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Tag: Archivists

Margaret M.H. Finch, War Records Keeper

Today’s post for Women’s History Month comes from Jessie Kratz, Historian of the National Archives.

I was intrigued when Alan Walker discovered those wonderful ID cards of former Archives employees in Record Group 64. I noticed many were women, which makes sense given the time period, and thought it would be nice to highlight a former female employee for Women’s History Month. I randomly picked Mrs. Margaret M. H. Finch, who worked for the National Archives between 1940 and 1949.

ID card of former Archives employee, Margaret M. H. Finch

As it turns out, Finch’s name appears quite frequently in many of our records. Interestingly, it’s not because she was employed by the National Archives, but because of her previous position.

Finch began her federal career in 1919, at age 42, shortly after her first husband died in the 1918 influenza outbreak. She started as a clerk in the War Department but soon moved to the Bureau of Pensions in the Department of Interior. While there, she worked primarily with pension and bounty-land files from the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

When she became chief of the Revolutionary and War of 1812 pension branch, she became the main contact person for historians, genealogists, and other researchers seeking copies of pension records. The paperwork these requests generated were subsequently filed with the records themselves.… [ Read all ]

American Archives Month: Ryan Rutkowski, Carter Presidential Library

We continue with our celebrations of American Archives Month with our series highlighting a few of the outstanding folks in our Presidential Libraries.

Archivist Ryan Rutkowski has crisscrossed the nation in his pursuit of public history. From San Francisco to Chicago to Wheeling, WV, Rutkowski has finally found a home under the southern sun in Atlanta, GA. Read on to find out about his duties as an archivist, and how his job once led him to play a priest on the History Channel.

Ryan Rutkowski is an archivist at the Jimmy Carter Library in Atlanta, GA.

Ryan Rutkowski is an archivist at the Jimmy Carter Library in Atlanta, GA.

Name: Ryan Rutkowski

Occupation: Archivist at Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

How long have you worked at this library?

Almost two years.

How/why did you decide to go into the archival field?

When I was an undergraduate, I had an opportunity to volunteer and intern at the Archives for the Archdiocese of San Francisco during my senior year at the University of San Francisco. The archivist, who was also my professor, gave me a broad range of duties that include processing, cataloging, and answering research requests.

I was particularly amazed at the rich history that was being preserved there, from the Mission Dolores artifacts dating to the 1700s to the sacramental records that were saved from parishes destroyed in the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. I enjoyed working hands with the material and provide research assistants to variety of clients. … [ Read all ]

Keeping It All Together: Paper Fasteners at the National Archives

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.

There is a seemingly endless variety of shapes and constructions to be found among the fastener family. Here are some that the author saved.

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 … [ Read all ]

Costume inspiration from the National Archives!

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?

Ike and Mamie wave from the back platform of the campaign train. September 27, 1952.

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.

Washington completed, Jefferson in progress, 09/1935 (ARC 5604020)

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 … [ Read all ]

The last doughboy: In memory of Frank Buckles

Archivist Mitch Yockelson (left) poses with Frank Buckles shortly after the WWI veteran's 107th birthday.

In this photo from 2008, archivist Mitch Yockelson (left) poses with Frank Buckles shortly after the WWI veteran's 107th birthday.

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 … [ Read all ]