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Archive for September, 2010

Thursday’s Photo Caption Contest


"I am product #751600"

This week’s winner is PaulO, who won us over with his creepy and vaguely dystopian caption “I am product # 751600.” He wins 30% off a numbered product of his choosing at our eStore.

And if you think this tube is an escape route from child-shaped robots run amok, you would be partially right! This picture comes from the holdings of the National Archives at Kansas City. It’s actually a fire escape from 1924, and the caption tells us it “Drops from second story of brick building; small child is sitting in the end of the tube”–though this does not assure us that it is a human child.

This week’s photo is from America’s Heartland. Let us know what you think could possibly be going on here! As always, the winner recieves 30% off at our eStore.

Here’s a suggestion to get you started, “Myrtle knew a quality tablecloth when she saw it!” nose[ Read all ]

Escape and Evasion files at the National Archives


The B-17s, including this one, called the Big Yank, flew many raids from England into Europe (Roosevelt Library; ARC 195654).

Escape and evasion files are firsthand accounts of a military personnel’s escape from behind enemy lines. In World War II, thousands of U.S. troops crashed in Nazi territory and had to evade capture or escape from German prisons. The National Archives recently digitized 2,953 firsthand accounts of escape and evasion during the war.

Each account reads like a Hollywood script, and although each is a gripping tale of perseverance, there are some that stand out as truly remarkable. We here at POH have summarized and linked our 10 favorite tales, including emergency landings into soccer games, fake Nazi salutes, and Boy Scout disguises.

2nd Lt. John Dunbar – It was the Fourth of July in 1943 when Dunbar’s plane was shot out of the sky over La Pallice, France. After receiving assistance from local Frenchmen in the German-occupied territory he marched for 18 days through France dressed as a peasant. For five of those days he had no food. For the rest, he survived off beer and scraps of food that had fallen off carts along the road. Three weeks later he crossed the Pyrenees mountains on foot into Spain, where he was captured by the Guardia Civil and later released.

Sgt. William Davidson was taken … [ Read all ]

Fillmore, Utah. Population 2,150

Message of President Millard Fillmore nominating territorial officers of Utah, including Brigham Young to be Governor (Records of the U.S. Senate)

Message of President Millard Fillmore nominating territorial officers of Utah, including Brigham Young to be Governor (Records of the U.S. Senate, RG 46)

Between negotiating the Compromise of 1850, stymieing southern attempts to turn Cuba into a state, protecting Hawaii from French interests, and working to open up Japan for trade, President Millard Fillmore also appointed Brigham Young as the first governor of the Utah Territory. That was 160 years ago this week.

As a gesture of thanks to Fillmore, Young had the capital of the territory named Fillmore, and named the surrounding county Millard in 1851.

Young’s tenure as governor didn’t last long—James Buchanan replaced  him with a new governor, accompanied by Federal troops, in 1857. Fillmore’s status as the territorial capital was even shorter: by 1855, Salt Lake City was designated as Utah’s capital.

Despite this, Young’s legacy has certainly endured, as has the town of Fillmore, population 2,150.… [ Read all ]

1924 round-the-world fliers complete their mission

The proposed route for the Army's 1924 Round-the-World Flight. (342-FH-3B-7965011279AS)

The proposed route for the Army's 1924 Round-the-World Flight. (342-FH-3B-7965011279AS)

At 1:28 p.m. on September 28, 1924, two planes landing in Seattle made history. The Chicago and New Orleans had flown 26,345 miles in 66 days to become the first airplanes to circumnavigate the globe. Four planes had started the journey on April 6, but the Seattle and Boston had been forced down over Alaska and the Atlantic, respectively.

Read the story of this amazing flight and the intrepid pilots in “Magellans of the Air” (Summer 2010 issue of Prologue). On our YouTube channel, you can listen to author Rob Crotty talk about this feat in a short video or watch original footage of the 1924 flight (54-minutes).… [ Read all ]

The doodler who defied crooks and democratized donkeys

Thomas Nast (111-B-3036)

Thomas Nast (111-B-3036)

There are few artist in America who so greatly affected the popular landscape as Thomas Nast who was born 170 years ago today. Jolly old St Nick? Not so jolly before the Harper’s Weekly cartoonist plumped him up. The Grand Old Party elephant? Popularized in 1874 by the staunch Republican when talk of a third term by Ulysses S. Grant threatened to sink the Republican Party.  The Democratic donkey? Originally introduced as a jackass kicking over a great lion in 1870 and meant to symbolize the Democrats and their harsh treatment of the “great lion” Edwin M. Stanton.

The son of a German trombonist, Nast may seem an odd character to have a dramatic sway over U.S. politics, but the man had influence in spades. Being the most popular illustrator at a time when 20 percent of American adults were illiterate made Nast’s pen a powerful weapon.

Abraham Lincoln called the cartoonist “our best recruiting sergeant.” The Great Emancipator’s 1864 reelection campaign was significantly boosted by a single drawing done by Nast implying that Lincoln’s loss would mean a lost war for the Union. Ulysses S. Grant attributed his 1868 reelection campaign to Nast. Nast’s cartoons were so influential (and accurate) that when Boss Tweed—the scammer politician of Tammany Hall fame—fled prison, he was picked up in Spain after  a border agent identified … [ Read all ]