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Archive for October, 2011

Eleanor Roosevelt, what’s in your wallet?

Eleanor Roosevelt was born on October 11, 1884. She was the niece of former President Theodore Roosevelt, and later became the wife of future President Franklin D. Roosevelt (her fifth cousin).

She is known for her role as First Lady during the Great Depression and World War II. She was the first woman in that role to hold a press conference, and she was an advocate for minorities, the disadvantaged, and the disabled.

In her post–White House life, she served as chair of the Human Rights Commission for the United Nations General Assembly and as first chairperson of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women.

But to get a different sense of Mrs. Roosevelt’s many causes, interests, and associations, we can look inside her wallet.

Among the many cards and bits of paper, she had a license from the state of New York to carry a pistol, an expired card to the Newspaper Guild’s Press Club in New York City, a Diner’s Club Credit Card, a health insurance card, a “Bell System Credit Card” with instructions on how to make a collect call, a St. Christopher card for the patron saint of travel, and an air travel card.

The contents of her wallet—cards, photographs, bits of poems—at the time of her death in 1962 are now part of the holdings of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library. You can … [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Fridays: Free education and facial hair for all

If you’re planning to travel this Columbus Day holiday (and it was, like, 1835), you might thank this guy for building the first steam locomotive in the US: Peter Cooper—inventor, industrialist, and one-time Presidential candidate.

But, most important for our purposes, Cooper was the owner of a truly remarkable beard. Impressive facial hair is an asset to any Presidential candidate, but we are sorry to report that Peter Cooper’s beard did not win him the 1876 election, when he ran for the Greenback Party. Still, at the age of 85, Cooper is the oldest person to be nominated for the Presidential office.

Cooper was an active player in the anti-slavery movement and a firm believer that practical education in mechanical arts in sciences should be free. In 1853, he founded the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, a private college in New York that offered night classes to both men and women. Today, Cooper Union is still seen as one of the leading American colleges in the fields of architecture, engineering, and art. It continues Cooper’s belief that college education should be free: all its students attend with a full scholarship.… [ Read all ]

Thursday Photo Caption Contest

Since last week’s photo came from holdings at the National Archives at Chicago, we thought, what could be more appropriate than getting one of our Windy City colleagues to be our guest judge? Regional Office Management Assistant Mary Ann Zulevic stepped in for the duty and, after much deliberation, debating, and pondering, picked this genealogical joke for the win.

Congratulations to Alexis Hill! Check your e-mail for a code for 15% off in the eStore. We’ve got lots of goodies for all the knots in your family tree.

The original caption for the photo is: “On Demonstration Trail, ‘Trees for Tomorrow’ Conservation Workshop, at Eagle River. Walt Nicewander shows 2 teachers a knotty, low-grade bd. Produced by limby trees such as white pine to the left. Vilas Co. Wis. 07/1960″ (Records of the Forest Service, RG 95; ARC 2131639).

I don’t know if the men in this week’s photo for caption are from the same family tree, but they sure seem close. Put your best captions in the comments section below! We’ll reconvene again next week to pick a winner—same time, same place.

[ Read all ]

What’s Cooking Wednesdays: The case of the buttered pretzel

Since it’s fall and October, our thoughts naturally turned to Oktoberfest as a possible topic for What’s Cooking Wednesdays. However, one too many encounters with Upton Sinclair’s letter to President Teddy Roosevelt about the working conditions in meat factories had us avoiding the bratwurst. And, apparently, drinking beer in the office is hugely frowned upon by the management. So we turned to another appropriately Oktoberfest-y menu item: the pretzel.

While its presence in the U.S. doesn’t pack quite the same punch to the gut as the (un)savory sausage, the pretzel has its own colorful history to tell. It’s thought to have originated from monasteries in the Middle Ages, where monks made little pastries from strips of dough to represent a child’s arm folded in prayer. The treats, called pretiola (Latin for “little reward”) were given to children for good behavior and memorizing their verses and prayers.

Thanks to human migration, the pretiola traveled to Italy and became called brachiola (Italian for “little arms”). In Germany, it was known as bretzel or pretzel. It crossed the oceans with the immigrants in the 1800s and settled in Pennsylvania.

Lancaster County, PA, boasted the first commercial pretzel bakery, which was established by Julius Sturgis in the town of Lititz in 1861. The pretzel business was a brisk one. To this day, about 80 percent of the nation’s pretzels are still produced in Pennsylvania. The pretzel capital of the world? Reading, PA.

But the pretzel is not … [ Read all ]