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Archive for February, 2012

Thursday Photo Caption Contest: February 23

"That Christmas, all the kids clamored for the iHorn."

Perhaps it was the effect of all four of those Seussian megaphones, but your captions were extra funny this week. We could indeed hear you now and we did need a Ricola to soothe our throats from chortling, but we finally had to call in to this week’s special guest judge.

Congratulations to Mandi! Your clever pun on tickled the iFunnyBone of Priscilla Foley, Archival Program Director at the National Archives at Boston.

We first spotted this spectular image on their Facebook page. And while we wish the man was listening for Horton or a Who, it turns he is listening the for aircraft.

The caption on Facebook read: “Acoustic location was used from mid-WW1 to the early years of WW2 for the passive detection of aircraft by picking up the noise of the engines. It was rendered obsolete before and during WW2 by the introduction of radar, which was far more effective. This photo shows an early model of an Army acoustical aircraft detector (around 1920). The operator would try to detect engine sounds from incoming planes. In calm air conditions a range of about 15 miles could be achieved but the speed of the aircraft in existence when the system was eventually abandoned was such that only about 4 minutes warning of approach could be given.”  RG … [ Read all ]

History Crush: Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton, by John Trumbull (after painting by Giuseppe Ceracchi, 1801); National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Gift of Henry Cabot Lodge

Today’s “History Crush” comes from Jessica Kratz, an archives specialist with the Center for Legislative Archives. She’s been carrying a torch for one of our record-makers for quite some time!

Most of my colleagues are all too aware that Alexander Hamilton is my history crush. Maybe the gigantic replica $10 bill hanging in my office gives it away?

I’ve been fascinated by Hamilton for as long as I’ve studied American history. In school, most of my teachers touted the importance of founders like James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, but after reading the Federalist Papers, I became hooked on Alexander Hamilton. An orphan from the British West Indies who traveled alone to America as a teenager, Hamilton rose from his humble beginnings to become one of the most important men in our nation’s history.

I often wondered why Jefferson was so beloved while Hamilton, clearly brilliant with remarkable foresight, was so underappreciated. Were his negatives—he was born out of wedlock, philandered, promoted the benefits of child labor, and lost a duel—overshadowing his many accomplishments? Hamilton served in the Continental Army, Continental Congress, and Constitutional Convention; was the first Secretary of Treasury; and established the first National Bank, the U.S. Mint, and the Coast Guard.

Even … [ Read all ]

Inside the Vaults: George Washington and the Paparazzi

America is a celebrity-crazed nation, a place where movie stars, musicians, and even politicians are relentlessly pursued by the paparazzi. But you may be surprised to learn that our national fascination with fame predates Hollywood and the modern media.

The proof is in an original letter written by President Washington to his friend, Gov. Henry Lee of Virginia, on July 3, 1792.

In the letter, which is currently on display in the Public Vaults exhibition at the National Archives, President Washington complains about the persistent inquiries of portrait artists: “I am so heartily tired of these kinds of people that it is now more than two years since I have resolved to sit no more for any of them.” As National Archives curator Alice Kamps explains in the video below, 18th-century artists were the equivalent of the modern paparazzi.

In celebration of the 280th birthday of America’s first President, the National Archives has released this short documentary video, “George Washington and the Paparazzi.” The three-minute video is part of the ongoing “Inside the Vaults” series on our YouTube channel.… [ Read all ]

Thursday Photo Caption Contest–February 16

"Now tell me - am I supposed to eat this thing or wear it on my head like I did the pheasant from last night's dinner?"

Choosing last week’s winner was a tough nut–er, lobster?–to crack, so we turned to Tammy Kelly, our crack judge at the Truman Library.

Congratulation to RJ! Check your email for a code to use for a 15% discount at our eStore! Tammy chose your caption as the winner. Perhaps she was reminded of the fine collection of hats that Bess Truman wore throughout her life (featured on Millinery Monday).

Tammy kept her reasons for choosing RJ’s caption under her hat, but she did reveal that this image was taken by Abbie Rowe at the Maine State Society Lobster Dinner in the Department of the Interior cafeteria on February 21, 1951. The lobster-demolishing pair are Senator Owen Brewster and fellow guest Ann Chapman (wife of Oscar Chapman, Secretary of the Interior).

There’s no lobster in today’s photograph, but there are some….really large microphones? Give us your wittiest caption in the comments below!

"Your caption here!"

[ Read all ]

Join us for Social Media Week DC!

We've come a long way since the world's first computer! Can you imagine Tweeting from this thing?

Our business may be the past, but here at the Archives, we use today’s social media tools to bring history to you. Join us for Social Media Week DC with some exciting events. All events will take place in the William G. McGowan Theater in Archives I in Washington, DC.

Thursday, February 16
Want to explore exciting new documents and help make them more accessible to the public? Come learn about the Citizen Archivist Dashboard. Meredith Stewart from the Open Government Division will conduct a demonstration of the Citizen Archivist Dashboard from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. The demo will be followed by an exciting hands-on workshop by Stewart and Social Media Manager Jill James called “Let’s Get Tagging!” from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

These events are BYOD—Bring Your Own Device. Please bring your own laptop or tablet! If you can’t make it but still want to see what’s happening, follow the conversation on Twitter (use the hashtag #SMWarchives).

Friday, February 17
Participate in the “Social Media, Government, and 21st Century eDemocracy” panel at 1 p.m. Our very own Archivist of the United States David Ferriero will welcome the panel to the Archives. It will be moderated by Alex Howard of O’Reilly Radar and focuses on meaningful use of … [ Read all ]