Celebrating JFK

May 29, 2017, marks the 100th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s birth. Visit our JFK Centennial web page to celebrate the life and legacy of the 35th President of the United States.

The John F. Kennedy Library didn’t open for more than 15 years after the President’s death. It was originally supposed to have been built near Harvard University in Cambridge, but after years of delays, the location moved to Columbia Point in South Boston. Ground was broken on June 12, 1977, and the building was officially dedicated on October 20, 1979.

But long before the library opened to the public, an exhibit of its future holdings went on a worldwide tour.

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John F. Kennedy Library Exhibit, 1965. (National Archives Identifier 17616812)

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Chinese Exclusion Act Case Files and the USCIS Master Index

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Visit the National Archives website for more information on our related holdings.

Today’s guest blogger is Zack Wilske, Senior Historian at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

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Affidavit of Loui Young stating that he is the father of Louie Jock Sung, one of many sources documenting claimed familial relationships typical of Chinese Exclusion Act case files. (National Archives Identifier 278671)

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Chinese Exclusion Act case files held at National Archives facilities across the country provide valuable resources for Chinese American genealogists searching for records of their ancestors’ immigrant experiences, as well as for scholars researching the history of American immigration policy.

Unfortunately, locating a specific individual’s case file can sometimes be difficult because the files are scattered in several locations, and no unified, comprehensive, publicly available index exists for them.

Researchers who have difficulty locating Chinese Exclusion Act case files may consider using the US Citizenship and Immigration Service’s (USCIS) index search service, which includes citations for nearly all of the Chinese Exclusion Act case files now stored in regional archives nationwide.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

Every year I struggle with how I can show appreciation for my mom on Mother’s Day. This year I’m going retro and “making” my mom a gift by highlighting some of the National Archives holdings that relate to Mother’s Day.

Although it was celebrated in several states for years, the first time Mother’s Day became recognized as a U.S. federal holiday was on May 11, 1914, when President Woodrow Wilson issued a Presidential Proclamation designating the second Sunday in May as “Mother’s Day.”

He called for flags around the country to be flown “as a public expression of our love and reverence we have for the mothers of our country.”

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President Woodrow Wilson’s Mother’s Day Proclamation, May 9, 1914. (Presidential Proclamation 1268; National Archives Identifier 299965)

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The origins of America’s Unlucky Lottery

Today’s post comes from Sonia Kahn in the National Archives History Office. Visit the National Archives website for a full list of events and activities related to the 100th anniversary of World War I. 

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World War I draft registration card for Sinclair Lewis, 1917-18. (National Archives Identifier 641771)

The draft—the lottery no one wants to win.

On April 6, 1917, the United States formally joined World War I, which had been raging in Europe for three years. Our fellow Entente nations were desperate for resources, especially soldiers, as Germany stepped up its attacks on the Western Front following Russia’s withdrawal in late 1917.

While the United States willingly provided economic and material aid to our allies, soldiers were a resource we struggled to supply.

America entered the war with a tiny army by European standards. We had just 100,000 volunteer troops—hardly enough to have any real impact on the fighting in Europe. That changed on May 18, 1917, when President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Selective Service Act to draft soldiers.

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A Call to Public Service: the Peace Corps

This May we celebrate both Public Service Recognition Week and the centennial of the birth of a President closely associated with public service: John F. Kennedy.   

In Kennedy’s first inaugural address, in 1961, he made his famous call to public service by asking Americans “to ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”

Less than six weeks later, on March 1, he issued an executive order establishing a the Peace Corps as a pilot program within the Department of State.

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Executive Order 10924 in which President John F. Kennedy establishes the Peace Corps, March 1, 1961. (National Archives Identifier 300010)

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The Doolittle Raid: America’s First Strike Back on Japan

Today’s post comes from Jim Worsham, editor of Prologue, the quarterly magazine of the National Archives.

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A B-25 bomber takes off from the flight deck of the USS Hornet on April 18, 1942, armed with bombs and headed for Tokyo. (Local Identifier 342-FH-3A-2972-A-51233)

Four months after Japan’s surprise attack at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the aircraft carrier USS Hornet sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge and out of San Francisco Bay into the Pacific on a secret mission.

