Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Celebrating Aviation with Magee’s “High Flight”
You may be familiar with these lines—the first of John Gillespie Magee, Jr.’s 1941 sonnet “High Flight”. Many of us likely recognize them from President Ronald Reagan’s speech on the day of the Challenger disaster, but “High Flight” has a much longer history with aviators and astronauts.
In 1966, astronaut Michael Collins took the text of the poem with him into space during the Gemini 10 mission. Cadets at the United States Air Force Academy must learn to recite it from memory. In addition, “High Flight” is showcased in a number of films produced by the United States Air Force, like the one below.
John Gillespie Magee, Jr. was an American who joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1940, before the United States entered World War II. He wrote “High Flight” shortly before he was killed in a midair collision on December 11, 1941. In his honor, we present you with a short 1972 Air Force film celebrating the joy of flight.
Happy Dewey Decimal Day!
December 10, 1851 is the birthday of Melvil Dewey (1851-1931) inventor of the Dewey Decimal system of library classification.
Mildred C. Crabtree, a civilian librarian, selects books in the library for distribution to the wards at Kenner Army Hospital, 07/07/1976
This map accompanied President James K. Polk’s annual message to Congress in December 1848. It represented Polk’s conception as a Southern Democrat of how to divide up the new territory acquired through the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. It became the starting point of debates in Congress over slavery and westward expansion.
Map of the United States Including Western Territories (2127339), 12/1848, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives
Learn more about this map in Cartography, Politics—and Mischief: Ephraim Gilman’s 1848 Map of the United States, Now Expanded Coast to Coast from the National Archives’ Prologue Magazine.
"President Ronald Reagan greets CAPT. Grace Hopper as she arrives at the White House for her promotion to commodore, 12/15/1983"
Did you notice today’s Google Doodle dedicated to computing pioneer and U.S.Navy Rear Admiral Grace Hopper’s 107th birthday ? Our colleagues at the National Archives at Kansas City found this photo of then-Captain Hopper during her promotion to Commodore 30 years ago in December 1983.
(There are dozens more photos of Rear Admiral Hopper in our online catalog.)
Barney, Ready for His Close-Up
From 2002 through 2008, Barney and Miss Beazley (who came to the White House in 2004) hosted a series of holiday videos at the White House recorded by the White House Communications Agency.
The 2002 video being filmed in this photograph can be viewed on the Barney Cams page of the George W. Bush Library website.
Barney Tours the White House for the Barney-Cam Holiday Video, 12/09/2002
RIP Barney (September 30, 2000 - February 2013)
"Atoms for Peace"
President Dwight D. Eisenhower was determined to solve “the fearful atomic dilemma” by finding some way by which “the miraculous inventiveness of man” would not be dedicated to his death, but consecrated to his life. In his Atoms for Peace speech before the United Nations General Assembly on December 8, 1953, President Eisenhower sought to solve this terrible problem by suggesting a means to transform the atom from a scourge into a benefit for mankind.
“Atoms For Peace" posters From the series: Propaganda Posters Distributed in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, ca. 1950 - ca. 1965. From the Records of the U.S. Information Agency
Remembering Pearl Harbor: Personal Stories Salvaged from the USS Arizona
Personal Story Saved from the USS Arizona: 72 Years Later
A big challenge in preserving paper is dealing with the consequences of how records were maintained during the time they were actively used. Navy personnel records are difficult ones. Folded in thirds to fit into “jackets” or “bricks,” as the expandable brown folders are called, pages get torn, creased, and scrunched, requiring treatment. In the case of career Seaman 1st class Walter Lewis Hampton, the record is one hefty assemblage of papers spilling out of the small folder. Enlisted in 1925, Hampton served on the USS Henderson, the Arkansas, and the Wyoming, among others, before reporting for his final duty in December 1940 when he joined the USS Arizona.
Hampton’s sizable record contains a very special segment of documents - the Service Record kept on board the Arizona itself. This portion of his record was maintained to keep at close hand information on his enlistment, service, training, and physical description while at sea. It was among the records salvaged by the Navy after the loss of the USS Arizona on Dec. 7th, 1941. As Archives staff identifies records damaged aboard the Arizona, they are brought to the Paper Lab.
