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Tag: Coast Guard.

After the fire: Peter Waters helps save water-damaged records

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.

Not until demolition and removal of the collapsed roof and the damaged shelving occurred would staff realize how many records, even near the fire’s origin, had actually survived the fire. Pooling water allowed boxes on the lowest shelves to absorb water, while records that fell in to the aisles also received protection from the standing water. (National Archives, Record Group 64)

Not until demolition and removal of the collapsed roof and the damaged shelving occurred would staff realize how many records, even near the fire’s origin, had  survived the fire. Boxes on the lowest shelves absorbed pooling water, which protected them during

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Thursday Photo Caption Contest: March 15

When crossing the equator, the crew loved dancing to the “Shellback & Pollywog Polka.”

If things look ugly in this picture, it’s nothing compared to our office when we tried to pick a winner for last week’s nautical naughtiness.

We turned over the responsibility to guest judge Mark Mollan, who has been a Navy/Maritime Reference Archivist for 9 years at the National Archives.

Mark is used to tackling large projects: he is working on a collaborative effort with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to digitize Navy and Revenue Cutter/Coast Guard logbooks. NOAA will use the data to track changes in ocean and air temperatures around the globe from the 1840s.

Congratulations to Paul Croteau! Mark notes you correctly reference the  long-honored US and British Naval forces’ tradition of “Crossing The Line”: a rite of passage for first-time crossers of the equator (Pollywogs) to become veteran Shellbacks. Check your email for a discount code for 15% off in our eStore.

(Mark also wanted to give Philip Croft and Janis Comstock-Jones honorable mentions. “They made me laugh out loud,” he said.)

The photograph comes from Record Group 80, General Records of the Navy, and the original caption reads: “Neptune party on USS ENTERPRISE. Pollywog V. E. Christensen, S2c., gives his shipmates a song or two on the flight deck., 09/1944″

Things are little more serious for at least one man in today’s … [ Read all ]

History Crush: Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton, by John Trumbull (after painting by Giuseppe Ceracchi, 1801); National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Gift of Henry Cabot Lodge

Today’s “History Crush” comes from Jessica Kratz, an archives specialist with the Center for Legislative Archives. She’s been carrying a torch for one of our record-makers for quite some time!

Most of my colleagues are all too aware that Alexander Hamilton is my history crush. Maybe the gigantic replica $10 bill hanging in my office gives it away?

I’ve been fascinated by Hamilton for as long as I’ve studied American history. In school, most of my teachers touted the importance of founders like James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, but after reading the Federalist Papers, I became hooked on Alexander Hamilton. An orphan from the British West Indies who traveled alone to America as a teenager, Hamilton rose from his humble beginnings to become one of the most important men in our nation’s history.

I often wondered why Jefferson was so beloved while Hamilton, clearly brilliant with remarkable foresight, was so underappreciated. Were his negatives—he was born out of wedlock, philandered, promoted the benefits of child labor, and lost a duel—overshadowing his many accomplishments? Hamilton served in the Continental Army, Continental Congress, and Constitutional Convention; was the first Secretary of Treasury; and established the first National Bank, the U.S. Mint, and the Coast Guard.

Even … [ Read all ]