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Archive for 'National Archives Near You'

American Archives Month: Matthew Schaefer, Hoover Presidential Library

October is American Archives Month! Although we’re partway through October, there’s still time to celebrate the archivists from our Presidential Libraries. The series kicks off with a trip to the heartlands of America: West Branch, IA.

Matthew Schaefer, outreach archivist at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum.

Matthew Schaefer, outreach archivist at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum.

Name: Matthew Schaefer

Occupation: Outreach archivist for the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum

How long have you worked at this library?
Eleven years.

How/why did you decide to go into the archival field?
While working on my dissertation, I took a “temporary” job in archives to pay the bills. My plan was to keep the archives gig until I earned my degree, then join the professoriate. After 25 years and three institutions, I am ready to acknowledge that I am an archivist.

What are some of your responsibilities at your library? What do you like best about your job?
The thing that I like best about my job is the variety of tasks that fall to me. This meshes well with my short little span of attention. My duties at the Hoover include organizing conferences, working with professional organizations, and keeping the library in the public eye. I also manage the reference room, do collection management tasks, and serve as lookout for zombies.

Tell us about a time something unusual or unexpected happened to you in your line of work.[ Read all ]

Enemy Aliens in Kansas City

Today’s post comes from Kimberlee Ried, public programs specialist at the National Archives in Kansas City, MO.

After war was declared by Congress in April 1917, non-naturalized “enemy aliens” were required to register with the Department of Justice as a national security measure. A Presidential Proclamation of November 16, 1917, meant that “all natives, citizens, denizens or subjects of the German Empire” age 14 and older who were “within the United States” needed to register as “alien enemies.”

The National Archives at Kansas City has a collection of the Enemy Alien Registration Affidavits for the state of Kansas. These documents are full of valuable information for researchers.

Alexander Walter was born May 18, 1828, in Hanover, Germany. He was also a Civil War veteran who lived in the National Military Home in Leavenworth, KS. He had to fill out this registration form in 1918—at the age of 90.

Alexander Walter was born May 18,1828, in Hanover, Germany. He was also a Civil War veteran who lived in the National Military Home in Leavenworth, KS. He had to fill out this registration form in 1918. (Page three of registration form, National Archives at Kansas City)

(Page three of Enemy Alien Registration Affidavit, National Archives at Kansas City)

 

The registrations occurred from November 1917 to April 1918.  Initially the registration included only men; the regulations stated, “females are not alien enemies.” However, an act of April 16, 1918, extended the definition of “enemy aliens” to include women age 14 and older. This was followed three days later by a Presidential proclamation that included women of American birth who were married to enemy … [ Read all ]

Minnie Spotted Wolf and the Marine Corps

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

Minnie Spotted Wolf, Record Group 75, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, accession 8NS-75-96-133 “Decimal Correspondence Files, 1913-57,” Box 63, ARC  7329402)

Minnie Spotted Wolf, Record Group 75, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, accession 8NS-75-96-133 “Decimal Correspondence Files, 1913-57,” Box 63, (National Archives Identifier 7329402)

It was 70 years ago this month that the first Native American woman, Minnie Spotted Wolf, enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Women’s Reserve.

Born and raised on a ranch near White Tail Creek, about 15 miles from Heart Butte, Montana, Spotted Wolf stated that growing up doing such ranch work as “cutting fence posts, driving a two-ton truck, and breaking horses” seemed to prepare her for the rigors of Marine Corps boot camp, which she was quoted as saying was “hard, but not too hard.”

Spotted Wolf served for four years in the Marines as a heavy equipment operator as well as a driver for visiting general officers on bases in both Hawaii and California. After her discharge in 1947, Spotted Wolf returned to Montana. She married Robert England and attended college, earning a two-year degree in Elementary Education in 1955 and later a BS in Elementary Education in 1976. After a 29-year teaching career, Minnie Spotted Wolf passed away in 1988.

This service picture of Minnie Spotted Wolf is from the correspondence files from the Blackfeet Indian Agency (Record Group 75), where … [ Read all ]

One fire, 5 days, and 381 men

Today’s post comes from Sara Holmes, supervisory preservation specialist at the National Archives in St. Louis. (The images below are from the National Archives at St. Louis, with a special thank you to Capt. Dave Dubowski of the Spanish Lake Fire Department and the late Chief Bob Palmer of Mehlville Fire Department.)

What happened after midnight on July 12, 1973, changed everything for the National Archives in St. Louis.

The fire was first sighted outside of 9700 Page Avenue. Minutes later, the first team arrived at the sixth floor of the building, only to be forced to retreat as their masks began to melt on their faces.

Multiple engines try to contain the fire.

Multiple engines try to contain the fire. Note the warping of the roof from the heat. Filing cabinets can be seen on the right. The center had to put out a call for people to return records that had blown away during the fire.

The Military Personal Records Center (MPR)—now known as the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC)—was a huge building. Hailed as an architectural wonder when it was built in 1956, the building was 1,596,332 square feet, second only to the Pentagon in size at the time. Two NFL regulation football fields would fit comfortably within each of its six floors with room to spare. It had no sprinklers in the records storage areas and few firewalls … [ Read all ]

Burned and brittle records are in good hands

Over 5,000 requests for veterans’ military personnel records are received every day at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, MO.

Donna Judd spends each day carefully searching for valuable information for veterans in the documents left burned and brittle by the 1973 fire at the NPRC building. She looks for separation documents so that veterans can get benefits, and she sifts through damaged files to find information for medals.

“One record could take 5 minutes, another record could take 5 hours,” she says.

The fire that swept through the sixth floor of the National Personnel Records Center on July 12, 1973, damaged and destroyed millions of documents. These records are needed—often urgently—by veterans in order to claim health benefits, receive medals, or secure a military burial.

As the fronts of boxes burned away, records spilled to the floor, providing further fuel for the fire.

As the fronts of boxes burned away, records spilled to the floor, providing further fuel for the fire.

When a request for a damaged record comes in, the file is pulled and then sent to a triage area where the Preservation staff assesses its condition. If the record is heavily damaged, it remains with the Preservation team. If it’s damaged but the information could be retrieved with care, the record will go to Judd.

An average of 200 to 250 records arrive in her office every week. Judd and another staff member, Jeannette Crowder, and three … [ Read all ]