Hampton was among the missing after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He left four children and a wife who had initiated divorce proceedings on the grounds of years of abandonment. Although bearing the scars of the attack, his service record still details his personal description. Brown hair, blue eyes, a ruddy face, and tattoos—a kewpie doll, sailor boy, Red Cross nurse, pig, and rooster. This personal information is all perfectly maintained despite the bloom of heat from the center of the booklet, or accretions of dirt along the edges of the pages that still remain from long ago blasts. For these special documents, not only the information they contain but the remnant damage of battle itself preserve an important piece of history.
Remembering Pearl Harbor - USS Nevada escapes
The Japanese air attack at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii began at 8:01 AM, Sunday, December 7, 1941. The Nevada, tied up with the U.S. Pacific Fleet, brought down several attacking planes. Although she sustained many hits; she was able to slip her mooring and unsuccessfully attempted to reach the open sea. The logbook entry describes those first harrowing 40 minutes of the attack that resulted in over 100 wounded and 47 killed or missing crewmembers.
The entire entry for December 7th 1941 can be viewed in our catalog: Logbook of the USS Nevada
Photograph of the USS Nevada beached at Hospital Point after the attack on Pearl Harbor, 12/07/1941
Q:Is it Russell Lee who did the miner photo??
Yes, thanks for the catch! (now corrected).
You can find more Russell Lee photographs (over 1,200) in our online catalog!
National Miner’s Day
December 6 is the anniversary of the Monongah, West Virginia Mining Disaster, the worst in U.S. history, on December 6, 1907.
"James Robert Howard has gotten his safety lamp at lamp house. Of the 232 employees at this mine, 60% are Negroes., 08/13/1946"
Russell Lee, photographer.
(Ed. note: corrected photographer credit)
Everglades National Park Established December 6, 1947
The park was established to conserve the natural landscape and prevent further degradation of its land, plants, and animals in southern Florida. Today Everglades National Park is a World Heritage Site, an International Biosphere Reserve, a Wetland of International Importance, and a protected area under the Cartagena Treaty.
Chokoloskee Rookery In Everglades National Park, 07/1972
Fred Ward, photographer.
From the series - DOCUMERICA: The Environmental Protection Agency’s Program to Photographically Document Subjects of Environmental Concern, 1972 - 1977
Watching the Sound of Music Live? Read up on the real Maria von Trapp!
When the von Trapp family fled the Nazi regime in Austria, they traveled to America. Eventually, the entire family—except for the husband, Georg—-became American citizens.In the early 1940s the family settled in Stowe, Vermont, where they bought a farm. They ran a music camp on the property when they were not on tour. In 1944, Maria and her stepdaughters Johanna, Martina, Maria, Hedwig, and Agathe applied for U.S. citizenship by filing declarations of intention at the U.S. District Court in Burlington, Vermont. Georg apparently never filed to become a citizen; Rupert and Werner were naturalized while serving in the U.S. armed forces during World War II; Rosmarie and Eleonore derived citizenship from their mother; and Johannes was born in the United States and was a citizen in his own right.
If you are planning on watching the new version of the Sound of Music this week, make sure you brush up on all your von Trapp trivia here: http://go.usa.gov/WFbh
July 18, 1918 - December 5, 2013
President William J. Clinton with Nelson Mandela participating in the Philadelphia Liberty Medal Awards Ceremony and Festival outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 07/04/1993.
Robert McNeely, photographer.
And be sure to check out the exhibit “Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage” at the National Archives through January 2014
The strange story of the Iraqi Jewish Archives starts with a phone call and then includes a very long flight to Baghdad, drowning documents in a secret basement, a trip to Texas for freeze drying, several years of conservation treatment, and digitization.
Hear the whole story on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the National Archives building in Washington, DC.
Doris Hamburg and Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler of the National Archives discuss the story behind our exhibit of historical materials—discovered in 2003 in Saddam Hussein’s flooded intelligence headquarters—relating to the Jewish community in Iraq.
Joining them are Maurice Shohet, analyst at the Middle East Media Research Institute, and William D. Cavness, Jr., retired Foreign Service officer. Greg Myre, journalist and NPR’s digital editor for international news, will moderate.