Tag: National Archives History
What a year! Here’s some of the highlights of the last 12 months of the National Archives that we shared on our blog. Thanks for reading in 2014–we’ll see you in 2015 with more pieces of history!
The National Archives turned 80
- The Historian of the National Archives, Jessie Kratz, shared the stories of an agency devoted to saving the stories of the United States. She wrote about the creation of the building, what our website looked like 20 years ago, and looked at the scary conditions that records were kept in before the creation of the National Archives. We also learned about the staff who first worked here, and archivist Alan Walker solved the mystery of the acetate foil lady.
We The Poets
- For American Archives Month, the National Archives teamed up with the Academy of American Poets. We published original poems inspired by the holdings of the National Archives. Poets looked at documents and photographs and then wrote on a wide range of topics, from “A Carpapalooza: An American Anthem” to “Much Tattooed Sailor Aboard USS New Jersey.” You can watch the all poets recite their work on our YouTube
Visitors to downtown Washington, DC, on December 13, 1952, were treated to an interesting sight—armored vehicles escorted by a barrage of military and police personnel. It wasn’t a holiday or the Presidential motorcade or a visiting dignitary.
On that chilly December morning, passersby saw the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States going for a ride.
“The Charters of Freedom”—the Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights—all have varied histories of transport and storage through 1952.
The Declaration of Independence, after it was signed on August 2, 1776, moved with Congress from city to city throughout the Revolutionary War. After the establishment of the new nation under the Constitution, the Declaration found itself in Federal buildings, abandoned gristmills, and private homes before it ended up in the Library of Congress in 1921.
The Constitution had a similar history—after the framers signed it, the Constitution passed into the custody of the Department of State in 1789 and moved as the Federal Government moved. Unlike the Declaration, which was displayed for many years, the Constitution spent much of its history in storage.
The Bill of Rights has an even thinner history between its creation in 1789 and 1938. It, too, traveled with the government as it moved about until the … [ Read all ]
Posted by Jessie Kratz on December 12, 2014, under - Constitution, - Declaration of Independence, National Archives History, Pennsylvania Avenue.
Tags: archives_building_history, charters_history, National Archives History
Continuing our celebration of American Archives month, today’s post comes from Christina James, intern in the National Archives History Office.
Since it opened and began accepting records in 1935, the National Archives has had to face the issue of space. Housing the records of the Federal Government is no small task, even when only 1-3 percent of the government’s records are held in perpetuity.
In the decades since its establishment, the National Archives has addressed its storage needs in a number of ways, some more effective than others.
The National Archives first confronted the growing mountain of records it faced by increasing storage space at the National Archives Building. The building’s architect, John Russell Pope had designed the building to have an interior courtyard, which could be converted to storage place at some point.
This courtyard was almost immediately filled in to expand the building’s stack area and nearly double the building’s storage space. This addition to the building was completed in 1937, but again in the late 1960s, the National Archives Building reached its storage capacity.
Continuing our celebration of American Archives Month, today’s post comes from Christina James, an intern in the National Archives History Office.
As the inscription on the west side of the National Archives Building reads, the National Archives is home to “the chronicles of those who conceived and builded the structure of our nation.” Primarily thought of as a place where history is preserved, one can easily overlook the ways in which historical events have directly affected the National Archives.
During World War II, the National Archives found itself under attack by the Senate Subcommittee on Independent Agencies regarding ties between the National Archives and German archivist, Ernst Posner. A short chapter in National Archives history, this incident is recorded in the Personal Files of Solon J. Buck as “The Posner Affair.”
Born in Berlin in 1892, Ernst Posner was a German citizen who had served in World War I and later became an archivist at the Prussian State Privy Archives. Prior to the start of World War II, Posner eagerly sought to leave Germany and hoped to relocate and secure an archival position in the U.S. He first met Solon J. Buck in 1938 while visiting and lecturing in the United States. Shortly after his return from this trip, Posner was arrested and imprisoned following the Nazi … [ Read all ]
Continuing our celebration of American Archives Month, today’s post comes from Tom Ryan, an intern in the National Archives History Office.
Do you ever wonder where records were stored before the National Archives was created in 1934?
Before 1934, the Federal Government lacked a uniform manner to handle its records. Congress enacted legislation requiring each Government agency to keep its own records and gave the State Department responsibility for most archival duties.
In 1934, Congress passed legislation creating the National Archives which also created the office of the Archivist of the United States.
The new Archivist’s first step was to determine which of the older Federal records the Archives would accession (take legal and physical custody).
The National Archives Act also created the National Archives Council, whose primary duties were advising the Archivist in determining which documents should be included in the Archives.
The council was chaired by Secretary of State Cordell Hull. In a speech to the council, Hull declared: “We should approach our duty in a manner that will save us from allowing this vastly important work to become routine.”
In the early days, the process of collecting government records was anything but routine. Before the council could establish rules regarding the acquisition of records, … [ Read all ]