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Take a break with Presidential vacations!

Need a vacation? This summer, go on a vacation with 13 of our Presidents!  You can choose your own adventure on Instagram and chat with us on Twitter on August 19 using #POTUSvacation.  

Vacations are an integral part of Presidential history, a way for Presidents to relax and recharge outside of Washington. Many of the iconic images that we associate with Presidents were taken while on retreats from the White House.


The tradition of a summer White House dates back to the beginning of the Presidency, and several of our Commanders in Chief have had dedicated family retreats.  These retreats have been a place to recuperate, spend time with family, … [ Read all ]

Before the ADA, there was Deaf President Now

Danica Rice is an archives technician at the National Archives at Seattle, is partially Deaf, and considers herself a member of the Deaf culture and community.

During our celebration of the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it’s worth reflecting on an event two years earlier that served as a catalyst for the Deaf community and may well have pushed passage of the legislation forward. The eight-day event I refer to is called Deaf President Now, and it happened in Washington, DC, on the Gallaudet University campus and involved marches in nearby areas as well.

The charter for Galluadet University: April 8, 1864, Public Law 43: An Act to authorize the Columbia Institution for the Deaf & Dumb and the Blind to confer degrees.

The charter for Gallaudet University, signed by Abraham Lincoln, April 8, 1864, Public Law 43: An Act to authorize the Columbia Institution for the Deaf & Dumb and the Blind to confer degrees. (National Archives)

In March of 1988, Gallaudet’s Board of Trustees was responsible for choosing between three deaf and one hearing candidate for the presidency of the only fully Deaf university in the country. After hasty deliberation, they chose the hearing candidate.

The resulting uproar among the students and faculty led to marches protesting the decision, which were nationally recognized by the media. Protesters associated themselves with the civil rights movement by stating “we still have a dream,” making it easier for people to understand where the Deaf as a culture and … [ Read all ]

The Archivist’s Favorite Pancakes

Some might say the best part of sleeping over at the National Archives is snoozing the night away beneath the Constitution, but we know the best part is having the Archivist of the United States make you pancakes for breakfast!

Enjoying pancakes made by the Archivist.

Enjoying pancakes made by the Archivist.

Three times a year, kids and their parents can stay overnight at the National Archives. And the next morning, David S. Ferriero is there, taking a break from his job as head of the agency to flip pancakes for our guests.

We asked him to share his favorite recipe that he uses when he makes pancakes at home–and now you can make pancakes just like the Archivist!

The Archivist’s Pancakes

Yield: 30 pancakes—depending on size


2 cups all purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 cups milk
4 tbsp melted butter
2 large eggs


1.  Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt

2. Separately mix together milk, butter and eggs

3.  Add dry ingredients to wet and mix—don’t overmix

4.  Spoon or pour batter (amount dependent upon how big you want them) onto griddle or frying pan

5. Sprinkle on chocolate chips or berries and cook for a couple of minutes until underside is brown

6. Flip and cook another couple of minutes


Southpaws at work! Patrick Madden, director of the Foundation for the National Archives, and David Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States, flip pancakes.

Southpaws at work! Patrick Madden,

[ Read all ]

Building Bridges between the Worlds of the Deaf and Hearing, Archives and Knowledge

Danica Rice is an archives technician at the National Archives at Seattle. The National Archives is participating in #DisabilityStories as part of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

I have always seen myself as a bridge between two worlds, that of the Deaf and that of the Hearing. There are many purposes for bridges, but one is to connect and string two things, in this case two worlds, together.

My world is the Deaf, and has been since I was 18 months old. However, I’ve always been blessed with the ability to hear a good deal, speak reasonably clearly, and understand many nuances of the Hearing world. Make no mistake, the world of the Hearing and that of the Deaf are very different ones, but in some respects, much the same.

Danica Rice at work at the National Archives in Seattle.

Danica Rice at work at the National Archives in Seattle.

When I was growing up, I loved to read, and it became a lifeline of sorts for me, as I used it to explore new worlds, new ideas, new intellects. When I was feeling the very natural difficulties of being left out due to my hearing, reading became my escape.

When I was very young, my father took me to one of those old used bookstores, where books were squeezed in every available space, some on top of others, with rows upon rows … [ Read all ]

The Hello Girls Finally Get Paid

Today’s post comes from Ashley Mattingly, who is an archivist at the National Archives at St. Louis, where she manages the collection of archival civilian personnel records.

The United States entered World War I in April 1917. Along with the men who were recruited to fight, women were eager to assist with war efforts. Such was the case with Isabelle Villiers. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1894, she acted on her patriotic pride and enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve Force in May 1917.

For eight months, Isabelle Villiers (Yeoman, 1st class) worked as a confidential secretary in the office of Commodore A.L. Key at the Boston Navy Yard. However, after reading an announcement in the newspaper calling for telephone operators, she decided she could better serve her country overseas.

Photograph of Isabelle Villiers

Photograph of Isabelle Villiers from her civilian file at the National Archives at St. Louis

The war, which had already raged since 1914, had taken its toll on European infrastructure. General John J. Pershing, Commander-in-Chief of the American Expeditionary Forces, had devised a solution for the poor communication on the war front. War had destroyed the existing French telephone system and he felt that telegrams were too slow and expressionless. Furthermore, General Pershing wanted to establish direct communication between troops on the front line and the general-in-command as well as between allied units.

While servicemen … [ Read all ]