2,000 Pages of Love Letters
We’re pleased to announce that the Truman Library has finished scanning and describing all the letters that they have that Harry wrote to Bess before they were married. That’s 386 letters, over 2,000 pages!
Here’s page one of a letter from September 30, 1917, shortly after Truman arrived in Oklahoma to begin his training for World War I. You can see the rest of the letter, and find more at the Truman Presidential Library.
From the series: Berryman Political Cartoon Collection, 1896 - 1949
With several European capitals quickly overrun in the first month of World War I and Paris under siege, Berryman offers some humorous ideas for rapidly moving the capitol buildings of threatened countries to safer places.
On August 25, 1914, Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan notified Ambassador to France Myron T. Herrick that his successor, William Graves Sharp, would sail for France the following day. Bryan confided that President Woodrow Wilson wished for Herrick to remain in charge in Paris for the time being, given the extraneous circumstances, and that Sharp not assume charge until the strain of the German threat to Paris passed.1
Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan instructs Myron T. Herrick to remain in Paris
Telegram from Secretary of State (Washington DC) to Herrick (Paris), August 25, 1914. Copy from file 123 H 43, 1910-29 Central Decimal File, Record Group 59: General Records of the Department of State, National Archives.
Herrick acquiesced. However, he asked to make public in France the Department’s instructions to minimize any misunderstandings of his role—or that of Sharp.
Herrick asks the Department for permission to publicize the reasons for his retention in Paris amidst unusual circumstances Telegram from Herrick (Paris) to Secretary of State (Washington DC), August 27, 1914. Copy from file 123 H 43, 1910-29 Central Decimal File, Record Group 59: General Records of the Department of State, National Archives.
On August 28, Bryan informed Herrick that,
“In view of the unusual conditions in which the embassy is placed at the present time, the President desires you to remain until you receive further instructions and that Mr. Sharp has been asked to proceed to Paris but will not immediately assume the duties of ambassador.”2
Telegram from Bryan (Washington DC) to Herrick (Paris), August 25, 1914. Copy from file 123 H 43, 1910-29 Central Decimal File, Record Group 59: General Records of the Department of State, National Archives. ↩
Telegram from Secretary of State (Washington DC) to Herrick (Paris), August 28, 1914. Copy from file 123 H 43, 1910-29 Central Decimal File, Record Group 59: General Records of the Department of State, National Archives. ↩
Day 69: FDR Rides a Dirigible, 1918
Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first sitting president to ride in an airplane, an occasion marked by a very long overseas flight to attend the 1943 Casablanca conference. FDR’s distant cousin, Theodore, was the first president ever to fly, a trip that took place back in 1910 shortly after he had left the presidency.
FDR may have set an additional aviation first – we think he may have been the first president to fly on-board a dirigible airship (also known as a blimp or zeppelin)!
During World War I, serving as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, FDR traveled to Europe to inspect US Navy facilities. Several weeks into his trip, on August 17th, 1918 he visited a base in Paimboeuf, Western France where he was offered a ride aboard a French-built airship.
Considered too vulnerable for use on the front, airships were primarily used for scouting missions and mine clearance throughout Western Europe during the war. The use of airships later declined as airplane technology advanced and after several high profile accidents. FDR was serving his second term as president when the infamous Hindenburg crashed in New Jersey in 1937.
FDR writes about the flying experience in his log of the trip saying:
I tried my hand at running the lateral stearing[sic] gear and also the elevating and depressing gear. The sensation is distinctly curious, less noise than an areo.[sic] and far more feeling of drifting at the mercy of the wind.
Executive Order No. 2017, 8/8/1914
Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service
National Archives Identifier: 11036311
With this order, Woodrow Wilson gave the Treasury Department full authority of Customs Offices to help enforce neutrality laws dues to the conflict in Europe during World War I. It comes from a file about European war, German refugees, deportation of Italians, and alien deportations from 1914–1915. (via DocsTeach)
This document was recently digitized by teachers in our Primarily Teaching 2014 Summer Workshop in Washington, DC. The teachers found and described over 50 documents relating to operations at Ellis Island, public opinion about immigration, and immigration policy reforms.
Read more about their efforts at Education Updates » Teachers Digitize Immigration Documents in Washington, DC
Return from Vacation Summer 1914: Brand Whitlock in Belgium
When news of the assassination the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand reached Brand Whitlock at his villa in Bois-Fleuri, he rushed back to Brussels.
"Everyone’s Diplomat," U.S. Minister to Belgium Brand Whitlock
U.S. National Archives
Once war broke out, the most pressing duty in the early days was to care for the thousands of panicked and stranded U.S. citizens in Brussels and throughout Belgium now wishing to return to the United States. In an August 2, 1914 letter, Whitlock described the scene at the U.S. Embassy:
“It has been a day of exciting and terrible rumors, to which, however, we pay little attention, for we have been kept busy every minute by the Americans, of all sorts and conditions, who are pouring into Brussels from all over the Continent, in panic, demanding to know how they are to get home, many of them utterly helpless, so frightened are they: in many instances the women are calmer, braver than the men.”1
In addition to aiding stranded U.S. citizens, as representative of a neutral country, Whitlock took over embassy operations and the diplomatic affairs of several belligerent countries, including Britain, Germany, Denmark, Austria-Hungary, and Japan. Thus, U.S. diplomats in Belgium became everyone’s diplomats, working on behalf of citizens of each of these countries, many of whom were stranded and far from the protection of their own governments.
