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Citizen Archivists

26 posts

Civil rights guarantee our rights as individuals and form an essential part of our democracy. The United States has a long history of endeavoring to define, secure, and protect the civil rights of Americans.

Black and white photograph of group of marchers with signs at the March on Washington, 1963

Civil Rights March on Washington, DC,  August 28, 1963. Records of the U.S. Information Agency, Record Group 306, National Archives Identifier 542044

The National Archives holds records that document civil and social rights movements, illustrate how individuals and groups asserted their rights, and include court records, decisions, and case files that have expanded civil rights in the United States. While the topic of Civil Rights runs the entire history of the United States and overlaps with many other areas of research, here are a few of the major civil rights court cases, decisions, and acts that can be found in the National Archives Catalog.
Radiogram concerning Mabel Ping-Hua Lee. The image featured the RCA logo at the top with a picture of Lee in the upper left hand corner.

Radiogram about Mabel Ping-Hua Lee, 6/26/1937. National Archives Identifier 197859987
The Chinese Exclusion Act limited rights of Chinese American laborers and prevented Chinese immigrants from becoming citizens. Under this act, Lee was not a citizen, and therefore was unable to vote. Yet she and others still fought for universal suffrage even without the ability to benefit directly from its success.

Black and white photograph of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking at the March on Washington. A group of men watch and listen.
Black and white photograph of a man in a clergy collar holding a sign advocating for voting rights
L: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Civil Rights March on Washington, DC, August 28, 1963. Records of the U.S. Information Agency, Record Group 306. National Archives Identifier 542014
R: Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. [A man holding a sign that reads "We Demand Voting Rights Now!"], 8/28/1963. National Archives Identifier 542036
Voting Rights

Voting Rights Act of 1965

Considered one of the most far-reaching pieces of civil rights legislation, the Voting Rights Act, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, was necessary to remove state and local barriers that prevented African Americans from voting in many southern states after the Civil War. Learn more on DocsTeach.

First page of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 document with public law stamp at top
Signature page of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 document, showing Lyndon Johnson's signature

Act of August 6, 1965, Public Law 89-110, 79 STAT 437, Which Enforced the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, 8/6/1965. National Archives Identifier 299909

Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857)

Dred Scott was an enslaved man that sued his owners for his freedom after he had been taken from Missouri to Illinois, claiming that he had automatically been freed once crossing into a territory where slavery was illegal. In this ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court stated that slaves were not citizens of the United States and, therefore, could not expect any protection from the Federal Government or the courts. The opinion also stated that Congress had no authority to ban slavery from a Federal territory. Learn more on DocsTeach.

Handwritten document of the judgement in the U.S. Supreme Court Case Dred Scott v. Sanford, 1857

Judgment in the U.S. Supreme Court Case Dred Scott v. John F. A. Sandford, 3/6/1857. National Archives Identifier 301674

Learn more about the Laws and Court Cases related to Voting Rights.

Education

Mendez v. Westminster

Mendez v. Westminster School District landed an important blow to school segregation in California. And it underscored that the struggle for civil rights in America crossed regional, racial, and ethnic lines. Learn more on DocsTeach.

First page of the petition in Mendez v. Westminster
Second page of the petition in Mendez v. Westminster

Gonzalo Mendez et al v. Westminster School District of Orange County et al. This Petition summarizes the complaint made by several parents of children in the Westminster, Garden Grove, and El Modeno School Districts and the City of Santa Ana schools. It charges that the schools were violating students' civil rights by segregating students of "Mexican and Latin" ancestry in separate schools. National Archives Identifier 294940

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka

On May 17, 1954, in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (five separate cases consolidated under a single name), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that separate but equal public schools violated the 14th Amendment. A year later in what is now referred to as “Brown II,” Chief Justice Warren required that the students be “admit[ted] to public schools on a racially nondiscriminatory basis with all deliberate speed.”

First page of the judgement in the Supreme Court Decision for Brown V. Board of Education
Reverse page of judgement in the Supreme Court Decision for Brown v. Board of Education, dated May 31, 1955

Judgement in the Supreme Court Decision for Brown et al. v. Board of Education of Topeka et al., 5/31/1955 National Archives Identifier 596300

Morgan v. Hennigan

In 1972, the parents of African American children brought a class action lawsuit alleging that the Boston School Committee violated the 14th Amendment of the U. S. Constitution by a deliberate policy of racial segregation in the Boston Public Schools. Learn more about this case on the Rediscovering Black History blog: Morgan V. Hennigan: Desegregation of Boston Public Schools.

First page of the Morgan v. Hennigan Complaint document

Tallulah Morgan et al. v. James W. Hennigan et al. Complaint. National Archives Identifier 4713867

View the full case file in the National Archives Catalog.

Explore more documents related to school desegregation on DocsTeach.

Marriage Rights

Loving v. Virginia

Loving v. Virginia (1967) was a landmark civil rights decision of the United States Supreme Court which invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage. Chief Justice Earl Warren authorized the court’s opinion, stating: “the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual, and cannot be infringed by the State.”

