In 1978, former Governor Ronald Reagan, Supervisor Milk, President Jimmy Carter, and former President Gerald Ford all opposed a ballot initiative sponsored by California state senator John Briggs. The “Briggs Initiative” would have banned gay men and lesbians from being teachers or otherwise employed by California school districts.
On June 25, 1978, Milk—who had been elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977—gave a rousing speech at the city’s Gay Freedom Day celebration. In it, he challenged Briggs and others to reexamine American history.
In case the President had not read the speech, Milk sent him a copy along with a note. He hoped that the President would oppose the Briggs Initiative and “take a leadership role in defending the rights of gay people.”
You can read the full story here: http://go.usa.gov/bsf4
Image from the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library
San Francisco, California. This restaurant, named “Nisei” after second-generation children born in this country to Japanese immigrants was closed prior to evacuation of residents of Japanese ancestry; and, according to sign in the window, was scheduled to re-open under new management. Evacuees will be housed at War Relocation Authority centers for [the] duration. 04/07/1942
Professional photographers such as Lange were commissioned by the WRA to document the daily life and treatment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
April is National Poetry Month!
Deck Log, USS RINGGOLD (DD-500), January 1, 1945.
While records held by the National Archives document the functions and activities of the Federal government, there is also a literary side to bureaucracy. Records include material related to Walt Whitman’s employment with the Department of Justice, the death of Joyce Kilmer during World War I, and Allen Ginsberg’s service in the Merchant Marines.
Also among our holdings are the unsung poets of the U.S. Navy which has a tradition of placing a poem in the ship’s deck logs on the first day of the New Year.
Plan of Alcatraz Prison Towers at the Dock and Power House, 1940
Fifty years ago today, the Federal penitentiary on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay closed on March 21, 1963. Acquired by the Department of Justice in 1933, the federal prison opened in 1934. Over the course of its years in operation, the prison hosted such infamous figures as Al Capone, Robert Stroud (aka The Birdman), George “Machine Gun” Kelly, James “Whitey” Bulger, and Rafael Cancel Miranda. These plans for prison towers at the dock and power house were part of the overall modernization of the prison facilities undertaken in 1940.
This is a Certificate of Identification for Ho Fook Sing, issued at the port in San Francisco on July 2, 1924. It is held in a series of Chinese Exclusion Act Case Files created by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service’s San Pedro Office.
Observing Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month
To pay tribute to the many generations of Asian-Pacific Americans that have enriched our nation’s history, the National Archives at Riverside will be highlighting some of our holdings relating to Asian American history in our region (Southern California, Arizona, and Clark County, NV), including records relating to enforcement of the Chinese Exclusion Act, records relating to Japanese internment and relocation, and many more.
For more information about Asian-Pacific Heritage Month, see http://asianpacificheritage.gov/
The April 18, 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, estimated at 7.9 magnitude, was one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, claiming more than 3,000 lives. Congress responded to the disaster in several ways. The House and the Senate Appropriations Committees enacted emergency appropriations. Other congressional action included the House Claims Committee handling claims from owners seeking reimbursement for destroyed property. The Senate also passed a resolution asking the Secretary of War to furnish the Senate with a copy of a report on the earthquake and fire. The report on the relief efforts and accompanying captioned photographs, prepared by the U.S. Army, are now housed with the records of the Senate Committee on Printing and include the above photos.
Visit our featured document article for more information on this tragic event and the congressional response.
Photograph of Union Street Car Line After the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, Records of the U.S. Senate (ARC 2127302)
Photograph of the Effect of Earthquake on Houses Built on Loose or Made Ground After the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, Records of the U.S. Senate (ARC 2127357)
Photograph of Souvenir Hunters After the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, Records of the U.S. Senate (ARC 2127316)
Photograph of St. Francis Hotel Showing the Clean Sweep of Fire in the Business Section of All Except Class A Steel Frame Buildings After the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, Records of the U.S. Senate (ARC 2127289)
Photograph of a Military Camp on the Fourth Day After the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, Records of the U.S. Senate (ARC 2127305)
Photograph of a Typical Bread Line in the Early Stages of Relief Distribution After the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, Records of the U.S. Senate (ARC 306190)
Considered one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, the San Francisco Earthquake struck on the morning of April 18, 1906.
San Francisco, California. The family unit in kept intact in various phases of evacuation of persons of Japanese ancestry. …A view at Wartime Civil Control Administration station, 2020 Van Ness Avenue, on April 6, 1942, when first group of 664 was evacuated from San Francisco. The family unit likewise is preserved in War Relocation Authority centers where evacuees will spend the duration.
This photo of Japanese-American evacuees was taken by Dorothea Lange on April 6, 1942. Professional photographers such as Lange were commissioned by the WRA to document the daily life and treatment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
Fugitive slave arrested…and freed
This March 17, 1858, warrant—from the only known Federal fugitive slave case tried in California—directed the arrest of a fugitive slave named Archy. His owner, Mississippian C. A. Stovall, claimed to be visiting California when Archy became a fugitive. Stovall demanded that Archy be returned to him. Archie was tried in California and Federal courts and eventually freed.
Warrant of Arrest, 03/17/1858
Party Like It’s 1889
The first coin operated phonograph (an early version of the jukebox) appeared in the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco on November 23, 1889. We’d love to know what sorts of tunes played on the wax cylinder for a nickel.
Drawing of a Coin Actuated Attachment for Phonographs by L. Glass and W. S. Arnold, 05/27/1890
We Asked, You Answered!
Here are some of your favorite bridges that can be found in the holdings of the National Archives.
Following a period of rampant speculation on Wall Street, the stock market crashed on October 29, 1929, a major precipitating event of the Great Depression — a decade-long economic catastrophe. By 1933 industrial production had fallen to one-third its pre-Depression levels, thousands of banks were closed, and almost 13 million Americans were jobless. This photo of a Depression-era bread line was taken by Dorothea Lange at the White Angel Jungle, a soup kitchen for San Francisco’s jobless.
"The White Angel Bread Line" By Dorothea Lange, San Francisco, California, 1933; Records of the Social Security Administration ; Record Group 47; National Archives.
Over the course of 17 days in 1975, two assassination attempts were made on President Gerald Ford’s life. The first attempt was by a member of Charles Manson’s cult. The second happened outside of the Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco, California on September 22, 1975. The gun woman was Sara Jane Moore, her shot missed.
These photos were taken in the moments immediately after the gun was fired. They show President Ford wincing upon hearing the gunshot, an image of the hotel taken at almost the same moment the gun when off, and Secret Service Agents 3 seconds later.