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Tag: Pearl Harbor

Spielberg Film Festival: Saving Private Ryan

Steven Spielberg is being honored by the Foundation for the National Archives for his film legacy, which has brought history to life on the big screen. The National Archives is celebrating the award with a film festival, and Saving Private Ryan is the first film to be screened. Join us tonight, Friday, November 15. For details on the award and the times of the free screenings, go here.)

In Spielberg’s film Saving Private Ryan, a squad of Army Rangers search for Pfc. James Francis Ryan (played by Matt Damon) who is the last surviving brother of four servicemen. Seems like something that could only happen in the movies?

Unfortunately, history is stranger, and sadder, than fiction. Many stories of lost and missing brothers can be found in our records.

Twenty-three sets of brothers were killed on the USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor. The photo below shows a service jacket and salvaged service record, with Navy envelope, for William Wells. Wells enlisted at Kansas City, MO, on January 1, 1940, and died December 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor after achieving the rank of Signalman 3rd class. His brother, Raymond Virgil Wells, was also on the Arizona and died that day.

Sometimes the decision to preserve these kinds of records means not treating them. According to Michael Pierce, a preservation technician, more … [ Read all ]

On display: Executive Order 9066 and the Civil Liberties Act of 1988

In commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Liberties Act, the original Executive Order 9066 as well as the 1988 law are on display in the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, from June 16 to August 19, 2013. Today’s blog post comes from curator Bruce Bustard.

“Here we admit a wrong. Here we affirm our commitment as a nation to equal justice under the law.” —President Ronald Reagan, remarks on signing the Civil Liberties Act of 1988

On February 19, 1942, ten weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which permitted military commanders to “prescribe military areas . . . from which any or all persons may be excluded.” While the order did not mention any group by name, it profoundly affected the lives of Japanese Americans.

In March and April, Gen. John L. DeWitt issued a series of “Exclusion Orders” directed at “all persons of Japanese ancestry” in the Western Defense Command. These orders led to the forced evacuation and incarceration of 120,000 Japanese American permanent residents and Japanese American citizens at 10 major camps and dozens of smaller sites. Held behind barbed wire and watched by armed guards, many Japanese Americans lost their homes and possessions. Congress passed laws enforcing the order with almost no debate, and the Supreme Court … [ Read all ]

Archives Spotlight: San Francisco

The National Archives is on the West Coast, too!

The National Archives at San Francisco (located in San Bruno, California) contains over 55,000 cubic feet of Federal records from the 1850s through the 1980s. The records come from northern and central California, Nevada (except Clark County), Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, and the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. The Trust Territory was administered by the United States from 1947 to 1994 and comprised what are now the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Palau.

Those interested in the history of Alcatraz and its inmates should know that the National Archives at San Francisco holds case files, identification photographs, and warden’s notebook pages for most listed inmates from 1934 to 1963. Before 1934, Alcatraz housed a military, rather than a Federal, prison. The National Archives only holds the Federal prison records. The inmates are listed online both alphabetically and numerically.

Because most Asian immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries came across the Pacific to the United States, the National Archives at San Francisco houses a very large collection of Federal documents and individual records relating to Asian-Pacific immigration and the Chinese exclusion laws. This collection is invaluable to Asian-Pacific historians and genealogists. Many of the items used in the recent exhibit “Attachments” at the National Archives … [ Read all ]

NARA, Wikipedia, and the Day of Infamy

No, I’m not talking about January 18, when English Wikipedia went dark in protest of the House’s  proposed Stop Online Piracy Act and the Senate’s PROTECT IP Act.

(Just 10 years ago, having no Wikipedia would not have fazed me in the least. We still had a dial-up Internet connection, and I regularly visited a brick-and-mortar library for reference books and articles. How things have changed . . .)

No, January 18 made me think of the original Day of Infamy,  December 7.

Last month, I was contacted by NARA’s own Wikipedian in Residence, Dominic McDevitt-Parks, regarding Wikipedia, NARA, and the events of December 7, 1941. Although we are more than a month past the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, Wednesday’s events reiterates the significance of Wikipedia and reemphasizes NARA’s involvement with it.

In commemoration of the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the featured article on Wikipedia’s main page was the ”USS Arizona.”

“Not only are there multiple NARA images on the article, it also includes two of the images that were digitized on request by Benjamin Christensen from Still Pictures,” McDevitt-Parks said. “They are the articles lead image, and then the second one down. The first one is really useful because it actually gives a full-length side view of the ship, unlike most other images.”

“When I met the primary author of the article, Eddie Erhart, at … [ Read all ]

Records from the Day of Infamy

The National Archives holds many records that tell the story of the attack on Pearl Harbor. To commemorate the 70th anniversary of that day, we’ve gathered links from across our blogs and on Tumblr to show you some of these moving documents that we hold in safekeeping.

Memo to the President

This memorandum was one of the first written damage assessments presented to the President.  In his own hand, Roosevelt indicated the date and time he received it.

“Day of Infamy” Speech

The drafts for this short speech show how Roosevelt crafted his request for a declaration of war.

Deck Logs

In our newest “Inside the Vaults” video short, staff at the National Archives talk about the deck logs from ships stationed at Pearl Harbor and the stories found in the entries for December 7, 1941.

Over at the Text Message blog, a student finds a family friend  in the deck logs he is processing.

Letters

Twenty-three sets of brothers died that day on the USS Arizona. William Wells was one of them. His service record was salvaged from the ship and treated by conservators at the National Archives.

Photographs

One photo is of Japanese carrier planes taking off for the attack; the other shows the wreckage-strewn Naval Air Station.

Maps

This 22- x 31-inch radar plot was made by Privates Joseph L. Lockard and George Elliot at the Opana … [ Read all ]