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Archive for October, 2012

Archives Spotlight: The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum is located in Simi Valley, California—about 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles—and holds over 60 million pages of documents, 1.6 million photographs, hundreds of thousands of feet of audiovisual material, and 40,000 artifacts.

In the Air Force One Pavilion, you can tour Air Force One (tail number 27000). This airplane carried Presidents Nixon, Carter, Ford, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush all over the world and the United States. This “Flying White House” was integral to Reagan’s presidency: he wrote many speeches, signed legislation, and relaxed while traveling in Air Force One.

You can also visit an exhibit on Presidential motorcades. Vehicles include one of Reagan’s presidential limousines, Secret Service suburbans, and a Marine One helicopter that flew President Johnson.

The Museum also features a reconstructed Oval Office, showing how President Reagan decorated using warm, earthy colors. He even displayed a collection of bronzed saddles.

One of President Reagan’s greatest goals while in office was to end the Cold War. He held many diplomatic talks with Mikhail Gorbachev. He  addressed Berlin in 1982 and in 1987, when he spoke in front of the Brandenburg Gate—an ornate 18th-century entrance gate that served as a symbol of European division. The museum features a piece of the Berlin Wall, which stands outside the building. Inside the museum, … [ Read all ]

Costume inspiration from the National Archives!

Still trying to think of a clever costume to wear on Halloween? We’ve listed some of our favorite suggestions below. (And if anyone actually takes us up on these suggestions, please send us a picture!)

I Like Ike!

Are you a power couple? How about combining the the upcoming election with some historic campaign fun into a matched costume?

This costume might be the easiest! You’ll just need two bathrobes and a hair ribbon to recreate a lighthearted moment on Ike and Mamie’s whistle stop campaign when their train stopped in Salisbury, NC. Mamie persuaded Ike to let the press snap their in dressing gowns. Bonus points if you make “I like Ike” buttons and hand them out at the party.

America the Beautiful

Another option for a pair of friends is to go as an unfinished Mount Rushmore.

Take a white board and sketch out a mountain side. Cut two curves in the top corner to rest your chins on. Apply white costume make up liberally to your faces. The person portraying George might need a wig. For the unfinished Jefferson, some white play dough stuck to your face should help convey a sense of unfinished stone. This costume might be easiest to manage with just two people, but you could skip the Village People costume and do all four heads of the completed [ Read all ]

Archives Spotlight: Making the Constitution accessible

October is American Archives Month! To celebrate, we’re running a series of “spotlights” on the many locations that make up the National Archives. Today’s post features the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, and was written by Rick Blondo, management and program analyst at the National Archives.

The Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights are on permanent display in the Rotunda at the National Archives Building. But up until 2003, some visitors could not easily see these important documents or the documents displayed along with them.

The design of the original display cases, built in 1935, meant that items were displayed flat or nearly flat with the front edge of the cases about 40 inches above the floor. This height and angle made it nearly impossible for young children or people in wheelchairs to see the documents.

New display cases, installed as part of a building-wide renovation from 2000 to 2005, make those documents easily viewable by all visitors. During the renovation, we learned there was no accessible design standard for exhibit display cases containing original archival records. We consulted with experts and used a mock-up to test different heights and angles of display.

In 1999, volunteers tested and scored the original display cases and a mock-up. Three volunteers—two adults and one child—were in wheelchairs. The other eight volunteers—six adults and two children—were ambulatory

[ Read all ]

Archives Spotlight: San Francisco

The National Archives is on the West Coast, too!

The National Archives at San Francisco (located in San Bruno, California) contains over 55,000 cubic feet of Federal records from the 1850s through the 1980s. The records come from northern and central California, Nevada (except Clark County), Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, and the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. The Trust Territory was administered by the United States from 1947 to 1994 and comprised what are now the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Palau.

Those interested in the history of Alcatraz and its inmates should know that the National Archives at San Francisco holds case files, identification photographs, and warden’s notebook pages for most listed inmates from 1934 to 1963. Before 1934, Alcatraz housed a military, rather than a Federal, prison. The National Archives only holds the Federal prison records. The inmates are listed online both alphabetically and numerically.

Because most Asian immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries came across the Pacific to the United States, the National Archives at San Francisco houses a very large collection of Federal documents and individual records relating to Asian-Pacific immigration and the Chinese exclusion laws. This collection is invaluable to Asian-Pacific historians and genealogists. Many of the items used in the recent exhibit “Attachments” at the National Archives … [ Read all ]

Archives Spotlight: Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum

Happy American Archives Month! Throughout October, we’re running a series of “spotlights” on the many locations that make up the National Archives. Have you done research at a Presidential Library?

Unlike the other Presidential Libraries, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library—located in Ann Arbor, Michigan—is geographically separate from the museum, which is in Grand Rapids.

Despite the 130 miles separating these two locations, they form a single institution and share one director, as well as artifacts, documents, and other exhibit materials.

The library focuses on analysis and interpretation of history and policy. Ford and his cabinet’s 1974–77 Presidential papers make up the core of the 25-million-page textual collection and the 500,000-item audiovisual collection. Located on the North Campus of the University of Michigan, it features regular temporary exhibits that pull from the library’s collections.

Like all the Presidential Libraries and National Archives locations, the Ford Library is also a great resource for researchers. There are several oral history and artifact collections, extensive textual material, and some audiovisual materials. Research grants are also available: The Gerald R. Ford Scholar Award is given annually in honor of Robert Teeter, and multiple research travel grants are awarded throughout the year to defray travel, living, and photocopy expenses for researchers.

The museum makes the library’s collections and archives more accessible to the public and allow visitors to interact … [ Read all ]