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 ]
Still trying to think of a clever costume to wear on Halloween? We’ve listed some of our favorite suggestions below. (And if anyone actually takes us up on these suggestions, please send us a picture!)
I Like Ike!
Are you a power couple? How about combining the the upcoming election with some historic campaign fun into a matched costume?
This costume might be the easiest! You’ll just need two bathrobes and a hair ribbon to recreate a lighthearted moment on Ike and Mamie’s whistle stop campaign when their train stopped in Salisbury, NC. Mamie persuaded Ike to let the press snap their in dressing gowns. Bonus points if you make “I like Ike” buttons and hand them out at the party.
America the Beautiful
Another option for a pair of friends is to go as an unfinished Mount Rushmore.
Take a white board and sketch out a mountain side. Cut two curves in the top corner to rest your chins on. Apply white costume make up liberally to your faces. The person portraying George might need a wig. For the unfinished Jefferson, some white play dough stuck to your face should help convey a sense of unfinished stone. This costume might be easiest to manage with just two people, but you could skip the Village People costume and do all four heads of the completed … [ Read all ]
Archivists handle fascinating records, but the people who lived the lives recorded in the documents are even more fascinating. Such was the life of Frank Buckles, who passed away on February 27, aged 110.
Buckles’s passing means that there are no longer any living American servicemen who fought during World War I. Any memories and experiences from the Great War now exist only as written documents, recorded films, or still photographs.
In 2008, Richard Boylan and Mitch Yockelson (author of Borrowed Soldiers: Americans Under British Command) of the National Archives, made a special visit to West Virginia to meet World War I veteran Frank Buckles.
Military archivist Boylan came up with the idea of marking the 90th anniversary of the last year of World War I by presenting copies of National Archives records to the two still-living veterans. But in early January 2008, Harry Richard Landis passed away and Frank became the sole surviving soldier from World War I.
Buckles had enlisted in the Army by giving his age as 18, rather than his actual age of 16. He was stationed in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Germany, and France. The two archivists were able to locate over 50 pages of textual records regarding his service. Private researcher Susan Strange found 57 photographs of the area in Winchester, England, where he was stationed, as well as some motion picture … [ Read all ]