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Photograph of Researcher in the Central Search Room of the National Archives Building

Photograph of Researcher in the Central Search Room of the National Archives Building. 64-PR-20-1, NAID: 74228254

 

In this edition of Visual Cues and Clues, let’s step outside the box and explore photographs from a different angle. Instead of looking at what’s in the photograph, let’s explore what’s on the photograph. Markings, emblems, and logos sometimes lend a wealth of information that may not be identified through what is depicted in the image. Moreover, sometimes you can track down the archival institution that houses a photo you found online or in a book by simply examining what markings you can find on it.

 

Emblems, logos, and a variety of markings can take any shape or form. They can be an agency’s logo to a specific photography unit’s emblems. Even hand written information can serve as helpful clues. The information gleaned from what can be found on the photo can be used to locate the archival location of the image as well as understand the context around when it was taken.

 

If you’re looking for information on the photo, typically it will be marked in the corners or along the sides of the image. This is so it does not take away from the overall photo. Let’s take a look at some photographs within the holdings of the Still Picture Branch that have information on the photo and see what we can learn!

 

World War II Solider Reading with Two Women

Dachen with Peter Pantelone and Melle Paule Magure holding a conversation with the aid of a GI French Book. 111-SC-191373, NAID: 100310370

 

WHAT DO WE SEE ON THIS PHOTOGRAPH?

1. A logo in the bottom left corner that reads “Signal Corps, US Army.”

 

The United States Army Signal Corps have long been the units responsible for photographing military activities, especially during wartime. In this photograph from World War II, you can see the Signal Corps emblem in the bottom left corner of the photograph. While not every single Signal Corps photograph includes the emblem, this marking is a great way to identify the image and where it may be located. Since the Signal Corps was a US Government organization, it is no surprise their photographs are found within the holdings of the Still Picture Branch at the National Archives.

 

Close up of 111-SC-191373. Text reads: ETO-HQ-44-7086

 

 

2. A handwritten number along the bottom that reads “ETO-HQ-44-7086."

 

While not the most straightforward marking to the casual viewer, oftentimes numbers written on a photo may indicate the photo’s identifier number. Each identifier number is different depending on where they originated and who used them, but would typically be used to locate the photograph amongst a large collection of photos. In this case, this number–ETO-HQ-44-7086–is a field number used by the Signal Corps. The Signal Corps would assign a photograph a field number shortly after taking the image, then when it was processed by the Army, it would be assigned an official Signal Corps–or SC–number. Unfortunately, there is no way to locate photographs by the field number today, and we only use the official SC number in the Still Picture Branch.

 

 

Administrative Structures - Montana

Administrative Structures – Montana. 95-GP-5322-210950, NAID: 7047496

 

 

WHAT DO WE SEE ON THIS PHOTOGRAPH?

Close up of 95-GP-5322-210950. Text reads: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.

 

Luckily, this photograph includes a full caption in the top right corner that gives us context as to what is depicted. The biggest clue, however, comes from the stamp along the left side that reads “U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.” While we may not always get as lucky, this stamp easily indicates the photograph is likely found within the records of the Forest Service. Because the Forest Service is a Government agency, their permanent photographic records are typically found within the holdings of the Still Picture Branch.

 

 

Photograph of Ambulances Lined Up Awaiting the Arrival of the USS Tranquility (AH-14)

Photograph of Ambulances Lined Up Awaiting the Arrival of the USS Tranquility (AH-14) 80-GK-5978, NAID: 148728734.

This photograph has been digitally altered to improve the visibility of the writing along the side.

 

WHAT DO WE SEE ON THIS PHOTOGRAPH?

 

There are four distinct features written along the edges of this image that lend a lot of context to the photograph. They include:

 

Close up of anchor on 80-GK-5978.

 

1. In the top right corner we can spot a small anchor. This could mean the photograph is related to the sea.

 

Close up of 80-GK-5978. Text reads: Official US Navy.

 

2. While we cannot decipher the meaning of the handwritten text that reads: “Mull 6,” we can see “Official US Navy” written along the bottom right corner. This text, paired with the anchor, gives us the largest clue that this photograph was taken by the US Navy, whose records are usually found in the Still Picture Branch.

 

Close up of 80-GK-5978. Text reads: Ansco Safety Film.