Appeal for Loving V. Virginia, 1966

Loving v. Virginia Appeal, 5/27/1966. National Archives Identifier 7873520

Learn more on the Prologue blog, The Fight for the Right to Marry: The Loving v. Virginia Case, and on the Rediscovering Black History blog, Virginia is for the Lovings.

Disability Rights

File for Deborah Sampson Gannett
During the American Revolution, Deborah Sampson disguised herself as a man and enlisted, under the name of Robert Shurtleff, in the Continental Army under the Fourth Massachusetts Regiment. She fought in several battles before her true identity was discovered following an injury. In 1809, after 20 years of petitioning the federal government, she received a disability pension of four dollars per month. Learn more on DocsTeach.

Page within Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application for Deborah Gannett

Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application File S 32722, Deborah Gannett, Mass. National Archives Identifier 54636851

From personal letters to historic legislation, records from the Presidential Libraries provide insight into efforts over the past century to establish programs and to protect the rights of people with disabilities. Learn more on the Americans with Disabilities Act web page.

For further research, resources at the National Archives provide a variety of documents, photographs, articles, and other educational resources covering many different topics related to civil rights, including slavery, racism, citizenship, women’s independece, immigration, and more.

Black and white photograph of group of young Japanese Americas at Poston, Arizona war relocation center.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, relocating 117,000 Japanese Americans. Photograph, Poston, Arizona, January 4, 1943. Central Photographic File of the War Relocation Authority National Archives. National Archives Identifier 536627

Browse textual, photographic, motion pictures and electronic records with the Black History Guide: Civil Rights. Additionally, explore Civil Rights Cases held at the National Archives at Chicago.

Learn more about photographs and other materials in the custody of the Still Picture Branch including images documenting the Civil Rights Movement and other social movements in the United States.

Black and white photograph of young women together at the March on Washington.

Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. Young women at the march, 8/28/1963. National Archives Identifier 542022

Black and white photograph of group of marchers resting on the grass at the March on Washington. Two men in suits smile at the camera. One man holds a sign above both of their heads for shade.

Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. Marchers sitting on the grass, 8/28/1963. National Archives Identifier 542009

For primary sources, teaching activities and more, explore DocsTeach: Rights in America.

Handwritten appeal request from Lenny Bruce, 1964

Appeal Request from Lenny Bruce, December 15, 1964. Lenny Bruce vs Hon. John M. Murtagh, Criminal Court of the City of New York: Special Sessions: County of New York. National Archives Identifier 2641487
After his conviction, Lenny Bruce appealed, claiming that his rights to due process, guaranteed under the 14th Amendment, were violated. The appeal overturned his conviction, but only after Bruce had died on August 3, 1966.

Aurelia S. Browder et al. v. W. A. Gayle et al.

This case file contains documents resulting from a Federal court suit that challenged segregation within Montgomery, Alabama's public transportation system. The case is renowned for its relation to the 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, a pivotal event in the Civil Rights Movement. Although not a party to the case, Rosa Parks' arrest record and fingerprints are exhibits to the case. The plaintiffs in this case were Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, Claudette Colvin, and Mary Louise Smith, all of whom had been either arrested for refusing to give up their seats to white passengers or harmed by being forced to comply with segregation codes. In this case, the three-judge panel ruled Montgomery segregation codes unconstitutional due to their violation of the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court later affirmed the District Court's judgment.

First page of civil case file for Browder v. Gayle
Exhibit from Browder v. Gayle case file showing Rosa Parks fingerprint card

Civil Case FIles, 9/1938-11/26/1968. Aurelia S. Browder et al. v. W. A. Gayle et al., No. 1147. National Archives Identifier 279205

Civil Rights Act of 1964

This act, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 2, 1964, prohibited discrimination in public places, provided for the integration of schools and other public facilities, made employment discrimination illegal, and enforced the constitutional right to vote. It was the most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction. Learn more on DocsTeach.

First page of Civil Rights Act of 1964

Civil Rights Act of 1964, 7/2/1964. National Archives Identifier 299891

Start your research on History Hub

Have a question? Find your answer here on History Hub!

For those looking to conduct research or learn more about Civil Rights records and resources, we encourage you to browse recent posts and questions on History Hub:

Civil Rights Collection on GIPHY

Have you seen our new Civil Rights collection on GIPHY?  Find historic footage of First-Time Voters, Civil Rights Marchers, and more!

Black and white animated GIF from the March on Washington. A little boy sits on a man's shoulders and claps as he goes by
Scene from the "March on Washington," August 1963

It’s just one of several new GIF collections in the National Archives’ GIPHY channel, which just surpassed 3 Billion total cumulative views! 

Screenshot of National Archives account page on GIPHY showing the African American History GIF collection

The channel features hundreds of vintage animated GIFs featuring everything from fun retro patents to famous prominent Americans.

