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Archive for September, 2014

Failure of the Equal Rights Amendment: The Feminist Fight of the 1970s

Today’s post comes from Marisa Hawley, intern in the National Archives Strategy and Communications office.

As part of the “six weeks of style” celebration to recognize the Foundation for the National Archives’ partnership with DC Fashion Week, we are showcasing fashion-related records from our holdings. This week’s fashion theme is Get Your 1970s Groove On.

Women's Suffrage Day in Fountain Square, 08/1973. (National Archives Identifier 553307)

Women’s Suffrage Day in Fountain Square, 08/1973. (National Archives Identifier 553307)

After the ratification of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote, suffragette Alice Paul felt that this right alone was not enough to eradicate gender discrimination in the United States. In 1923, she drafted the Equal Rights Amendment, which read:

Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

These seemingly simple words wielded enormous implications. Since its conception, the ERA has been a source of unremitting debate over whether or not total equality between men and women is worth the sacrifice of certain legislative protection. In fact, from 1923 to 1970, some form of the amendment was introduced in every session of Congress but was usually held up in committee and never put to a vote.

To get the ERA out of committee, Representative Martha Griffiths of Michigan filed a petition to demand that the amendment … [ Read all ]

Modesto Cartagena, the most decorated Hispanic soldier of the Korean War

English Version: Modesto Cartagena, the most decorated Hispanic soldier of the Korean War.

Continuing our celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, today’s post comes from Idaliz Marie Ortiz Morales, intern in the Office of Strategy and Communications at the National Archives. 

Korean War veteran, Sgt. 1st Class (ret) Modesto Cartagena, 12/02/2000. (National Archives Identifier: 6519402)

Korean War veteran, Sgt. 1st Class (ret) Modesto Cartagena, 12/02/2000.
(National Archives Identifier: 6519402)

Today we remember Modesto Cartagena, the most decorated Hispanic soldier of the Korean War.

Cartagena was a humble man born to a poor family who lived in the small town of Cayey, Puerto Rico. He was among the first from the island to volunteer for military service when the United States entered World War II. He served in the 65th Infantry Regiment, an all-Puerto Rican regiment also known as “The Borinqueneers,” during World War II and later in the Korean War.

During the Korean War, Cartagena earned the nickname “One Man Army.” Hill 206 near Yonchon, Korea, was heavily guarded on April 19, 1951, by a well-entrenched and fanatically determined hostile force. While under attack, Cartagena destroyed four enemy emplacements before he was wounded, thus saving the lives of the men in his unit and enabling the company to take the hill.

Cartagena spent 20 years in the Army before retiring as a sergeant first class in 1971.Even in retirement he continued to be an active figure around the 65 … [ Read all ]

I am an American

September 17 marks the annual celebration known as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.

On the morning of June 18, 2014, in the Rotunda of the National Archives Building First Lady Michelle Obama congratulated a room full of 35 new American citizens and their families. Her speech marked the culmination of a process that individuals have taken part in since the founding of this nation—becoming naturalized citizens of the United States of America.

First Lady Michelle Obama, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Charles Johnson, and new citizen Juan Cua Monroy lead the new citizens in the Pledge of Allegiance in the National Archives, June 18, 2014. (Photo Credit: Jeff Reed, National Archives)

First Lady Michelle Obama, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Charles Johnson, and new citizen Juan Cua Monroy lead the new citizens in the Pledge of Allegiance in the National Archives, June 18, 2014. (Photo Credit: Jeff Reed, National Archives)

Naturalization is the process by which a non-citizen acquires citizenship. Over the course of U.S. history, the process of naturalization has been subject to differing degrees of pomp and circumstance.

In 1940, Congress passed a resolution authorizing the President to issue an annual proclamation designating the third Sunday in May as “I Am An American Day.” Many towns and cities celebrated the new holiday with special ceremonies recognizing newly naturalized citizens.

In 1952, Congress re-named the holiday and moved it to September 17, but its purpose remained the same. Now called “Citizenship Day,” it commemorated the signing of the Constitution on September 17, 1787, and recognized “all who, by coming of age or by … [ Read all ]

On Exhibit: The Judiciary Act of 1789

An Act to Establish the Federal Courts of the United States, 09/24/1789. (National Archives Identifier 1501550)

An Act to Establish the Federal Courts of the United States, 09/24/1789.
(National Archives Identifier 1501550)

Continuing our celebration of the 225th Anniversary of the First Congress the National Archives is displaying the original Judiciary Act of 1789.

For three months beginning September 17, 2014, you can see the landmark piece of legislation in the Rubenstein Gallery at the National Archives in Washington, DC.

Article III of the U.S. Constitution established the Supreme Court but gave Congress the authority to create lower Federal courts at its discretion. One of the first actions the First Congress took was to establish a Federal court system.

On April 7, 1789—just one day after the Senate reached a quorum for the first time—the Senate appointed a committee to prepare a bill organizing the judiciary of the United States.

After two months of work, the committee reported the first bill ever introduced into the United States Senate—S. 1, a bill to establish the Judicial Courts of the United States, what would become known as the Judiciary Act of 1789.

The bill’s principal author was Senator Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut. A key member at the Constitutional Convention, Ellsworth would eventually become Chief Justice of the United States in 1796.

President George Washington's Nomination of Judges, Attorneys, and Marshalls, September 24, 1789. (Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives)

President George Washington’s Nomination of Judges, Attorneys, and Marshalls, September 24, 1789. (Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives)

Major provisions of … [ Read all ]

National Hispanic Heritage Month/Mes de la Herencia Hispana

Today’s post comes from Idaliz Marie Ortiz Morales, intern in the Office of Strategy and Communications at the National Archives.

AFIS billboard posters. Hispanic Heritage Month. Defense Billboard #81, 01/01/2000. (National Archives Identifier: 6507500)

AFIS billboard posters. Hispanic Heritage Month. Defense Billboard #81, 01/01/2000.
(National Archives Identifier: 6507500)

National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15 in celebration and recognition of the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. Hispanics have had a profound and positive influence on our country through their strong commitment to family, faith, hard work, and service. They have enhanced and shaped our national character with centuries-old traditions that reflect the multiethnic and multicultural customs of their community.

This celebration started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was later expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.

The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for the Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this … [ Read all ]