Site search

Site menu:

Find Out More

Archives

Categories

Contact Us

Subscribe to Email Updates

Tag: prison

Inspired by the Archives! Top Ten Tips for Writers

This post was written by Laura Brandt and originally appeared on the Facebook page of the Foundation for the National Archives.

Flexing your literary muscles this month but facing writers’ block? Don’t forget that the National Archives has a wealth of information to enhance your tale, whether you are writing a historical novel or are looking for inspiration for interesting characters or plot twists.

How about a tale of war, heroic birds, and desperate soldiers? During World War I, the U.S. Seventy-seventh Infantry Division attacked the Germans near Charlevaux, France. Only one unit penetrated enemy lines: Maj. Charles W. Whittlesay’s First Battalion of the 308th Infantry Regiment. The battalion was quickly surrounded by Germans—and then came under friendly fire from its own artillery. Whittlesay used his last carrier pigeon to send this three-sentence plea.

Pigeon Message from Capt. Whittlesey to the Commanding Officer of the 308th Infantry, 10/04/1918 (ARC Identifier: 595541); File Unit: Field Messages - 32.16; , Records of the American Expeditionary Forces (World War I), 1848-1928; Record Group 120.

Or, what would it be like to be a White House photographer? White House Photographer Cecil Stoughton took this iconic photo of Lyndon B. Johnson’s swearing-in ceremony after John. F. Kennedy was assassinated–but maybe your White House photographer is with President Lincoln at Ford’s Theater, or is covering the President in 2024? Take … [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: Prisons, Potatoes, Pipe Cleaners

You may have seen some of these beards and mustaches before! The mug shots of prisoners at Leavenworth Penitentiary have been featured here and here.

But the images above take facial hair to a whole new level! Staff at the National Archives at Kansas City got together and created Potatriot dioramas (inspired by this post). They kept the prisoners’ jumpsuits simple with black and white paper, but then took pipe cleaners and pens to interpret the facial hair, from beards to handlebar to stubble. Truly impressive! Click on the picture to enlarge, or admire the set on Flickr.

You can check out our full set of historic Potatriots dioramas on Flickr. And if you create your own Potatriots scene, send it to volunteer@nara.gov, and we will add it on Flickr!

Why do we hold the records of prisoners at the U.S. Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas? Find out in this Prologue article!… [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: Daring escapes from Nazi prisons!

In honor of Bastille Day earlier this week, we present a French “moustache.”

This moustache decorates the face of General Giraud, here seen out walking in the gardens of the cliffside fortress Konigstein, where he was held as a POW by the Germans. He was captured in May of 1940 and escaped two years later. According to a 1949 Life magazine article, about 100 French generals were held prisoner. Giraud was the only one who escaped.

It wasn’t the first time Giraud had escaped imprisonment. He had served in WWI and broken free from an enemy prison then as well.

This time, he escaped a heavily guarded fortress. Because it was  patrolled at night, he escaped during the day “by climbing down a blind angle of the 150-foot wall, outside the range of vision of the permanent watchtower secretary and between the regular rounds made by other guards” (Life, 1949).

And where did he get the rope to rappel down a fortress wall?

It was made from “raw material . . . accumulated painstakingly from short pieces of twine used for tying prisoners’ parcels from France” stolen from the prison post office by “a courageous young French corporal” (Life, 1949). The bits of twine were then woven into a rope, 150 feet long and 22 inches think, with a piece of wood at … [ Read all ]