Today in 1806, the pioneering Lewis and Clark expedition returned to St. Louis from their two-year trip to explore the American West. Join us October 18 for the next Archives Sleepover to explore some of the records from this famous expedition - and hear Meriwether Lewis tell the tale of encountering a grizzly bear!
Lewis will be joined by Arctic explorer Matthew Hensen and an underwater archaeologist as campers dive into the diverse and exciting records at the National Archives before turning in to sleep next to the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution!
Learn more or sign up for the last “History, Heroes & Treasures” Archives sleepover of the year on October 18 at archivesfoundation.org/sleepover
History, Heroes & Treasures is supported by the Foundation for the National Archives; John Hancock Financial; Occasions Caterers; Mars, Incorporated; American Heritage Chocolate®; and The Coca-Cola Company.
40th Anniversary of the Nixon Pardon: The 1976 Election
As the country prepared for the next Presidential election in 1976 Watergate and President Ford’s decision to pardon Richard Nixon in 1974 was still on people’s minds.
Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter repeatedly said he would not make the pardon a campaign issue. “The American people know who pardoned Richard Nixon,” he stated. “They don’t need to have it raised by a candidate.” His running mate didn’t share that view. Vice Presidential nominee Walter Mondale mentioned it in his speech at the Democratic National Convention and continued to bring it up during the campaign.
The Harris Survey confirmed that it was still an issue. In August 1976 poll results showed a 59 to 33 percent majority of voters believed President Ford “was wrong to pardon Richard Nixon.” At the same time, a 52 to 34 percent majority felt that he had acted in the country’s best interests. Based on the data Louis Harris concluded “that any change in public attitudes towards the Nixon pardon could have an immediate impact on the race for the White House.”
Ford’s campaign advisers included a briefing sheet on the pardon in the President’s debate preparation materials. In the first campaign debate he was asked to address why former President Nixon received a full pardon while amnesty for Vietnam draft resisters had been conditional. He stood by both decisions, stating that “the need and necessity for me to concentrate on the problems of the country fully justified the action that I took” in pardoning Nixon.
On November 2, 1976, Jimmy Carter won the election by a slim margin, receiving 50% of the popular vote to President Ford’s 48%. Many believed that the pardon had contributed to President Ford’s defeat, including Betty Ford. “Many people who definitely were for Jerry could not bring themselves to vote for him because he pardoned Nixon,” she later said. One post election analysis of the factors motivating voters’ decisions reported that “seven points of the anti-Ford vote stemmed from Watergate.”
Image: President Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter Meet at the Walnut Street Theater in Philadelphia to Debate Domestic Policy during the First of the Three Ford-Carter Debates, 09/23/1976.
PEP (Person of Exceptional Prominence) Spot Light:
John Coltrane (September 23, 1926 – July 17, 1967)
Legendary jazz performer and inductee to the Jazz Hall of Fame, John Coltrane is one of the most dominant figures that has influenced generations of jazz musicians. Prior to his association with musical greats like Dizzy Gillespie, Johnny Hodges, and Earl Bostic, John Coltrane entered military service in 1945 and played in the Navy jazz band while stationed in Hawaii.
When Coltrane entered military service, all personnel were required to have a chest x-ray as part of their induction requirements. Within John Coltrane’s record, one such x-ray exists. As the reformatting staff of the Preservation Programs at St. Louis scanned his military record for public use, his x-ray was scanned also. There are several preservation reasons why x-rays are scanned. First, the x-ray is part of Coltrane’s file, and thus an integral part of his historical record which is available to the public. Secondly, providing a scanned image eliminates the need for a user to wear clean gloves so no oils from their hands would transfer onto the silver emulsion of the x-ray. Secondly, the base that the x-ray film is on is acetate film (a.k.a Safety Film) which decomposes over time letting off gases that smell like vinegar hence, the commonly used term “vinegar syndrome”. Vinegar Syndrome occurs when acetic acid is released from the acetate based film leading to the vinegar smell. This deterioration makes the plastic film base brittle, buckle, shrink, and liquefy. Keeping the film in a controlled environment helps reduce the continuation of the base’s degradation. Lastly, the x-ray can be scratched easily if not handled appropriately.