3. Now that we understand who created this photograph, we can learn how they created this photograph by noting the text written along the left side. The text reads, “Ansco Safety Film,” which is the type of film used to create this image. Since we know it is film, we can tell this is a color transparency as opposed to a photographic print.

 

Close up of notches on 80-GK-5978.

 

4. The last clue on the photograph are the small notches in the left corner. Notches in film were used to identify the type of film and the date of its manufacturer. While it may be difficult to decipher the notches today, these markings further reinforces our idea that this is a color transparency.

 

 

"Become a nurse - Your country needs you"

“Become a nurse – Your country needs you” 44-PA-135, NAID: 513583

 

WHAT DO WE SEE ON THIS POSTER?

 

After examining this poster, the two places to look for information are the top and bottom...

Close up of 44-PA-135. Text reads: Federal Security Agency, U.S. Public Health Service.

 

At the top…We see a marking that reads “Federal Security Agency, U.S. Public Health Service.” While the nurse depicted in the poster illustrates the importance of health, there is no doubt this poster originated from the US Public Health Service.

 

 

Close up of 44-PA-135. Text reads: OWI Poster No. 22. Additional copies may be obtained upon request from the Division of Public Inquiries, Office of War Information, Washington, D.C.

 

Close up of 44-PA-135. Text reads: U.S. Government Printing Office: 1942-O-498483.

 

At the bottom… We read “OWI Poster No. 22. Additional copies may be obtained upon request from the Division of Public Inquiries, Office of War Information, Washington, D.C… U.S. Government Printing Office: 1942-O-498483.” While not as obvious, this indicates the poster was created as part of the war effort because it originated from the Office of War Information. Moreover, the poster was published by the Government Printing Office, which means the Government directly influenced the dissemination of this poster, and its official record copy can be found in the holdings of the Still Picture Branch.

 

 

Official Flag Raising on Iwo Jima

Official Flag Raising on Iwo Jima, 127-GW-319-113127, NAID: 175539289

This photograph has been cropped from its original mount. To view the full mount with caption, please visit our online catalog.

 

WHAT DO WE SEE ON THIS PHOTOGRAPH?

 

After looking at this photograph, we spot a long string of information along the left side that reads: “T.Sgt. J.A. Mundell. 21st Marines. 3d Mar. Div.”

 

Close up of 127-GW-319-113127. Text reads: T.Sgt. J.A. Mundell. 21st Marines. 3d Mar. Div.

 

Without even looking at the caption, we now know the photographer of this photo is Technical Sergeant J.A. Mundell. Mundell was part of the 21st Marine Regiment, which is part of the 3rd Marine Division. If we wanted to research further, we could follow the history of the 21st Marine Regiment and learn more about T.Sgt. Mundell, as well as view other official Marine Corps photographs found in the holdings of the Still Picture Branch.

 

 

 

The photographs included in this post have no known copyright restrictions. If you have any questions about the images in this post or the holdings of the Still Picture Branch, please contact us at stillpix@nara.gov.

 

PUBLICATION OF PHOTOGRAPHS FURNISHED BY THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES STILL PICTURE BRANCH-RRSS

 

Generally, copies of photographic records held by the National Archives may be published without special permission or additional fees. The National Archives does not grant exclusive or non-exclusive publication privileges. Copies of Federal records, as part of the public domain, are equally available to all. A small percentage of photographs in our holdings are or may be subject to copyright restrictions. The National Archives does not confirm the copyright status of photographs but will provide any information known about said status. It is the user’s responsibility to obtain all necessary clearances. Any use of these items is made at the researcher’s or purchaser’s own risk.

 

Proper credit lines are encouraged in the interest of good documentation. They also help inform the public about government photographic resources that are available.

 

*Because so many of our requests for information cite credits and captions that appear in published works, the inclusion of a photo number in hard copy and electronic publications is of great assistance to both us and the public.

 

Examples of preferred credit lines are as follows:

 

  • National Archives photo no. 210-G-C241
  • Credit National Archives (photo no. 83-G-41368)
  • Courtesy National Archives, photo no. 83-G-41430
  • National Archives (210-G-A14)

If using a large number of our images, the National Archives will appreciate receiving copies of publications that contain our photographs. Such copies can be sent to the Still Picture Branch or the Library, National Archives and Records Administration.

 

You can also find this blog post on the Unwritten Record.

