David S. Ferriero
10th Archivist of the United States
Patent of the Month: Still Design, 1808
Stills similar to the one represented in this drawing were used to make distilled liquors and were commonly used in America during the early 19th-century. And their “descendants” are still being found in the mountains of rural America!
Image: Eli Barnum & Benj. Brooks Still Design Patent, 1808. National Archives Identifier 305887
This 1918 valentine refers to the World War I effort to economize on food for the war effort—called “Hooverizing” in honor of the U.S. Food Administrator, Herbert Hoover. From the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library
Ken Price, the Hillegass University Professor of American Literature and co-editor of The Walt Whitman Archive at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, needs our help. Mining the records of the Office of the Attorney General here at the National Archives, Price has discovered 3000 documents in Whitman’s hand. His discovery is described in a 2011 Prologue article, “Whitman, Walt, Clerk.”
It seems likely that additional documents exist in archives scattered around the country. The items Price located were written between July 1865 and December 1871, when Whitman worked as a clerk in the Office of the Attorney General. I offered to help Price with his ongoing treasure hunt and I hope you will help us with this search since there may be hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of additional documents in Whitman’s handwriting that have gone undetected until now. These documents promise to illuminate the life, writings, and government employment of the national poet.
Whitman’s handwriting is quite distinctive. Examples of his handwriting can be found in the “scribal documents” section of The Whitman Archive. Ken would be pleased to learn of your discoveries at kprice2.@unl.edu.
Read the full post on the AOTUS blog. Happy Hunting!
Yesterday we were privileged to host two special advance screenings of The Monuments Men, one especially for the staff of the National Archives. Thanks to the generosity of Sony Pictures, Columbia Pictures, and Robert Edsel, author of The Monuments Men upon which the film is based for making this possible. The film will open in theaters around the country on February 7th.
In our East Rotunda Gallery, through the 19th of February, our featured document is an Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) album that records artwork looted by the Nazis during the Second World War – one of a series of photo albums created for Adolph Hitler’s benefit to document the Nazis’ systematic looting of cultural treasures and to serve as a pick list for his planned museum in Linz after the war. The Army’s Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program recruited the group known as the Monuments Men (although there were also Monuments Women), and they used these albums to return treasures to their rightful owners. The volume on display is one of several recently discovered albums donated to the National Archives by Robert Edsel, the president of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art. The newly discovered albums supplement the 40 already in the custody of the National Archives.
The National Archives is proud to join other federal agencies in support of the “It Gets Better Project.” Our participation in this project represents an opportunity for federal agencies and employees to openly talk about issues, share messages and stories of hope, and provide resources for support.
Thanks to all the NARA staff across the country who shared their stories and supported this project. And remember, it truly does get better.
Last night we opened the David M. Rubenstein Gallery, the home of our new Records of Rights permanent exhibit, which discusses the rights of women, immigrants, and African Americans. Thanks to all our hard working staff who brought this exhibit to life.
What is Past is Prologue: Appointing the first Historian of the National Archives
Earlier this year, Jessie Kratz was appointed Historian of the National Archives—our first! Jessie has been with the Archives nearly 15 years—most recently on staff at the Center for Legislative Archives.
Upon accepting the job, Jessie’s first priority was to create the National Archives History Office to ensure our agency’s history is retained. She is working to make sure the official records created by the National Archives are preserved and accessible for research.
Last night I had the distinct honor of welcoming director Steven Spielberg to the National Archives and presenting him with the Foundation for the National Archives’ Records of Achievement Award for bringing our nation’s history to life on the big screen.
This event was also an important opportunity for me to recognize and thank the terrific staff of the National Archives and the Foundation for the National Archives—the folks who really make my job easy.
With the opening of the “Discovery and Recovery” exhibit, I had a chance last week to thank many of the National Archives staff who made it possible. And it truly took a village to make this happen! Staff from just about every corner of the Agency contributed—preservation and conservation, security, legal, communications, exhibits, digital engagement, innovation, digital preservation, holdings protection, programs, and facilities. Truly a team effort.