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Archive for July, 2010

What’s on in your neck of the woods?

Each month the National Archives in the Regions puts together a calendar of events that lays out all the great things going on around the country related to our nation’s records. At the top of that calendar is always a great story based on a few records found in our regional locations, and this month is no exception. Read about Mickey Mantle, Ernest “Mr. Cub” Banks, and the Selective Service; and then find out which regional archives is closest to you!

The National Archives in the Regions July Calendar of Events [ Read all ]

New York State of Mind–er, Archives

I’m beginning to wonder if we even covered the Civil War at all in AP History. Before joining the National Archives, I had never heard of the Battle of the Crater, did not know that Confederate ships sailed all over the world, and had no idea that the Civil War had a draft and you could get out of it. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Did you know that the National Archives is also in New York City?

As my colleague Rob and I attempted to find the entrance on Varick Street, we weren’t too sure it was there. The Archives at New York is in a big building that houses other Federal agencies, including a detention center. We finally found the correct door, got through security, and made our way upstairs.

Staff are excited about their move to the Alexander Hamilton U. S. Customs House. It’s an accessible, welcoming space near the departure port for Ellis Island, with room for exhibits. Imagine going to Ellis Island, getting inspired about your family history, and then stopping by the Archives on your way home to do some free research at the National Archives!

But for now, you can do that at Varick Street. We met with Christopher Zarr, who gave us a tour of the classroom, exhibit space, and microfilm reading … [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: Boldly going where no beard has gone before

In the Facial Hair Friday spotlight today is a man with a truly impressive set of whiskers. Norton P. Chipman also has a fascinating story to go behind that beard. Chipman was born in 1834 in Ohio, later lived in Iowa, and joined the Union Army after finishing law school. He didn’t spend the entire war behind a desk, however. He was severely wounded during the Battle of Fort Donelson in Tennessee in 1862. After the war, he settled in Washington, DC, and was appointed secretary of the district in 1871 and then served in the House of Representatives as a Delegate from the District of Columbia from 1871 to 1875.

Chipman’s most conspicuous role in history came just after the Confederate surrender. In May 1865, Federal forces arrested Capt. Henry Wirz, the commander of the infamous Confederate prisoner of war camp at Andersonville, GA. Judge Advocate Chipman was the Army prosecutor during the trial. Wirz was convicted and hanged. In 1911, Chipman wrote his own account of the trial, The Tragedy of Andersonville.

In 1970, Chipman came to the small screen when The Andersonville Trial aired on television. Chipman was portrayed by none other than William Shatner. While Shatner got generally favorable reviews for this role, the makeup artist missed an opportunity to go wild with whiskers. While the former Captain Kirk does … [ Read all ]

Thursday’s Photo Caption Contest

It’s time to “spill” the beans on who won last week’s contest. While we had more fun than a “barrel” of monkeys reading through your comments, settling on a winner was a “sobering” task. We loved Gabby’s “There was some confusion at the onset of the invention of the ‘kegger’ to what exactly the purpose of this activity was. Many years later, it would still receive mixed reviews from the neighbors,” and any reference to a 200-foot-tall space alien master (Bob S.) we enjoy, but ultimately it was Rebecca who took the cake (and 30% eStore discount!). Her comment is below the image at left.

As most of you guessed, this photo was from Prohibition, 1931 to be precise. The original caption reads “Los Angeles authorities emptying barrels of rum, 1931.” Two years later, in 1933, the 21st Amendment would end Prohibition, becoming the only amendment to repeal a previous one (so far).

While Prohibition may be over, our arsenal of strange is still plenty full here at the Archives. This week we’ve pulled out a particularly peculiar picture for pontification, so stretch out that funny bone and submit your comments! You never know who will be guest judging!

Here’s something to get you started:

“Originally made of ‘thirteen stripes alternating red and white,’ the Star Spangled Suit was later replaced by a flag of

[ Read all ]