Whitlock’s visions of peace and quiet were shattered. According to one of Whitlock’s biographers, however, “writing was unimportant to Whitlock when human lives and dignity were in jeopardy, and he was once more the practical politician and dedicated humanist rather than the man of letters.”2 Torn from the peaceful solitude of his writing desk, Whitlock quickly rose to the challenges of wartime diplomacy.
Brand Whitlock and Allan Nevins, The Letters and Journal of Brand Whitlock (New York, London: D. Appleton-Century Company, Inc., 1936) Retrieved from http://www.ourstory.info/library/2-ww1/Whitlock/bwTC.html. ↩
David D. Anderson, Brand Whitlock (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1968), 84. ↩
James Montgomery Flagg (June 18, 1877 – May 27, 1960)
Illustrator James Montgomery Flagg, most famously known for his I Want YOU for the U.S. Army Uncle Sam recruitment poster, was born on June 18, 1877.
The “Human Squirrel” drops by to celebrate the 110th anniversary of Times Square and #SquirrelWeek!
The “Human Squirrel” who did many daring “stunts” in climbing for benefit of War Relief Funds in New York City. He is shown here at a dizzy height in Times Square. Times Photo Service., ca. 1918
Happy 110th Birthday, Times Square!
Originally named Longacre Square, it was officially renamed Times Square on April 8, 1904 in honor of the New York Times.
Snapshots of the “Crossroads of the World” from the 1910s, 1940s, 1970s, 1980s and 2000s:
- New York City celebrating the surrender of Japan. They threw anything and kissed anybody in Times Square., 08/14/1945. National Archives Identifier: 520697
- A view of the neon lights of Broadway. The United Services Organization (USO) GEN Douglas MacArthur Memorial Center, located in Times Square at 45th Street and Broadway…01/01/1983. National Archives Identifier: 6367334
- Peace rumor, New York. Crowd at Times Square holding up Extras telling about the signing of the Armistice. The Government report that the news was not true did not stop the celebration. National Archives Identifier: 533477
- TIMES SQUARE, 08/1973. National Archives Identifier: 554298
- Sailors attached to USS IWO JIMA (LHD 7) gather together for an impromptu group shot while on liberty in Times Square during Fleet Week 2002.05/22/2002. National Archives Identifier: 6640589
- V-J Day in New York City. Crowds gather in Times Square to celebrate the surrender of Japan., 08/15/1945. National Archives Identifier: 531350
Robert Frost: March 26, 1874 - January 29, 1963
Born 140 years ago today, iconic American poet Robert Frost’s World War I draft registration card is among the featured items at the “Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures" exhibit now on display at the National Archives Museum.
World War I Draft Registration Card for Robert Frost;
From the series: Draft Registration Cards, 1917 - 1918
Robert Frost Poster;
From the series: Propaganda Posters Distributed in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, ca. 1950 - ca. 1965
(H/T to queenslibrary for the reminder!)
Captain Harry Truman
Officers, 129th Field Artillery, at regimental headquarters at Chateau de Chanay near Courcemont, France, March 1919. Captain Harry Truman, second row, third from right.
From the series: Signal Corps Photographs of American Military Activity, 1754 - 1954
Letter from Hooper Alexander, U.S. Attorney, to the Attorney General, 3/15/1918
General Records of the Department of Justice. National Archives Identifier: 6120950
During World War I, espionage and sedition acts were adopted that resulted in nearly 1,000 convictions. The Espionage Act of June 15, 1917 defined espionage and, in section 12, denied the use of the mails to newspapers, periodicals, and other materials that were unpatriotic, critical, or treasonous. Many publications were scrutinized. Justice Department officials investigated The Finished Mystery, a pacifist book published by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and warned bookstores and newsstands in Atlanta against carrying it. On March 14, 1918, the Attorney General telegraphed Hooper Alexander, the U.S. Attorney for Atlanta, to enforce the book ban. Alexander replied the next day that he would give warning to any sellers who had copies of the book.
The “Hello Girls”
"American telephone girls on arrival for "hello" duty in France. They all can speak both English and French., 03/1918"
During World War I, over 400 women were enrolled in the U.S. Army Signal Corps to operate telephone* switchboards in France. Despite the sometimes hazardous conditions of their service, they were denied veterans status after the war ended. It would take 60 years until a bill was signed by President Carter granting them veterans status in 1978.
Read more about the “Hello Girls” at the Signal Corps “Regimental” History Site - The Hello Girls
* Today is also the anniversary of Alexander Graham Bell’s patent for “Improvements in Telegraphy”, aka the telephone.