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Tag: featured exhibits

Fifty Year Later: A Brief History of the Immigration Act of 1965

Today’s post comes from Rebecca Brenner, an intern in the History Office at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Photograph of President Lyndon B. Johnson Signing the Immigration Act, 10/3/1965. (National Archives Identifier 2803428)

Photograph of President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Immigration Act, 10/3/1965. (National Archives Identifier 2803428)

Fifty years ago on October 3, 1965, at the base of the Statue of Liberty, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Immigration Act of 1965 into law.

The act was an important milestone in American immigration history. It was a significant improvement from the National Origins Act of 1924, which barred Asian immigrants, limited Latin American immigrants, and established rigid immigration quotas for European countries.

These quotas, established in an era of post–World War I isolationism and xenophobia, lasted from 1924 through 1965:

  • Armenia: 124
  • Australia: 121
  • Austria: 785
  • Belgium: 512
  • Czechoslovakia: 3,073
  • Estonia: 124
  • France: 3,954
  • Germany: 51,227
  • Great Britain and Northern Ireland: 34,007
  • Hungary: 473
  • Irish Free State: 28,567
  • Italy: 3,845
  • Latvia: 142
  • Lithuania: 344
  • Netherlands: 1,648
  • Norway: 6,453
  • Poland: 5,962
  • Russia: 2,248
  • Sweden: 9,561
  • Switzerland: 2,081
  • Yugoslavia: 671

Aliens needed to apply for spots on the quota in their country of birth, regardless of where they and their family lived. Some quota waiting lists were a dozen years long, while others were not filled.

The Immigration Act of 1965 abolished this quota system and eliminated the formally racial character of immigration to the United States.

The act aimed … [ Read all ]

On Exhibit: Report concerning the death of Abraham Lincoln

Today’s post comes from Zach Kopin, an intern in the National Archives History Office in Washington, DC.

On March 4, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. Dr. Charles A. Leale, a doctor and army surgeon in town from New York, listened with rapt attention to the President’s remarks. He and the President crossed paths one more time, although under more somber circumstances. Leale was the first doctor to attend to Lincoln after the President was shot at Ford’s Theatre.

Leale’s report to the Surgeon General of the United States concerning the Lincoln assassination is now on display at the National Archives in Washington, DC.

Report of Assistant Surgeon Charles A. Leale concerning the death of A. Lincoln (page 1), 1865. (Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, National Archives)

Report of Assistant Surgeon Charles A. Leale concerning the death of A. Lincoln (page 1), 1865. (Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, National Archives)

On April 14, 1865, both men attended a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre. The play, Leale later noted, “progressed very pleasantly” until half past 10, when “the report of a pistol was distinctly heard” and the whole scene erupted in confusion.

Next, a man brandishing a dagger, later identified as John Wilkes Booth, jumped from the President’s box onto the stage, dislodged himself from the flags in which he had been entangled, and ran. As Booth made his escape, Lincoln slumped in his … [ Read all ]

Top 10 National Archives Web Sites

The National Archives is a behemoth of information.

There are 10 billion or so pages of documents and hundreds of thousands of reels of motion picture footage, all spread out among regional archives, Presidential libraries, and Federal Records Centers to name a few.  But the National Archives family is bigger than just that: we’ve also got the Federal Register and administer the Electoral College, along with the National Declassification Center and plenty of other organizations.

Because of this, navigating through the National Archives—digitally or otherwise—can get a little intimidating. That’s why we here at Pieces of History have put together a top 10 list of some of our favorite haunts in the digital world of the National Archives. By no means is this an official list, or a complete one, or an authoritative compendium/finding aid/compass to navigate the Archives. But it isn’t a bad place to start. Have a NARA website you love, but we missed? Let us know!

fr2010) The Federal Register. Admittedly, this might not look like much now, but FR 2.0, a private/public web site overhaul of the Federal Register, goes live on July 26 and will blow your mind. The sneak peeks show a sleek and user-friendly website that has finally harnessed the power of the contents of the Federal Register.  So what is the Federal Register? It’s the newspaper of … [ Read all ]