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Tag: Halloween

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 ]

Facial Hair Friday: The Death Mask of Walter Q. Gresham

Pat Anderson, archivist, holds the death mask of Walter Q. Gresham.

Today’s featured facial hair is especially appropriate for the approaching Halloween weekend. It’s the plaster cast of a beard, taken of the deceased Walter Q. Gresham, who was Secretary of State at the time of his death in May of 1895.

This  death mask—complete with a few beard hairs stuck in it—may seem like an oddity now, but at the time it was a mark of reverence for a beloved official. The cast was made so that sculptors could later create a permanent likeness of the deceased.

And Walter Q. Gresham seemed a likely candidate for a commemorative statue. He was enormously popular.

Gresham held several important positions, serving as a general in the Union Army during the Civil War, U.S. Postmaster General, a Federal appellate court judge, Secretary of the Treasury, and finally, President Grover Cleveland’s Secretary of State in 1893.

An article in the May 29, 1895, edition of the Washington Post covered the events in detail. Gresham was the first member of the Cabinet to have a funeral in the East Room of the White House and the second man to have the troops ordered out for his funeral. The Government Printing Office was ordered closed as a mark of respect. Flags across the city—including foreign embassies and consulates—were lowered to half mast for 10 days.

After … [ Read all ]

Need a Halloween costume? Four food frights from our holdings

This postcard (ARC 2657925) was enclosed with several others as part of a letter from Acting Secretary of State Robert Bacon to U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Whitelaw Reid regarding postcards that were circulating in South Africa regarding the meatpacking industry.

Do you like to be scared? If you do, forget about watching Halloween or The Ring or even the Treehouse of Horror episode on The Simpsons.

If you really like to be scared, you should come to the National Archives’ “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” exhibit and see the records that document why the Government became involved in food safety. Before Federal regulation in 1906 with the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act, American citizens were chowing down on food flavored or preserved with sulfuric acid, formaldehyde, and borax.

Perhaps you could even craft some Halloween costumes from them. Here are four terrifying costumes inspired by our holdings:

Poison squad member
In 1902, these 12 Federal employees were true guinea pigs in the name of food safety. For five years, they sat down to delicious meals at the Bureau of Chemistry’s basement kitchen and ate a poisonous substance. They were not told what it was, or where in the food it was disguised. Then Chief Chemist Harvey Wiley recorded their symptoms, which were unpleasant but apparently not fatal. The “Poison … [ Read all ]