On the Hornet’s deck sat 16 specially equipped B-25 bombers—accompanied on this mission by a 200-strong contingent of crews and maintenance personnel. The Hornet’s own fighter planes were parked below deck to make room for these special passengers.

A few days after leaving the West Coast, the Hornet was met by a group of other U.S. carriers, destroyers, and cruisers that would escort it to the location in the Pacific where its mission would begin.

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From 1600 to 700 Pennsylvania Avenue: Presidential Visits to the National Archives

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President Herbert Hoover at the cornerstone-laying ceremony of the National Archives Building, 2/20/1933. (National Archives Identifier 12168464)

Since the National Archives was established more than 80 years ago, millions of people from the United States and abroad have visited our historic building in Washington, DC.

Ten of those visitors were sitting U.S. Presidents.

In 1933, before there was a building, President Herbert Hoover became the first President to visit when he laid the cornerstone on February 20, 1933. (Okay, the building wasn’t open yet, but we’re still counting Hoover.)

Hoover envisioned this as a place where the most important documents in American history would be stored, calling the unfinished building “the temple of our history.”

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Posted in - Constitution, - Declaration of Independence, - Presidents, - World War II, Bill of Rights, National Archives History | 1 Comment

Solon Buck Portrait

In the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, hang portraits of the first nine Archivists of the United States, and Waldo Gifford Leland, who was instrumental in the agency’s creation.

Sharing a wall with Leland and the first U.S. Archivist Robert D.W. Connor is the portrait of our second Archivist, Solon J. Buck. Buck became Archivist on September 18, 1941—just a few months before the country entered World War II.

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Portrait of the second Archivist of the United States Solon Buck, painting 1960 based on a 1941 photograph. (Records of the National Archives)

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U.S. Entry into the War to End All Wars

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A Joint Resolution declaring that a state of war exists between Germany and the United States, April 6, 1917. (National Archives Identifier 5916620)

2017 marks the 100th anniversary of U.S. entry into World War I. Visit the National Archives website to learn how the National Archives is commemorating the anniversary. Today’s post comes from Sonia Kahn in the National Archives History Office. 

Two and a half years of American neutrality in the ongoing war in Europe came to an end on April 6, 1917, when Congress passed a resolution declaring war on Germany, thus pushing the U.S. into World War I.

Four days earlier, on April 2, President Woodrow Wilson addressed a joint session of Congress to request a declaration of war on Imperial Germany.

Among his reasons for war was Germany’s failure to comply with its promise to halt unrestricted submarine warfare in the North Atlantic. Continued German attacks upon merchant shipping brought Wilson to insist that “warfare against commerce is a warfare against mankind.”

Still fresh in the nation’s memory was the May 1915 sinking of the RMS Lusitania, and the ensuing loss of 131 Americans, as evidence of the chaos German submarines could cause.

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Original Alaska Purchase Documents travel to the Anchorage Museum

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Alaska Purchase. To celebrate, the National Archives at Seattle has added 150 images from the Alaska Digitization Project to their Flickr gallery. 

Today’s post comes from Jim Zeender, Senior Registrar in the National Archives Exhibits Office.

On the morning of February 27, 2017, I left Washington, DC, with temperatures forecast in the 70s. Later that day, I was flying north from Seattle along the western coast of Canada, over Vancouver Island on my way to Anchorage, Alaska. Along the way, the endless snow-topped Rockies spread out below to the horizon east and north.

Finally, as we approached Anchorage, I could see the majestic Denali in the distance with lesser mountains running down to the coastal areas. When we touched down, I was greeted with temperatures in the teens and 20s. At night, I stayed warm in my hotel room when the temps dove to single digits.

My destination was the Anchorage Museum to participate in installing an exhibition called “Polar Bear Garden,” commemorating the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Alaska Purchase Treaty and celebrating the American, Russian, and Native peoples who settled this rugged land.

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Visitors viewing Alaska Purchase documents at the Anchorage Museum, 2017. (Photo by Georges Toumayan)

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