Site search

Site menu:

Find Out More



Contact Us

Subscribe to Email Updates

Archive for October, 2010

Fear the Beard!

Here at Pieces of History, we’ve been watching the World Series just for the beard. Brian Wilson’s beard, that is. Who can keep track of RBIs or batting averages when there is a pitcher who has earned himself the nickname “the Intimidator” by growing a full beard and then dyeing it?

When Ken Burns (who is the VP for the Foundation for the National Archives) decides to make the next installment in his baseball series, we’re pretty sure that Wilson’s beard will earn some slow-motion panning.

However, Brian Wilson won’t be able to just rest on his bearded laurels. He’ll need to update his look and keep it fresh for fans next year. So we’ve looked to the past for help.

From our collection of Matthew Brady images, here are some facial hair options that might intimidate batters for seasons to come. What do you recommend?… [ Read all ]

Thursday’s Photo Caption Contest

Debra Steidel Wall had her work cut out for her to pick this week’s winning caption, but ultimately the prize goes to Rebecca for cheering up a somber photo with some Walt Disney charm. The original caption reads: “Woman with large pumpkin at Cass Lake” and it was taken in 1915. The folks at the Archival Research Catalog thought the image deserved a bit more description and added, “An elderly Indian woman stands in a garden next to a huge pumpkin,” but that still doesn’t explain how that pumpkin got so big or how that poor woman got so mopey.

Hopefully you’ll have a happier Halloween this weekend than our poor pumpkin grower! Rebecca certainly will since she’s won 30% off at the National Archives eStore where (cough, cough) that great National Archives quarterly, Prologue, is sold !

From depressed lows last week to new highs (literally) this week, you never know what photos we’ll find that need captions. Happy captioning!… [ Read all ]

The curious case of Robert Lincoln

On the night Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, his son Robert Lincoln was supposed to attend American Cousin with his parents but was exhausted from a long carriage ride. He remained at home. When Robert heard the news of his father’s attack later that night, he rushed to the Peterson House and was at his father’s bedside when he passed. It was the farthest Lincoln would be from any presidential assassination to occur in his lifetime, and just one event in a string of strange coincidences.

Robert Lincoln was the Lincoln’s first son, and the only one to survive past his teenage years. Despite surviving his adolescence, Robert was nearly killed on a train platform in 1863 or 1864. He was moving between train cars at the Jersey City train depot when he slipped and was nearly crushed between the heavy cars. Just as he fell, a man reached out and grabbed him by the coat. Robert recognized the man immediately. “That was a narrow escape, Mr. Booth,” he said, according to an account in Century Magazine. The man was the actor Edwin Booth, brother to John Wilkes Booth. He was traveling with John T. Ford, the owner of Ford’s Theatre.

Following his father’s assassination, Robert followed in Abraham’s footsteps, first by studying the law, and finally by entering politics. In 1877, he was offered … [ Read all ]

The hills are alive with the sound of Oprah

Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti D’Oprah?

In case you haven’t heard the news, the yodeling von Trapp family will be making an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show this Friday to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Sound of Music. Julie Andrews will be there, along with her stage-husband and stage-children. Also in attendance will be some of actual von Trapp family members who now travel the world singing famous songs from the hit movie.

The Sound of Music is a global sensation like no other. The movie soundtrack has gone platinum 12 times. The movie won five Oscars, including best picture. While the movie is 44 going on 45, it appears the world isn’t ready to say so long, farewell to one of its favorite things.

That’s good news for us.

Prologue magazine has had the fortune of banking in on the global hit. In 2005, Joan Gearin wrote an article, “The Real Story of the Von Trapp Family,” using original records to explain where the movie and the real von Trapp story’s diverge.

The day after the movie airs on television, visits to our web site go up 30,000 as people try to find out the true story of the von Trapps. Why us? Type in “von Trapp Family” into Google, and you’ll see Prologue has top billing.

We … [ Read all ]

Better know a blog


The National Archives keeps biggering and biggering on the Internet. Almost two years ago we sent out our first tweet, and just six months later we posted our first YouTube video. Since then we’ve expanded our online presence to suit every niche there is at the Archives, from those interested in records preservation and research, to those interested in policy, all the way down to folks like us who just like to rummage around and find interesting, well, pieces of history.

To better equip you with all that’s going on, we want you to better know our blogs. Here’s a rundown of what we’re currently working on. Expect this list to grow in the future, and be sure to let us know how we can better serve you.

  • AOTUS: Collector-in-Chief — You’ve heard of POTUS (the President) and SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States); now you can throw AOTUS into the alphabet soup of DC. The Archivist of the United States’ own blog provides insight into what the man upstairs is thinking. A former Navy man and Beverly, Massachusetts, native, Archivist Ferriero recently stirred the pot with a debate on the birthplace of the Navy (Beverly claims the title, as do five other spots.) One of the other advantages of this weekly blog is that the Archivist, by nature of his title, gets the scoop
  • [ Read all ]