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Archive for '- World War II'

On Display: The Japanese Instrument of Surrender

Today’s post comes from Darlene McClurkin, from the National Archives Exhibits staff.

Signing the Instrument of Surrender, September 2, 1945. (General Records of the Department of the Navy, National Archives)

Signing the Instrument of Surrender, September 2, 1945. (General Records of the Department of the Navy, National Archives)

On September 2, 1945, in a formal ceremony aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, Japan, representatives of the Japanese government signed this Instrument of Surrender, officially ending World War II.

The terms called for “the unconditional surrender to the Allied Powers of the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters and of all Japanese armed forces and all armed forces under Japanese control wherever situated.” Although it preserved the Japanese Imperial House.

Signing for Japan was Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu and General Yoshijiro Umezu, Chief of the Army General Staff.

General Douglas MacArthur, Commander in the Southwest Pacific, signed for the United States and accepted the surrender in his capacity as the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers.

Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz also signed for the United States.

Then representatives from eight other Allied nations signed, including the Republic of China, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union. The ceremony took less than 30 minutes.

General Wainwright unveils exhibit of surrender document, September 12, 1945. (National Archives Identifier 4477174)

General Wainwright unveils exhibit of surrender document, September 12, 1945. (64-NA-421; National Archives Identifier 4477174)

After the Japanese Instrument of Surrender was presented to President Harry S. Truman at the White House on September 7, 1945, it was put on exhibit at the … [ Read all ]

The First Dog, Fala Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt, Fala, and MacKenzie King at Quebec, Canada for conference, 9/11/1944. (National Archives Identifier 196995)

Eleanor Roosevelt, Fala, and MacKenzie King at Quebec, Canada for conference, September 11, 1944. (National Archives Identifier 196995)

In celebration of National Dog Day, today’s post comes from Meagan Frenzer, graduate research intern for the National Archives History Office in Washington, DC.

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum maintains documents of critical participants within the FDR administration.

This list includes prominent figures such as Frances Perkins, Harry L. Hopkins, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., and, surprisingly, President Roosevelt’s dog, Fala.

The Scottish terrier became a national figure as President Roosevelt’s loyal, four-legged companion.

When his distant cousin Margaret “Daisy” Suckley gave the terrier as a Christmas gift in 1940, President Roosevelt renamed the terrier Murray the Outlaw of Falahill after his famous Scottish ancestor.

Photograph of Eleanor Roosevelt and the late President Roosevelt's dog, Fala, at the dedication of the Franklin D. Roosevelt home at Hyde Park, New York, 4/12/1946. (National Archives Identifier 199362)

Photograph of Eleanor Roosevelt and the late President Roosevelt’s dog, Fala, at the dedication of the Franklin D. Roosevelt home at Hyde Park, New York, April 12, 1946. (National Archives Identifier 199362)

Shortened to “Fala,” the terrier accompanied the President on trips and attended key meetings, including the 1941 Atlantic Charter Conference.

Fala enjoyed entertaining international dignitaries and famous visitors with his tricks.

In his travels, Fala met British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the Queen of the Netherlands, and Mexican President Manuel Camacho.

During World War II, Fala served as an honorary Army private and became the national president of Barkers … [ Read all ]

Frances Perkins aided the von Trapp Family Singers

Today’s post comes from Rebecca Brenner, an intern in the History Office at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Gertrude Ely to Frances Perkins, March 12, 1940. (National Archives Identifier 6600095)

Gertrude Ely to Frances Perkins, March 12, 1940. (National Archives Identifier 6600095)

In 1938 the von Trapp family singers were in danger.

Baron von Trapp, a heroic Austrian sea captain in World War I, declined a commission to serve in the naval forces of the Third Reich.

His eldest son, Rupert, likewise declined a request to serve as a doctor for the Nazis.

Finally, according to daughter Agathe von Trapp’s memoir, the singing family “refused in unison” an invitation to sing on the Munich radio in honor of Hitler’s birthday.

In 2005, Prologue magazine published an illuminating account of “The Real Story of the von Trapp Family,” which relied on immigration and citizenship records held in the National Archives at Boston.

Documents at the National Archives at College Park—in Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins’s immigration correspondence—build upon this story. These documents suggest that Perkins was instrumental in the immigration case of the von Trapp Family Singers.

Memorandum to the Commissioner of Immigration, March 15, 1940. (National Archives Identifier 6600095)

Memorandum to the Commissioner of Immigration, March 15, 1940. (National Archives Identifier 6600095)

In 1933, less than two months after the Nazis seized power in Germany, Perkins became Secretary of Labor. As Secretary, she oversaw the Immigration and Naturalization Service throughout the 1930s. Perkins’s immigration correspondence includes a … [ Read all ]

On Exhibit: The American Debate about Alcohol Consumption During World War II

Today’s post comes from Emily Niekrasz, an intern in the National Archives History Office in Washington, DC.

In March 2015 the National Archives opened “Spirited Republic: Alcohol in American History,” a new exhibit that explores the complex love-hate relationship between America and alcohol.

The exhibit’s curator, Bruce Bustard, has written, “These two different views of alcoholic beverages run throughout American history. Sometimes they have existed in relative peace; at other times they have been at war.”

Some of the documents not only represent the war of opposing views regarding Prohibition, but they also highlight the debate over alcohol consumption within an even larger conflict—World War II.

On December 5, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced the repeal of the 18th Amendment, ending the prohibition on the manufacture and sale of alcohol in the United States. Although the American government concluded its legal war on alcohol, the American people remained divided.  This friction—documented in the exhibit—continued throughout World War II.

"Alcohol—Hitler’s Best Friend, America’s Worst Enemy." Petition to Congress, 1943. (National Archives Identifier 16764619)

“Alcohol—Hitler’s Best Friend, America’s Worst Enemy.” Petition to Congress, 1943. (National Archives Identifier 16764619)

One such document is a 1943 petition to Congress for the return to Prohibition, titled “Alcohol—Hitler’s Best Friend, America’s Worst Enemy.” By associating alcohol with Hitler—at the height of World War II—it is evident that the 19 petitioners, both men and women, considered alcohol an evil.

Within the opening of their appeal, the authors … [ Read all ]

The Coca-Cola Bottle: Celebrating 100 Years of an American Icon

Original Coke Bottle Patent,  November 16, 1915. (Records of the Patent and Trademark Office, National Archives)

Original Coke Bottle Patent, November 16, 1915. (Records of the Patent and Trademark Office, National Archives)

Today the Coca-Cola bottle is one of the most recognizable containers in the world, but a century ago nearly all soda bottles looked the same.

To distinguish its product from competitors, in 1915 the Coca-Cola Company launched a competition among glassmakers to design a new bottle that was distinctive in both look and feel.

The winning design, patented by the Root Glass Company of Terre Haute, Indiana, sought inspiration from Coca-Cola’s ingredients. However, the bottle’s fluted contour shape was instead modeled after the cacao pod, the main ingredient in chocolate.

The Coca-Cola Company adopted the Root Glass Company’s bottle design in 1916, but the original prototype was never manufactured because it was top-heavy and unstable.

The first commercial “Coke” bottles debuted with a wider base and slimmed-down, contoured shape. This silhouette became so unmistakable that in 1961 the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office gave it trademark status.

See the original patent in person at the National Archives in Washington, DC, from June 4 through July 29, 2015, in the West Rotunda Gallery and from October 29 through December 2, 2015, in the East Rotunda Gallery.

And check out the post, “Inventing in Congress: Patent Law since 1790” to learn more about the history of patent law in the … [ Read all ]