Animated gif of one wheeled vehicle patent. The image shows the cyclist pedaling across the page
One-Wheeled Velocipede Patent
Animated gif of Sammy Davis, Jr. performing on stage. His back is to the crowd, and he turns around to face the crowd while holding a microphone
Sammy Davis, Jr. performs at a USO show, ca. 1972.

The Catalog Newsletter

Learn about newly added records and receive tips on using the Catalog's features, functionality, and guides. The National Archives Catalog is the online public portal to our records where you can learn more about our holdings. This email newsletter is delivered on a biweekly basis. Subscribe to the National Archives Catalog Newsletter

Join us in a celebration of African American History Month! The National Archives holds a wealth of materials documenting the African American experience. We invite you to learn more about the extraordinary contributions of African Americans to United States history and culture through online resources, research guides, and upcoming events and programs.

Photograph of Dr. Roscoe Brown, Jr, a Tuskegee Airman, signing the exterior of a plane. Dr. Brown is wearing a brown leather jacket with an American flag on the sleeve. A videographer is filming Dr. Brown in the background.
Black and white photograph of women from the WAC battalion during a parade in Rouen, France

L: Dr. Roscoe C. Brown, Jr., member Tuskegee Airmen, signs a canopy modeled after his P51 D Mustang during a reception following unveiling ceremonies, 5/18/1996. National Archives Identifier 6497047
R: Photograph of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion in France, 5/27/1945. National Archives Identifier 175539237

Guide to Black History

In 1984, to support the growing demand for knowledge of African American history, Dr. Debra Newman Ham, with the help of several other colleagues, took on the responsibility of compiling a guide to Black history records at the National Archives. With the publication of Black History: A Guide to Civilian Records in the National Archives, NARA became recognized as one of the primary sources for African American historical documents. Here you will find records, information, research tools and resources on topics such as Civil Rights, Education, Diaspora, Women, and more.

Photograph of a vote registration drive. Two women behind a desk assist another woman with registration
Black and white photograph of a man with a long mustache holding a sign in each hand. One sign contains 6 stars and the other sign contains 5 stars, representing his eleven sons in military service

L: Vote Registration Drive National Archives Identifier 556258
R: Ike Sims of Atlanta, Georgia, 87 years old, has eleven sons in the service. National Archives Identifier 533583

In addition, the African American History research page provides archives resources, blog posts and articles, featured records, public programs, subject portals, and more. Subject portals on topics such as Black Power, Voting Rights, and World War I highlight selected records, guidance for researchers, and additional resources for further study.

Screenshot of subject portals on African American History page

For the latest updates, subscribe to the Rediscovering Black History blog! Learn more about the vast amount of records at the National Archives and Presidential Libraries related to the African American experience.

The National Archives will present more African American History Month programs throughout the month of February. All programs are free and open to the public and available for viewing on the National Archives YouTube channel.

Start your research on History Hub

For those looking to conduct research on African American History, we encourage you to browse recent posts and questions in History Hub's African American Records community:


Photograph of a group of students socializing at the George Westinghouse High School
Image of map and program from the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. A map of the Washington Mall is on the left side and a program of events is on the right side of the page

L: At the George Westinghouse High School. National Archives Identifier 553804 
R: March on Washington For Jobs and Freedom. National Archives Identifier 26080947

Citizen Archivist Transcription Mission:
African American History

Join us as a Citizen Archivist and help make records more searchable and findable in the Catalog! For this Citizen Archivist mission, explore and help transcribe records in the Catalog documenting African American History. Every word you transcribe helps unlock history.

Black and white photograph of a group of African American infantry men arriving in New York City. The men are waving and cheering

The famous 369th arrive in New York City. Members of the 369th colored infantry, formerly 15th New York regulars. "Back to little old New York."  National Archives Identifier 26431290

How many records can you transcribe? Get started transcribing now.
New to the Citizen Archivist program? Learn how to register and get started.

The Catalog Newsletter

Learn about newly added records and receive tips on using the Catalog's features, functionality, and guides. The National Archives Catalog is the online public portal to our records where you can learn more about our holdings. This email newsletter is delivered on a biweekly basis. Subscribe to the National Archives Catalog Newsletter

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is a memorial day designated by the United Nations to mark the anniversary of the January 27, 1945, liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and death camp.

Black and white aerial photograph of Auschwitz Concentration Camp taken in August 1944

Auschwitz I (Main Camp) - Oswiecim, Poland, 8/25/1944. From the series: Aerial Photography of Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Records of the Central Intelligence Agency, 1894 - 2002. National Archives Identifier 305899

The National Archives is the international epicenter of Holocaust-related research. NARA holds millions of records created or received by the U.S. Government during and after World War II that document Nazi war crimes, wartime refugee issues, and activities and investigations of U.S. Government agencies involved in the identification and recovery of looted assets (including gold, art, and cultural property)—as well as captured German records used as evidence at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunals. We not only hold these records, we provide access to them.

