Honoring Justice Thurgood Marshall: the right man and the right place


Thurgood Marshall, 6/13/1967. (National Archives Identifier 2803441)

On June 13, 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated Thurgood Marshall to be the first African American justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

After graduating from Howard University Law School in 1933, Marshall worked in private practice in his home town, Baltimore. In one of his earliest cases, he represented the local chapter of the NAACP in a suit challenging the University of Maryland Law School’s segregation policy.

Marshall himself had been a victim of that policy, having applied to the program but turned down because he was black.

After winning the case, Marshall joined the NAACP national staff in New York in 1936. For the next 25 years he led the legal challenge to end racial segregation in U.S. Continue reading

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International Archives Day

June 9 is International Archives Day. It commemorates the day the International Council on Archives (ICA) was created in 1948. On International Archives Day, archives all over the world will host special events to show off their collections or the work that they do, and will share stories with each other and with fans of archives worldwide using the social media hashtag #IAD17

In Celebration of International Archives Day on Friday, June 9, the National Archives in Washington, DC, will show a selection of short films from  U.S. Information Agency under President John Kennedy’s administration.


Archivist of the United States Solon J. Buck, delivering a lecture in the Dominican Republic, 3/15/1948. (National Archives Identifier 12167214)

The International Council on Archives was established in Paris during a three-day meeting of archivists from June 9 to 11, 1948. Its purpose was to strengthen relations among archivists of all nations, to promote the use of records, and to advance the documentation of human experience.

The National Archives supported the ICA’s creation because it would provide a much-needed forum for archivists from around the world to discuss common issues.

Archivist of the United States Solon Buck addressed the Society of American Archivists (SAA) in October 1946 to promote international cooperation.

In this address, titled “One World,” Buck, then president of the SAA, proposed an international organization of archivists and outlined the steps needed to make it happen. The National Archives had been active in protecting records during World War II, and Buck was eager to ensure that archives continued to be safe in the postwar world.

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Our First Intern, 1939

Today’s post comes from Alan Walker, an archivist in Textual Processing at the National Archives at College Park. 

Now that the spring semester for colleges and universities across the nation has winded down, thousands of students are preparing to begin their internships. Many of them will come to Washington, DC, to work in the many federal agencies which will host them.

The National Archives and Records Administration is no exception; a variety of important and interesting opportunities await those who have been selected.

What must it have been like for the first student who interned at the National Archives?

The National Archives had been in operation for only a few years when, in the spring of 1939, it was contacted by the National Institute of Public Affairs (NIPA) to solicit interest in hosting an intern. Since 1934, NIPA had been administering an internship program to provide students with experience working in the federal government.

NIPA Story Washington Post 1938 p 1 RG 64 A1 1 file 776 Internships box 40

NIPA article in The Washington Post, May 29, 1938. (National Archives Identifier 654329)

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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.


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). 


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.”


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. 


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.

Rediscovery #: 02422Job A1 11-066 PV

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.


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


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