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Archive for '- The 1960s'

Hit the Road, Jack!

Today’s post is by Miriam Kleiman, public relations specialist at the National Archives.

Jack Kerouac—American counterculture hero, king of the Beats, and author of On the Road—was a Navy military recruit who failed boot camp.

Navy doctors found Kerouac delusional, grandiose, and promiscuous, and questioned his strange writing obsession.

I learned this in 2005, right before the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis announced the opening of more than 3,000 military personnel files—including those of some famous folks.

Working in public affairs at the National Archives is a challenge. We’re always trying to make what’s old seem new. Just yesterday someone asked, “What’s new at the National Archives?” I responded “Absolutely nothing, but I can tell you some neat new things about what’s old.”

The St. Louis records release gave us a chance to share some unknown gems about some very well-known people including Elvis, Clark Cable, and Jackie Robinson. Our colleagues in St. Louis sent us files to see what might interest the media, but most of the material didn’t qualify as newsworthy. It’s vision and dental records, physical exam notes, letters of recommendation, or names and addresses of next of kin.

Then, I found Jack Kerouac’s file. Thicker than the rest, it details his 10 days in basic training—and 67 under psychiatric evaluation. This, I thought, is NEWS! This is EXCITING! I started making calls, … [ Read all ]

Say cheese, Mr. President: White House photographers at the Truman Library

Only 43 men in the history of the United States have held the title of President.

That’s a fairly small group , smaller than your average NFL team. But smaller still is the group of professionals who have held the title as the President’s chief photographer. To date, only nine men have served as the official White House Photographer.

President John F. Kennedy first appointed photographer Cecil Stoughton in 1960 in the role of White House Photographer. In the nearly 50 years following that first appointment, Presidential photographers have served as visual historians of the President’s daily life.

These photographers captured rare glimpses inside the White House and the historic moments of the Presidents they served. In addition to iconic images that enter the public’s memory of the President, private moments are captured as well.

On October 21, 2011, the Truman Library and Museum in Independence, MO, is excited to share the works of these photographers with  the exhibition “The President’s Photographer: Fifty Years Inside the Oval Office.”

The exhibit displays images from the 1960s, when the first Presidential photographer was hired, to today’s unprecedented coverage of Barack Obama. The National Geographic exhibition features works by veteran presidential photographers including David Hume (who photographed Gerald Ford), David Valdez (George H.W. Bush), Bob McNeely (Bill Clinton), and Eric Draper (George W. Bush).

This tradition continues today as the 44th President’s chief … [ Read all ]

Finding the girl in the photograph

Today’s guest post is from Edith Lee-Payne.

The dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr., memorial will take place this Sunday, October 16. One of the women in attendence will be Edith Lee-Payne.

You might recognize her. Photographer Rowland Scherman snapped a photo of Edith, then a 12-year-old girl with her mother, holding a banner at the March on Washington.

But although the photograph was taken in 1963, Ms. Lee-Payne did not know about the image until 2008. With the help of a librarian and an archivist, she was able to locate the photograph of herself at the march.

Here, in her own words, is her story of attending the march on August 28 and finding her record in the National Archives more than 40 years later.

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Washington, DC, was home for my mother before settling in Detroit, Michigan. After Dr. King led a march in Detroit on June 23, 1963, my mother scheduled our vacation to attend the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, which also happened to be my twelfth birthday.

I lived the dream Dr. King spoke of. My neighborhood was integrated. We attended the same schools and sometimes shared worship experiences. We dined at restaurants with lunch counters without incident and drank from water fountains without signs distinguishing “color.” My mother never learned to drive, so buses and cabs were our primary mode of transportation, … [ Read all ]

What’s Cooking Wednesdays: Lookout cookouts

This week’s edition of What’s Cooking Wednesday comes from Kathleen Crosman, an archivist at the National Archives at Seattle.

Those who manned fire lookout towers were essentially camping out for weeks at a time. They had to pack their rations, which were mostly canned or nonperishable food, and prepare what meals they could.

Today’s high-tech, freeze-dried camping supplies are a vast improvement over even what was available in the 1960s, as any dedicated camper can tell you. At the National Archives at Seattle, we have a Historical Collection created by the Region 1 Office of the Forest Service in Missoula, Montana. In it are lookout cookbooks from 1938, 1942, 1943, and 1966. David Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States, visited us on August 31, and we presented him with a facsimile copy of the 1966 cookbook.

In addition to recipes, the cookbook offers nutritional guidance, such as lists of foods rich in particular vitamins and minerals, and daily serving suggestions. The cookbooks include everything from sandwiches and main meals to desserts and candy. If you grew up in the 1960s you might recognize some of the recipes below! (Jell-o salad anyone?)

Of course, there is always the really odd item in any cookbook. Check out the peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwich listed under Novelty Sandwiches!

[ Read all ]

From Our Film Archives: “The March”

This Sunday is the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. To commemorate the event, the National Archives is displaying a program from the march in the East Rotunda Gallery and screening The March on August 27 and 28.

But if you are not in Washington, DC, you can still watch the entire film on our YouTube channel.

The first reel of this documentary (embedded below) shows the lead-up to the march—from assembling thousand of picket signs to making 80,000 cheese sandwiches for bagged lunches to the long bus rides into the Washington, DC. The first 12 minutes gives a different view of the event from the usual clips of the March on Washington.

The film was directed by James Blue, who was later nominated for an Oscar in 1969 for another documentary, A Few Notes on Our Food Problem.

The March was made as part of a series of films created by the United States Information Agency (USIA), founded by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1953. These films were meant to promote American policies in foreign countries, without being overt propaganda. (You can read about the agency’s anticommunism message in this Text Message post about the race to the Moon.)

But these USIA films were rarely seen in America because of concerns about the U.S. Government propagandizing its own people. The 1948 Smith-Mundt Act mandated that no USIA film could be shown domestically … [ Read all ]