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Archive for February, 2011

The last doughboy: In memory of Frank Buckles

Archivist Mitch Yockelson (left) poses with Frank Buckles shortly after the WWI veteran's 107th birthday.

In this photo from 2008, archivist Mitch Yockelson (left) poses with Frank Buckles shortly after the WWI veteran's 107th birthday.

Archivists handle fascinating records, but the people who lived the lives recorded in the documents are even more fascinating. Such was the life of Frank Buckles, who passed away on February 27, aged 110.

Buckles’s passing means that there are no longer any living American servicemen who fought during World War I. Any memories and experiences from the Great War now exist only as written documents, recorded films, or still photographs.

In 2008, Richard Boylan and Mitch Yockelson (author of Borrowed Soldiers: Americans Under British Command) of the National Archives, made a special visit to West Virginia to meet World War I veteran Frank Buckles.

Military archivist Boylan came up with the idea of marking the 90th anniversary of the last year of World War I by presenting copies of  National Archives records to the two still-living veterans. But in early January 2008, Harry Richard Landis passed away and Frank became the sole surviving soldier from World War I.

Buckles had enlisted in the Army by giving his age as 18, rather than his actual age of 16. He was stationed in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Germany, and France. The two archivists were able to locate over 50 pages of textual records regarding his service. Private researcher Susan … [ Read all ]

Aloha treatment for a 1954 Hawaii petition

Petition signed by 116,000 supporters of Hawaii statehood, presented to the U.S. Senate on February 26, 1954.

This petition, rolled onto a wooden spool, was signed by 116,000 supporters of Hawaii statehood and presented to the U.S. Senate on February 26, 1954. (RG 46, Records of the U.S. Senate)

The work the National Archives Preservation staff does every day is hardly “everyday.” A recent post about Hawaii’s petition for statehood on the Preservation Program’s Facebook page demonstrated this fact. This preservation project stemmed from a request from our Center for Legislative Archives. Each archival unit creates annual and long-term preservation plans, and the Center’s list named several petitions to Congress. One of these presented a challenge—a massive wooden spool 68 inches wide containing a roll of paper 16 inches in diameter.

This mammoth petition contains the names of 116,000 supporters of Hawaii statehood. Hawaii had been annexed by the United States in 1898 and became a U.S. Territory in 1900. Attempts at statehood over the next 60 years met opposition from both native Hawaiians and Congress. In the 1950s, the statehood movement gained momentum, and Hawaii became our 50th state on August 21, 1959.

This giant scroll came to the National Archives by way of the U.S. Senate. The Governor of Hawaii had presented the petition to the Vice President of the United States, who then (as President of the Senate) brought it before the Senate on February 26, 1954.

As … [ Read all ]

Thursday’s Photo Caption Contest

"Joining Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders involved a more rigorous training process than these two expected."

"Joining Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders involved a more rigorous training process than these two expected."

It was impossible to decide if “Treeus” was funnier than references to Santa or poor drivers, so we asked for assistance from our guest judge Laura Brandt, who manages the Foundation for the National Archives Facebook page. After much agony, she decided that David T’s caption held the most humor and historical value.

This two may not have been in Teddy’s Rough Riders, but they clearly had a rough ride in the Civilian Conservation Corps. The caption reads: “Supervisor Burgess and Ranger Cooke Trying Out the CCC Constructed Hobby Horse, Douglas Fir Forest Camp, Mt. Baker National Forest, 1936″ (ARC Identifier 299069, National Archives at Seattle).

This week’s photo has some actual horses—leave your caption in the comments below!

Your caption!

Caption this!

[ Read all ]

The silver screen, the stylish paperwork

Declaration of intent of Errol Flynn (021-05-011)

Declaration of intent of Errol Flynn (021-05-011)

Errol Flynn may not have changed his name to become a famous movie actor, but his declaration of intention (a form that starts the process to being naturalized as a U.S. citizen) is surprisingly complex. In 1938, he listed four countries and two nationalities on one form.

Flynn was born in Australia, but on his form he gives his race as Irish and his nationality as British. His wife Liliane was born in France, and he crossed the border from Mexico into the United States on foot (a common method of emigration for Hollywood stars who had previously lived in the U.S. under a foreign visa, and who did not want to return to their home countries after the visa expired).

Many other Hollywood declarations of intention are equally complicated: Peter Lorre gives his race as Magyar, his nationality as “Hungary,” and his birthplace as Czechoslavakia. He married his Austrian wife in England and took a ship from France to the United States.

Errol Flynn did become a U.S. citizen in 1942, four years after filling out his declaration of intention. He attempted to join the U.S. military to serve in World War II, but health problems rendered him ineligible.

The National Archives at Riverside holds the naturalization paperwork for many Hollywood stars. Usually these files contain a … [ Read all ]

Roll out the red carpet at the National Archives!

Director John Ford on the set of his movie, December 7th (1942, RG 80.MN.2862)

Director John Ford on the set of his movie December 7th (1942, RG 80.MN.2862)

Today we have a special guest post from Tom Nastick, public programs producer at the National Archives.

This week, from February 23 to 27, we’ll be presenting the seventh annual free screenings of Oscar®-nominated documentaries and Short Subjects in the William G. McGowan Theater. Our friends at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will once again be sending us the very best Feature Documentaries and Documentary Short Subjects from the past year so that we can share them, for free, with our audience.

But you don’t have to wait until this annual event to see Oscar-nominated docs at the National Archives. Within our vast motion picture holdings are several documentaries that have been honored by the Academy.

During the Second World War, several films now in our holdings were presented the Oscar for best Documentary including Prelude to War (1942) and episode one of Frank Capra’s “Why We Fight” series of orientation films for service personnel.

We also have Oscar-winning coproductions The Fighting Lady (1944), a joint production of the U.S. Navy and 20th Century Fox about the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, and The True Glory (1945), a sweeping documentary on the Allied invasion of Europe co-produced by the U.S. Office of War Information and the British Ministry of Information.

The Documentary … [ Read all ]