On occasion, the x-rays are digitally enhanced so the image is clearer, and in doing so, helping the researcher and improving public access. These documents and x-rays are placed on DVDs so researchers can access exact replicas and prevent damage to the original document.
"Books cannot be killed by fire. People die, but books never die. No man and no force can put thought in a concentration camp forever. No man and no force can take from the world the books that embody man’s eternal fight against tyranny. In this war, we know, books are weapons."
-Franklin D. Roosevelt
From the series: World War II Posters, 1942 - 1945
Banned Books Week is September 21 - 27, 2014
DC Fashion Week is finally here!
On Wednesday, September 24, the opening night event will be held at the National Archives, and Wednesday September 30th we will be hosting a panel on First Ladies Fashions moderated by Tim Gunn, star of Project Runway. Be sure to follow along with all of the Fashion Week activities, programs, and exhibits on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, as we bring the fashion from the Archives to you!
Our last week in Six Weeks of Style at the National Archives is one of the grooviest weeks yet, and we kick it off with the signing of the Equal Rights Amendment. This controversial bill, which was first introduced to Congress in 1923, finally passed in both houses of Congress in 1972. When it came to the deadline for ratification by the state legislatures ten years later, however, it was three states short of the 38 and was never ratified. The Equal Rights Resolution is currently on display at the National Archives in the Records of Rights exhibit. Courtesy of the Jimmy Carter Library.
National Archives Identifier 181970
The First D-Day Documentary
D-Day to D plus 3
Series : Moving Images Relating to Military Activities, compiled 1947 - 1964. Record Group 111: Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, 1860 - 1985
(Compiled from multiple items)
Despite being cataloged, described, and housed at the National Archives for decades, the films created by the U.S. Military during World War II still hold unexpected surprises.
In a recent search for combat moving image footage to complement the Eisenhower Library’s commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the D-day landings, Steve Greene, the Special Media Holdings Coordinator for the Presidential Libraries System, identified four reels of a documentary on the landings prepared by the “SHAEF [Supreme Headquarter Allied Expeditionary Forces] Public Relations Division.”
These reels were assigned separate, nonsequential identifying numbers in the Army Signal Corps Film catalog, suggesting that the Army did not recognize them to be parts of single production. Rather than offering the perspective of a single combat photographer, the reels shifted perspective from the sea, to the air, to the beaches, suggesting careful editing to provide an overview. The 33 minutes of film were described on a shot card as “a compilation of some of the action that took place from D Day to Day Plus 3, 6-9 June 1944.” The production, with no ambient sound, music or effects, includes a single monotone narrator and gives the impression of a military briefing set to film.
This film is probably the first film documentary of the events of the first four days of the D-day assault, created within days of the invasion…
Keep Reading at The Unwritten Record » The First D-Day Documentary →
Pieces of Silver
Betty Ford reviewed the table settings in the State Dining Room as preparations for the state dinner honoring the President of Liberia were underway.
For the centerpieces the White House borrowed 19th century silver presentation pieces from the Museum of the City of New York. These pieces, which had been given to individuals in recognition of service or accomplishment, had all be manufactured in America.
The decorations also featured arrangements of flowers and greenery that included Boston ivy, pink cabbage roses, eucalyptus, Gerber daisies, and mums. A pink lily was tucked in each napkin, which rested on the wildflower-patterned Johnson china.
National Hispanic Heritage Month: Modesto Cartagena, the most decorated Hispanic soldier of the Korean War
Today we remember Modesto Cartagena, the most decorated Hispanic soldier of the Korean War.
