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Tag: March on Washington

Top 14 Moments at the National Archives in 2013

Wow–what a year! Our editorial panel tried to limit this list to ten, but eventually we gave up and picked 14 instead. (For more great National Archives moments, check on out the Top 10 Innovative Moments of 2013.)

We also want to send a big thank you to the staff members of the National Archives across the nation, who worked so hard to make these moments possible. And a huge thank you to our partners, sponsors, researchers, visitors, and social media followers who share in our love of history. We are grateful to be able to make your history accessible to you in so many ways in 2013!

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40th Anniversary of the Fire in the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis

If you have served in the U.S. military, your file is part of the holdings in the National Archives in St. Louis. Each year, staff respond to one million requests for direct military benefits and entitlements from veterans and their next of kin. In the Research Room, staff pulled more than 41,000 military personnel records.

And Preservation Programs in St. Louis responded to more than 200 daily requests for burned Army and Air Force records. The fire that swept through the sixth floor of the National Personnel Records Center on July 12, 1973, damaged and destroyed millions of documents. Each … [ Read all ]

Edith Lee-Payne: Accidental civil rights icon

This post comes to us from summer intern Hannah Fenster.

When Edith Lee-Payne stepped into the lobby of the National Archives last week, she came from a morning full of press interviews and national monument visits.

But the whirlwind of her recent rise to fame slowed when she entered the Rotunda to view a photograph of her 12-year-old self. Her hand rested on her heart as she bent over the glass case containing the original image.

On August 28, 1963, Lee-Payne attended the March on Washington, where photographer Rowland Scherman snapped her picture without her knowledge. While Lee-Payne went on to face constant struggles against still-prevalent racial discrimination, her image lived a life of its own, growing into an iconic symbol of the historic day.

Discovering herself in the photograph this year has allowed Lee-Payne the opportunity to harmonize her actual life with her archived existence as a symbol of a national movement.

She feels like the photo—and her recent fame—has afforded her new responsibility. “It gives me an opportunity to share with others what Dr. King shared with this country,” she said.

Just as she became a picture for the March on Washington, Lee-Payne says, “The March in 1963 was a picture of America. People from all walks of life came together for King’s message.” Her favorite quote comes from Martin Luther King, Jr’s “Letter … [ Read all ]

Finding the girl in the photograph

Today’s guest post is from Edith Lee-Payne.

The dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr., memorial will take place this Sunday, October 16. One of the women in attendence will be Edith Lee-Payne.

You might recognize her. Photographer Rowland Scherman snapped a photo of Edith, then a 12-year-old girl with her mother, holding a banner at the March on Washington.

But although the photograph was taken in 1963, Ms. Lee-Payne did not know about the image until 2008. With the help of a librarian and an archivist, she was able to locate the photograph of herself at the march.

Here, in her own words, is her story of attending the march on August 28 and finding her record in the National Archives more than 40 years later.

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Washington, DC, was home for my mother before settling in Detroit, Michigan. After Dr. King led a march in Detroit on June 23, 1963, my mother scheduled our vacation to attend the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, which also happened to be my twelfth birthday.

I lived the dream Dr. King spoke of. My neighborhood was integrated. We attended the same schools and sometimes shared worship experiences. We dined at restaurants with lunch counters without incident and drank from water fountains without signs distinguishing “color.” My mother never learned to drive, so buses and cabs were our primary mode of transportation, … [ Read all ]

From Our Film Archives: “The March”

This Sunday is the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. To commemorate the event, the National Archives is displaying a program from the march in the East Rotunda Gallery and screening The March on August 27 and 28.

But if you are not in Washington, DC, you can still watch the entire film on our YouTube channel.

The first reel of this documentary (embedded below) shows the lead-up to the march—from assembling thousand of picket signs to making 80,000 cheese sandwiches for bagged lunches to the long bus rides into the Washington, DC. The first 12 minutes gives a different view of the event from the usual clips of the March on Washington.

The film was directed by James Blue, who was later nominated for an Oscar in 1969 for another documentary, A Few Notes on Our Food Problem.

The March was made as part of a series of films created by the United States Information Agency (USIA), founded by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1953. These films were meant to promote American policies in foreign countries, without being overt propaganda. (You can read about the agency’s anticommunism message in this Text Message post about the race to the Moon.)

But these USIA films were rarely seen in America because of concerns about the U.S. Government propagandizing its own people. The 1948 Smith-Mundt Act mandated that no USIA film could be shown domestically … [ Read all ]

March on Washington: A. Philip Randolph

This coming Sunday is the dedication of the new Martin Luther King, Jr., National Memorial on the National Mall. It’s also the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington, when King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech to the assembled thousands.

As I looked at the program from the day and then at some group photographs, I started to wonder about the other men who were part of the events. I picked a name from the group—A. Philip Randolph—and searched our Online Public Access engine. I quickly realized I knew nothing of a man who had been active in civil rights and labor for a long time before August 28, 1963.

Mary Graves Reyneau painted Randolph’s portrait as part of a series called “Portraits of Outstanding Americans of Negro Origin,” commissioned by the Harmon Foundation. The original 22 portraits were exhibited at the Smithsonian and later around the country. The depiction of Randolph was displayed in the company of portraits of Mary McLeod Bethune, Thurgood Marshall, and W.E.B. DuBois two decades before the March on Washington.

Randolph was an influential man who had organized the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in 1925. The Pullman Company began to negotiate with the unionized porters in 1935, but it was not until 1937 that a contract was reached. Randolph was used to hard work and to waiting for results—but he was also skilled at organizing and rallying.

In 1946, Randolph … [ Read all ]