A Thanksgiving Presidential Proclamation

Today’s post comes from Bailey Martin of the National Archives History Office.

A Proclamation:

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

So begins the first time the President of the United States issued a proclamation for Thanksgiving Day.

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George Washington, copy of painting by Gilbert Stuart. (National Archives Identifier 532888)

The statement, by President George Washington on October 3, 1789, officially gave the holiday his blessing. Though Thanksgiving was certainly not a new holiday requiring great fanfare, this particular year was special because it was the first celebrated under the new Constitution.

Though Presidential proclamations are not a Thanksgiving requirement, they serve as an enduring tradition while offering a unique look into the various struggles that were affecting Americans around this time of year. It is customary for each President to release a statement every year—in addition to the now-familiar rituals of turkey pardonings and quiet Presidential retreats to Camp David—to officially acknowledge the nationwide celebration of the holiday. Continue reading

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Researching the Osage Murders

November is National Native American Heritage Month! Visit our web page for resources on related records and how we are commemorating the month. Today’s post comes from Becca Watford of the National Archives History Office.

killer-of-the-flower-moon-david-grannIn his recent book, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, journalist and bestselling author David Grann brings to light how money and greed led to the tragic murder of the Osage tribe of Oklahoma.

In the 1920s, after the discovery of the presence of millions of dollars in oil under the Osage reservation, a man named William Hale hatched a plot to kill Native Americans so he could take the profits for himself.

The Osage had “headrights,” meaning they received the money from the oil. Although he was behind the murders of at least 60 Native Americansincluding nearly an entire familyHale was put on trial for only one of his victims, Henry Roan.

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New Web Exhibits Explore the Inside of the National Archives Building

Today’s post comes from Lily Tyndall and Austin McManus of the National Archives History Office.

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The Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, 2014. (Photograph by Jeff Reed, National Archives)

Three new online exhibits about the National Archives are now available on Google Cultural Institute. These exhibits allow viewers to learn about the interior of the National Archives Building, from symbolic design to exciting exhibits.

The online exhibit Inside the National Archives Building brings visitors into the Rotunda and presents John Russell Pope’s symbolic design for the National Archives as a temple to American history. Continue reading

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Vietnam and the Women Who Served

In honor of Veterans Day, today’s post comes from Bailey Martin, an intern in the National Archives History Office. Visit our website for more information on our resources related to veterans.

As we open the new Vietnam exhibit at the National Archives, we also mark the anniversary of important milestones for women in the U.S. Marine Corps that occurred during that war. 

When we think of the Vietnam War, we bring to mind countless images of men in uniform and recall stories of the men who fought and lost their lives during the war. What most people don’t realize is that women also played a crucial role in this war and had been making their own contributions for several decades.

When the Marine Corps first opened their branch to women in 1918, advertisements called for “only women of excellent character and neat appearance, with business and office experience.”

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During World War I, the Marine Corps called for women to be typists, stenographers, and bookkeepers. These women were the first to volunteer in New York City, 1918. (National Archives Identifier 45568009)

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Nation to Nation: Treaties at the National Museum of the American Indian

November is National Native American Heritage Month! Visit our web page for resources on related records and how we are commemorating the month. Today’s post comes from Becca Watford from the National Archives History Office.

Every few months the National Archives lends a treaty negotiated between the United States and Native Americans to the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) for display in its “Nation to Nation” exhibit. The National Archives—which holds the treaties—has had this relationship with the museum since 2014.  

On September 19, 2017, the two institutions replaced the Treaty of Medicine Creek of 1854 with the Fort Wayne Treaty of 1809.

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The Treaty of Fort Wayne, 1809, on loan from the U.S. National Archives, on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC, September 19, 2017. (Kevin Wolf/AP Images for National Museum of the American Indian)

The Fort Wayne Treaty of 1809 was an agreement between the United States and the Delaware, Potawatomi, Miami, and Eel River tribes, ceding tribal territory to the U.S. Government. This treaty, along with 11 others, was negotiated by future President William Henry Harrison. The U.S. Government and Native Americans hoped these treaties would end tribal conflicts throughout the region. Continue reading

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“A Real Injustice Was Done to These Two Old Scouts”: The VA Claim File of an Indian Scout

We’re wrapping up our month-long celebration of the work of archivists and the importance of archives for American Archives Month. Today’s post comes from Tavis Anderson, an archivist at the National Archives at St. Louis.