 

For more posts in the Visual Cues and Clues series see our post titled "Visual Cues and Clues: Picking the Right Record Group for Still Pictures."

Subject Matter Expert (SME) - Civil Rights Blog #3
A Guide for Researchers Accessing Records of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

Ray Bottorff Jr

 

On September 9, 1957, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1957 (Public Law 85-315). While historians have laid bare the law’s numerous weaknesses, it did result, in its section 101, in the creation of the United States Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR).

 

Photograph of President Dwight D. Eisenhower Signing the Civil Rights Act of 1957 (H.R. 6127) in His Office at the Naval Base in Newport, Rhode Island” September 9, 1957, from the series Photographs of Official Activities of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953 - 1961.
National Archives Identification Number (NAID): 7865612.

 

According to the mission of the USCCR, it is, “...established as an independent, bipartisan, fact-finding federal agency, our mission is to inform the development of national civil rights policy and enhance enforcement of federal civil rights laws. We pursue this mission by studying alleged deprivations of voting rights and alleged discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, or national origin, or in the administration of justice. We play a vital role in advancing civil rights through objective and comprehensive investigation, research, and analysis on issues of fundamental concern to the federal government and the public.”

 

During its history, the USCCR’s reports to Congress and the American people served as a foundation for the Civil Rights Act of 1960, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (which included the Indian Civil Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The USCCR has the distinction of being the first Federal government agency to investigate in earnest Civil Rights matters concerning Native Americans, Mexican-Americans, Native Hawaiians, and issues involving gender biases.

 

Starting in the 1980s, the activities of the Commission became mired in political partisanship, with some appointees openly questioning the need for the USCCR. Nevertheless, the Commission was reauthorized in 1994 with the Civil Rights Commission Amendments Act. It remains active, conducting investigations, hearings, and issues reports to Congress and the American public.

 

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has had a significant impact on civil rights in the United States. However, their records at the National Archives (under Record Group 453) do not get the same level of scrutiny as compared to the records related to Civil Rights in the Department of Justice (Record Group 60), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (Record Group 65), the U.S. Supreme Court (Record Group 267), U.S. Court of Appeals (Record Group 276), the District Courts of the United States (Record Group 21), the U.S. Senate (Record Group 46), and the U.S. House of Representatives (Record Group 233).

 


Pamphlet, The Commission on Civil Rights,” U. S. Government Printing Office, 1958, from the series President (1953-1961: Eisenhower). 1953 - 1961.
National Archives Identification Number (NAID): 12167074.


Part of the reason that RG 453 receives less attention has to do with the restrictions originally placed on many of the records. When accessioned by the National Archives and Records Service (NARS) - and later when the organization became known as the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) - two primary restrictions were placed on nearly all records in RG 453. One of these restrictions may require a person to make a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in order to view them.

The first is restriction 5 USC 552 (b) (6) - Personal Information, which pertains to records containing the personal information (like addresses and other contact information) of individuals that the Commission talked to. Although decades have passed since the records were created (rendering some of the restrictions regarding Personally Identifiable Information (PII) no longer applicable), it may be possible that notations of restrictions remain on the records and their containers. Hence, the records are required to undergo a screening process by National Archives staff in order to make any releasable information available to the public.

 

The second restriction that applies to some of the Commission’s records is 5 USC 552 (b) (3) - Statute: 42 USC Ch.20A, Sec. 1975a. Per this restriction, all proceedings from Executive Session Commission meetings are confidential and not available to the public. It is possible that Executive Session Commission meeting records are sometimes intermingled with other records that are usually open to the public. Hence, all require screening by NARA personnel for this restriction to ensure that information is properly released.

 

Another reason for the underutilization of USCCR records may pertain to the need for information from paper-based finding aids to be added to the National Archives Online Catalog. For example, until recently a search of RG 453 in the Catalog provided basic information only. Further details were not available. However, the closure of NARA research rooms during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-21 provided staff an opportunity to transcribe thousands of paper-only finding aids for the online catalog. This includes the finding aids for Record Group 453, Records of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Over the coming months, most of this record group’s file lists will be available to search in NARA’s Online Catalog.

 

Before you contact the National Archives, it is first recommended that you research the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights website. USCCR’s website has two important links, the first of which is their Archives tab. Under this link are press releases dating back to 2010 under “Highlights'', “Commission News”, “State Advisory Committees (SAC) News”, and “Other”.