Page 1 of a handwritten letter to Reverend and Mrs. D.H. Porter from their son, describing the conditions of the concentration camp at Dachau, Germany, written in 1945
Page 2 of a handwritten letter to Reverend and Mrs. D.H. Porter from their son, describing the conditions of the concentration camp at Dachau, Germany, written in 1945
Letter to Rev. and Mrs. D. H. Porter, 5/7/1945 describing the concentration camp at Dachau, Germany. National Archives Identifier 1055429
History Hub

Start your research on History Hub
For those looking to conduct research on the Holocaust and other World War II-related topics, we encourage you to browse recent posts and questions here on History Hub:

Citizen Archivist Transcription Mission:
World War II Looted Art

The Third Reich’s Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, or ERR, was the main agency involved in the systematic looting of cultural treasures in Nazi-occupied countries. Hitler ordered that all looted art be placed at his personal disposal. These plundered treasures and gold were hidden in castles such as Neuschwanstein Castle in Hohenschwangau, Germany, and in salt mines such as those found in Altaussee, Austria and Merkers, Germany.

Black and white photograph of Adolf Hitler inspecting looted artwork
Photograph of Hitler Inspecting Looted Artwork National Archives Identifier 175539523

For this World War II Looted Art transcription mission, help us transcribe property control cards which include information indicating to which country Nazi-looted cultural objects were restituted. In addition, the cards may include information such as artwork classification, measurements, identifying marks, history and ownership, condition and repair, arrival, destination and exit information, and the disposition of each item. In some cases, a photograph of the artwork is attached to the corresponding card.  These cards are digitized microfilm, so many are dark and low contrast. There is no need to mimic the layout of each card, just capture the data found within each field.

Property control card for a painting of the Dutch canal
Paintings: Wie 5589, Dutch Canal. National Archives Identifier 74149473

How many records can you transcribe? Get started transcribing now.
New to the Citizen Archivist program? Learn how to register and get started.

Black and white photograph of Master Sergeant Maus with an engraving found among looted art treasures, 1945

Master Sergeant Harold Maus of Scranton, PA is pictured with the Durer engraving, found among other art treasures at Merker, 5/13/1945. National Archives Identifier 5757194

Black and white photograph of two soldiers inspecting a Rembrandt self portrait among looted art treasures

"A priceless original Rembrandt, self portrait, is inspected by (left to right): Lt. Dale V. Ford and Tec 4 Harry L. Ettlinger. Lt. Ford is a resident of Grand Rapids, Michigan, while Tec 4 Ettinger hails from Irvington, New Jersey. Hielbronn." 5/3/1946. National Archives Identifier 176250354

Learn more on our Google Arts & Culture exhibit, World War II Looted Art: Turning History into Justice.

Title slide of the online exhibit, World War II Looted Art: Turning History into Justice

The Catalog Newsletter

Learn about newly added records and receive tips on using the Catalog's features, functionality, and guides. The National Archives Catalog is the online public portal to our records where you can learn more about our holdings. This email newsletter is delivered on a biweekly basis. Subscribe to the National Archives Catalog Newsletter

As digitization standards have evolved throughout the years, NARA has worked to keep up with best practices. However, despite our efforts to stay ahead of the curve, there are still photographs in our Catalog that were digitized many years ago and don’t necessarily meet the requirements to be considered “high resolution.” Specifically, researchers are likely to come across GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) files, which is more or less an outdated format in terms of digitization. While we are currently working to replace GIF files in our Catalog, in the meantime, researchers may be able to obtain higher resolution JPG/JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) and TIF/TIFF (Tag Image File Format) versions by searching Wikimedia Commons. The following is a step-by-step guide on how to find JPG and TIF files when the only version available in our Catalog is a GIF.*

 

 

You find a GIF file in the National Archives Catalog. Highlight and copy the National Archives Identifier number.

 

 

Go to Wikimedia Commons and paste the National Archives Identifier into the search bar (located in the top right-hand corner).

 

 

If there are any higher resolution copies of the photo available on Wikimedia Commons, the files usually appear within the top 5 search results.

 

 

After choosing the file format you want to use (JPG, TIF), click “download.”

 

 

Choose file resolution.

 

 

GIF version of 412-DA-731 (Santa Cruz, CA in May 1972, Photographer: Dick Rowan)

GIF version of 412-DA-731 (Santa Cruz, CA in May 1972, Photographer: Dick Rowan)

JPG version of 412-DA-731 (Santa Cruz, CA in May 1972, Photographer: Dick Rowan)

 

 

NARA staff have been working to add higher resolution versions to series that were originally uploaded as GIFs, so there are some instances where there are multiple file types available to download from our Catalog. In instances where a GIF and a JPG exist, but there is no TIF version, it is worth searching Wikimedia Commons to see if a TIF is available. The following is an example of that scenario.

 

 

*Please be aware that these instructions only apply to older digitization project in which GIFs were the original files uploaded to the Catalog.

 

A version of this post was originally published on the National Archives' Unwritten Record blog. The Unwritten Record is dedicated to highlighting special media holdings at NARA. Check it out!