In the holdings of the National Archives at St. Louis sits a Deceased Veterans Claim File for a veteran named Kayitah, also known as Kateah, Kaytah, and Ka-et-ta. This record mentions that Kayitah served with the Indian Scouts of Lieutenant Charles B. Gatewood’s 6th Cavalry, the unit that convinced the Native American Apache Chief Geronimo to surrender to Brig. Gen. Nelson Miles during one of the last Apache uprisings of the late 19th century. Lt. C. B. Gatewood credited Kayitah with being instrumental in the surrender and capture of Geronimo.

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Photograph of Kayitah and Martine, 1904–1905. (Records of the Department of the Veterans Administration, National Archives at St. Louis)

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Beyond the Hindenburg: Airships Throughout History

October is American Archives Month! We’re celebrating the work of archivists and the importance of archives with a series of blog posts highlighting our “Archives Across America.” Today’s post comes from Alex Champion, archivist at the National Archives in College Park, MD.

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“K-1 Taking off N.A.S. Lakehurst,” October 1933. (General Records of the Department of the Navy, National Archives)

The dramatic, fiery fate of the German rigid airship LZ-129, the Hindenburg, in 1937 is the most famous event of the airship age.

However there were great accomplishments both before and after the Hindenburg: airships broke some of the earliest flight records—the first successful nonstop transatlantic crossing and return, the first air travel with paying customers, the fastest circumnavigation of the globe, and, ignobly, the first aerial strategic bombing of civilians.

Regardless of the tragedy of the Hindenburg, large, rigid airships fell out of favor with most governments by the 1930s due to their cost, susceptibility to inclement weather, and accidents. Germany and other European nations favored hydrogen lifting gas, which was more readily available, cheaper, and had greater lifting power than helium. Following the 1921 disaster of the semirigid airship Roma, the United States used helium. Continue reading

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Moon Landings at the Nixon Library

October is American Archives Month! We’re celebrating the work of archivists and the importance of archives with a series of blog posts highlighting our “Archives Across America.” Today’s post comes from staff at the Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, California.

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Split screen of President Richard Nixon and the Apollo 11 astronauts on a White House television, July 20, 1969. (National Archives Identifier 66394157)

On July 20, 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the Moon. This triumph instilled patriotism and curiosity within the American people as they watched the events unfold on their televisions.

Now, almost 50 years later, researchers and museum patrons alike can relive this monumental moment in American history at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.

Even those who are not old enough to remember the Apollo 11 mission are intrigued by the moon rock, the “most historic telephone call ever made,” the Safire “In Event of Moon Disaster” memo, and the legacy of the Apollo program.

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“The Nighthawks” visit the Clinton Library

October is American Archives Month! We’re celebrating the work of archivists and the importance of archives with a series of blog posts highlighting our “Archives Across America.” Today’s post comes from John Keller at the Clinton Library in Little Rock, Arkansas. 

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Marine One landing at the Wall Street Landing Zone in New York City on May 8, 2000. (Clinton Library Identifier P82039-16)

Well sort of visit. . . .  “The Nighthawks,” better known as Marine Helicopter Squadron HMX-1 (Marine One), virtually visited the Clinton Library via requests by former Marines who served during President Clinton’s administration.

The Marine Security crew are the Marines who stand at attention every time the President, First Family, and staff embark and disembark the President’s helicopter.

The Clinton Library, as well as other Presidential Libraries, hold many images in its audiovisual (AV) collections of the President and his administration departing, flying, and arriving on Marine One. In May 2017, the Clinton Library AV staff received a photograph request from a former Marine One Security crew member. We had no idea the domino effect this request would have.

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FDR’s White House Map Room

October is American Archives Month! We’re celebrating the work of archivists and the importance of archives with a series of blog posts highlighting our “Archives Across America.” Today’s post comes from Sarah Navins from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, New York. 

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Al Cornelius in the White House Map Room, ca. 1943. (FDR Library, National Archives)

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s mind saw in maps. His love of maps can be traced to his childhood when he first began collecting postage stamps. Stamps from all over the world expanded FDR’s knowledge and understanding of geography and the international community, a knowledge that he brought with him to the White House in 1933.

After the outbreak of World War II in 1939, National Geographic provided President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill with special wall-mounted map cabinets hidden by enlarged photographs.

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