 

The second tab of interest is the one for Historical Publications, which forwards you to the Thurgood Marshall Law Library of the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law page dedicated to the Historical Publications of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. These publications are the culmination of the Commission's work and are the reports that were presented to Congress and the American public to act upon. These reports are a great place to begin your research into the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

 

Once you have searched potential areas of interest and are ready to view original documents related to the Commission reports, your next stop is the National Archives Catalog. You may use a basic search or advanced search to parse through Record Group 453 and review series descriptions and/or individual file lists.

 

The USCCR did not operate in a vacuum, of course, and it regularly interacted with other Federal agencies. Departments that worked with the Commission included the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Housing, Educations, and Welfare (HEW) (Record Group 235), and later the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) (Record Group 207), among others. Therefore, searching the Catalog under those record groups and others may lead you to additional records of interest.

The Commission also interacted with every Presidential Administration since its founding. During your research, you will find some records that are only available at Presidential libraries. Therefore, your research on these records will begin at NARA’s Research Presidential Materials web page.

The third page of the Memorandum for the President from the Attorney General on civil rights legislation, 23 October 1963 from the series Papers of John F. Kennedy: Presidential Papers: President's Office Files, 1/20/1961 - 11/22/1963. Attorney General Robert Kennedy recommends to President John F. Kennedy to follow the Republican Party's suggestion to make the Commission permanent.
National Archives Identification Number: 193808.

 

USCCR reports heavily influenced congressional legislation. Consequently, the records of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives may provide a source of Commission documents and correspondence. The Center for Legislative Archives holds the historically valuable records of the U.S. Congress, including official committee records. To research congressional records and legislative history, start with the Center’s online search catalog or contact them directly at legislative.archives@nara.gov.

 

You may review records of general interest within RG 453. Publications, 1975 - 1996 (NAID 1112317) includes a variety of publications created both by the Commission and outside groups. Publications, Reports and Studies, 1973 - 1976 (NAID 1077448) is similar to NAID 1112317, but these records were maintained by the Chairman of the Commission on Civil Rights, Arthur S. Flemming. Lastly, Records Relating to Surveys and Studies, 1958 - 1962 (NAID 1142771) contains reports and other studies from the earliest days of the Commission.

 

Once you have determined the USCCR records you wish to review, you will need to visit the National Archives facilities in Metro-Washington DC. The Center for Legislative Archives is located at the National Archives building in Washington, DC. Records for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights are found in the National Archives at College Park, MD. Please note: Due to COVID-19 facility closures and evolving arrangements pertaining to research, you should call or correspond with staff at each facility before visiting to be briefed on the status of current research and arrangements.

When you first arrive at the National Archives you are required to go through the process of obtaining a Researcher’s Card. You will watch a presentation which covers basic rules of how to properly handle records. Handling the records properly is important to help ensure that they survive over time and can be used by future researchers.

 

National Archives facilities located across the country may have different procedures for accessing certain records. Consult each facility's NARA web page for details on hours of operation and procedures for researching their records.

Records with restrictions that have not been screened will be reviewed by the National Archives archival staff. Please note congressional records are made available according to the access policies set by the creator of the records -- most House records open when they are 30 years old and most Senate records open when they are 20 years old.

 

A view of the second-floor research room at the National Archives in Washington, DC.

 

You may use non-flash photography or your own scanner (provided it does not have a document feeder) to digitize documents. Photocopy machines are also available for use. The machines provide the options to scan your documents onto a thumb drive or print out paper hardcopies. Whatever method you use, copying costs 25 cents per page.

Once you have finished conducting your research, carefully return the materials to the Archives staff. Before you leave, all papers must be reviewed by NARA staff to ensure that record materials did not get inadvertently mixed in with the copies and dislocated from the files. Although your first day going through USCCR documents has ended, you are welcome to revisit the National Archives for further research.

 

This guide for USCCR records may pertain to other records at the National Archives. Hopefully, this examination of the underutilized records of the Commission encourages further examination, review, and research. The United States Commission on Civil Rights stands as an important Federal authority in the development of civil rights in the United States. Come and explore the history it helped to create at the National Archives.

