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Gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooal!

Today’s post celebrates the international sporting event that captivates billions of people every four years: the World Cup!

Brazilian icon Pele is one of the world’s most recognized footballers. He is one of the few players to appear in four World Cup finals and the only player to win three World Cup titles (1958, 1962, and 1970).

After he retired from international soccer, Pele dazzled New Yorkers from 1975 to 1977 playing in the North American Soccer League for the New York Cosmos. He’s widely credited with sparking American interest in the beautiful game.

In addition to being the world’s ambassador to football, Pele has been a frequent visitor to the White House.

In 1973, President Richard Nixon hosted Pele and his then-wife Rosemeri dos Reis Cholbi. During the visit, the President told Pele “You are the greatest in the world,” and when Pele explained to the President that soccer differed from American football, Nixon replied “Do I know that! The main thing is to use your head.”

President Nixon meeting with Edson "Pele" Arantes do Nascimento, retired professional Brazilian soccer player and Director of the International Soccer Program sponsored by PepsiCo. Pele autographs a soccer ball for President Nixon, 05/08/1973. (National Archives Identifier 194508)

President Nixon meeting with Edson “Pele” Arantes do Nascimento, retired professional Brazilian soccer player and Director of the International Soccer Program sponsored by PepsiCo. Pele autographs a soccer ball for President Nixon, 05/08/1973. (National Archives Identifier 194508)

Two years later, Pele again visited the White House—this time in the Rose Garden. President Gerald Ford took the opportunity to demonstrate that Pele was not the only one who could juggle a soccer ball.

President Gerald R. Ford Juggling a Soccer Ball to Pele’s Amusement, 06/28/1975. (National Archives Identifier 6829578)

President Gerald R. Ford juggling a soccer ball to Pele’s amusement, 06/28/1975. (National Archives Identifier 6829578)

In 1982, President Ronald Reagan, not wanting to be out-classed by his predecessors, kicked the ball around with U.S. Men’s National Team player Steve Moyers, while Pele and a group of children looked on in the Rose Garden.

President Reagan kicking a soccer ball during a demonstration with children and Pele and Steve Moyers in the rose garden, 10/14/1982. (Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum)

President Reagan kicking a soccer ball during a demonstration with children and Pele and Steve Moyers in the Rose Garden, 10/14/1982. (Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum)


Doors of Monumental Proportions

Today’s post comes from Jessie Kratz, Historian of the National Archives.

On June 24 at noon, the National Archives celebrates its anniversary with a special film event: From the Vaults: 80th Anniversary of the National Archives

Constitution Avenue Entrance with doors closed, June 13, 1936, 64-NA-79, Records of the National Archives

Constitution Avenue Entrance with doors closed, 6/13/1936. (National Archives Identifier 7820634)

If you have ever visited the National Archives in Washington, DC, you may have noticed two very, very large bronze doors that mark the original Constitution Avenue entrance to the building. Visitors enter through the Constitution Avenue entrance to view the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights as well as the many other exhibits the National Archives Museum offers.

Constitution Avenue Foyer, doors closed, Jan. 12, 1936, Records of the National Archives

Constitution Avenue Foyer, doors closed, 1/12/1936. (National Archives Identifier
7820616)

These bronze doors stand about 37 feet, 7 inches high and are 10 feet wide and 11 inches thick. Each weighs roughly 6.5 tons. The building’s architect, John Russell Pope, understanding the national significance of the structure, sought to design a public exhibition hall of monumental proportions. As a reminder to visitors of the importance of the building’s purpose, the public exhibition hall Pope designed—the rotunda—measures 75 feet high; the bronze doors leading into the exhibition hall match that in size and character.

Constitution Avenue Entrance and Pediment, Jan. 12, 1936, 64-NA-39, Records of the National Archives

Constitution Avenue Entrance and Pediment, 1/12/1936. (National Archives Identifier 7820626)

The doors were first opened on October 18, 1935. Then visitors to the National Archives climbed up 39 steps on Constitution Avenue and walked past two rows of giant Corinthian columns before passing through the large, motorized doors. Each morning, guards opened the doors by turning a key to slide them open. In the evening, the guards would close them for the night. Just past the bronze doors are another, smaller set of doors that kept out the elements.

For 65 years, visitors walked through these stunning doors to visit National Archives exhibits. When the Archives reopened in 2003 following a two-year renovation, the bronze doors remained closed. Visitors now enter on the sidewalk level of Constitution Avenue. While the bronze doors are now opened only on special occasions, they remain a notable feature of the building and continue to remind visitors of the significance of the National Archives and its work.

 

 


Happy 80th Birthday National Archives

Today’s post comes from Jessie Kratz, Historian of the National Archives. June 19 marks the 80th Anniversary of the establishment of the National Archives. 

Eighty years ago on June 19, 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation creating the National Archives. It was the culmination of a 25-year campaign by the historical community to create a National Archives building to house the national government’s records.

At that time, Federal records were scattered around the Washington area in inadequate and unsuitable storage facilities. They were neither organized nor accessible for public use.

War Department Records housed in the Naval Torpedo Station in Alexandria Virginia before being transferred to the National Archives, September 1935 Records of the National Archives National Archives, Washington, DC

War Department Records housed in the Naval Torpedo Station in Alexandria Virginia before being transferred to the National Archives, September 1935, Records of the National Archives
National Archives, Washington, DC

Supporters of a National Archives argued that those records—the written evidence of our national life and achievements—must be preserved for future generations.

In 1926, Congress took the first major step in creating a home for the nation’s records by authorizing construction of an Archives building. It was part of a massive public buildings project to provide office space for government agencies in the Federal Triangle area of downtown Washington, DC.