Native American Photographs Tagging Mission


Citizen Archivists, we have a new mission for you! More than 18,000 photographs from the Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) are now available in the National Archives Catalog. We are looking for Citizen Archivists to add specific topical subject tags to each photograph in the Record Group.

Black and white photo of woman and child by teepee
Black and white photo of two men working on stone house construction

L: Women and child by teepee, ca. 1936. National Archives Identifier 285205
R: Stone House during Construction / Men Working. National Archives Identifier 7867978

Check out the mission page for the list of topical subject tags. Please add one or more of these topical subject tags to each photograph in the mission. Tagging Native American records with these topical subjects will make them more searchable in the Catalog, and will help organize them by subject for use in future projects and resource guides.

For this project, all tags should be added to the left side of the image and description, as shown in this example:

Screenshot of photo from Catalog showing a group of men in a class photo. To the left of the image shows tags added to description
Moscow, Idaho School of Welding class photo, ca. 1940. National Archives Identifier 285195

In addition to adding at least one of the tags in the list, you are welcome to add as many other descriptive tags as you would like. For this project, you can even add a topical subject tag if the term is already found in the Title or Scope and Content Note. Please see our What Makes A Good Tag how-to guide to learn more about tagging.

Black and white photograph of men constructing a stone house
Black and white photo of a family standing in front of a stone house.
L: Camp Building- Mt. Goseping L.O. National Archives Identifier 118973791
R: M&M Bluecloud, Daughter and Granddaughter by Home. National Archives Identifier 7867887

Check out the mission page and get started tagging! Thank you for helping make these rich records more accessible.

New to the citizen archivist program? Learn how to register and get started.

Black and white photograph of a young girl sitting in the doorway of a reed house
Black and white photograph of a woman feeding goats

L: Indian girl in native dress sitting in doorway of reed summer house, ca. 1935. National Archives Identifier 285204
R: Women feeding goats, ca. 1940. National Archives Identifier 285246

New in the Catalog

Lantern Slides of Navy Vessels and the Fifth Marine Regiment in France during World War I, ca. 1917 - ca. 1963. National Archives Identifier 559374

This series consists of lantern slides taken during World War I. Some of the images document the activities of the Fifth Marine Regiment serving under General Charles A. Doyen, United States Marine Corps, during June of 1917.

Slide showing two men sitting atop a stone wall talking
Slide showing car full of U.S. Marines driving down a road while a group of people watch and wave

L: Lantern Slide of Explaining Baseball to a British Sailor. National Archives Identifier 178140484
R: Lantern Slide of Greeting U.S. Marines in France. National Archives Identifier 178140520

In addition, this series includes views of various naval vessels from World War I. Some of the images are artist renderings of ships from that era. Among the types of ships pictured are destroyers, battleships, and submarines.

History Hub
Also be sure to explore the American Indian Records community here on History Hub!  Bring your questions about Native American history and records, or help answer other users' questions!

The Catalog Newsletter

Learn about newly added records and receive tips on using the Catalog's features, functionality, and guides. The National Archives Catalog is the online public portal to our records where you can learn more about our holdings. This email newsletter is delivered on a biweekly basis. Subscribe to the National Archives Catalog Newsletter

1 Million Pages!

We reached a BIG milestone.

Thanks to our community of Citizen Archivists, more than ONE MILLION pages of records are now enhanced by citizen archivist contributions to the National Archives Catalog!

Animated gif of group of people cheering
US National Archives on Giphy. Source: America in Space - The First Decade, 1968. National Archives Identifier 45015

This goal is part of the National Archives Strategic Plan, 2018-2022, which was established as a way to Connect with Customers, encouraging the public to engage with their government and explore American history by contributing unique content to the National Archives Catalog.

All of your contributions—including tags, transcriptions and comments—help improve search results for our records and make handwritten or difficult-to-read text accessible for a wider audience.

Looking for records from a previous citizen archivist mission? Wondering what types of records we’ve featured in transcription missions recently?

Check out our new Mission History page to see what our community of citizen archivists have been working on lately!
We couldn't have made it to 1 million pages without our Citizen Archivists. A big thank you to our top contributors of all time!

1. smithal
2. lcahalan
3. gypsi
4. PhillipEverettBacon
5. Trumanvol
6. SPietro
7. SAO
8. Nightingale
9. MM2
10. DonnaDP

11. maileann

12. WWEBER

13. garywysocki

14. jammon49

15. tmccolle

16. Ceili

17. Conrad

18. bibliophile

19. dar4cubs

20. Groenblad

World War II poster of a woman reading a letter. Top says Thanks gang, for the swell job you're doin
World War II Posters, 1942 - 1945, 'Thanks, Gang, for the Swell Job You're Doin'". National Archives Identifier 514685

Let's keep moving to the next million! Check our latest citizen archivist missions and get started transcribing today. Every contribution you make helps unlock a piece of history.

New to the citizen archivist program? Learn how to register and get started.

Introducing the Presidential Library Explorer

You may remember the launch of our Record Group Explorer last year, a data visualization tool to help you navigate the universe of records held at the National Archives.

