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Celebrating Benjamin Franklin’s Birthday with Founders Online

Today’s post comes from Keith Donohue, Communications Director for the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) at the National Archives. This post was also published on the White House blog.

“The noblest question in the world is What Good may I do in it? – Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1737

Today we celebrate the 308th birthday of Benjamin Franklin, who answered that question time and again as a writer, printer, inventor, American diplomat, and godfather to a free and independent nation. He was called “The First American” and was in many ways the very idea of what an American could and should be during the Founding Era of our nation.

This Friday, January 17, marks his birthday in 1706, and the National Archives is celebrating by adding the annotated volumes from The Papers of Benjamin Franklin to Founders Online.

You can now read every issue of Poor Richard’s Almanack, trace Franklin’s views on picking the turkey as our national emblem, pore through his autobiography, read the correspondence between Franklin and the leading thinkers of the day, and find the trove of letters written between Benjamin and his beloved sister Jane Mecom that show the personal side of the First American.

Launched on June 13, 2013, Founders Online is the result of a partnership between the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and the University of … [ Read all ]

On display: Finding stolen art using this album

A recently discovered album donated to the National Archives by Monuments Men Foundation President Robert M. Edsel is on display until February 20, 2014. The album is open to a photograph of an important painting by master French painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Girl Holding a Dove was repatriated by the Monuments Men in 1946. It sold at auction in 2000 for over $5 million.

In addition to the Featured Document display, the National Archives will host an evening with Robert Edsel on Wednesday, February 19, at 7 p.m. Edsel will discuss his books and the recent film adaptation starring George Clooney, and his work as founder and president of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art.

Perhaps the most unlikely heroes to emerge from World War II, the Monuments Men (and women) were a multinational group of curators, art historians, and museum directors who saved centuries of artistic and cultural treasures from destruction. Trading hushed galleries and libraries for besieged European cities, the men and women of the Monuments, Fine Art, and Archives Program risked their lives to protect museums, churches, and monuments from combat.

They also tracked down and recovered thousands of priceless artworks stolen by the Nazis—much of it from Jewish families. In the final weeks of the war, the Monuments Men discovered numerous hiding places—including mines and abandoned castles—where the … [ Read all ]

A receipt for that little house on the prairie

Today’s post comes from Cody White, archivist at the National Archives at Denver.

Today marks the 178th anniversary of Charles Ingalls’s birth!

A simple farmer born in Cuba, New York, Ingalls would have likely languished in obscurity had not his second-born daughter Laura taken her childhood recollections and parried them into a timeless and award-winning series of children’s books.

In this page from a register of homestead receipts from the Dakota Territory, we see the line entry for the Ingalls homestead in DeSmet, South Dakota, the family’s final stop in a long series of homes that stretched across present-day Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, and Minnesota.

 

Several years after proving up on his claim, Ingalls moved into town where he worked a variety of jobs before passing away in 1902. The DeSmet News ended his obituary with this description: “As a citizen he held high esteem, being honest and upright in his dealings and associations with his fellows. As a friend and neighbor he was always kind and courteous, and a faithful and loving husband and father.”

For those fans of Little House on the Prairie, Pa’s DeSmet homestead is a tourist attraction today, still featuring the original cabin Charles Ingalls built for his family over 120 years ago.

The National Archives also holds the papers of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter, Rose Wilder … [ Read all ]

Sleepover at the National Archives!

sleepover

You can’t snuggle with the Constitution, but you can sleep next to it! This sleepover in the Rotunda is open to children ages 8-12, accompanied by an adult. Registration fees are $125 per person (discounted to $100 per person for Foundation members).

Participants get to meet author Brad Meltzer, who will set the way for an evening of historical missions and discovery. Learn to decode Civil War ciphers, write with a quill pen, dress up in period clothing, and play with historic toys and games from our patent collection.

Children will also get to meet journalist and author Cokie Roberts, and interact with historical characters Abraham Lincoln and Amelia Earhart. The evening wraps up with a selection of Oscar-nominated short films in the William G. McGowan Theater.

Participants will receive the first two books in Brad Meltzer’s brand new children’s series, I am Abraham Lincoln and I am Amelia Earhart. Written by Meltzer and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos, each book tells the real-life story of an ordinary person who changed the world.

Schedule

7 p.m.         Check-in & Orientation
8 p.m.         Museum Exploration and Activities
9:30 p.m.   Movie Shorts from the Oscars
11 p.m.        Lights Out
7:30 a.m.    Breakfast, Shopping, and Trivia
9 a.m.          Departure

For more information go to the Foundation’s sleepover page. To register, download the Sleepover Registration packet, … [ Read all ]

Top 14 Moments at the National Archives in 2013

Wow–what a year! Our editorial panel tried to limit this list to ten, but eventually we gave up and picked 14 instead. (For more great National Archives moments, check on out the Top 10 Innovative Moments of 2013.)

We also want to send a big thank you to the staff members of the National Archives across the nation, who worked so hard to make these moments possible. And a huge thank you to our partners, sponsors, researchers, visitors, and social media followers who share in our love of history. We are grateful to be able to make your history accessible to you in so many ways in 2013!

FOURTEEN

40th Anniversary of the Fire in the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis

If you have served in the U.S. military, your file is part of the holdings in the National Archives in St. Louis. Each year, staff respond to one million requests for direct military benefits and entitlements from veterans and their next of kin. In the Research Room, staff pulled more than 41,000 military personnel records.

And Preservation Programs in St. Louis responded to more than 200 daily requests for burned Army and Air Force records. The fire that swept through the sixth floor of the National Personnel Records Center on July 12, 1973, damaged and destroyed millions of documents. Each … [ Read all ]