Today’s post comes from Alan Walker, an archivist in the Textual Processing unit in the National Archives at College Park, MD. In celebration of American Archives Month, Alan gave a talk on interesting finds in the Records of the National Archives. You can view Alan’s talk on the National Archives YouTube Channel.
What’s so great about a bunch of old employee ID cards? You might well wonder.
Since I was a kid, I’ve been drawn to pictures. I would devour illustrated children’s encyclopedia volumes over my morning cereal. Even now, if a nonfiction work has a picture section, I always go to it first. While I read, I constantly flip back to the photos. Images help to give my imagination a framework, a point of reference.
Over the past five years, as I have worked to arrange and describe the office files of the National Archives. I’ve read reams of documents from employees of this agency. I’ve often wished I could see a photo of that person; to make that small connection with someone who helped to make the history of one of our nation’s most important institutions.
As an archivist in the Textual Processing unit at the National Archives, I am constantly elbow-deep in old, filthy boxes filled with the routine, the bizarre, the touching, and the amazing. To have the privilege of working on my own’ agency’s records is great enough, but to discover such finds as these is really like a small present from the past.
And those presents just keep coming. To see more of such finds as these, view my recent presentation about this amazing project: