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Archive for 'preservation'

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.

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 winners George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Cate Blanchett as well as Bill Murray and John Goodman. Clooney directs and is one of the producers. The film … [ Read all ]

Keeping It All Together: Paper Fasteners at the National Archives

Today’s post comes from Alan Walker, archivist at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.

In my reflective moments, I think about what has kept me here at the National Archives for all this time. It couldn’t be the bone-wearying monotony of shuffling heavy cartons of records from here to there, or the tedium of changing out old information systems and learning the vagaries of new ones. No, there’s something else that gets me in the door every morning. Fasteners.

You wouldn’t think that something so trivial would hold my attention for any length of time. And yet, paper fasteners play such a vital role in our daily lives here. Consider: when researchers open boxes of records, they will see the telltale signs—the double round holes centered at the tops of the documents, the pinprick perforations in the corners. And many fasteners are still doing their duty among the records now.

It is a canon of archival preservation that fasteners are the devil’s work; capable of doing lasting and disfiguring damage to their host’s integrity, they must be removed, and forthwith. And so they are. Textual processing staff at all National Archives facilities do this every day. Perhaps gazillions of the little buggers get the boot each year; here are some Acco fasteners awaiting  their fate.

My fellow staff like to collect the unusual … [ Read all ]

National Archives specialists brings movies “Out of the Dark”

With a little archival magic, NARA staff bring historic films “out of the dark” and back into the public eye. This post is from Archives Specialist Marcia Kolko from the Motion Picture Sound and Audio office.

Now on a small screen near you: A movie about…movies!

NARA’s own Motion Picture, Sound and Video office and Preservation Lab recently produced “Out of the Dark: Bringing Films to Light at the National Archives.” They used Frank Capra’s classic 1944 documentary “The Negro Soldier” to present a behind-the-scenes look at the accessioning, processing, and preservation workflow for motion pictures. Follow “The Negro Soldier” from the time of its arrival at the Archives to its place on the shelf of the Research Room where it will be available to researchers both in the United States and, due to the international reach of ARC, around the globe.

To see how the Motion Picture Office and Preservation Lab preserves and protects America’s historic motion picture collection, tune in to the latest entry on NARA’s Inside the Vaults channel!

[ Read all ]

More Hitler art albums discovered

This morning in Dallas, TX, the Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero, Senior Archivist Greg Bradsher, and President of the Monuments Men Foundation Robert M. Edsel announced the discovery of two original albums of photographs of paintings and furniture looted by the Nazis.

The Monuments Men Foundation will donate these albums, which have been in private hands since the end of World War II, to the National Archives.

These albums were created by a special Nazi task force, the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR), to document the systematic looting of Europe by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. The ERR was the main Nazi agency engaged in the theft of cultural treasures in Nazi-occupied countries.

“The Foundation often receives calls from veterans and their heirs, who don’t know the importance of items they may have picked up during their service, or aren’t aware that anyone is looking for the items,” Edsel said. “These albums are just the tip of the iceberg for hundreds of thousands of cultural items still missing since World War II.”

In the closing days of World War II, U.S. soldiers entered Adolf Hitler’s home in the Bavarian Alps. Many picked up souvenirs to prove they had been inside the Berghof.

Cpl. Albert Lorenzetti (989th Field Artillery Battalion) and Pfc. Yerke Zane Larson (501st Battalion of the 101st Airborne Division) each took … [ Read all ]

NARA, Wikipedia, and the Day of Infamy

No, I’m not talking about January 18, when English Wikipedia went dark in protest of the House’s  proposed Stop Online Piracy Act and the Senate’s PROTECT IP Act.

(Just 10 years ago, having no Wikipedia would not have fazed me in the least. We still had a dial-up Internet connection, and I regularly visited a brick-and-mortar library for reference books and articles. How things have changed . . .)

No, January 18 made me think of the original Day of Infamy,  December 7.

Last month, I was contacted by NARA’s own Wikipedian in Residence, Dominic McDevitt-Parks, regarding Wikipedia, NARA, and the events of December 7, 1941. Although we are more than a month past the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, Wednesday’s events reiterates the significance of Wikipedia and reemphasizes NARA’s involvement with it.

In commemoration of the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the featured article on Wikipedia’s main page was the ”USS Arizona.”

“Not only are there multiple NARA images on the article, it also includes two of the images that were digitized on request by Benjamin Christensen from Still Pictures,” McDevitt-Parks said. “They are the articles lead image, and then the second one down. The first one is really useful because it actually gives a full-length side view of the ship, unlike most other images.”

“When I met the primary author of the article, Eddie Erhart, at … [ Read all ]