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Archive for June, 2012

Back to the Future with Girl Scouts: Agent “M” Speaks

I, Agent “M,” am on a very important mission.  I must help thousands of Girl Scouts save the future by becoming an Agent of Change.

Agents of Change is an online, interactive game that is being played at the National Archives and 11 other cultural institutions in Washington, DC, during the Rock the Mall event. The goal of the game is to answer the question, “Why do collecting institutions matter?”  I knew that the National Archives would be the perfect environment for them to explore this question.

In the game, the players live in a post-apocalyptic world and find a box of solar-powered smartphones that enable them to travel back in time to the 21st century  to collect items to improve society. They collect important objects from each of the participating sites by taking photographs and uploading them to the Agents of Change website.

The site and iPhone app allows players to sort, discuss, and vote for their favorite items to collaboratively build a new future. “Agents” from the participating sites, including the National Archives, contribute to the online discussion in order to help meet learning goals.

To help shape the Girl Scouts decide what to take back to the future, I am creating “transmissions,” short videos, audio recordings, or text messages, about the National Archives and give them ideas about what they may want to bring back … [ Read all ]

100 Years of Girl Scouts: Preservation Programs Director shares her Girl Scout story

As the Girl Scouts of the USA prepare to celebrate their 100th anniversary, we will be featuring stories from NARA staff who were former Girl Scouts. This post is from Director of Preservation Programs Doris Hamburg.

Girl Scouts at Camp Hungry Jack Lake, 1923. Were you a Girl Scout growing up? (178889; ARC 2127451)

Happy 100th birthday, Girl Scouts! 

Juliette Gordon Low began the first Girl Scout troop in 1912 in Savannah with just a small group of girls. Today there are more than 3.2 million scouts around the world. In fact, about half of adult American women are Girl Scout alumnae. Girl Scout activities (including selling those delicious Thin Mints!) develop skills, confidence, and character, and help to make the world a better place.

I was a scout as a girl and more recently served as a leader for my daughter’s troop. Once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout! As a Brownie at age 8, little did I expect that Girl Scouting would have such an influence on my future. 

When I was in 10th grade, my troop was asked to help at  Lyndhurst, the newly opened National Trust for Historic Preservation museum. It was a splendid 19th-century Gothic Revival mansion overlooking the Hudson River in New York. At first, I sold postcards and souvenirs. As I learned more, I began giving tours. 

At Christmastime, it was wonderful fun to help festoon … [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: Vagabond Goatee

Hitchhiker with his dog, "Tripper," on U.S. 66, May 1972. Photograph by Charles O'Rear for the EPA (549112; 412-DA-6626).

It gets harder to find worthy examples of bearded and mustachioed Americans in our holdings after the first decades of the 20th century, when facial hair went out of fashion. Fortunately for us, we can look into a decade known for groovy facial hair: the 1970s.

This is one of our most popular images, though I wonder if it’s because of the puppy and the patchwork pants rather than the scraggly goatee. The original caption identifies the man as a hitchhiker on Route 66. He certainly seems pretty relaxed despite standing barefoot on rocks that I presume are hot from the Arizona sun.

This photograph is unusual for more reasons than its retro facial hair. It was taken by Charles O’Rear, who was a photographer in the DOCUMERICA project launched by the new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1971. Photographers were assigned by geographic region to document what they saw destroying America’s landscape and natural resources: mining, air pollution, garbage.

Charles O’Rear, however, had a slightly more cheerful assignment. At one point during his time as a contributing photographer, he was sent to the healthiest place in America at that time: southeastern Nebraska. His work there documents an area that had the lowest death rates for American white males.… [ Read all ]