Wow–what a year! Our editorial panel tried to limit this list to ten, but eventually we gave up and picked 14 instead. (For more great National Archives moments, check on out the Top 10 Innovative Moments of 2013.)
We also want to send a big thank you to the staff members of the National Archives across the nation, who worked so hard to make these moments possible. And a huge thank you to our partners, sponsors, researchers, visitors, and social media followers who share in our love of history. We are grateful to be able to make your history accessible to you in so many ways in 2013!
40th Anniversary of the Fire in the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis
If you have served in the U.S. military, your file is part of the holdings in the National Archives in St. Louis. Each year, staff respond to one million requests for direct military benefits and entitlements from veterans and their next of kin. In the Research Room, staff pulled more than 41,000 military personnel records.
And Preservation Programs in St. Louis responded to more than 200 daily requests for burned Army and Air Force records. The fire that swept through the sixth floor of the National Personnel Records Center on July 12, 1973, damaged and destroyed millions of documents. Each … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on December 31, 2013, under Direct electon of senators, Uncategorized.
Tags: Acts of Congress, archives, Archivist, asssination, Baghdad, bill of rights, Constitution, David M. rubenstein, declaration of independence, digitization, Edith Lee-Payne, Emancipation Proclamation, FDR, fire, First Motion Picture Unit, Foundation for the NAtional Archives, Founders Online, Founding Fathers, Fourth of July, Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, Genealogy Fair, George W. Bush Library, Iraq, Iraqi Jewish Archive, Kate Mollan, Ken Burns, Kennedy, lincoln, March on Washington, Mount Vernon, NHPRC, nprc, presidential libraries, St. Louis, Steven Spielberg, thank you, USIA, UVA, veterans
We continue with celebrating American Archives Month by showcasing some of our amazing archivists in the Presidential Libraries.
This post takes continues our journey through the heartlands of America: Abilene, KS.
Name: Valoise Armstrong
Occupation: Archivist at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum
How long have you worked at this library?
After working for five years at the National Archives at Seattle office, I transferred to the Eisenhower Library in July 2004.
How/why did you decide to go into the archival field?
I went to college many years after I graduated from high school and majored in my passion, which is history. I didn’t have any desire to teach, but being an archivist was a way I could immerse myself in history every day, so it was a very easy choice to focus on Archival Management in graduate school.
What are some of your responsibilities at your library?
I am responsible for three main areas in our archival operations: I am in charge of manuscript preservation activities; I maintain our oral history collection; and I oversee all of my library’s entries in the National Archives online description catalog. Among the duties shared by all the archivists at my library, I also answer reference questions, work with researchers in the research room, assist with public programs and process collections.
What do you like best about your job?
I … [ Read all ]
Posted by Victoria on October 23, 2013, under - Presidents, National Archives Near You, Uncategorized.
Tags: American Archives Month, archives, Archives Month, Eisenhower, presidential libraries, Valoise Armstrong, zombies
Today’s post comes from Sara Holmes, supervisory preservation specialist at the National Archives in St. Louis.
Just before 9 a.m. on the morning of July 16, 1973, the fire that had raged over five days was declared out. The firemen’s command post was taken down; engines cleared the scene; and 9700 Page Avenue—home of the Military Personal Records Center (MPR)—was returned to Federal control. Recovery work began, and consultants from the private and public sectors were called to St. Louis under the oversight of the General Services Administration.
Many problems were obvious from the start: there was no electricity; broken water lines continued to flood the building; staff had been placed on leave and needed a place to return to work; records requests still needed to be answered; the sixth floor appeared to be little more than rubble and ashes; and the millions of records in the lower floors of the building were still at risk for damage. It would take an additional week for staff to return to work in makeshift quarters and a contract to be awarded to demolish the sixth floor.
With water still pooling on every floor, concerns grew that the records on the lower floors would soon bloom with mold in the hot St. Louis summer. A thymol solution was sprayed throughout the building as a preventative fungicide. (Although thymol … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on July 16, 2013, under Uncategorized.
Tags: air force, archives, army, Coast Guard., conservation, fire, mold, MPR, nprc, Peter Waters, preservation, St. Louis, water damage
Today’s post comes from Sara Holmes, supervisory preservation specialist at the National Archives in St. Louis. (The images below are from the National Archives at St. Louis, with a special thank you to Capt. Dave Dubowski of the Spanish Lake Fire Department and the late Chief Bob Palmer of Mehlville Fire Department.)
What happened after midnight on July 12, 1973, changed everything for the National Archives in St. Louis.
The fire was first sighted outside of 9700 Page Avenue. Minutes later, the first team arrived at the sixth floor of the building, only to be forced to retreat as their masks began to melt on their faces.
The Military Personal Records Center (MPR)—now known as the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC)—was a huge building. Hailed as an architectural wonder when it was built in 1956, the building was 1,596,332 square feet, second only to the Pentagon in size at the time. Two NFL regulation football fields would fit comfortably within each of its six floors with room to spare. It had no sprinklers in the records storage areas and few firewalls in the building. Ultimately, it was a recipe for disaster.
Response to the fire was immediate. The North Central County Fire Alarm System logged the first alarm from the Olivette Fire Department at 0016:15 (15 seconds after 12:16 a.m), with a second call for … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on July 12, 2013, under National Archives Near You, News and Events, Unusual documents.
Tags: archives, deluge gun, fire, firemen, nprc, preservation, records, snorkel, St. Louis, water damage
Today’s post comes from Alan Walker, archivist at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.
In my reflective moments, I think about what has kept me here at the National Archives for all this time. It couldn’t be the bone-wearying monotony of shuffling heavy cartons of records from here to there, or the tedium of changing out old information systems and learning the vagaries of new ones. No, there’s something else that gets me in the door every morning. Fasteners.
You wouldn’t think that something so trivial would hold my attention for any length of time. And yet, paper fasteners play such a vital role in our daily lives here. Consider: when researchers open boxes of records, they will see the telltale signs—the double round holes centered at the tops of the documents, the pinprick perforations in the corners. And many fasteners are still doing their duty among the records now.
It is a canon of archival preservation that fasteners are the devil’s work; capable of doing lasting and disfiguring damage to their host’s integrity, they must be removed, and forthwith. And so they are. Textual processing staff at all National Archives facilities do this every day. Perhaps gazillions of the little buggers get the boot each year; here are some Acco fasteners awaiting their fate.
My fellow staff like to collect the unusual … [ Read all ]