We are pleased to share our second next-generation finding aid: the Presidential Library Explorer!

Screenshot of William Clinton Presidential Library display

This tool is a new path into the digitized holdings of NARA’s Presidential Libraries, providing a browseable experience that complements the deep dive that search in the National Archives Catalog provides.

The Presidential Library Explorer provides a visual summary of each Library, featuring:

  • a compelling image from each Library at the top,
  • a bar that indicates the scanning progress for each Library,
  • portals for browsing records within each Library organized by format,
  • portals for descriptions that do not have scans online,
  • and a call to action for citizen archivists.
Screenshot of Presidential Library Explorer showing how to browse our records

Give our Presidential Library Explorer a try! We’d love to hear your feedback about how you may find this tool useful, and how we can further improve it.

The data powering the Presidential Library Explorer will be updated monthly, so check back to see what we have added and any changes we’ve made. Also stay tuned for future next-generation finding aid projects in the works!


Questions about Presidential Records?  Bring them to the Presidential Records community here on History Hub

Or share your presidential knowledge with other community members!

New in the Catalog

We love patents! Thousands of new patent drawings were added to this series that consists of patent drawings illustrating proposed inventions of various types of equipment containing mechanical components.

Utility Patent Drawings, 1837 - 1911

We are sure to have some aspiring citizen archivist inventors out there! Do these patent drawings inspire your creativity?

Patent drawing of improvement to knitting machine
H. Pease Improvement in Knitting-Machines, 6/25/1872. National Archives Identifier 177838873

The Catalog Newsletter

Learn about newly added records and receive tips on using the Catalog's features, functionality, and guides. The National Archives Catalog is the online public portal to our records where you can learn more about our holdings. This email newsletter is delivered on a biweekly basis. Subscribe to the National Archives Catalog Newsletter

19th Amendment Centennial

The 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, but this landmark event was not the beginning or the end of the story for women and the struggle for the right to vote. The National Archives holds the records that help tell this story, including petitions, legislation, court cases, and more.

Image of 19th Amendment document

As the home of the 19th Amendment, the National Archives is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Constitutional amendment that guaranteed that “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

Animated GIF of women marching
US National Archives on Giphy. Source: General Marshall is Sworn in as the New Secretary of State, 2/21/1947. National Archives Identifier 23889
We are kicking off this 19th Amendment Centennial Commemoration with a brand new Citizen Archivist mission! Join us and transcribe newly digitized records that document the suffrage movement.
Document showing petition in favor of suffrage amendment
Document show a petition of women in favor of suffrage amendment

L: Petitions of Citizens of California in Favor of a Suffrage Amendment.  National Archives Identifier 169164461
R: Petition of Women of the First Congressional District of Illinois in Favor of the Susan B. Anthony Amendment. National Archives Identifier 167059974

These records include petitions to Congress for and against suffrage for women, resolutions, letters, telegrams, endorsements, resolutions, and memorials. Every word you transcribe helps make the records easier to find in the Catalog.

New to the citizen archivist program? Learn how to register and get started.

#19SuffrageStories

The campaign for women’s suffrage was long, difficult, and often dramatic.

Diverse communities and organizations blazed the trail for equal voting rights across the nation. For many women, especially women of color, the fight didn’t end when the 19th Amendment went into effect on August 26, 1920. Yet the stories of these suffragists have often been overlooked.

Image of women holding banner reading "19 stories about women and voting"

To mark the centennial of the 19th Amendment, the Smithsonian, Library of Congress, and National Archives are collaborating to bring these stories to you on social media.

Follow #19SuffrageStories on Instagram and Twitter now until August 26 to learn voting-rights history from the Library of Congress (@LibraryCongress on Instagram and Twitter), the National Archives (@USNatArchives), and the Smithsonian (@Smithsonian) about the many, diverse women who fought for voting rights, long before and long after the amendment passed.

Join us and use our set of animated social media GIFs and Instagram stickers on your social media posts to mark the centennial.

Animated GIF of Ida B. Wells saying "The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them."
Animated GIF of Marie Louise Bottineau Baldwin saying "Indian women were among the first suffragists"

We also invite you to join the National Archives online as we highlight records from our holdings and examine the fight for women’s voting rights through virtual public programs for all ages. Throughout August, we will explore the complex story of the struggle for women’s suffrage, leading up to and beyond the certification of the 19th Amendment on August 26, 1920. Visit our 19th Amendment Centennial Events page to view and sign up for our events, programs and activities.

Animated GIF of purple and yellow banner that reads "Lifting as we climb"
History Hub

Also be sure to explore the Women's Rights and Suffrage community here on History Hub!  Bring your questions about the 19th Amendment or help answer other users' questions about the history of women's suffrage!

