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Inside the Treasure Vault

First page of George Washington's First Inaugural Address, 04/30/1789 (1634180). Item from Record Group 46: Records of the U.S. Senate, 1789-2006.

The National Archives has over 3,000 employees, but not all of them are archivists. There are educators, social media writers, preservationists, security personnel, and Federal Records Center workers. Some of us handle records all day, but for many of us, our jobs do not bring us into direct contact with the records.

That’s why it is so exciting to go inside the Treasure Vault, as we call the specially secured and fire-safe room that holds some of the most interesting and precious documents of the National Archives. Today, some of our staff from various departments took a special trip to Treasure Vault of the Center for Legislative Archives (CLA), which holds the records of the  U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

These treasures range in content and across time, from Clifford Berryman’s political cartoons (when CLA acquired them, the drawings were stored in trash bags) to a radar map showing Japanese planes approaching Pearl Harbor to the electronic records from the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United States (the 9/11 Commission).

But my favorite record from Congress? It was George Washington’s inaugural address. The two sheets were in a protective case, but when the archivist held them up in front of me, it was still thrilling to see the pages written in Washington’s own hand and to imagine the President reading the address aloud in New York.

I love my job writing about National Archives documents, but I often think it would be an amazing job to be an archivist here, handling the actual documents or becoming the subject matter expert on a group of records.

Intrigued? The Center for Legislative Archives offers archival internships. And of course, there are many different career paths at the National Archives—maybe one of them would be a good fit for you?

Second page of George Washington's First Inaugural Address, 04/30/1789 (1634180). Item from Record Group 46: Records of the U.S. Senate, 1789-2006.

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