Cartagena was a humble man born to a poor family who lived in the small town of Cayey, Puerto Rico. He was among the first from the island to volunteer for military service when the United States entered World War II. He served in the 65th Infantry Regiment, an all-Puerto Rican regiment also known as “The Borinqueneers,” during World War II and later in the Korean War.
During the Korean War, Cartagena earned the nickname “One Man Army.” Hill 206 near Yonchon, Korea, was heavily guarded on April 19, 1951, by a well-entrenched and fanatically determined hostile force. While under attack, Cartagena destroyed four enemy emplacements before he was wounded, thus saving the lives of the men in his unit and enabling the company to take the hill.
Keep reading (and en español) at: Prologue: Pieces of History » Modesto Cartagena, the most decorated Hispanic soldier of the Korean War / Modesto Cartagena el soldado hispano más condecorado de la Guerra de Corea.
From the series: Albatross Cruises from the West Indies through the Strait of Magellan then North to California and along the West Coast to Alaska, 1887 - 1893. Records of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
In 1887, the U.S. Fish Commission sent the steamer Albatross on a three-year voyage to explore fishing grounds and gather data on the commercial fishing industry in the northeastern Pacific and Bering Sea. On a stop in Tacoma, Washington, its photographer captured these proud crewmen from the Oscar and Hattie showing off their catch.
London designers show Fall Fashions in this 1967 Universal News clip. Featured are capes, high collars, and highway-robber outfits, complete with mask and two flint-guns. More practical options include black tunics and long, V-necked white wools for evening.
To read more about the fashion in this news reel, visit the Unwritten Record blog.
Ahoy, mateys! ‘Tis Talk Like a Pirate Day.
Here be President Gerald “Arrr” Ford talkin’ wit’ Al Oliver, a Pirate from t’ three rivers o’ Pittsburgh, before t’ Major League All-Starrr Game on July 13, 1976.
Be ye lookin fer pirates of a different stripe?
Avast! ‘Tis Talk Like a
Pirate Privateer Day! Behold: the “Saucy Jack”
During the War of 1812 a number of American ship owners engaged in what amounted to legalized piracy, known as privateering. It involved the “militia of the sea,” enterprising entrepreneurs and adventure seekers hoping to make their fortune on the open ocean at the expense of the enemy.
Records of their activity, including this commission, or letter of marque, from the aptly named Saucy Jack were uncovered by staff at the National Archives at Atlanta:
One amazing little boat, and perhaps the most prolific southern privateer in the war, bore the perfect name: Saucy Jack. The Jack was the capturing vessel in over a dozen documented cases and by all accounts had an amazingly successful string of luck during the war. Or was it perhaps by the skill of her captain and crew? We might never know. We know tantalizingly little about this boat, but through the records of the Federal Courts and U.S. Customs, some of her deeds as an American privateer vessel live on.
Saucy Jack Commission, Saucy Jack vs Schooner Weazel and Cargo, Mixed Case Files 1790-1860, box 23, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia (Savannah); Records of the District Courts of the United States, Record Group 21, National Archives at Atlanta.
More Privateering Plunder via The Text Message » The War of 1812: Privateers, Plunder, & Profiteering →
POW/MIA Recognition Day
Established by an Act of Congress, POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed on the 3rd Friday in September in honor of prisoners of war and those still missing in action.
Did you know that FDR named his beloved Scottish terrier after a distant Scottish ancestor? Upon receiving the pet as a gift in 1940, Roosevelt changed the dog’s name from “Big Boy” to “Murray the Outlaw of Falahill” — “Fala” for short — in homage to the famous John Murray of Falahill.
Fala became Roosevelt’s constant companion and the most famous dog in America.
With both the Scottish Independence Referendum and The Roosevelts documentary in the news this week, here’s a little piece of Rooseveltian-Scottish trivia, courtesy of our colleagues at the fdrlibrary.
What are you following this week, The Roosevelts, or the referendum?