Tag Archives: archives

On the Hunt for National Treasures With America’s Archive Detective

20 Aug
Mitch Yockelson (left), investigative archivist, and Jay Bosanko (right), COO of the National Archives, with recently rediscovered documents in 2016.

Mitch Yockelson (left), investigative archivist, and Jay Bosanko (right), COO of the National Archives, with recently rediscovered documents in 2016. BILL O’LEARY/THE WASHINGTON POST VIA GETTY IMAGES

Mitch Yockelson knows what’s missing by heart. There’s an arsenal of diamond-encrusted daggers, swords, and scabbards gifted to Harry Truman by a Saudi prince and the Iranian shah—all stolen from his presidential library in 1978. There’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s official White House portrait. It went missing in a move. And there’s a batch of Abraham Lincoln’s telegrams that just up and vanished.

Yockelson, the investigative archivist for the United States’ National Archives, is unlikely to find any of these priceless historical treasures in a fluorescent-lit hall on the Maryland state fairgrounds. The annual Maryland Antique Arms Show brings together hundreds of dealers peddling all types of military antiques and ephemera. There, men toting bayonets for sale peruse table after table of old uniforms, yellowed discharge papers, and bowls of ammunition. Yockelson attends shows like this two or three times a year, in addition to scouring online auctions and following tips, on the hunt for lost Americana that rightfully belongs to the U.S. government.

So begins Nina Strochlic’s fascinating story on trying to track down archival thefts from the U.S. National Archives. You may read the entire Atlas Obscura piece here.

America is losing its memory

8 May

America is losing its memory. The National Archives and Records Administration is in a budget crisis. More than a resource for historians or museum of founding documents, NARA stands at the heart of American democracy. It keeps the accounts of our struggles and triumphs, allows the people to learn what their government has done and is doing, and maintains records that fill in family histories. Genealogy researchers depend on it, as do journalists filing Freedom of Information Act requests. If Congress doesn’t save it, we all will suffer.

So begins historian T.J. Stiles’ plea for more funding for the National Archives. (Full disclosure: I love Stiles’ books; I highly recommend them as outstanding histories, and great reads.) You may read his entire opinion piece here.

On Display: The 1968 San Francisco State Student Strike

18 Dec

San Francisco State University (then San Francisco State College) was uniquely situated to address racial inequities during the 1960s. In the early 1960s, several SF State students traveled to the South to participate in the Freedom Rides in order to desegregate interstate travel. And in October 1962, a wooden Speaker’s Platform was built on campus which became the first college-sanctioned free speech platform in the nation. Tensions grew on campus through the mid-1960s as a coalition of student groups protested the releasing of student information to the Selective Service Office and anti-black animus that resulted in the beating of black students on campus. Students felt the campus administrators were racist and ignoring inequalities readily apparent on campus. Using the free speech platform, students developed an innovative Third World curriculum through an ambitious experimental college as they developed networks for civic engagement in underrepresented neighborhoods beginning in 1966. In 1968, the suspension of an English Instructor (and Black Panther Minister of Education) George Mason Murray set off the longest college strike in American history. After changes in the school’s president, activism from students and faculty, and the ultimate closure of the campus and numerous campus demonstrations, the coalition of the Third World Liberation Front and the Black Students Union, supported by the Students for a Democratic Society, issued demands seeking a resolution to the strike. The result was the creation of one of the nation’s first Black studies curriculum and Black Studies Departments, as well as the School of Ethnic Studies.

It is not surprising that the longest college strike in American history would unfold at SF State throughout 1968 as students from different ethnic backgrounds came together to fight for educational self-determination and curriculum relevant to their lives.

So begins Meredith Eliassen’s post at the Organization of American Historian’s Process blog about a new online archives collection. You may read the entire post, with links, here.

Aftermath of War: A World War I Hero Lost at Sea: The Death of Charles Whittlesey, 1921

11 Dec

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One of the more notable incidents in the combat experience of U.S. troops during World War I is that of the so-called “Lost Battalion.” During the fighting in the Meuse-Argonne in October 1918, over 500 men of the 308th Infantry Regiment advanced farther than the supporting troops on either flank and ended up surrounded by the Germans. At the time of their relief after six days, 107 men were dead and 63 were missing. The leadership of their commander, Lt. Col. Charles Whittlesey, was credited with preventing an even worse outcome. The colonel received great public acclamation and the Medal of Honor.

So begins a post by archivist David Langbart about the tragic suicide of a World War I hero. You may read the rest of the post at the National Archives blog here.

The Power of American Indian Boarding School Records

14 Nov

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Not only the voices of policy makers and administrators appear in the records of the National Archives, but also those of individual people whose lives were changed by their interactions with the Federal agencies whose historic legacy we manage. Often these individual stories can capture the imagination.

So begins Gwen Granados’ post at the National Archives blog on the records of two American Indian boarding schools. You may read her entire post here.

Papers of President Theodore Roosevelt Now Online

17 Oct

The Library of Congress is announcing that the Theodore Roosevelt Papers are now online. You may read the entire announcement here.

Libraries and Archives: A Humanities Take on Discovery

22 Aug

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Studying libraries and archives historically as knowledge producers? Yes, says historian Karin Wulf. Read her concise piece at the Scholarly Kitchen here.

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