The Catalog Newsletter

Learn about newly added records and receive tips on using the Catalog's features, functionality, and guides. The National Archives Catalog is the online public portal to our records where you can learn more about our holdings. This email newsletter is delivered on a biweekly basis. Subscribe to the National Archives Catalog Newsletter

The National Archives recently launched a new pathway to view and explore our records: the Record Group Explorer. This data visualization allows you to browse NARA’s holdings by Record Group. You can use it to get a sense of the scale and organization of records at the National Archives and to explore what is available online via the National Archives Catalog.

 

We now invite you to give the Record Group Explorer a try while contributing as a citizen archivist. To celebrate the launch of the Record Group Explorer, we’ve created special missions for each Record Group. Our first set of missions invite you to help tag and transcribe Records from the U.S. Secret Service and the Records of the Government of the District of Columbia. We’ll feature additional Record Groups for future missions.

 

Each of your contributions to these records will help unlock history and make them easier to find in our Catalog for other users.

 

Record Group Explorer Missions for Citizen Archivists

 

Have questions about the Record Group Explorer? Ask questions and contribute to the conversation here on History Hub. We’d also love to hear your input on how this new tool might be beneficial to you in your research, and your ideas about how we could further refine this data visualization for future projects.

 

The data powering the Record Group Explorer will be updated monthly, so check back to see what we have added and what changes have been made.

As part of our World War I commemoration, we recently invited the public to help transcribe written accounts of World War I soldiers and their first experiences in battles. This series contains remarkable and moving accounts of war through unit histories, station lists, operations reports, messages, and more. 

 

Of the 2,409 records in the series, 6,652 pages were transcribed by our citizen volunteers. We were especially moved by the descriptions of the battlefield by the soldiers who experienced the war first hand, and wanted to find a way to capture their experiences.

 

Now that the transcriptions are nearly complete, we are excited to share how this work transcribing has unlocked the stories within these records, and ensured these soldier’s voices are heard.

 

By performing a "search within" these records in the Catalog, we can now search for events, battlefield conditions, or even emotions that soldiers wrote about within their accounts. For example:

 

 

The word “artillery” can be found in 523 records in this series

“About 4 PM we moved forward to canal under heavy artillery and machine gun fire. Were relieved next morning.”

Transcribed by citizen archivist Ndlund

 

The word “afraid” can be found in 23 records in this series

“I was afraid that we would never reach our objective with one man alive but we only had 4  killed and two wounded all it takes is nerve”

Transcribed by citizen archivist LibrarianDiva

 

Ready to give it a try? Here’s how to search within a series:

 

From the Details section of the series description in the Catalog, click on the blue box: “Search within this series”

 

In the top left search box, remove the wildcard symbols *.* and replace it with the word you would like to search.:

 

 

Click on the magnifying glass or press “enter” on your keyboard to start your search. See your results!

 

 

Give it a try, and let us know what you find within these records! You could try searching for “trench,” or “Verdun,”  or even “pigeon.” Have you discovered something interesting or unexpected? How else could you use this feature in you research?

 

There are a few more records in this series that can still be transcribed! Help us finish up these last few records to make these stirring accounts fully accessible.  Get Started Transcribing!

You did it! During last week’s Citizen Archivist Week of Service, more than 430 citizen archivists helped tag and transcribe more than 3,500 pages! Thanks to all of you for helping us reach (and surpass) our goal.

 

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Didn’t get a chance to participate last week? Not to worry. Our Citizen Archivist Dashboard is updated regularly with new missions and featured records to tag and transcribe. Check back often to see what’s new, and keep up the great work!

As Thanksgiving approaches, we have much to be thankful for here at the National Archives. We are especially grateful for the records we hold in trust, and for our Catalog that allows us to share these records with you. We are also thankful for our colleagues, who inspired us with this idea to create a Thanksgiving meal through our records!

 

As you gather around the table this holiday season, we hope you find inspiration from these historic recipes and photographs found in the National Archives. Enjoy!

 

Appetizers are a great way to welcome your guests. We recommend Rosalynn Carter’s Plains Special Cheese Ring Recipe. (Trust us, it is delicious!)

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Be sure to offer a toast to your special guests!

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Need some inspiration? Try this fancy Manhattan Cocktail, or use this chart to construct the perfect cocktail.

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This turkey is looking good! (And of course you can't forget the gravy.)

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Need a side dish? The Republican Congressional Cook Book, ca. 1962 is filled with recipes that would be perfect for your Thanksgiving table. Why don’t you try the Georgia Sweet Potato Souffle?

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Save room for dessert! You’re sure to please everyone with this selection of pies.

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But if you only have time to make one, we recommend Nancy Reagan’s Pumpkin Pecan Pie recipe.

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Browse more recipes in our Catalog. Have you tried any of these recipes? Let us know how they turned out! Email us at catalog@nara.gov

 

Did you find this interesting? Discover more like this when you sign up for our Catalog newsletter! Twice a month we feature new and interesting records from the Catalog, research tips, transcription missions, and more.

At the National Archives, we are committed to making the citizen archivist program a great experience for our virtual volunteers. That’s why today we are introducing our new Resources page on our Citizen Archivist Dashboard. Whether you are a new transcriber, or looking for ways to become more involved, our resource page is designed to provide helpful information, tips and tricks, instructional videos and more.

