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Aloha treatment for a 1954 Hawaii petition

Petition signed by 116,000 supporters of Hawaii statehood, presented to the U.S. Senate on February 26, 1954.

This petition, rolled onto a wooden spool, was signed by 116,000 supporters of Hawaii statehood and presented to the U.S. Senate on February 26, 1954. (RG 46, Records of the U.S. Senate)

The work the National Archives Preservation staff does every day is hardly “everyday.” A recent post about Hawaii’s petition for statehood on the Preservation Program’s Facebook page demonstrated this fact. This preservation project stemmed from a request from our Center for Legislative Archives. Each archival unit creates annual and long-term preservation plans, and the Center’s list named several petitions to Congress. One of these presented a challenge—a massive wooden spool 68 inches wide containing a roll of paper 16 inches in diameter.

This mammoth petition contains the names of 116,000 supporters of Hawaii statehood. Hawaii had been annexed by the United States in 1898 and became a U.S. Territory in 1900. Attempts at statehood over the next 60 years met opposition from both native Hawaiians and Congress. In the 1950s, the statehood movement gained momentum, and Hawaii became our 50th state on August 21, 1959.

This giant scroll came to the National Archives by way of the U.S. Senate. The Governor of Hawaii had presented the petition to the Vice President of the United States, who then (as President of the Senate) brought it before the Senate on February 26, 1954.

As … [ Read all ]

It’s Washington’s Birthday—really

George Washington. Copy of painting by Gilbert Stuart: 1931 - 1932  ARC Identifier 532888 / Local Identifier 148-GW-426

George Washington. Copy of painting by Gilbert Stuart. (ARC 532888 / 148-GW-42)

Monday is a federal holiday, but what holiday is it? So many ads on television and in print tell us it’s Presidents/President’s/Presidents’ Day. Images of Lincoln and Washington sometimes accompany these ads.

But here at the National Archives, we know it’s still officially Washington’s Birthday. This year the holiday is actually close to GW’s birthday (February 22), but in many years the holiday falls closes to Lincoln’s (February 12).

How did this once-fixed holiday become blurred and shared with all U.S. Presidents? Look to the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill of 1968, which moved the observance of our first President’s birth from its actual day to the third Monday of February.

Read the whole story in Prologue: “By George, IT IS Washington’s Birthday” (Winter 2004).… [ Read all ]

Edgar Allan Poe’s military career? Nevermore!

cadet-poe2

(Detail from Poe's court-martial record)

(Source: Library of Congress)

(Source: Library of Congress)

“Charge 1 . . . Gross neglect of Duty.”
“Charge 2 . . . Disobedience of Orders.”

On January 28, 1831, a court-martial convened at the U.S. Military Academy found the defendant guilty of these charges and “adjudg[ed] that the Cadet E. A. Poe be dismissed.”

So ended Edgar Allan Poe’s short career at West Point. He had been admitted to the academy on July 1, 1830, and nearly seven months later, he was out.

In those months, he accumulated an impressive record—though not of the sort to which a cadet usually aspired. The Conduct Roll for July–December 1831 lists the number of offenses committed by cadets and their corresponding demerits. Poe’s name appears about midway down the list of top offenders, with 44 offenses and 106 demerits for the term. The roll for January alone shows Poe at the top of the list with 66 offenses for the month. It would appear that Poe was trying very hard to get kicked out of West Point.

As an example of his neglect of duty, the charges listed his absences from mathematics class “on the 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 24, 25 and 26 January 1831.” Just two months earlier, a weekly class report had ranked him among the best students in mathematics. The Consolidated Weekly … [ Read all ]

If our Founding Fathers had Twitter (Final!)

thumbbill2We here at the National Archives noticed that many politicians these days use Twitter to deliver messages. Often this involves using numbers instead of letters, and symbols to convey a complex point in just a few words.

So we asked our readers: “what if the authors of the Bill of Rights only had 140 characters per amendment?” Last week we started counting down from Amendment X and we’ve posted the winning results below.

Archivist David Ferriero picked the pithiest tweets and the winners will receive a reproduction of the Bill of Rights, compliments of the National Archives eStore. You have three chances left to play! Today we’re tweeting the Second Amendment, and tomorrow we’re tweeting both the First Amendment and giving out a prize to the person who can best summarize the ENTIRE Bill of Rights in just 140 characters. Use #BillofRights to play and to follow along!

Amend Original Text Twitter Version Winner
X The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. Power to the People! (conditions apply, void where prohibited) @azaroth42
IX The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. Standard rights still apply. @jwt3K
VIII Excessive bail shall
[ Read all ]

NARA on Twitter

2010_229a.jpg

Birds of a feather ...

In honor of our Bill of Rights Twitter Contest, we thought it was high time to review all the tweeting that goes on in the National Archives family. While our tweets may be short, they are many, and so to help you navigate the micro-blogging waters, we’ve put together a short list that describes what our separate Twitter accounts do. So, check out the list below, and follow your favorites!

  1. @ArchivesNews: Designed to be your one-stop-Twitter-shop for all things Archival, the @archivesnews Twitter feed is a hodgepodge of links to historic goodness. Think of @archivesnews as the hub of spokes in a wheel, from here you can connect to the latest Piece of History, Press Release, speech from Archivist Ferriero, document of the day or … background history on Teddy bears?
  2. @FedRegister: Consider this Uncle Sam’s personal Twitter account. Routinely updated, the Federal Register’s Twitter account is a great way to keep tabs on what’s going on in the Federal Government. Want to know what the EPA is doing to keep the air clean?  Look no further. What about the latest documents signed by President Obama? If you need to be in-the-know when you’re on the go, this is a great resource.
  3. @JFKlibrary: It’s no surprise that JFK’s most famous line fits in
[ Read all ]