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Archive for July, 2013

Enemy Aliens in Kansas City

Today’s post comes from Kimberlee Ried, public programs specialist at the National Archives in Kansas City, MO.

After war was declared by Congress in April 1917, non-naturalized “enemy aliens” were required to register with the Department of Justice as a national security measure. A Presidential Proclamation of November 16, 1917, meant that “all natives, citizens, denizens or subjects of the German Empire” age 14 and older who were “within the United States” needed to register as “alien enemies.”

The National Archives at Kansas City has a collection of the Enemy Alien Registration Affidavits for the state of Kansas. These documents are full of valuable information for researchers.

Alexander Walter was born May 18, 1828, in Hanover, Germany. He was also a Civil War veteran who lived in the National Military Home in Leavenworth, KS. He had to fill out this registration form in 1918—at the age of 90.

 

The registrations occurred from November 1917 to April 1918.  Initially the registration included only men; the regulations stated, “females are not alien enemies.” However, an act of April 16, 1918, extended the definition of “enemy aliens” to include women age 14 and older. This was followed three days later by a Presidential proclamation that included women of American birth who were married to enemy aliens. (American-born women eventually had their citizenship reinstated in the 1920s.)

Each enemy … [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: Herman Haupt’s Success Proportional to the Size of His Beard

Today’s blog post comes from Hannah Fenster, summer intern in the Public Affairs Office of the National Archives.

Herman Haupt wasn’t hurting for hair.

Or confidence.

The scruff that framed his face and eyes contributed to his imposing persona—which was so stubborn that he often refused the help of other people so he could accomplish a task more quickly.

The intense gaze radiating from under Haupt’s thick eyebrows analyzed many a difficult situation involving Northern railroad strategy and bridge reconstruction during the Civil War. One hundred and fifty years ago this month, from July 1 to July 3, 1863, Union troops at the Battle of Gettysburg used Haupt’s refurbished Western Maryland Railroad to supply Gen. George G. Meade’s army.

Haupt only began assessing and controlling the situation on July 1—but he was the perfect choice to lead the effort.

Not only did he have a steely, goal-driven personality, but he had lived in the Gettysburg area in his younger pre-beard years, and he had been the chief engineer of the Pennsylvania Railroad before his appointment as colonel. His familiarity with the geography and with the railroad business ensured that his transport system exceeded expectations in moving the injured to Baltimore and transferring daily supplies to the battlefield.

Haupt and the U.S. Military Railroad Construction Corps are particularly well known for assembling  bridges with limited time … [ Read all ]

Minnie Spotted Wolf and the Marine Corps

Today’s blog post comes from Cody White, archivist at the National Archives in Denver.

It was 70 years ago this month that the first Native American woman, Minnie Spotted Wolf, enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Women’s Reserve.

Born and raised on a ranch near White Tail Creek, about 15 miles from Heart Butte, Montana, Spotted Wolf stated that growing up doing such ranch work as “cutting fence posts, driving a two-ton truck, and breaking horses” seemed to prepare her for the rigors of Marine Corps boot camp, which she was quoted as saying was “hard, but not too hard.”

Spotted Wolf served for four years in the Marines as a heavy equipment operator as well as a driver for visiting general officers on bases in both Hawaii and California. After her discharge in 1947, Spotted Wolf returned to Montana. She married Robert England and attended college, earning a two-year degree in Elementary Education in 1955 and later a BS in Elementary Education in 1976. After a 29-year teaching career, Minnie Spotted Wolf passed away in 1988.

This service picture of Minnie Spotted Wolf is from the correspondence files from the Blackfeet Indian Agency (Record Group 75), where you can find the photographs of many other Blackfeet who served in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II.… [ Read all ]

On display: Executive Order 9066 and the Civil Liberties Act of 1988

In commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Liberties Act, the original Executive Order 9066 as well as the 1988 law are on display in the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, from June 16 to August 19, 2013. Today’s blog post comes from curator Bruce Bustard.

“Here we admit a wrong. Here we affirm our commitment as a nation to equal justice under the law.” —President Ronald Reagan, remarks on signing the Civil Liberties Act of 1988

On February 19, 1942, ten weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which permitted military commanders to “prescribe military areas . . . from which any or all persons may be excluded.” While the order did not mention any group by name, it profoundly affected the lives of Japanese Americans.

In March and April, Gen. John L. DeWitt issued a series of “Exclusion Orders” directed at “all persons of Japanese ancestry” in the Western Defense Command. These orders led to the forced evacuation and incarceration of 120,000 Japanese American permanent residents and Japanese American citizens at 10 major camps and dozens of smaller sites. Held behind barbed wire and watched by armed guards, many Japanese Americans lost their homes and possessions. Congress passed laws enforcing the order with almost no debate, and the Supreme Court … [ Read all ]

After the fire: Peter Waters helps save water-damaged records

Today’s post comes from Sara Holmes, supervisory preservation specialist at the National Archives in St. Louis.

Just before 9 a.m. on the morning of July 16, 1973, the fire that had raged over five days was declared out. The firemen’s command post was taken down; engines cleared the scene; and 9700 Page Avenue—home of the Military Personal Records Center (MPR)—was returned to Federal control. Recovery work began, and consultants from the private and public sectors were called to St. Louis under the oversight of the General Services Administration.

Many problems were obvious from the start: there was no electricity; broken water lines continued to flood the building; staff had been placed on leave and needed a place to return to work; records requests still needed to be answered; the sixth floor appeared to be little more than rubble and ashes; and the millions of records in the lower floors of the building were still at risk for damage. It would take an additional week for staff to return to work in makeshift quarters and a contract to be awarded to demolish the sixth floor.

With water still pooling on every floor, concerns grew that the records on the lower floors would soon bloom with mold in the hot St. Louis summer. A thymol solution was sprayed throughout the building as a preventative fungicide. (Although thymol … [ Read all ]