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Archive for February, 2012

History Crush: Charles Sumner

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to launch our new “History Crush” series. Staff from across the National Archives will share which historic person in our holdings makes their heart beat a little faster! Our inaugural guest post comes from Natalie Rocchio, who is an archives specialist at the Center for Legislative Archives in the National Archives.

Since starting at the Center for Legislative Archives, I’ve been crushing on a certain former statesman from Massachusetts . . . and no, he’s not a Kennedy.

 My history crush is Senator Charles Sumner, who graduated from Harvard Law School in 1833. He was a world traveler (it’s said that he spoke at least three languages fluently!). He was a gifted orator and a well-known pacifist. As a member of Congress, he worked to end slavery in America and ensure civil rights for African Americans. 

Sumner began his political career in 1848. He was elected to the Senate in 1851 as a member of the Free Soil Party and later reelected as a member of the Opposition, Republican, and Liberal Republication Parties from 1855 to 1874.

In 1856, he delivered a speech called “Crime Against Kansas” during the Kansas statehood debate in which he denounced slavery and attacked other senators who supported the institution. On May 22, after the Senate had adjourned for the day, Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina walked … [ Read all ]

Thursday Photo Caption Contest–February 9

Who knew that the “LB” in LBJ stood for “light bulb”? Apparently, quite a few of you! We were buzzing with excitement after reading your captions, and we needed to ground ourselves.

So we turned to our guest judge, Liza Talbot, who is an archivist at the Johnson Presidential Library and the mastermind behind the LBJ Timemachine. (Don’t miss today’s post of wartime footage shot by LBJ himself!)

Congratulations to  Steve—Liza thought your caption was electrifying! Check your email for a code to get a 15% discount in our eStore.

So why was the future President looking so concerned? Congressman Lyndon B. Johnson was working to get public power to the people in the Texas countryside. This photo of Mrs. Mattie Malone and LBJ was taken by a photographer for the Austin American-Statesman in May 1941 during LBJ’s campaign for Senate.

Today’s photograph features a couple and a couple of lobsters. Get cracking and put your funniest caption in the comments below!… [ Read all ]

RMS Titanic: Letters from a Lost Liner

A detail from the claim submitted by Florence Gwinn, the widow of William Gwinn.

Today’s guest post was written by William B. Roka, a longtime volunteer at the National Archives in New York City. You can follow them on Facebook as they launch “Titantic Tuesdays” in the weeks leading up to the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

Since I’m a total history nerd, I was ready to do a little dance when I was allowed to examine some of the Titanic documents in the National Archives as part of my work as a volunteer researcher. But I was disappointed when I saw that most of the documents looked very mundane.

This collection documents the court cases brought after the ship sank. The Titanic’s owner, the Ocean Steam Navigation Company (better known as White Star Line), did not want to pay in full the hundreds of claims for compensation filed by survivors and relatives of victims of the sinking. But as I trudged ahead with my work, I soon realized how wrong I was.

As I examined the claims, I saw that each one had a story to tell. One in particular stuck in my mind. William L. Gwinn was a sea postal clerk working for the U.S. Postal Service (see widow’s claim below). At first I thought he was a regular passenger … [ Read all ]

Football Friday: Presidents and the Pigskin

With Super Bowl Sunday just two days away, we’ve decided to call an audible and make today’s “Facial Hair Friday” into a “Football Friday.”

When the New England Patriots and New York Giants collide in this year’s Super Bowl, the two teams will be competing for more than just a National Football League championship. The winner will also receive a trip to the White House, a place that many gridiron greats have called home.

Football has a rich history at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

President Eisenhower was a standout halfback at West Point. Similarly, President Ford was a star at the University of Michigan, ultimately earning contract offers from the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers. As for President Reagan, he earned the nickname “the Gipper” after staring as Notre Dame’s George Gipp in the 1940 film Knute Rockne, All American.

Several Presidents have also remained loyal fans even after their playing days.

President Kennedy, who went out for the team at Harvard, once called legendary coach Vince Lombardi to ask if he would “come back to Army and coach again.” President Nixon, who played for Whittier College, was known for sending diagrammed plays to the Washington Redskins coaching staff during his Presidency.

Reagan had popcorn (instead of Gatorade) dumped on him by the triumphant Giants during their visit to the White House in 1987. And most recently, President … [ Read all ]

Thursday Photo Caption Contest–February 2

We had a hard time choosing a caption for last week’s photograph. How can you choose between captions that poke gentle fun at fortune cookies, “rags to riches” stories, and the IRS?

We turned to a guest judge who knows paper records really, really well. Paul Palermo is the Director of Records Center Operations at the National Archives at Boston, MA, which provides storage for thousands of temporary Federal records.

Not all of the records created by the Federal Government are kept forever in the  National Archives. The majority of Federal records—about 95%—are considered “temporary” and are kept for set periods of time.  Paul and his team manage the lifecycle of these records. They store them, track them, pull them and  send them back to the creating agency if they are needed, and put returned records back on the shelf.  They also destroy nonpermanant records at the end of their lifecycle or make sure that other records go to the National Archives as permanent records. (You can read more about temporary records here).

Congratulations to Deirdre! Paul tore himself away from a busy job (see the paragraph above!) to choose your caption as the winner of last’s contest.  Check your email for a code to use for a 15% discount at our eStore.

Like our guest judge, the ladies above worked in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, if they time traveled to the present day, most likely … [ Read all ]