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Tag: National archives and records administration

What’s Cooking Wednesdays: Crimes against butter

Charles Wille was sent to the Federal Penitentiary at Leavenworth in 1915 for crimes against butter. (ARC 596115)

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.

Joseph Wirth (along with his

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Roosting in the records

Young Sparrow in grass at V.T. Ranch. Markings not distinctive., 06/28/1929 (79-ZBC-BC115)

Young Sparrow in grass at V.T. Ranch, Utah. Markings not distinctive, June 28, 1929 (ARC 520329; 79-ZBC-BC115)

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, … [ Read all ]

Thursday’s Caption Contest

Your caption here!

"Having learned lessons on motivation from the British Royal Navy, the U.S. Department of Education experimented with dispensing rum rations to bolster test scores."

Congratulations to Dave M! Our guest judge Lynn Bassanese of the Roosevelt Presidential Library chose your caption, as FDR “was a real Navy man and enjoyed an occasional cocktail so we think he would approve of our choice.”

It’s unlikely President Roosevelt would have enjoyed the wartime cocktail being ladled out, though. The original caption declares: “Saturday’s a holiday for most of the nation’s small fry, but to these youngsters of Roanoke, Va., it’s fat-collection day” (NLR-PHOCO-A-65701 [31]).

Since today is St. Patrick’s Day, some of our readers may have plans for a green beer tonight. This week’s caption is about drinking, too—use your gift o’gab and give us your best caption!

541905-cat

Your caption here, my laddie!

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Facial Hair Friday—Edward Bates

Edward Bates, Attorney General in the Lincoln administration. (ARC 528314; 111-B-4168)

Edward Bates, Attorney General in the Lincoln administration. (ARC 528314; 111-B-4168)

Edward Bates was living quietly and comfortably in 1860. He had been out of public life for two decades but now was being courted by backers for the highest office in the land. The new Republican Party’s nomination for President of the United States was wide open, and a number of contenders were vying for the prize.

Those who urged Bates to put his hat in the ring considered his standing as an elder statesman of Missouri (he’d arrived in St. Louis in 1814 and been a delegate to the state constitution convention) and his previous public service (state legislator, U.S. Representative, judge). Perhaps they were also swayed by his impressive whiskers, which give him a patriarchal air.

Bates did not win the nomination—a beardless lawyer from Illinois won the party’s backing and the Presidency. When the newly be-whiskered Abraham Lincoln was filling his Cabinet, though, he called on Bates to be his Attorney General. Bates was part of the unlikely “team of rivals” brought together by Lincoln. Two other former Presidential candidates, William Seward and Salmon P. Chase, were brought into the Cabinet as Secretary of State and Secretary of the Treasury. (Another member of the Cabinet, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton has been a Facial Hair Friday honoree.)

President Lincoln himself remarked on Edward … [ Read all ]

Thursday Caption Contest

A radiological technician at the United States Air Force (USAF) School of Aerospace Medicine at Brooks Air Force Base (AFB), Texas, demonstrating the master slave remote handling device used to handle radioactive substances used in the Bionucleonics Laboratory. (Kennedy Library)

Edward Scissorhands' mother is revealed!

Because this contest’s photograph came from John F. Kennedy Library, we asked their curator, Stacey Bredhoff, to be our guest judge. So Joyce, say “thank you” to Stacey for picking your caption as the winner. We can’t arrange a meeting with Johnny Depp, but we can send you a 15% discount to the National Archives eStore.

The original caption for this photo with the sci-fi feel is “A radiological technician at the United States Air Force (USAF) School of Aerospace Medicine at Brooks Air Force Base (AFB), Texas, demonstrating the master slave remote handling device used to handle radioactive substances used in the Bionucleonics Laboratory.”

Our photo caption candidate this week is of a decidedly less high-tech occurrence (but much sunnier). What is going on here? Put your best caption in the comments section below, and you can win bragging rights for the week as well as a 15% discount to use on anything you choose in the National Archives eStore.

Your caption here!

Your caption here!

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