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Today’s post comes from Jessie Kratz, Historian of the National Archives. June 19 marks the 80th Anniversary of the establishment of the National Archives.
Eighty years ago on June 19, 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation creating the National Archives. It was the culmination of a 25-year campaign by the historical community to create a National Archives building to house the national government’s records.
At that time, Federal records were scattered around the Washington area in inadequate and unsuitable storage facilities. They were neither organized nor accessible for public use.
Supporters of a National Archives argued that those records—the written evidence of our national life and achievements—must be preserved for future generations.
In 1926, Congress took the first major step in creating a home for the nation’s records by authorizing construction of an Archives building. It was part of a massive public buildings project to provide office space for government agencies in the Federal Triangle area of downtown Washington, DC.
The Archives building was well under way before Congress created the agency that would occupy it.
An April 1934 House Report on the bill to establish the National Archives described the situation:
The great National Archives Building on Constitution and Pennsylvania Avenues is nearing competition. The interior arrangement of shelf space, equipment, etc., providing for the custody of Government documents, is ready for consideration. Legislation
Today’s post comes from Emma Rothberg, an intern in the National Archives History Office in Washington, DC. June 14 marks the annual celebration known as Flag Day.
On June 14, 1885, Bernard J. Cigrand placed a 10-inch, 38-star flag in a bottle on his desk at the Stony Hill School in Ozaukee County, Wisconsin. The 19-year-old teacher then asked his students to write essays on the flag and its significance to them. This small observance marked the beginning of a long and devoted campaign by Cigrand to bring about national recognition for Flag Day.
While many communities celebrated June 14 as Flag Day in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the day was not nationally recognized until 1916. In that year, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation calling for the first nationwide observance of Flag Day.
Later, in 1949, President Harry Truman signed an act of Congress designating June 14 as National Flag Day. The act also requested that the President issue an annual proclamation calling for its observance and for the display of the flag of the United States on all Federal Government buildings.
But why June 14? Cigrand didn’t choose a random summer’s day. He chose this date because on June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress approved the design of a national flag by in this resolution:
Resolved, that the Flag of … [ Read all ]
Today’s blog post comes from James Worsham, Editor of Publications at the National Archives, and Tim Rives, deputy director of the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum.
The Supreme Allied Commander listened to his weather officer’s forecast, then observed as his commanders struggled to make sense of the report.
Finally, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, having ordered the biggest invasion force in history to a state of readiness, spoke: “The question is just how long can you keep this operation on the end of a limb and let it hang there.”
The next morning, Eisenhower arose at 3:30 and met with his staff again. He asked each one what he thought about launching the invasion of Western Europe the next day, June 6, 1944. They all said yes.
Then Eisenhower got up, paced around the room, pondering what was riding on this decision — the fate of millions.
Then he stopped pacing, looked at his commanders, and gave the go-ahead for the D-day invasion of Western Europe by the allies to bring down Hitler’s Third Reich.
But what words did Eisenhower use to give his commanders the green light 70 years ago this week?
Tim Rives, deputy director of the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, Kansas, ponders that question in the latest issue of Prologue magazine.
“It is puzzling that one of the most important … [ Read all ]
In honor of Memorial Day, today’s blog post comes from Sara Holmes, supervisory preservation specialist, and Michael Pierce, preservation technician, both at the National Archives at St. Louis.
The piece of silk lay in the folder as if it were just another page in the military personnel record—with holes punched through to be held by the fasteners, just another page to be cleaned of mold and soot from the burned files from the disastrous 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center.
But this piece of cloth with its colorful silkscreen of a Chinese flag was clearly something different from everything else treated by the Paper Lab. Accompanying documents in the file explained how very special it was. The long journey taken by this small silken scrap, called a “blood chit,” to the National Archives began when it fell from the sky.
On June 29, 1944, 16 American planes were flying a mission against the Japanese along the Laodoho River in the Hunan Province in China. After several followed a road away from the river, one of the planes crashed into a building and then skidded across the rice fields, breaking apart and burning.
Over a year later, the Changsha Search Team reported finding the grave of an unidentified pilot. The team recovered the engine numbers and serial plates of the carburetor and radio compass … [ Read all ]
Today’s post comes from exhibits conservator Terry Boone and senior registrar James Zeender.
May marks the surrender of the Nazi forces to the Allies—and the liberation of the Mauthausen concentration camp in 1945.
Last year in April, we traveled to the Mauthausen National Memorial, about 100 miles west of Vienna, with one of the original death registers created at the Mauthausen concentration camp. This camp was a part of the Nazi killing machine responsible for 6 million deaths—almost 100,000 at Mauthausen alone.
The register would be part of a new exhibition, “The Concentration Camp Mauthausen 1938–1945,” on display in the infirmary building where the registers were originally kept. The infirmary is within walking distance of the quarry where thousands of prisoners were worked to death, deaths that would be recorded for history by the prison clerks. Prisoners carried stones weighing 50 pounds or more up hundreds of steps eight or more times a day. The exhibition marks the first time that a piece of original Holocaust evidence from the National Archives had returned to its place of origin for public display.
In Austria, our first stop was the Interior Ministry in downtown Vienna, where we met Mauthausen Memorial Archive Director Christian Duerr and photo archivist Ute Bauer-Wassmann. We learned about the origins of the Archive and its development.
Hans Maršálek, a camp survivor, had … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on May 20, 2014, under Uncategorized.
Tags: Austria, Concentration Camp, Hans Maršálek, Holocaust, James Zeender, Mauthausen, Mauthausen National Memorial, Miriam Kleiman, Nazis, Nuremburg Tribuna, Soviet Union, Terry Boone, Totenbuch Mauthausen, Vienna