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Archive for March, 2013

Facial Hair Friday: Opening Day Mustache

Opening Day of the 2013 Baseball Season is this Sunday! What better way to celebrate than to crack open some peanuts, download our free eBook “Baseball: The National Pastime in the National Archives,” and grow a luxuriant mustache in honor of President Taft.

Taft is the newest addition to the Nationals Racing Presidents.The 27th President is well-known for his size and his bushy white mustache. He was the last President to sport facial hair while in office.

Did his luxuriant mustache give him an edge in the search for a new mascot? Of the five Presidents represented, facial hair adorns three of their outsized noggins.  Lincoln has a beard, Teddy Roosevelt has a mustache, and now Taft has joined the crew with a mustache of his own. The only clean-shaven mascots are Washington and Jefferson.

While the mustache may have tipped the scales in Taft’s favor, Nationals management may have also wanted to honor Taft for his role in baseball history.

Taft was the first (and remains the only) former President to become a Supreme Court justice. But before he was on the bench, he was in the game! Taft was the first President to throw out the first ball of the baseball season.

On April 14, 1910, Taft threw a pitch to Walter Johnson, Opening Day pitcher for the Washington Senators. On April … [ Read all ]

The Remarkable Story of Ann Lowe: From Alabama to Madison Avenue

Today’s guest post comes from Margaret Powell, MA, a decorative arts historian from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her areas of concentration are textile and costume history. She is a graduate of the Smithsonian Associates–Corcoran College of Art and Design History of Decorative Arts Masters Program.

On September 13, 1953, the New York Times featured the wedding of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier on the front page. The article contained a photograph of the bride’s intricate gown and a detailed description of its “ivory silk taffeta, embellished with interwoven bands of tucking, finished with a portrait neckline and a bouffant skirt.” The only thing missing from the coverage was the name of Ann Lowe, the dress designer.

Even today, as the Kennedy wedding gown resides in the permanent collection of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, very few people realize that this dress is the work of an African American designer. It is no novelty or a fluke—it is just one example of the countless designs created by Lowe for the Auchincloss family between 1947 and 1957. In fact, when Jacqueline’s stepsister Nina appeared in a 1955 fashion editorial in Vogue, she was wearing an Ann Lowe debut dress.

Ann Lowe’s story is remarkable. With little more than a few years of education in the segregated schools of turn-of-the-century Alabama, sewing lessons … [ Read all ]

Did Knute Rockne ever box Dwight D. Eisenhower?

Today’s post comes from Christopher Abraham at the Eisenhower Presidential Library. He answers a question each week on Facebook. This week’s Ask an Archivist query comes from Kansas.

“Did Knute Rockne ever box Dwight D. Eisenhower? I heard that this took place in Abilene, Kansas, around 1913.” – Anonymous

We have heard this story before. The legend goes that Rockne, who would later gain fame as a football coach for Notre Dame, traveled the country as an exhibition boxer and took on a young Dwight D. Eisenhower in Abilene. Rockne then attempted to convince him to become a professional boxer.

Unfortunately for presidential and sports historians, this event never took place.

In a 1947 letter to his former aide Harry Butcher, Eisenhower wrote “There is no truth whatsoever in the story about Knute Rockne trying to interest me in a professional boxer’s career. The people who got that story started took two or three little different incidents, put them all together into a single story, and came up with some weird and wonderful ideas.”

Ann Whitman, the president’s personal secretary, wrote in 1956 that, “the President says there is not a word of truth in this–-and that he never met Knute Rockne until he was grown up.”

Library staff answer every reference question we receive, but not all questions will be posted to Ask [ Read all ]

Helvetica and Supergraphics: The Design Behind Our New Exhibit

I sat down with Amanda Perez, exhibit and graphic designer at the National Archives, to talk about her  work for our new “Searching for the Seventies” exhibit. Halfway through the interview, we were joined by Dan Falk, visual information specialist and the audiovisual and structural designer for the exhibit.

Amanda’s first step in designing the exhibit was to look for inspirational images. Some of the most intriguing came from the pages of 1970s home design articles, found on an independent blog. What struck Amanda were the supergraphics—large wall decorations popular in the seventies—present in most of the images.

“I remembered them from my childhood, from my parents’ friends’ houses,” she said.

In the exhibit, the supergraphics are meant to create a seventies vibe without detracting from the photographs, which are the true focus.

Amanda chose three theme colors as the exhibit’s three-part organization emerged from the planning process.

First came “Ball of Confusion,” derived from a 1970 song by The Temptations. Jimi Hendrix, who died in 1970, inspired the color purple in the exhibit. According to Amanda, “Purple became a sort of theme.”

When she started looking at warmer colors to balance the purple, she knew that they had to use orange because it was such a staple of the seventies. Orange also fit well with the “Everybody is a Star” section of the exhibit.… [ Read all ]

Suffrage and suffering at the 1913 March

Today’s blog post comes from Jessie Kratz, archives specialist in the Center for Legislative Archives. If you are participating in the 100th anniversary of the parade on Sunday, stop by the National Archives to see the document that finally gave women the right to vote. The 19th Amendment is on display from March 1 to March 8.

As woman suffrage advocates marched along Pennsylvania Avenue on March 3, 1913, they were met with crowds of unruly men blocking their paths and shouting derogatory remarks.

While making preparations for the parade, organizers had made repeated attempts to secure police protection—they even contacted the Secretary of War seeking assistance from the U.S. military. Richard H. Sylvester, Chief of DC Police, had assured organizers that he could manage the situation without the military, but he ultimately failed to control the crowd.

The poor treatment of the marchers sparked immediate outrage.

The day after the parade, the Senate passed a resolution authorizing the Committee on the District of Columbia to investigate the police’s handling of the incident. The committee collected evidence and heard from over 100 witnesses, including parade organizer and suffragist Alice Paul; Julia Lathrop, chief of the Children’s Bureau; parade attendees from around the country; and witnesses who spoke on behalf of the Metropolitan Police.

The women testified about their experiences—some noted the lack of police … [ Read all ]