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Archive for April, 2012

Thursday Photo Caption Contest—April 26

"Spring Fashion Week featured a variety of on trend canvas jumpsuits, accessorized with over the shoulder ammo in this seasons must have metals"!

We’re not always fashion forward here in the National Archives (archivists wear blue coats over the street clothes to protect themselves from the dust and dirt that come from working in the stacks), but we were inspired by the jaunty hats and shiny shoes worn by these two women. And so were many of you, apparently! We had a hard time choosing among captions that referenced Project Runway, crayons, and song lyrics.

We turned to archives technician Diane Petro, who shouldered her judging duties like a bandolier of bullets. Diane has been down in the trenches for the last several months working on the 1940 census, but now that it has been released, she has returned to her civilian life in the Research Room.

Congratulations to Michelle! Your caption was chosen by Diane as the winner! Check your e-mail for a code for a 15% discount in the National Archives eStore.

And congratulations to Florence Johnson and  Rosamund Small! These two women in the photograph (ARC 520612; 80-G-45240) were the first WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) to qualify as instructors on electrically operated 50-caliber machine gun turrets. Here they are walking to the target range at the Naval Air Gunners School in Hollywood, Florida (April … [ Read all ]

History Crush: George Washington

George Washington, the Virginia Colonel: 1772. ARC Identifier 532861

Today’s History Crush post is from archives technician Timothy Duskin, who confesses that his admiration for our first President has only increased since researching the records related to George Washington at the National Archives.

I have always considered George Washington to be the greatest Founding Father, the greatest President, and the greatest American. Two years ago, I gave a “Know Your Records” lecture on records related to George Washington at the National Archives. My sentiments were reinforced in the course of my research for that lecture and they have remained the same ever since.

As a major in the Virginia militia, Washington delivered the demand of Virginia Governor Dinwiddie to vacate the Ohio Valley to the French in 1753. He was responsible for starting the French and Indian War in 1754, when he became commander of the Virginia Regiment and eventually became the war’s foremost hero.

Washington’s political career began when he was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1761, where he took up the cause of the North American colonies. He was then elected to the Continental Congress in 1774, which appointed him General and Commander in Chief of the Continental Army at the beginning of the Revolutionary War in 1775.

After the Boston Tea Party, counties in all of the colonies passed resolves to address … [ Read all ]

NARA debuts “The Sailor and the Seagull” at Beijing film festival

This week, NARA will be premiering a film halfway across the globe in Beijing, China, for the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF). Our film preservation lab will be represented by Supervisory Motion Picture Preservation Specialist Criss Kovac.

The National Archives will be represented this year at the International Federation of Film Archives conference in Beijing. We will be showing a 1949 film called The Sailor and the Seagull. This is the first time NARA has contributed a film to the conference.

“We rejoined FIAF last spring, and it’s required for us to send a member to the conference each spring,” Kovac said. NARA and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) are the only American members in the approximately 200-delegate conference. NARA and UCLA are tied for the largest film archives.

For the first time, NARA will be contributing a film for screening at the week-long conference. The theme this year is animation.

“We’ve digitally restored a title called The Sailor and the Seagull, a Navy recruitment film from 1949,” Kovac said. “We chose the film because it was done, at the time, by an emerging film studio called the United Productions of America.” The United Productions of America (UPA) was an animation studio that produced industrial films, World War II training films, and theatrical shorts for Columbia Pictures, including the Mr. Magoo series.

The film preservation team began digitizing … [ Read all ]

A Capital Celebration: The National Archives Commemorates DC Emancipation

An Act of April 16, 1862 (For the Release of Certain Persons Held to Service or Labor in the District of Columbia), 04/16/1862 (ARC ID #299814)

While Union and Confederate forces clashed on southern battlefields in 1862, a historic piece of legislation ended “the national shame” of slavery in the nation’s capital. The District of Columbia Emancipation Act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on April 16, 1862.

The legislation provided for immediate emancipation and monetary compensation to former slave owners. It also stipulated that owners claiming compensation file schedules listing and describing each slave. The Supplemental Act of July 12, 1862 expanded on the first act by permitting the submission of schedules by slaves whose owners did not reside in the District of Columbia.

As a result of the first act, the Board of Commissioners for the Emancipation of Slaves approved 930 petitions from former owners for the freedom of 2,989 former slaves. The supplemental act resulted in another 161 petitions from individuals, including many former slaves who were allowed to file because their owners had failed to comply with the first act’s deadline.

In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the DC Emancipation Act, the National Archives has released this short documentary video. The four-minute video is part of the ongoing “Inside the Vaults” series on our YouTube channel.

For more … [ Read all ]

The Legacy of the 1970s Energy Crisis

"Signs of the Energy Crisis," May 1973, photographed by Frank Aleksandrowicz (ARC 550088)

If you’ve ever been stuck in traffic on the Beltway, you know Americans love their cars, trucks, and motorcycles. So when fuel shortages occur, like in the 1970s, energy policy becomes a hotly debated issue.

Federal energy policy first became a major political priority during the energy crisis of the 1970s. In response to gasoline shortages and a series of petroleum embargos, Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter each took steps to readdress America’s energy policy. Through legislative action and an array of executive orders, the Federal Government established the Energy Research and Development Administration, Federal Energy Administration, and Office of Energy Programs.

This rapid expansion of Federal energy functions eventually compelled Congress to pass the Department of Energy Organization Act. The act, which was signed into law by President Carter on August 4, 1977, consolidated the various Federal energy agencies into a singule cabinet-level department. The new Department of Energy’s primary tasks were to promote a safe and dependable energy system, manage the nation’s nuclear facilities, and facilitate scientific research.

Since the 1970s, the Energy Department has continued to address energy, environmental, and nuclear challenges through research, development, and demonstration. In 2001, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy was created to assist in the development of alternative energy sources, such as … [ Read all ]