Archive for 'Letters in the National Archives'
Today’s post comes from Sam Anthony, special assistant to the Archivist of the United States.
When President Obama visited Thailand on Sunday, he brought a piece of the National Archives as a diplomatic gift.
In preparation for the President’s trip to Asia, the Protocol Office of the State Department asked for facsimiles of photographs of Presidents with Rama IX, also known as Bhumibol Adulyadej, the King of Thailand. The King of Thailand is the longest serving head of state (since 1946) and longest reigning monarch in Thailand’s history.
The staff at the Presidential libraries searched their holdings and discovered that the King has met with six Presidents: Eisenhower, Johnson, Nixon, George H. W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush. He’s also met with one of the First Ladies (Nancy Reagan). The National Archives Digitization Lab staff created high-quality facsimiles from digital scans of the photographs and delivered them to our colleagues at the State Department.
While facsimiles of our records are often taken to heads of state, sometimes the head of state comes to the National Archives. In 1960, King Adulyadej visited the National Archives Building (known as Archives I) and handled a facsimile of an 1833 treaty with Thailand (then Siam).
In this photograph, National Archives staff member Pat Steffing is on the left. Dr. Grover—Archivist of the United States from 1948 to 1965—is … [ Read all ]
Today’s post was written by Pamela Loos-Noji, a former volunteer with the Civil War Widows Pension Project. The National Archives holds 1.28 million case files of pension applications from family members of deceased Civil War Union soldiers. A team of more than 60 volunteers, led by National Archives staff, is digitizing the files and placing them online. Pamela will be giving a talk on “The Real Widows of the Pension Office” on October 16 and 18.
The reason I decided to volunteer was an article written by a friend of mine about her experience working with the Civil War Widows Pension Project. She wove a compelling story of the person at the center of her file and brought the relationship between a mother and her soldier son to life in a way that surprised me. I was hooked. I, too, wanted to find stories, have people from the past speak to me of their lives, and to share what I learned.
The years after the Civil War were right in the middle of the Victorian era. In my mind, Victorians were uptight, straight-laced people who did not express strong feelings and who acted in a very proper manner. I couldn’t have been more wrong!
In fact, I learned a lesson I thought I’d already learned about history. People are the same as they’ve always been. … [ Read all ]
Rick Blondo, management and program analyst at the National Archives, reflects on the logistics of maintaining records in the sweltering humidity that is summer in Washington, DC.
Summer in Washington can be a wilting experience for tourists and locals alike, but not so for the holdings maintained in the National Archives.
The National Archives was one of the first buildings in Washington with air conditioning. The building was designed in the 1930s to safeguard the records of the United States in an environment suited to that purpose.
The vault-like structure included an air conditioning system that could maintain 70 degrees in winter and 80 degrees in summer throughout the entire building. Relative humidity was kept at 55 percent in stacks and 45 percent in workrooms.
The holdings collected in the stacks would be cool, but officials wondered if the relatively cool air elsewhere in the building would pose a health problem to staff.
Louis A. Simon, the Chairman of the Advisory Committee on the National Archives, asked the Surgeon General to provide an opinion about whether exposure to conditioned air (and also a high amount of artificial lighting) posed a health risk to those who would work in the building.
The Surgeon General, H.S. Cumming, determined that “during certain extremely hot days, the workers in the Archives Building will complain about the atmospheric conditions if the … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on August 22, 2012, under Letters in the National Archives, Unusual documents.
Tags: air conditioning, guest post, National Archives building, preservation, records, Surgeon General
This is part of a series, written by Jim Zeender, devoted to letters written by the Founding Fathers in their own words and often in their own hand. Jim is a senior registrar in Exhibits.
Shortly after the diplomatic break between John Adams and Count de Vergennes, Adams left for Amsterdam. Once there, he worked diligently to obtain loans from Dutch bankers in the hope of making the United States less dependent on France, a task that took almost two years. Meanwhile, the Adams-Vergennes controversy was playing out in Congress.
Upon instruction from Vergennes, the French ambassador Luzerne appealed to Congress for Adams’s recall. Different factions in Congress also demanded the recall of Adams and Franklin. Fortunately for them, they also had their supporters and they retained their positions. Congress named Adams, Franklin, John Jay, Henry Laurens, and Thomas Jefferson as co-commissioners and issued the following instructions on June 15, 1781:
. . .you are to make the most candid & confidential communications to the ministers of our generous Ally the King of France to undertake nothing in the Negotiations for Peace or truce without their knowledge & concurrence & ultimately to govern yourselves by their advice & opinion endeavouring in your whole Conduct to make them sensible how much we rely upon his majestys influence for effectual support in every Thing that may be
Posted by Hilary on August 1, 2012, under - Presidents, Letters in the National Archives.
Tags: Exchange Copy, John adams, John Jay, Lord Shelburne, Paris, Ratification, Treaty, Vergennes
This week marks the 22nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The National Archives holds many records that relate to American citizens with disabilities. From personal letters to historic legislation, these records from the Presidential Libraries provide insight into disability history.
For the opening of the Public Vaults exhibition at the National Archives Building in 2004, public affairs specialist Miriam Kleiman was assigned to track down and bring to Washington some of the people mentioned in the exhibition. This is her account of her search for John Beaulieu.
I was intrigued by the letters from children in the “Dear Uncle Sam” section of the “Form a More Perfect Union” vault. One unusual letter in the stack interested me a great deal—a letter written in Braille to President Dwight D. Eisenhower by a young boy in the fall of 1956.
Thirteen-year-old John Beaulieu offered the President the following campaign stump speech: “Vote for me. I will help you out. I will lower the prices and also your tax bill. I also will help the negroes, so that they may go to school.”
The return address listed Perkins School for the Blind (Helen Keller’s alma mater) in Watertown, Massachusetts. After my Internet searches led nowhere, I called the Perkins School but was not optimistic. After all, John had not been a student there for nearly 50 … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on July 25, 2012, under - Presidents, Disability History, Letters in the National Archives, Pennsylvania Avenue, Unusual documents.
Tags: Beaulieu, Braille, Eisenhower, Helen Keller, letter, letter from the President, Miriam Kleiman, national archives, Perkins School, Public Vaults