The “Terr-A-Qua Globe”

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Finn Ronne speaking at the dedication of the globe, October 21, 1969. (National Archives Identifier 23856033)

On October 21, 1969, a large, illuminated, rotating globe was dedicated in the Exhibition Hall at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC.

The globe was one of eight made by the Terr-A-Qua Globes & Maps Company of Santa Ana, California, between 1966 and 1973. The globes show, in raised relief, all three of the Earth’s surface features—ocean floor, ocean surface, and continental topography.

Renowned aerial photographer Talbert Abrams donated the globe to the National Archives in honor of retired Navy Captain Finn Ronne and his wife, Edith “Jackie.”

From 1947 to 1948, Finn Ronne mapped the last unexplored coastline in the world. He discovered that the Weddell Sea and Ross Sea were not connected, confirming that Antarctica is a single landmass. Jackie accompanied him on the expedition and was the first woman to explore Antarctica. Continue reading

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Unsung heroes of World War I: the carrier pigeons

Today’s post comes from Garet Anderson-Lind from the National Archives History Office.

World War I was one of the first great wars during the industrial revolution. From the introduction of airplanes to the use of tanks and railway guns on the battlefield, soldiers had to contend not only with each other but with the productions of the factory floor. Even the recent invention of the telephone made its way into battlefield units, where soldiers used it to convey orders or direct artillery fire.

In a conflict of the size and duration of World War I, communication was key. Unfortunately, technology—like the telephone or the telegraph—was not as reliable as the commanders of Europe would have liked. In an attempt to improve combat communications, the leaders of World War I turned to a much older form of communication: the carrier pigeon.

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Carrier Pigeons (Signal Corps). 2nd Lt. Milne, S.R.C. and the pigeons he is raising for the Army, 1918. (National Archives Identifier 55166221)

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Happy New Year!

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Cartoon by Clifford Berryman, Washington Evening Star, January 4, 1914. (National Archives Identifier 6011024)

Clifford Berryman was one of the most widely acclaimed political cartoonists in the first half of the 20th century. For over 50 years, his cartoons appeared on the front page of Washington newspapers, first the Washington Post and later the Washington Evening Star.  

Throughout his extensive career, Berryman drew Presidents, members of Congress, cabinet secretaries, foreign dignitaries, and other important figures. His drawings also depicted local sports teams, federal workers’ woes, national holidays, and commentary on the infamous Washington weather.

This cartoon hits on two of Berryman’s favorite topics—holidays and the weather. It appeared in the Washington Evening Star on January 4, 1914, at the start of the new year.  The new year in Washington, DC, began with several days of cold and rainy weather. As the young New Year (1914) arrives with satchel in hand, he looks at a poster of Father Time (1913), remarking, “No wonder one ages so rapidly with such weather for a starter.”

The National Archives holds a large collection of Berryman’s original drawings. Discovered in the Berryman family home upon the death of daughter Florence in 1992, this rare collection was purchased from the estate by the Charles Engelhard Foundation and donated to the U.S. Senate. It is now part of the historical records of Congress in the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives in Washington, DC. These cartoons are available online in the National Archives Catalog.

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A Gift from an Archivist

Today’s post comes from Corinne Porter, a curator from the National Archives Exhibits Program in Washington, DC.

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Office of War Information “Santa” Memo, page 1, December 24, 1942. (National Archives Identifier 4751483)

The Featured Document exhibit is the place in the National Archives Museum where we share—a document or two at a time—some of the most incredible records that belong to the American people.

Featured Document exhibits often commemorate landmark anniversaries or highlight records that provide historical context to current events or pop culture.

It’s also the space where we get to share the one-of-a-kind gems discovered in our stacks, like this clever memo penned by an anonymous bureaucrat many holiday seasons ago that is currently on exhibit.

Someone in the Office of War Information (OWI) News Bureau was certainly having a jolly old time on Christmas Eve 1942, when they wrote this memorandum concerning rumors flying around (by way of a reindeer-led sled) about a “man in whiskers who . . . will come down many chimneys bringing gifts to hundreds of American homes. Continue reading

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Reflections of Two American Archivists on the Soviet Union’s Archives

Today’s post come from Erik Moshe from the National Archives Public Media and Communications Office. You can read the entire article online on the National Archives website

Just months after President Ronald Reagan’s “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” speech in West Berlin in 1987, two men arrived in Russia. Their destination: the Soviet Archival Research Center. They had been selected to be the first archivists from the United States to visit the archives of the Soviet Union under the U.S./USSR program of cultural exchanges. Their trip lasted from September 18 to October 2, 1987.

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A view of the Red Square showing the Lenin Mausoleum and a portion of the Kremlin Wall. Behind the wall is the building of the Council of Ministers of the USSR (formerly the Senate), the seat of the Soviet government, 9/17/1985. (National Archives Identifier 6408421).

