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Tag: Chicago

A Public Enemy’s Life in the Fast Lane

The National Archives is known for maintaining and preserving documents like the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. But among America’s historic documents, there are also records of bank robbers, bootleggers, and gangsters.

In this week’s “True Crime at the Archives” spotlight is America’s first public enemy—John Dillinger.

A cunning and sophisticated bank robber, Dillinger led a string of violent robberies during his short yet infamous criminal career.

So why did auto theft prove to be his most costly crime?

It all began in 1933, when Dillinger was paroled from the Indiana State Prison after serving eight and a half years for robbing a grocery store. Within months, Dillinger organized a group of his closest criminal associates and began a notorious crime spree.

From September 1933 until January 1934, Dillinger and his fellow outlaws managed to evade law enforcement. And while  Americans struggled during the height of the Great Depression, the gang stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from Midwestern banks.

After a robbery of the First National Bank of East Chicago turned violent, national publicity intensified. The gang then fled to Arizona, where they were caught by local police on January 23.

Dillinger was extradited to Indiana to await trial for the murder of a police officer. But while he was sequestered in what officials called an “escape proof” jail, Dillinger deceived two guards and broke out.… [ Read all ]

Sargent Shriver and his Peace Corps guerrillas

I am convinced that if, in the future, our country is to meet the unparalleled opportunity to win friends and advance the cause of peace and freedom, thousands of additional Americans will have to step forward and say, “I will serve.”
—from the statement of Robert Sargent  Shriver, given in Chicago, IL, on May 17, 1961

Robert Sargent Shriver (1915–2011) lived a long and full life, fighting in World War II as a gunner on a Navy boat during the the Battle of Guadalcanal, serving as the ambassador to France in the late 1960s, and joining the extensive Kennedy clan when he married Eunice Kennedy in 1953. He also ran as the vice-presidential candidate with George McGovern against Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew in 1972.

But in the National Archives, Sargent Shriver’s legacy is the Peace Corps. Shriver served as the first Director of the Peace Corps from 1961 to 1966. A search in the OPA database yields numerous Peace Corps documents, including the statement below, describing Shriver’s trip to eight countries to speak with heads of state and the men and women on the street about the possibility of Peace Corps volunteers coming to live and work there.

Sargent Shriver was listening carefully to the reactions of citizens in the possible host country. A headman in a village assured him that “If someone from the Peace Corps would come here, … [ Read all ]