caption in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Your caption here!

 … [ Read all ]