This visit was one of a series of exchanges authorized by agreements between the Commission on Soviet-American Archival Cooperation of the American Council of Learned Societies and the Main Archival Administration of the USSR Council of Ministers, administered in the U.S. by the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX).
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Bill of Rights Day: the People’s Vote

December 15 is Bill of Rights Day, which commemorates the ratification of the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Today’s post comes from Bailey Martin from the National Archives History Office.

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Visitors in the National Archives Rotunda, 1973. (National Archives Identifier 35810210)

December 15, Bill of Rights Day, is an important day for the National Archives because it is the one day of the year specifically set aside to acknowledge one of our nation’s most important documents—the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Though not a holiday in the traditional sense, its importance lies in the fact that it reminds the people of the United States of the magnitude and significance of a document that protects our most fundamental rights.

In 1999, nearly 50 years after first going on display in the Rotunda, the National Archives announced a renovation for the home of the Charters of Freedom (the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights). Continue reading

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Bill of Rights Day: Celebrating Our Most Precious Freedoms

December 15 is Bill of Rights Day, which commemorates the ratification of the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution. For more information on events and resources at the  National Archives, visit our Bill of Rights Day website.

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President Truman unveiling the “Charters of Freedom” for the first time on display together, December 15, 1952. (National Archives Identifier 12168006)

While the National Archives has well documented its many celebrations for Constitution Day and July 4th, we haven’t paid quite as much attention to how we’ve celebrated Bill of Rights Daythe day commemorating our third “Charter of Freedom.”

We’ve had the original Bill of Rights 14 years longer than the other two—since 1938, before there was even a Bill of Rights Day (FDR established Bill of Rights Day in 1941).

And the first time the National Archives celebrated Bill of Rights Day, it was a big one: the unveiling of the document with its co-Charters two days after they arrived at the National Archives on December 13, 1952. Continue reading

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Do You Have What It Takes to be a Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy? 1913 Edition

While we are not rooting for one team or the other in the upcoming Army vs. Navy game, we must concede that the 1913 regulations governing the admission of candidates into the U.S. Naval Academy were rigorousLearn more in today’s post from Samuel Limneos, an archives technician at the National Archives at Philadelphia. 

Are you physically sound, well formed, and of robust constitution?

Do you have good natural capacity, an aptitude for study, industrious habits, perseverance, an obedient and orderly disposition, and a correct moral deportment?

Can you hear the ticking of an ordinary watch at a distance of 40 inches?

Do you have at least eight opposing molars, two on each side in each jaw?

If so, do you think you have what it takes to be admitted as a midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy?

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The First to Fight: The 11th Engineers in the Battle of Cambrai

Today’s post comes from Austin McManus with the National Archives History Office.

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President Woodrow Wilson’s proclamation declaring that a state of war exists between Germany and the United States, April 6, 1917. (National Archives Identifier 299966)

The United States, following the tradition of neutrality established by President George Washington and maintained over the decades, remained uninvolved as Europe became embroiled in World War I in 1914.

American public attitude toward neutrality began to change after Germany’s policy of unrestricted submarine warfare led to the death of 128 American civilians Germany’s sinking the RMS Lusitania in 1915.

After the British revealed the Zimmerman Telegram in March 1917, shocked and angered Americans began to lean toward war. At the request of President Woodrow Wilson, Congress declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917.

Americans had volunteered to fight alongside the British and French on land, on the seas, and in the air since 1915. Hundreds of Americans had served as infantrymen, ambulance drivers, pilots, and nurses before the United States’ official declaration of war. But it wasn’t until November 1917 that the first unit of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) fought in Europe. Continue reading

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The Lifecycle and Preservation of Electronic Records

November 30, 2017, is International Digital Preservation Day (Twitter hashtag #IDPD17). The National Archives is participating in this worldwide initiative to promote digital preservation by talking about its work with electronic records. Today’s post comes from Ted Hull (Electronic Records Division), Leslie Johnston (Digital Preservation), and John Martinez (Policy and Standards Team).

The National Archives and Records Administration has a long history of working with born-digital electronic records—as far back as 1970. An integral part of this work is the issuance of extensive guidance on all aspects of Federal electronic records eligible for transfer to NARA, including media types, file formats, and metadata.

The development of this guidance is now complemented by a greater focus inside NARA on digital preservation. NARA has recently issued its first agency-wide digital preservation strategy. We are also developing file format preservation plans that align with the guidance issued to agencies to inform both the processing and the preservation of its electronic records holdings.

Here’s an introduction to the lifecycle for one category of electronic records—textual—from start to preservation. Continue reading

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