The Archives building was well under way before Congress created the agency that would occupy it.

View of the construction of the National Archives Building, November 2, 1933 Records of the Public Building Service National Archives, Washington, DC

View of the construction of the National Archives Building, November 2, 1933
Records of the Public Building Service
National Archives, Washington, DC

An April 1934 House Report on the bill to establish the National Archives described the situation:

The great National Archives Building on Constitution and Pennsylvania Avenues is nearing competition. The interior arrangement of shelf space, equipment, etc., providing for the custody of Government documents, is ready for consideration. Legislation governing the future administration of the national archives and the appointment of an archivist to cooperate with the architects if therefore much to be desired at the present time.

The bill passed on June 18, 1934, the final day of the legislative session. President Roosevelt signed it the next day.

The legislation created the Office of the Archivist of the United States to be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, and stipulated the Archivist would receive an annual salary of $10,000.

The act also allowed the Archivist to appoint staff without regard to civil service law, although any employee making more than $5,000 a year needed to be appointed by the President and have Senate approval.

Other provisions allowed the Archivist to take control of all records of the government—legislative, executive, judicial, and other—and gave the Archivist power to inspect records of any agency and arrange for their transfer to the National Archives.

RDW Connor, first Archivist of the United States, undated Records of the National Archives  National Archives, Washington, DC

RDW Connor, first Archivist of the United States, undated
Records of the National Archives
National Archives, Washington, DC

Finally, the act put the National Archives Building into the immediate custody of the Archivist.

On October 10, 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt nominated Robert D.W. Connor to be the first Archivist of the United States. Connor immediately began the difficult task of creating the brand new agency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Father of Flag Day

Today’s post comes from Emma Rothberg, an intern in the National Archives History Office in Washington, DC. June 14 marks the annual celebration known as Flag Day. 

On June 14, 1885, Bernard J. Cigrand placed a 10-inch, 38-star flag in a bottle on his desk at the Stony Hill School in Ozaukee County, Wisconsin. The 19-year-old teacher then asked his students to write essays on the flag and its significance to them. This small observance marked the beginning of a long and devoted campaign by Cigrand to bring about national recognition for Flag Day.

In this June 14, 1904, cartoon, Uncle Sam gives a lesson to schoolchildren on the meaning of Flag Day. Holding the American flag in one hand, Uncle Sam explains that the flag has great importance, unlike the Vice Presidency, which he ridicules in a kindly manner. (National Archives Identifier 6010464)

In this June 14, 1904, cartoon, Uncle Sam gives a lesson to schoolchildren on the meaning of Flag Day. Holding the American flag in one hand, Uncle Sam explains that the flag has great importance, unlike the Vice Presidency, which he ridicules in a kindly manner. (National Archives Identifier 6010464)

While many communities celebrated June 14 as Flag Day in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the day was not nationally recognized until 1916. In that year, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation calling for the first nationwide observance of Flag Day.

Later, in 1949, President Harry Truman signed an act of Congress designating June 14 as National Flag Day. The act also requested that the President issue an annual proclamation calling for its observance and for the display of the flag of the United States on all Federal Government buildings.

But why June 14? Cigrand didn’t choose a random summer’s day. He chose this date because on June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress approved the design of a national flag by in this resolution:

Resolved, that the Flag of the thirteen United States shall be
thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be
thirteen stars, while on a blue field, representing a new constellation.

Whatever happened to Bernard J. Cigrand? While Cigrand lived to see President Wilson issue a proclamation establishing Flag Day as a national event, he did not live to see the 1949 legislation pass. Cigrand died on May 16, 1932—17 years before President Truman signed the act making June 14 Flag Day throughout the nation.

Soldiers at Fort Monmouth US Army Base in New Jersey fold an oversized American flag during the fort’s Flag Day observance, 06/14/1990. (National Archives Identifier 6702279)

But Cigrand’s efforts as the “Father of Flag Day” were not forgotten. On June 14, 2004, the House of Representatives passed a resolution honoring Cigrand’s role in establishing Flag Day and recognizing that the day originated in Ozaukee County, Wisconsin.

This year President Barack Obama proclaimed June 14, 2014, as Flag Day and the week beginning June 8, 2014, as National Flag Week.

Happy Flag Day!


On display: GI Bill of Rights

The GI Bill is on display in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives Building from June 6 through July 14. Today’s post comes from education and exhibit specialist Michael Hussey.

“With the signing of this bill a well-rounded program of special veterans’ benefits is nearly completed. It gives emphatic notice to the men and women in our armed forces that the American people do not intend to let them down.” President Franklin Roosevelt’s Statement on Signing the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, June 22, 1944

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act into law on June 22, 1944, just days after the D-day invasion of Normandy.

Also known as the GI Bill of Rights, it offered World War II veterans grants and loans for college and vocational education, unemployment insurance, and low interest loans for housing. The bill had unanimously passed both chambers of Congress in the spring of 1944.

The act put higher education, job training, and home ownership within the reach of millions of World War II veterans. By 1951, nearly 8 million veterans had received educational and training benefits, and 2.4 million had received $13 billion in Federal loans for homes, farms, and businesses.

Page one of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act (Public Law 78-346), approved July 22, 1944. National Archives, General Records of the United States Government.

Page one of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act (Public Law 78-346), approved July 22, 1944. National Archives, General Records of the United States Government.

Last page of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act (Public Law 78-346), approved July 22, 1944. National Archives, General Records of the United States Government.

Last page of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act (Public Law 78-346), approved July 22, 1944. National Archives, General Records of the United States Government.