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We created this resource page based on feedback and frequently asked questions we receive from our citizen archivists, and we hope you find it useful.

 

Check it out and let us know what you think! Do you have ideas for further instructional videos? What else would you like to see on our Dashboard? Let us know at catalog@nara.gov

Looking for some transcription work to do?

We have a group of really easy records to transcribe and we'd love your help.

 

Help us transcribe index cards of Naturalization Records.  These index cards have just a few lines of text on them and they are addictive - we bet you can't do just one.

 

New to Transcription for the National Archives? Learn how to get started.

Get started transcribing Indexes to Naturalization Records.

This blog post is an excerpt from the National Archives Catalog Newsletter. If you'd like to receive the newsletter - please subscribe.

 

Last week we celebrated Public Service Recognition Week with our annual Archivist’s Achievement Awards ceremony. This event provides the opportunity to recognize volunteers and staff of the National Archives for their passion and dedication to serving the mission of the National Archives and the American people. This year, we were proud to present a special award to one of our most dedicated and enthusiastic Citizen Archivists: Alex Smith.

 

 

Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero (center), presents Alex Smith (right) with the Citizen Archivist Award at the 2017 Archivist’s Achievement Awards Ceremony. Photo by Jeff Reed.

We first met Alex in 2015, when the Susquehanna University registrar was preparing to retire and looking for a meaningful way to spend his newly found free time. He read about the National Archives’ Citizen Archivist transcription project and discovered a way to volunteer and, according to Smith, do “something that matters for an organization as important as the National Archives.”

In the first eighteen months of his virtual volunteer work, Mr. Smith made a remarkable 11,100+ transcription contributions to the National Archives Catalog. Several times a week he logs into the Catalog and searches for his next record to transcribe. He often employs a serendipitous method to find the next record. For example, while searching for and transcribing telegrams, he reads about prohibition agents that leads him to search for prohibition. He’s inspired by the books he reads in his leisure – searching for public figures in the catalog such as Sherman Adams, John Bricker, Meade Alcorn, and Ann Whitman.

Alex Smith is not only a diligent citizen archivist and transcriber, he also is an evangelist and cheerleader for records in the National Archives, sharing the stories he’s found with friends. He is full of excitement when he discovers the intriguing, heroic and even the mundane within our records – he finds “happy surprises” within routine and seemingly dry records. Always a storyteller, he recounts what he has discovered while transcribing and has inspired others to become citizen archivists as well.

We were thrilled to welcome Alex to the National Archives and present him with this year’s Citizen Archivist award. We even got to spend some time showing him around the National Archives at College Park and talking about our favorite records.

National Archives Catalog Community Managers Suzanne Isaacs (left) and Meredith Doviak (right) with Alex Smith.  Mr. Smith is holding a 19th century example of a wooden box used for the storage of records.

 

Alex shared, “If it weren't for the Archives, I'd be having a much duller time, so I really am grateful for the imaginative ways you have allowed us civilians to take part in your extraordinary work.”

We consider ourselves the lucky ones to have such dedicated volunteers. Will you join us as a Citizen Archivist?

Research at the National Archives

 

Tagging in the National Archives Online Catalog

Did you know that, as a fellow researcher, you can help enrich our catalog by tagging and adding transcriptions to make the National Archives records more easily found online? By adding keywords, terms, and labels to a record, you will help to make the contents of NARA’s online catalog richer and more discoverable. More information tagged to historical documents, electronic records, photographs, and other records helps to makes them easier to find for the next person who may need the information.

 

 

What’s a good tag? Any keywords or labels that are meaningful to you, as well as names you find in the record. Simply type what you see. You can say whatever you wish to say in a tag if it conforms with NARA's Tagging Policy.

To get started with your valuable contributions, create a user name and password in the National Archives Catalog and login to the system.  

You can start a tagging mission by adding tag details and features in selected categories of photographs. Or create your own tagging mission task by doing a keyword search in the catalog for your favorite topics. For example, typing the keyword "Abraham Lincoln” and selecting "President Abraham Lincoln's Pardon of Charles Boland" from the generated list, will open the historical document. It also shows that this document has some blue ribbons tags as an indication of user tagging contributions to this document. You can check their tags, add more tags to the same document, or search and select another record that has not been tagged before. You can review some Tagging Tips as well as Tagging NARA Catalog Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

 

 

For additional information about tagging records see our National Archives Catalog newsletter.

 

Tagging in Flickr

You can also help tag National Archives images in Flickr. With every tag you add to the image, you help the next person discover that record/image.

 

Explore our nation's past with ourhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/usnationalarchives/National Archives' Photostream on the Flickr Commons. Please share your knowledge, insights, and experience by adding tags, notes, and comments. We also encourage you to clarify and correct information in our descriptions through your comments. To get started, simply create an account in Flickr.

 

Any tagging method you select to contribute will help make the records of the National Archives more discoverable, accessible, and understandable. All contributions will be greatly valued.