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Archive for July, 2011

Facial Hair Friday: Prisons, Potatoes, Pipe Cleaners

You may have seen some of these beards and mustaches before! The mug shots of prisoners at Leavenworth Penitentiary have been featured here and here.

But the images above take facial hair to a whole new level! Staff at the National Archives at Kansas City got together and created Potatriot dioramas (inspired by this post). They kept the prisoners’ jumpsuits simple with black and white paper, but then took pipe cleaners and pens to interpret the facial hair, from beards to handlebar to stubble. Truly impressive! Click on the picture to enlarge, or admire the set on Flickr.

You can check out our full set of historic Potatriots dioramas on Flickr. And if you create your own Potatriots scene, send it to volunteer@nara.gov, and we will add it on Flickr!

Why do we hold the records of prisoners at the U.S. Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas? Find out in this Prologue article!… [ Read all ]

Thursday Photo Caption Contest

"The regiment guarding Fort Tucson did not see much action during the Civil War, but the picnicking was excellent."

I am excited to introduce this week’s guest judge, Dominic McDevitt-Parks, who is working on several projects as our Wikipedian-in-Residence this summer. Surprised that we support Wikipedia? Well, it turns out that the Archivist is a big fan of the web site and its work!

Congratulations to Andrew P! Check your e-mail for 15% off in our eStore. Our guest judge chose your caption with the same confidence that he uses when wading into the thorny thicket of editing Wikipedia entries. And although he could only choose one winner among the cacti, Dominic noted that Robert and Pam deserve an honorable mention!

The folks bravely picnicking in the heat while wearing jackets, long pants, and high-necked dresses deserve an honorable mention as well. The original caption reads: “Officers and guests lunch under giant cactus near Fort Thomas, Arizona,” February 18, 1886. The photograph can be found in our holdings at National Archives at College Park as part of the records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, or on ARC with the ARC Identifier 530881.

This week’s photo is less prickly and more (possibly) kicky! Give us your best caption in the comments below.

Your caption here!

[ Read all ]

World War I food conservation: “Pan de la libertad”

Recipes for "Pan de la libertad para conservar el trigo." (Records of the U.S. Food Administration, RG 4, National Archives at San Francisco)

Recipes for "Pan de la libertad para conservar el trigo." (Records of the U.S. Food Administration, RG 4, National Archives at San Francisco)

“What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?,” our current special exhibition in Washington, DC, examines the Government’s effect on what Americans eat. Government influence was especially visible during wartime, when many food products were reserved for feeding the troops and our Allies.

During World War I, the U.S. Food Administration, headed by Herbert Hoover, urged the American people to voluntarily conserve food, especially wheat, meat, fats, and sugar. Recognizing that a successful program had to reach out to all Americans, the agency distributed printed materials in several languages, including Italian pamphlets in New York City, Chinese food conservation notices in Hawaii, and Spanish recipes in California.

The featured recipes for “pan de la libertad” (liberty bread), using corn, oat, and barley flour instead of wheat, were found in the files of the California State Food Administration, housed at the National Archives at San Francisco. According to a note at the bottom, recipes were translated into Spanish for counties with significant Spanish-speaking populations.

An all-out publicity campaign was waged to educate the citizenry about the need for food conservation and how … [ Read all ]

The Taxman Cometh: U.S. v. Alphonse Capone

Al Capone’s Guilty Verdict, 10/17/1931 – 10/17/1931 (Record Group 21, National Archives at Chicago; ARC 628966)

Al Capone—the quintessential American gangster—headed the nation’s most notorious organized crime syndicate for more than a decade during Prohibition.

Through smuggling, bootlegging, and a variety of other criminal operations, his “Chicago Outfit” was able to dominate America’s illegal liquor trade throughout the 1920s. But did you know that Al Capone was never convicted of violating the National Prohibition Act?

In 1931, Capone was indicted for income tax evasion for 1925-1929. Despite his immense wealth, he had never paid taxes or purchased any assets in his own name.

So when the Internal Revenue Service’s Special Intelligence Unit uncovered cash receipts from a gambling operation linked to Capone, the evidence served as the foundation for a Federal case. The prosecution charged that he owed over $200,000 in unpaid taxes stemming from gambling profits.

Unable to strike a plea bargain with prosecutors, Capone attempted to bribe jury members. The presiding judge, however, responded by quietly changing the jury panel prior to the trial.

On October 18, 1931, Capone was found guilty on five counts of tax evasion. A month later he was sentenced to 11 years in Federal prison, fined $50,000, charged $7,692 for court costs, and ordered to pay his back taxes plus interest.

Following seven and a half years in … [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: Amnesty for this beard, 100 years later

General Robert E. Lee (ARC 525769)

This week saw the 150th anniversary of the first Battle of Manassas, with hundreds of reenactors and spectators ignoring the extreme heat and coming to the Virginia battlefield.

There was another, stranger Civil War anniversary today.

On July 22, 1975, the House of Representatives joined the Senate in voting to restore full American citizenship to Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The joint resolution made the restoration retroactive to June 13, 1865.

More than a hundred years earlier, Lee had signed his Amnesty Oath in Lexington, Virginia, on October 2, 1865, the same day he was inaugurated as president of Washington College. He swore to defend the Constitution and all laws that had “been made during the existing rebellion with reference to the emancipation of slaves.”

Lee died in October 1870.

Why did it take so long for his citizenship to be restored if he had signed an amnesty oath? According to this Facebook post from the National Archives at Boston, “Apparently Secretary of State William H. Seward had given Lee’s application to a friend as a souvenir, and the State Department had pigeonholed the oath.”

The document was filed away with the State Department records, eventually coming to the National Archives, where an archivist came across it in 1970, more than one hundred years later.

Lee's amnesty oath

[ Read all ]