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Archive for July, 2010

Facial Hair Friday: Sounding the bearded YAWP

Walt Whitman, ca. 1860-ca. 1865, ARC 526439.
Walt Whitman, ca. 1860-ca. 1865 (111-B-2245).

Song of My Beard 

(with apologies to the original Whitman poem!)


I celebrate my beard, and sing my beard,
And what I grow you shall grow
For every follicle belonging to me as good as belongs to you.

I loafe and stroke my beard
I lean and stroke my beard at my ease observing the other bushy mustaches.

My hair, every follicle of my face, form’d this beard, this ’stache
Grown here of my hair grown from hairs the
same, and their hairs the same,
I , now ageless forever in photographs begin,
Hoping to inspire more beard growing.


Walt Whitman spent many months with wounded soldiers in the hospitals of Washington, DC, while one of his brothers fought in numerous battles.  Walt and his family were prolific letter writers. You can read more about his correspondence and experiences in the Civil War in this new Author on the Record interview with Robert Roper in the Summer 2010 issue of Prologue.

Whitman also worked as a clerk in the attorney general’s office during the Civil War. Recently, a researcher discovered over 3,000 documents in Whitman’s handwriting from his time as a civil servant in the holdings of the National Archives. You can read more about this fascinating discovery “Whitman, Walt, Clerk” in the Winter issue of Prologue magazine.

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Thursday’s Photo Caption Contest


"Ma, look what we made out of our legos!"

Fact: this photo is actually from a post-apocalyptic future, and that’s actually the Washington Monument,  fenced to protect the only known remains of a land once known as “the District” … strange that the future looks like rural Texas in 1894 …

Wait, apologies, we were looking at the wrong book.

So, just what is locked in that paddock? It’s monument marker number 258, and it helped clear up a border dispute between Mexico and the United States. You can read more about it (and many, many other markers) in “Monuments, Manifest Destiny, and Mexico,” an article from our 2005 Summer Prologue issue.

While we may forever wonder why a monument required a such an elaborate fence, we no longer have to worry about who won our hearts and minds in last week’s caption contest. Jim Worsham was wooed by Rebecca’s spot-on use of Legos. We don’t have any Lego creations at our Archive eStore, Rebecca, but we do have plenty of other kid-friendly concoctions you can purchase at 30% off with your winnings!

Good luck to all with this week’s caption contest! Assistant Archivist for Records Services—Washington, DC,  Michael Kurtz is the guest with the gavel this week, so he’ll be picking the picture caption that commands the most laughs. Also, be sure to … [ Read all ]

Navigation, devastation, exploration

Prologue MagazineThe Summer 2010 issue of Prologue has just hit the shelves, and YouTube. While our award-winning magazine is packed with Ponzi schemes, prison themes, and polar dreams, we’ve added something extra for our online readers: the silver screen.

Our hardworking writers have searched the motion picture holdings to find some footage related to three of our feature articles in this issue. Watch the video below and then check out the related articles on our web site.

Magellans of the Sky – In 1924, eight Army airmen set out to become the first humans to circumnavigate the globe by air. This is their story.

Frame After Frame - Philip W. Stewart chronicles the movie-making done by the federal government from World War I through the space race as he documents the motion picture holdings of the National Archives, including footage of the Aisne-Marne operation in the film below.

Women of the Polar Archives - Preservation specialist Audrey Amidon points the spotlight on two women who were drawn to the Arctic regions and whose exploits were captured on film in two of the films below: Building the Peary Monument (top) and The Louise Boyd 1928 Expedition.

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Match your photos with ours

If you’ve ever been to Washington, DC, we have a challenge for you! We’ve found pictures of some of the famous monuments and buildings in the District, and we’d love to compare our old photos with some of your own.

Here’s what you do. Take a look at the photos below, and if you have any that match up, share them on our Facebook page by posting them as a wall post (we’ll put our photos up there, too). Next week we’ll post the photos that most closely match those from our collection.

Photographer unknown. Installation of the statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC. 1920. Records of the Office of Public Buildings and Public Parks of the National Capital (42-M-J-1).

Photographer unknown. Installation of the statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC. 1920. Records of the Office of Public Buildings and Public Parks of the National Capital (42-M-J-1).

Photograph of the Washington Monument Foundation Construction in Washington, DC (121-BD-54J)

Photograph of the Washington Monument Foundation Construction in Washington, DC (121-BD-54J)

Ford's Theatre in Lincoln's time. Washington, DC (66-G-22B-1).

Ford's Theatre in Lincoln's time. Washington, DC (66-G-22B-1).

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FR 2.0, now in English

What is the Archivist’s favorite thing about the Federal Register’s new website?  “Its translation into English, into words that make sense. I think that’s the biggest contribution,” Archivist Ferriero explains in a video detailing the history of the Federal Register.

And it’s true. The newspaper of the Federal Government has often been obscured in diplo-speak, but as part of the Federal Register’s digital overhaul, “English” translations are provided for each article and tell us regular folks just what’s going on in our government.

That’s certainly not the only change that turned the Federal Register into FR 2.0. An easily navigable website, social media links, and increased interactivity with the journal has transformed an old print behemoth into the cutting edge of Open Gov.

Who is responsible for the overhaul? It really comes down to three developers who accepted the Sunlight Foundations Apps for America 2 challenge. Hear their story on “Inside the Vaults,” and a cover story on the new website below.

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