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Tag: AP History

Facial Hair Friday: A really big mustache—and bathtub

The replica of the tub on display in the "BIG!" exhibit at the National Archives.

Oh, President Taft. It was your birthday yesterday, and I just had to feature you here on Facial Hair Friday.

You were one of the few Presidents that seemed to stick my brain when I was studying for the AP History exam. Important dates, key battles, our founding documents—I could barely keep those facts stuck to my teenage grey matter, but I always remembered you, Taft, because of your bathtub. Sadly, there was no question about your powder room fixtures on the exam.

When I joined the National Archives, the “BIG!” exhibit was in its final weeks. I walked through and saw the many big things we have in the National Archives (like a huge globe and the 13-foot-long Articles of Confederation), and then I turned the corner and there it was.

You see, the reason that I remembered Taft so well was that our teacher mentioned he had a bathtub specially made for him due to his size. Yes, kids can be cruel. (And Taft would have been familiar with this—remarks about his weight were something he was all too familiar with growing up.) And there in the middle of the exhibit was the bathtub.

The bathtub was a replica of the one Taft had built. Taft weighed 340 pounds and stood almost six feet tall. Two months after being … [ Read all ]

New York State of Mind–er, Archives

I’m beginning to wonder if we even covered the Civil War at all in AP History. Before joining the National Archives, I had never heard of the Battle of the Crater, did not know that Confederate ships sailed all over the world, and had no idea that the Civil War had a draft and you could get out of it. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Did you know that the National Archives is also in New York City?

As my colleague Rob and I attempted to find the entrance on Varick Street, we weren’t too sure it was there. The Archives at New York is in a big building that houses other Federal agencies, including a detention center. We finally found the correct door, got through security, and made our way upstairs.

Staff are excited about their move to the Alexander Hamilton U. S. Customs House. It’s an accessible, welcoming space near the departure port for Ellis Island, with room for exhibits. Imagine going to Ellis Island, getting inspired about your family history, and then stopping by the Archives on your way home to do some free research at the National Archives!

But for now, you can do that at Varick Street. We met with Christopher Zarr, who gave us a tour of the classroom, exhibit space, and microfilm reading … [ Read all ]