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Archive for February, 2011

Facial Hair Friday: Grow West, young man!

After a brief hiatus, Facial Hair Friday is back with a special Valentine’s week post!

When Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri wanted to encourage Americans to emigrate to the west as part of the Manifest Destiny movement, he decided that eyewitness descriptions of the landscape were necessary.

So in 1842, Benton sent off his son-in-law John C. Frémont as the head of a series of expeditions to survey and map the Oregon Trail to the Rocky Mountains.

It wasn’t Frémont’s first time surveying new territory. Frémont had been in the Corps of Topographical Engineers and later explored and surveyed the Des Moines River and the area between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.

But this trip called for a special guide, and  Frémont hired Kit Carson, the well-known mountain man and adventurer to lead the first expedition. After that, the men went on several expeditions into the Sierra Nevada and along the Oregan Trail.

And in a move sure to swell his father-in-law’s heart with pride and his fellow explorers’ hearts with jealousy, Lt. John C. Frémont also “discovered” Lake Tahoe on February 14, 1844, Valentine’s Day,  putting the lake on a map for the first time.

You can read pages from Frémont’s report in the “Eyewitness” online exhibit.… [ Read all ]

Thursday’s Photo Caption Contest

This week’s winner is Tommy R! His clever caption combines the discoveries of the atomic age with a nifty Latin neologism. Tommy, we’ll be sending you a 15% discount for the National Archives eStore.

The original caption tell us that “Sister Mary Helene ven Horst, science instructor at Marycrest College in Davenport, Iowa, teaches students the theory of radiation and the use of radiological monitoring instruments. . . . ca. 1960.” The photo is from the series for civil defense photographs in the Records of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

This week, give us your best captions for this photo plucked from the holdings of the National Archives. YOU tell us what’s going on and take a chance to win an eStore discount for yourself.… [ Read all ]

It’s Washington’s Birthday—really

Monday is a federal holiday, but what holiday is it? So many ads on television and in print tell us it’s Presidents/President’s/Presidents’ Day. Images of Lincoln and Washington sometimes accompany these ads.

But here at the National Archives, we know it’s still officially Washington’s Birthday. This year the holiday is actually close to GW’s birthday (February 22), but in many years the holiday falls closes to Lincoln’s (February 12).

How did this once-fixed holiday become blurred and shared with all U.S. Presidents? Look to the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill of 1968, which moved the observance of our first President’s birth from its actual day to the third Monday of February.

Read the whole story in Prologue: “By George, IT IS Washington’s Birthday” (Winter 2004).… [ Read all ]

Tweet if you like jelly beans!

Do you like jelly beans? So did Ronald Reagan—and this month marks his 100th birthday. Even if you didn’t share Reagan’s political views, you might share his sweet tooth!

Tweet your favorite jelly bean flavor using the hashtag #100jellybeans at twitter.com, and on Friday we’ll randomly pick a winner to receive a discount at our eStore.

If you are in Washington, DC, on Friday February 18, please join us in person for a slice of cake and a jelly bean bar at 1 p.m. in the Jefferson Conference Room to celebrate the birthday of our 40th President.

100-beans[ Read all ]

Romance in the Records

I was worried I would never find love at the National Archives.

When Scribd.com approached my office about promoting Prologue magazine by creating a collection of romantic records for their Valentine’s Day “Eat Say Love” event, I was very doubtful. Would I be able to find enough romance in the records to put together a collection?

The answer, of course, is yes! (The answer is also to ask your colleagues for help!)  The National Archives holds the records of a nation, and that includes our love stories. From lovestruck teenagers to future First Ladies on honeymoon to Depression-era valentines, Americans have left the evidence of their feelings in the records.

You can see all our romantic documents in our collection “Romance through History,” but I’ve highlighted three images below that tugged or tickled my heartstrings.

Happy Valentine’s Day!… [ Read all ]