What a year! Here’s some of the highlights of the last 12 months of the National Archives that we shared on our blog. Thanks for reading in 2014–we’ll see you in 2015 with more pieces of history!
The National Archives turned 80
- The Historian of the National Archives, Jessie Kratz, shared the stories of an agency devoted to saving the stories of the United States. She wrote about the creation of the building, what our website looked like 20 years ago, and looked at the scary conditions that records were kept in before the creation of the National Archives. We also learned about the staff who first worked here, and archivist Alan Walker solved the mystery of the acetate foil lady.
We The Poets
- For American Archives Month, the National Archives teamed up with the Academy of American Poets. We published original poems inspired by the holdings of the National Archives. Poets looked at documents and photographs and then wrote on a wide range of topics, from “A Carpapalooza: An American Anthem” to “Much Tattooed Sailor Aboard USS New Jersey.” You can watch the all poets recite their work on our YouTube channel.
Making Their Mark
- Our exhibit “Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures” opened in March and featured original signatures from our nationwide holdings. From developing a signature style to signing groundbreaking policy into law, this exhibit showed the many ways people have “made their mark” on history. Our curator and designer also created an eBook (download for free here). We featured the calling card of John Wilkes Booth and the signature style of the “Ike Jacket.” We blogged about women’s fashion for our “Six Weeks of Signature Style.” The exhibit closes on January 5, 2015–go see it now!
- The release of the film Monuments Men brought new attention to our holdings. Robert Edsel, the author of the book that inspired the movie, spoke at the National Archives. We wrote about Greg Bradsher, our expert here at the National Archives, and the displayed Nazi album of stolen art that would have been used by the Monuments Men themselves during the war.
- If you served in the United States military, your official personnel folder (OPF) is part of the holdings of the National Archives at St. Louis. Our staff shared some of the amazing stories that they find while preserving, processing, and accessing these records. We learned about Betty Chambers, a WASP, and another pilot, Lt. James Vurgaropulos, who was killed in China. Other stories about veterans included the tale of how an archivist started to look for a photo of a gun for a veteran and found an unexpected photo of the requester; the real words that General Eisenhower uttered on D-Day; and the work of Paul Wittmer in making our records more accessible.
National Archives on the Road
- You don’t always need to come to Washington, DC, to see our holdings. We loan documents and objects to other cultural institutions. Our senior registrar, James Zeender, blogged about the documents that went on the road this year: the Delaware ratification of the Bill of Rights will be in England as part ofthe British Library’s Magna Carta exhibition; the Emancipation Proclamation was on exhibit at the Nevada Museum of Art for 36 hours; two letters from escaped slaves are on loan to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax; one of the original death registers was loaned to the Mauthausen National Memorial for display in the concentration camp’s infirmary building where the registers were originally kept; and the original Louisiana Purchase Treaty of 1803 is on display at the Missouri History Museum.