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American Archives Month: Ryan Rutkowski, Carter Presidential Library

We continue with our celebrations of American Archives Month with our series highlighting a few of the outstanding folks in our Presidential Libraries.

Archivist Ryan Rutkowski has crisscrossed the nation in his pursuit of public history. From San Francisco to Chicago to Wheeling, WV, Rutkowski has finally found a home under the southern sun in Atlanta, GA. Read on to find out about his duties as an archivist, and how his job once led him to play a priest on the History Channel.

Ryan Rutkowski is an archivist at the Jimmy Carter Library in Atlanta, GA.

Ryan Rutkowski is an archivist at the Jimmy Carter Library in Atlanta, GA.

Name: Ryan Rutkowski

Occupation: Archivist at Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

How long have you worked at this library?

Almost two years.

How/why did you decide to go into the archival field?

When I was an undergraduate, I had an opportunity to volunteer and intern at the Archives for the Archdiocese of San Francisco during my senior year at the University of San Francisco. The archivist, who was also my professor, gave me a broad range of duties that include processing, cataloging, and answering research requests.

I was particularly amazed at the rich history that was being preserved there, from the Mission Dolores artifacts dating to the 1700s to the sacramental records that were saved from parishes destroyed in the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. I enjoyed working hands with the material and provide research assistants to variety of clients. … [ Read all ]

Flying Saucers, Popular Mechanics, and the National Archives

The reports were among the thousands of pieces of paper waiting to be processed in a group of 100 boxes. But a few pieces of paper—with schematics that looked like they were right out of a 1950s sci-fi flick—were destined for a featured article in Popular Mechanics.

But first the documents were spotted by Michael Rhodes.

The cover of USAF Project 1794.

The cover of USAF Project 1794.

Rhodes is an archives technician. His hands are the last pair—in a long chain of National Archives staff—to touch formerly classified documents before they are released to the public. Rhodes was working on part of the final push to clear a backlog of 366 million pages.

His assignment: finish processing over 100 boxes of Air Force records. He got to work.

As he checked each record to be sure that it was in good condition and ready to be released to the public, he noticed something unusual. The box of records didn’t seem to be in any order, just reports and more reports, but Rhodes, who is interested in aviation and aerospace history, noticed an odd detail.

“What caught my eye was the icon of the saucer-looking shape,” he explains. The icon—a blue saucer over a red arrow—was in the corner of test flight reports and contracts with a Canadian company. And the strangest record of all? A drawing that Rhodes says … [ Read all ]