Site search

Site menu:

Find Out More

Archives

Categories

Contact Us

Subscribe to Email Updates

Archive for '- Great Depression'

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Top Ten Food Records of 2011

As 2011 draws to a close, so does our exhibit “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” which will end on January 3, 2012.

It’s been a great year for food here at the National Archives. We’ve had amazing guests come and speak, including Chef José Andrés, our neighbor and Chief Culinary Adviser for the exhibit; Chef Roland Mesnier, former White House pastry chef; Diana Kennedy, guru of Mexican food; Ann Harvey Yonkers, co-director of FRESHFARM markets; Jessica B. Harris, author of High on the Hog; and George Motz, author of Hamburger America.

And of course, we’ve been writing about food-related records in the National Archives almost every Wednesday since the exhibit opened. We thought it would be fun to look back at the Top Ten Food Records in honor of this exhibit. Since we couldn’t include all of the records, we chose the ones that were most striking, strange, or popular.

Here’s our Top Ten list of memorable food records!

TEN: My coworker was constantly amused by this label for “Grains of Health,” which is profuse in its praise but vague in its description of these grains might actually be. Her favorite line: “It is so prepared that the strongest and the most delicate person may drink it at the same table.”

 

NINE: “Pig Cafeteria” is a photograph of a USDA exhibit meant to inform farmers about hog nutrition. The … [ Read all ]

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Holiday Sugar Spike

Have you visited our exhibit “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” Don’t wait! The exhibit closes on January 3, 2012.

Are you in a sugar coma yet? If not, there’s still time to make some sweet desserts straight from the records of the National Archives.

These favorite cookie recipes (below) come from the 1966 Forest Service Fire Lookout Cookbook, part of the holdings of the National Archives at Seattle. They look pretty delicious—let us know if you try any of them! Lucky for you, we are not sharing  the Forest Service’s recipe for peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches topped with grated carrot.

These aren’t the only holiday-ready recipes in the National Archives. Americans love their sweets and we’ve got lots of dessert recipes. Even during hard times, when sugar was rationed to six tablespoons per day, Americans found ways to cook something sweet. In 1918, the U.S. Food Administration recommended using “molasses, corn syrup, maple syrup, glucose, maple sugar, corn sugar, honey, raisins, dates or figs.” A recipe for “War Time Strawberry Shortcake” uses three cups of strawberries but only three tablespoons of sugar.

In the records of the U.S. Department of Agriculture is a recipe for “Fruit Cake,” published in Aunt Sammy’s Radio Recipes, a popular book for housewives who listened to the radio show. This recipe called for raisins, currants, citron, sugar, cider, jelly, sour cream, and molasses—so it … [ Read all ]

A homecoming for six pages of parchment

Although the National Archives Building was nearly completed in 1935, the Rotunda sat empty.

Then, on December 13, 1952, an armored Marine Corps personnel carrier made its way down Constitution Avenue, accompanied by two light tanks, four servicemen carrying submachine guns, and a motorcycle escort. A color guard, ceremonial troops, the Army Band, and the Air Force Drum and Bugle Corps were also part of the procession. Members of all the military branches lined the street.

Inside the personnel carrier were six parchment documents. The records were in helium-filled glass cases packed inside wooden crates resting on mattresses.

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were going to the National Archives.

In 1926, $1 million was appropriated for a national archives building, and in 1930 President Hoover appointed an Advisory Committee for the National Archives to draw up specifications for the building. John Russell Pope was selected as architect, and a year later, ground was broken. By 1933, the cornerstone of the building had been put in place by President Herbert Hoover. Staff were working in the unfinished building by 1935.

But despite this flurry of activity, the vault-like building did not house the founding documents that we call the “Charters of Freedom.”

The documents had been shuttled around to various buildings for various reasons. They started out in the Department of State, and as the capital moved from New York to Philadelphia to Washington, DC, these documents moved too. Eventually … [ Read all ]

Artists at work in the National Archives

We’ve got lots of artists in the building today. If you visit the National Archives Building from December 2 to 6, you can partake of history and do your Christmas shopping and support local artists and support the programs of the National Archives!

The holiday fair is officially titled “The Way We Worked” American Artisans Fair. Local area artists were invited to participate. Chris DerDerian, the manager of the National Archives Shop, was inspired by the New Deal programs that put artists to work during the Great Depression. Between 1935 and 1943, citizens held 8 million jobs through the Works Progress Administration (WPA). While the WPA administered large projects like the creation of roads, it also administered projects in the arts.

“This first annual fair is to encourage visitors to the National Archives to support the work of today’s American artisans as they shop for meaningful contemporary gifts celebrating American history this holiday season,” DerDerian said.

I was curious about what exactly artists were hired to do during the 1930s, so I did a quick search in our Online Public Access database and discovered this delightful piece of administrative reporting from 1940: Report of WPA Activities of the Golden Gate International Exposition.

If you think a report cannot be delightful, you are wrong. This report is made up of fascinating pictures and charming captions (at one … [ Read all ]

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Flour Sack Art

One of the themes throughout our “What’s Cooking Wednesday” posts has been war and food rationing. American citizens were asked to grow their own food, ration sugar, and eat less meat so that there would be more supplies for soldiers fighting overseas and for people with little food left in their war-torn country.

As a result, the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library has one of the largest collections of flour sacks in the world.

But these are no ordinary flour sacks. These cotton bags have been stenciled, embroidered, painted, and remade. They were  turned into pillows, clothing, and accessories to be sold in England and the United States to raise funds for food relief and to help prisoners of war. They have been decorated with red, yellow, and black for Belgium as well as red, white, and blue for the United States. Lions, eagles, symbols of peace, and Belgian lace decorate the humble cotton from American mills.

Why did hungry Belgium citizens decorate empty flour sacks?

During World War I, Herbert Hoover was chairman of the Commission for Relief in Belgium (CRB). Through donated money and voluntary contributions of food, this commission fed over 11,000 Belgiums. Between 1914 and 1919, about 697,116,000 pounds of flour was shipped to Belgium.

But once empty, the flour sack was a dangerous commodity during World War I. The German military could use them … [ Read all ]