I was worried I would never find love at the National Archives.
When Scribd.com approached my office about promoting Prologue magazine by creating a collection of romantic records for their Valentine’s Day “Eat Say Love” event, I was very doubtful. Would I be able to find enough romance in the records to put together a collection?
The answer, of course, is yes! (The answer is also to ask your colleagues for help!) The National Archives holds the records of a nation, and that includes our love stories. From lovestruck teenagers to future First Ladies on honeymoon to Depression-era valentines, Americans have left the evidence of their feelings in the records.
You can see all our romantic documents in our collection “Romance through History,” but I’ve highlighted three images below that tugged or tickled my heartstrings.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
This is a romantic image in a very sad way—this young man is saying goodbye to his sweetheart as his regiment leaves for Camp Wadsworth, Spartanburg, SC, during World War I. I hope they were reunited after the war. (Record Group 165: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs)
This is a wartime picture too, but it makes me smile—even during wartime, people fell in love, got married, and had babies! Edward Spillane, Jr., was the first baby born at Camp Kilmer, NJ, on March 2, 1945. His mother Dorothy Inman Spillane was a former WAC (Women's Army Corps). The baby's father was stationed in France at the time of his birth, but they still manged to include S. Sgt Spillane in the moment! (Record Group 336, Records of the Office of the Chief of Transportation, National Archives at New York)
If you don't like cards with loopy pink writing or dewy flowers, this might be the card for you! This 1918 valentine refers to the World War I effort to economize on food for the war effort—called "Hooverizing" in honor of the U.S. Food Administrator, Herbert Hoover. (Source: Herbert Hoover Presidential Library)