Archive for 'Unusual documents'
“Attachments,” the current exhibit at the National Archives in Washington, DC, tells the stories of some of the millions of people who have entered and left the United States.
One visitor, Pasquale Taraffo, came to the United States three times—once for a concert tour of New York City and California in 1928–29, once as a crew member of a ship that docked in New York in 1933, and once for a concert stop in New York in 1935.
Born in Genoa, Italy, in 1887, the musician began giving guitar concerts at age nine. He eventually switched from the traditional guitar to the harp guitar, a 14-string instrument mounted on a pedestal. Taraffo started touring abroad in 1910, performing on his own and with other musicians. Known as “the Paganini of the guitar”—a reference to the legendary Italian violinist—he was wildly popular around the world and especially in South America.
When he came to the United States, he applied for a visa based on artistic abilities, and probably had to submit evidence of his exceptional talent in order to enter the country. Photo postcards of Taraffo with his harp guitar, along with a handbill for his 1926 concert in Corregio, Italy, were found, but these documents were separated from any of his other documents, mixed into what appears to be a dead letter file. It … [ Read all ]
Today’s post is written by Kimberlee Ried, public programs specialist at the National Archives in Kansas City.
“Take me out to the ball game, take me out with the crowd . . .”
These words, written by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer in 1908, are still heard every night at baseball parks across America, usually during the seventh-inning stretch. Even in the midst of summer heat, fans watch their favorite baseball players throw another strike, hit a homerun, or catch a foul—always in the hopes of winning the game.
On Tuesday, July 10, the city of Kansas City, Missouri, will host the All-Star Game. This exhibition game is played by the best players in the league midway through the baseball season. But there’s another piece of baseball history at Kansas City: a patent court case found in the holdings of the National Archives at Kansas City.
Victor Sporting Goods Co. v. Rawlings Manufacturing Co. was filed in 1909 in the U.S. Circuit Court in St. Louis, Missouri. Victor was suing Rawlings over the patent rights for a catcher’s mitt—specifically how catchers achieved “pocket” in their mitts.
Victor Sporting Goods was founded by Charles Whitney and Elroy L. Rogers in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1898. Elroy and his brother Burt were the two inventors at Victor Sporting Goods, and they specialized in creating catcher’s mitts.… [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on July 9, 2012, under News and Events, Unusual documents.
Tags: baseball, Bill Doak, catcher's mitts, Doak, mitts, patents, Rawlings, Rawlings Manufacturing, St. Louis, US Patent Office, Victor Sporting goods
Today’s post comes from Christopher Zarr of the National Archives at New York City.
At first glance, some of our records may not grab your attention.
Take for instance, two documents labeled Exhibit C and D. Exhibit C is a ticket from 1912 for excess luggage, and Exhibit D is a claim coupon to pick up one’s bags upon arrival. Compared to a Presidential speech or an act of Congress, these small items seem out of place for the National Archives.
While they might not seem too important to us, to Lucy Ridsdale this luggage ticket and coupon represented her whole life. To her, they were proof that when she boarded a steamship bound for the United States, she brought five trunks of objects that she had accumulated throughout her 50-plus years on earth.
Lucy Ridsdale was born around 1860 in Yorkshire, England. For 25 years, Lucy ran a nursing home. When she boarded a train bound for the port city of Southampton on April 10, 1912, she was prepared to live out the rest of her days in the United States. It wasn’t her first visit to the U.S., but it would be her last. Lucy had relatives in Marietta, Ohio, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and she intended to enjoy retirement with her family.
So, it is not surprising that she brought everything she owned with her. Bringing … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on March 20, 2012, under Uncategorized, Unusual documents.
Tags: Christopher Zarr, disaster, Lucy Risdale, maritime, National Archives at New York City, new york city, RMS Titanic, Titanic
The National Archives is known for maintaining and preserving documents like the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. But among America’s historic documents, there are also records of bank robbers, bootleggers, and gangsters.
In this week’s “True Crime at the Archives” spotlight is America’s first public enemy—John Dillinger.
A cunning and sophisticated bank robber, Dillinger led a string of violent robberies during his short yet infamous criminal career.
So why did auto theft prove to be his most costly crime?
It all began in 1933, when Dillinger was paroled from the Indiana State Prison after serving eight and a half years for robbing a grocery store. Within months, Dillinger organized a group of his closest criminal associates and began a notorious crime spree.
From September 1933 until January 1934, Dillinger and his fellow outlaws managed to evade law enforcement. And while Americans struggled during the height of the Great Depression, the gang stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from Midwestern banks.
After a robbery of the First National Bank of East Chicago turned violent, national publicity intensified. The gang then fled to Arizona, where they were caught by local police on January 23.
Dillinger was extradited to Indiana to await trial for the murder of a police officer. But while he was sequestered in what officials called an “escape proof” jail, Dillinger deceived two guards and broke out.… [ Read all ]
Posted by Gregory Marose on March 14, 2012, under - Great Depression, Unusual documents.
Tags: 1933, 1934, bank robbery, Biograph Theater, car theft, Chicago, Dillinger, FBI, Federal crime, Hoover, Indiana state Prison, John Dillinger
Today’s guest post was written by William B. Roka, a longtime volunteer at the National Archives in New York City. You can follow them on Facebook as they launch “Titantic Tuesdays” in the weeks leading up to the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.
Since I’m a total history nerd, I was ready to do a little dance when I was allowed to examine some of the Titanic documents in the National Archives as part of my work as a volunteer researcher. But I was disappointed when I saw that most of the documents looked very mundane.
This collection documents the court cases brought after the ship sank. The Titanic’s owner, the Ocean Steam Navigation Company (better known as White Star Line), did not want to pay in full the hundreds of claims for compensation filed by survivors and relatives of victims of the sinking. But as I trudged ahead with my work, I soon realized how wrong I was.
As I examined the claims, I saw that each one had a story to tell. One in particular stuck in my mind. William L. Gwinn was a sea postal clerk working for the U.S. Postal Service (see widow’s claim below). At first I thought he was a regular passenger … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on February 7, 2012, under Unusual documents.
Tags: disaster, J. B. Williamson, Jago Smith, John S. March, mail, maritime disaster, new york city, Ocean Steam Navigation Company, Oscar S. Woody, post office, RMS Titanic, sinking, Titanic, White Star, White Star Line, William L. Gwinn, William Roka