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Archive for '- Cold War'

Was Ike a secret New Dealer?

Today’s post is from Jim Worsham, editor of Prologue magazine, the quarterly of the National Archives.

Was Dwight D. Eisenhower—the architect of the allied victory over the Nazis in World War II and our President during the peaceful 1950s—a secret New Dealer?

Eisenhower, elected President as a Republican in 1952, brought in with him a Republican-controlled Congress. The GOP lawmakers were eager to dismantle the social welfare programs that were started and became embedded in government during the 20 years of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s and Harry S. Truman’s presidencies.

In fact, President Eisenhower affirmed programs of Roosevelt’s New Deal.


Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1919


Eisenhower’s position on FDR’s legacy is revealed in “Eisenhower, the Frontier, and the New Deal: Ike Considers America’s Frontier Gone, Embraces, Adds to FDR’s Legacy” an article in the Fall issue of Prologue magazine, the flagship publication of the National Archives.

Author Tim Rives draws much of this story from exchanges of letters between President Eisenhower and then-retired Brig. Gen. Bradford G. Chynoweth, a long-time friend.

Eisenhower had known Chynoweth since they were junior officers in Panama after World War I. “Ike” and “Chyn,” as they called each other, spent many an hour debating the state of the nation and the direction it ought to take.

Decades later, Eisenhower had moved into the White House … [ Read all ]

Ernest Hemingway and the JFK Library

The JFK Presidential Library in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo courtesy of the JFK Presidential Library)

The JFK Presidential Library in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo courtesy of the JFK Presidential Library)

October is American Archives Month! We’re celebrating the work of archivists and the importance of archives with a series of blog posts about the Presidential libraries. The records created by Presidents while in office will become part of the National Archives, and eventually will be used by researchers. Here’s how it happens! 

Today’s post comes from Alley Jordan, graduate research intern for the National Archives History Office in Washington, DC.

Designed by I. M. Pei, the John F. Kennedy Library stands in Boston, Massachusetts. The library was originally supposed to be close to Harvard University in Cambridge but the site was moved to South Boston. Ground was broken on June 12, 1977, and the building was officially dedicated on October 20, 1979.

Among the library’s many Kennedy materials rest, strangely enough, manuscripts of the great American author Ernest Hemingway. The library’ Ernest Hemingway Collection contains 90 percent of Hemingway’s manuscripts.

Ernest Hemingway standing in his home at the Finca Vigia in Cuba, 1953. (Ernest Hemingway Collection, JFK Library)

Ernest Hemingway standing in his home at Finca Vigia in Cuba, 1953. (Ernest Hemingway Collection, JFK Library)

Hemingway and JFK bore no strong connection with one another. In fact, the JFK Library’s possession of the Ernest Hemingway Collection came about by sheer happenstance.

Following the Cuban Revolution, which began in 1953 and lasted until 1959, Hemingway left Cuba—his home for 20 years—and returned … [ Read all ]

Monuments Men Coming to the National Archives

A new movie due for release next month tells the story of a special unit of Allied soldiers in Europe at the end of World War II. They were charged with finding and savings works of art and other cultural artifacts that the Nazis had seized.

Officially, this unit was called the Monuments, Fine Art, and Archives (MFA&A) section, but unofficially, they were the Monuments Men. But you don’t have to wait until the movie, also called Monuments Men, is released to learn about them. Greg Bradsher, a senior archivist and a specialist in this period in history, tells one story of the Monuments Men in the latest issue of Prologue magazine.

Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFAA) Officer James Rorimer supervises U.S. soldiers recovering looted paintings from Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany during World War II, April-May, 1945.

Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFAA) Officer James Rorimer supervises U.S. soldiers recovering looted paintings from Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany during World War II, April-May, 1945.

Bradsher is a frequent contributor to Prologue and an archivist specializing in World War II intelligence, looted assets, and war crimes.
In his article, Bradsher provides an account of how U.S. soldiers found a cache of treasures and called in the Monuments Men.
The most unusual find was a group of four caskets—with the remains of Frederick the Great, Frederick William I, and President Paul von Hindenberg and his wife. What happened to them? Bradsher has the answer.

The movie has an all-star cast: Oscar … [ Read all ]

Flying Saucers, Popular Mechanics, and the National Archives

The reports were among the thousands of pieces of paper waiting to be processed in a group of 100 boxes. But a few pieces of paper—with schematics that looked like they were right out of a 1950s sci-fi flick—were destined for a featured article in Popular Mechanics.

But first the documents were spotted by Michael Rhodes.

The cover of USAF Project 1794.

The cover of USAF Project 1794.

Rhodes is an archives technician. His hands are the last pair—in a long chain of National Archives staff—to touch formerly classified documents before they are released to the public. Rhodes was working on part of the final push to clear a backlog of 366 million pages.

His assignment: finish processing over 100 boxes of Air Force records. He got to work.

As he checked each record to be sure that it was in good condition and ready to be released to the public, he noticed something unusual. The box of records didn’t seem to be in any order, just reports and more reports, but Rhodes, who is interested in aviation and aerospace history, noticed an odd detail.

“What caught my eye was the icon of the saucer-looking shape,” he explains. The icon—a blue saucer over a red arrow—was in the corner of test flight reports and contracts with a Canadian company. And the strangest record of all? A drawing that Rhodes says … [ Read all ]

It’s why I do what I do

Today’s blog post in honor of Memorial Day comes from Michael Pierce, preservation technician at the National Archives at Saint Louis.

It’s called “the Forgotten War.” But like any conflict, the Korean War is always remembered by the men and women who fought in it, and by their families.

A grief-stricken American infantryman whose buddy has been killed in action is comforted by another soldier. In the background a corpsman methodically fills out casualty tags, Haktong-ni area, Korea. August 28, 1950. Sfc. Al Chang. (Army, 111-SC-347803)

The Preservation Lab at St. Louis occasionally get requests from JPAC (the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command) for information from records of men who went missing in Korea and other places. Our lab deals primarily with records that were damaged in the 1973 fire at our old facility in St. Louis. Millions of Official Military Personnel Files from the Army and Air Force were destroyed, or heavily damaged, by fire, smoke, and water.

Sometimes, the requested record is part of that registry. We clean the record, make copies of the necessary documents, and send them on. Normally, we don’t hear anything about the results of our efforts.

I’m always telling my fellow technicians that we’re the “unsung heroes” of the National Archives at Saint Louis. Everyone else gets the accolades and the thank-you letters, while we work in the background, … [ Read all ]