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Tag: NARA

What’s Cooking Wednesdays: Crimes against butter

The Federal Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas, has housed some famous and infamous inmates, such as “Birdman of Alcatraz” Robert Stroud and Machine Gun Kelly. In the early 20th century, the prison took in some less likely felons—violators of the Oleomargarine Act of 1886.

How did trafficking in this popular butter substitute become a Federal offense? Well, almost immediately after New York’s U.S. Dairy Company began production of “artificial butter” in 1871, regulation began. Dairy interests pushed Congress to pass the 1886 act, which imposed a two-cent tax (per pound) on margarine and also required manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers of margarine to obtain margarine licenses.

By 1902, 32 states had bans on coloring margarine yellow to make it look more like butter. That same year, Congress increased the tax to 10 cents a pound for colored margarine but imposed a lesser tax of a quarter of one cent per pound on the uncolored stuff.

The exhibit “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” includes the story of felons convicted of violating sections of the Oleomargarine Act and sent to the Federal prison at Leavenworth. Some tried to pass the margarine off as butter; others tried to evade the tax by reusing tax stamps again and again.

Consumers colored their own margarine with yellow food coloring into the 1940s. The federal margarine tax system came to an end in 1951. … [ Read all ]

Thursday caption contest

Congratulations, Teresa Martin Klaiber, for bringing a smile to the face of Gwen Granados, our guest judge from the National Archives at Riverside. She shared this photograph with us, and we all agreed it was eminently caption-worthy. (Teresa, if you send an e-mail to prologue@nara.gov, I can send you your 15% discount code to use at the National Archives eStore.)

The photograph is in a file on “Porpoises, 1965–1967,” among the records of the  11th Naval District in Record Group 181, Records of Naval Districts and Shore Establishments. Its original caption reads, “Sam the Sea Lion and his trainer Walley Ross.”

OK, captioners, get your thinking caps on for this week’s challenge. This Sunday is Mother’s Day, so maybe these ladies are celebrating their day! Write your own caption in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

 … [ Read all ]

Roosting in the records

Someone who read my post on Squirrel Appreciation Day alerted me to World Sparrow Day, which was Sunday, March 20. This inspired me to dive back into Online Public Access (OPA) on the National Archives web site. I typed in “sparrow,” and amid many references to the U.S. Marines, missiles, and Sparrows Point shipyard were a couple of photographs of the tiny bird and some quite interesting Indian School Journals from the early 20th century.

The Journal came from the National Archives at Fort Worth, among Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The magazine was published by students at the Chilocco Indian School and was printed in the school’s print shop. It contained articles about the Indian service and various tribes, stories, poems and inspirational paragraphs, and advertisements. There are also a number of photographs of students, faculty, school buildings, Indian houses, and artifacts.

I’m featuring a page from the February 1907 issue of the Indian School Journal that was featured in a  section called “Educational Department—Lesson For Teachers from The Office.” The suggested Q&A taught students about “Birds as Weed Destroyers.”

The Journal authors were not sympathetic to the English (house) sparrow, which is the bird celebrated on World Sparrow Day. Because house sparrows are not native to North America, they were long considered a pest. While the house sparrow still seems to be one of the most … [ Read all ]

Aloha treatment for a 1954 Hawaii petition

The work the National Archives Preservation staff does every day is hardly “everyday.” A recent post about Hawaii’s petition for statehood on the Preservation Program’s Facebook page demonstrated this fact. This preservation project stemmed from a request from our Center for Legislative Archives. Each archival unit creates annual and long-term preservation plans, and the Center’s list named several petitions to Congress. One of these presented a challenge—a massive wooden spool 68 inches wide containing a roll of paper 16 inches in diameter.

This mammoth petition contains the names of 116,000 supporters of Hawaii statehood. Hawaii had been annexed by the United States in 1898 and became a U.S. Territory in 1900. Attempts at statehood over the next 60 years met opposition from both native Hawaiians and Congress. In the 1950s, the statehood movement gained momentum, and Hawaii became our 50th state on August 21, 1959.

This giant scroll came to the National Archives by way of the U.S. Senate. The Governor of Hawaii had presented the petition to the Vice President of the United States, who then (as President of the Senate) brought it before the Senate on February 26, 1954.

As an official document of the U.S. Senate, it eventually came down the street to the National Archives. It had been stored in a safe place, but over the years, the exposed outer … [ Read all ]

A hot dog for the King

Following upon the spate of movies in recent years about British female royalty (the Elizabeths and Victoria), we now have one about British male royalty, The King’s Speech, starring Colin Firth as George VI.

It focuses on George VI (the current monarch’s father) and his struggle to overcome stuttering and stammering, especially when he spoke in public.

He became King in late 1936, when his brother Edward VIII abdicated to marry the twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson. He also became the first reigning British monarch to visit the United States—in June 1939—just after a state visit to Canada.

After spending a few days in Washington, DC, the King and Queen traveled with President and Mrs. Roosevelt to Hyde Park, NY, the President’s home (and now the site of his Presidential library), where they had an American-style picnic at FDR’s retreat, Top Cottage.

On the menu were traditional American picnic fare, such as ham and turkey and strawberry shortcake—fit for a King. And FDR, the patrician with the common touch, also served their majesties the great American treat—hot dogs. And, yes, according to news accounts, the royals did indeed down their first-ever hot dogs.

The royals were delighted, and their visit helped cement U.S.-British relations just a few months before World War II began on September 1, 1939.

A complete account of the royal visit is on … [ Read all ]