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Tag: Alice Kamps

One table, 300 documents to explore

When the David M. Rubenstein Gallery opened to the public on December 11, visitors found that the focal point of the Records of Rights exhibit isn’t a static document, but a 17-foot-long interactive table containing hundreds of digital documents.

“From the beginnings of concept development, our team wanted a central element for the exhibit,” curator Alice Kamps explained. “An interactive table seemed like a great way to bring interaction in and among our visitors. Once that platform was established, we had to figure out what we wanted it to do.”

Work on the table began about two years ago. The engineering and software aspect was handled by D&P Inc. and Second Story Interactive Studios. “I think it’s really cool!” Kamps said enthusiastically. “The design is beautiful. The table reacts to the visitor’s presence through motion-sensing cameras. And it allows visitors to express their emotional reactions to the documents with other visitors.”

Visitors can pick positive, negative, and neutral emotion terms to represent how they felt about the document they are viewing. Then, they “push” the document towards the center of the table, where it will appear on a series of monitors on the walls flanking the table. A pop-up will be displayed in the other screens, inviting other viewers to explore the documents, too.

Not only did the team need to get the technology to work, but … [ Read all ]

In their own words: President George Washington

This is the first part of a series, written by Jim Zeender, devoted to letters written by the Founding Fathers in their own words and often in their own hand.

As a registrar in the Exhibits Division of the National Archives for over 25 years, I have had the good fortune to work with many dedicated professionals at the National Archives. It has been a privilege to have access to the holdings, including the rarest of the rare. However, I always return to my favorites, the letters of the Founding Fathers.

Some of the most revealing letters come in a series of records blandly called Miscellaneous Letters in Record Group 59, General Records of the Department of State. Thanks to the irregularities of early recordkeeping, personal and official correspondence were sometimes mixed. These are draft letters or short notes with crossouts and annotations that illuminate the thoughts and work habits of the authors. The letters usually have to do with policy issues, but the topics are sometimes private and political. From the 1789 to early 1820s, there are hundreds of letters written by Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe.

In the official files of the early U.S. Government, we expect to find letters and memos on the subjects facing a youthful country: diplomacy, Indian relations, land settlement, taxation, roads, canals, domestic and international commerce, building government … [ Read all ]

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Top Ten Food Records of 2011

As 2011 draws to a close, so does our exhibit “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” which will end on January 3, 2012.

It’s been a great year for food here at the National Archives. We’ve had amazing guests come and speak, including Chef José Andrés, our neighbor and Chief Culinary Adviser for the exhibit; Chef Roland Mesnier, former White House pastry chef; Diana Kennedy, guru of Mexican food; Ann Harvey Yonkers, co-director of FRESHFARM markets; Jessica B. Harris, author of High on the Hog; and George Motz, author of Hamburger America.

And of course, we’ve been writing about food-related records in the National Archives almost every Wednesday since the exhibit opened. We thought it would be fun to look back at the Top Ten Food Records in honor of this exhibit. Since we couldn’t include all of the records, we chose the ones that were most striking, strange, or popular.

Here’s our Top Ten list of memorable food records!

TEN: My coworker was constantly amused by this label for “Grains of Health,” which is profuse in its praise but vague in its description of these grains might actually be. Her favorite line: “It is so prepared that the strongest and the most delicate person may drink it at the same table.”

 

NINE: “Pig Cafeteria” is a photograph of a USDA exhibit meant to inform farmers about hog nutrition. The … [ Read all ]

What’s Cooking Wednesday: What’s That Smell?

 

 

Leave a comment on the bottom of this post telling us your favorite food smell. and you’ll be entered into a random drawing to win a copy of Eating with Uncle Sam from the Foundation for the National Archives!

Smells are everywhere. Realtors bake cookies and make coffee to help sell houses. Proud owners of new cars draw in deep breaths of “new car smell.” But did you ever smell an exhibit in a museum?

Visitors to “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” might notice something different about this exhibit. Or at least, their noses might notice.

For the first time, the National Archives has added a smell to an exhibit.

Alice Kamps, the curator of “What’s Cooking,” suggested the idea, and soon exhibition designer Ray Ruskin was tackling the challenge of making this odiferous dream a reality. He faced two problems: size and smell.

The Lawrence O’Brien Gallery, where the exhibit is located, is not very large, and he was concerned that the space would not contain the smell. Would visitors to the Rotunda be sniffing the air as they looked at the Constitution? And there was concern that a smell would permanently linger in the air system of the space even after the exhibit closed.

The other issue Ray faced was the smell of the smell. Since the exhibit has four sections—farm, … [ Read all ]

Food Day Open House

In the ”What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” exhibit, curator Alice Kamps notes that American citizens have demanded that food be safe, cheap, and abundant. From the records in the exhibit, you can see how the Federal Government has responded to these needs over the past decades.

But food isn’t just a historic record. We continue to talk about food in blogs, books, and television, whether we are concerned about obesity, eating locally, factory farms, better school lunches, or contaminated melons.

The National Archives is participating in Food Day and offering a forum for food-related questions and discussion. Join us for a Food Day Open House on Monday, October 24.

Stop by to talk with representatives from several Federal agencies, nonprofits, and companies:
Think Food Group
Center for Science in the Public Interest
Mars Inc.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
American Farmland Trust
FRESHFARM Markets
Foundation for the National Archives

And don’t miss Alice Kamps, the curator of “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?”, who will be available to talk with visitors from 11 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

And there’s a rumor that Chef José Andrés of ThinkFoodGroup might stop by, so keep an eye on his twitter feed (@chefjoseandres)! When he’s not researching and reinterpreting historic American recipes for his new restaurant America Eats Tavern, he’s also the Chief Culinary Advisor for “What’s Cooking, Uncle … [ Read all ]