 

A United States Commission on Civil Rights hearing, “Federal Me Too: Examining Sexual Harassment in Federal Workplaces,” May 2019 which included a briefing from U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier.
Photograph from the Events USCCR web page.

 

Photograph of Josephine Cobb inspecting a Mathew Brady photograph.Photograph of Josephine Cobb holding a Mathew Brady photograph. Local Identifier: 64-NA-1595, NAID: 12169321.

 

Finding a specific photograph on the internet can be easy. Finding a specific photograph within the holdings of the National Archives can be trickier. If you have a specific photograph you found in the course of your research and it is attributed to the National Archives, this “Visual Cues and Clues” guide to picking a Record Group may help you determine where exactly that photo is. While the National Archives and Records Administration has many different units and locations that house photographs, the Still Picture Branch is solely dedicated to housing photographs. Keep in mind that photos can also be located at Regional Facilities, Presidential Libraries, or even Textual Records.

 

If you have a specific photo you are trying to locate and don’t have detailed citation information, there are a few things you can do to research where exactly the photo may be located. The Still Picture Branch houses roughly 17 million photographs–both analog and digital–which cover a wide variety of Record Groups. At the National Archives, Record Groups serve as a way to organize records into specific groups based on which Government Agency created, maintained, or arranged those records. In order to find any photos within our holdings, it helps to have an idea of which Record Groups to search.

 

In order to determine a Record Group (RG), the most important question you can ask yourself is “Why would the US Government have or produce these photos?” Think critically about the who/what/when/where/why, and see if you can pinpoint any US Government Agency and their involvement. That Agency will be the key to unlocking which Record Groups are the best places to search. Take time to explore the list of Record Group Clusters and Locations, and keep in mind not all units at NARA house records in each Record Group.

 

Sometimes you can even determine the best Record Groups to search based solely on what is depicted in the photograph you are searching for. The best way to analyze the photograph is to look closely, and try to determine what is happening in the photograph. Then, you can make your best guess about who might have been involved.

 

Now, let’s take a look at a few photographs and determine which Record Groups they may be within based solely on what we see in the photograph. We’ll point out a few important things to keep in mind as you look at a photograph when trying to determine a Record Group.

 

EXAMPLES

Photograph of Crew Chief Helping His Pilot

 

 

At first glance…

 

Without knowing too much about equipment or planes, we see a pilot being helped into the cockpit of an airplane.

Detail of Photograph of Crew Chief Helping His Pilot

 

Luckily this photograph was scanned at such a high quality, if we zoom in on his equipment, we can even see a “US.” Perhaps this stands for “United States.”

 

Detail of Photograph of Crew Chief Helping His Pilot

 

There’s also a marking on top of the plane itself, which could indicate what country the plane is from.

 

Why would the US Government have or produce these photos?

 

This photo likely served as a record of the operation of aircrafts either during wartime or during training. It recorded a moment of a pilot entering a cockpit and preparing for flight.

 

 

Guess the Record Group?

 

Since the image depicts a plane and pilot, we can narrow the Record Group to the “Air Force” section of the Record Group Clusters and Locations resource. The most likely Record Groups could be RG 18: Army Air Forces or RG 342: U.S. Air Force Commands, Activities, and Organizations. The Army Air Forces existed from 1941 to 1947, and turned into the United States Air Force in 1947, which still exists today. Therefore, RG 342 will likely have a larger body of records to review in order to find this photo, because the records in the Record Group date roughly from 1900-2003, while RG 18 dates from 1902-1964.

 

Answer:

 

Record Group 342! The image identifier number is 342-FH-3A23400-75680AC, and was taken during World War II in Italy. You can find the photograph in the online catalog.

 

 

Photograph of a Ship at Sea

 

At first glance…

 

This photograph depicts a ship at sea.

 

Detail of Photograph of a Ship at Sea

 

Not everyone is well-versed at the various types of ships, but after looking closely, it looks like there are planes onboard the top portion of the ship. This could mean the ship is some type of aircraft carrier or escort carrier. The planes appear to be older, given their shape and size.

 

 

Detail of Photograph of a Ship at Sea

 

 

Also, after looking closely at the front of the ship, we can see the number “72,” which is likely the hull number, or ship identification number.

 

Why would the US Government have or produce these photos?

 

It was important to record a ship in action to understand its usefulness to the Navy at large. While this photo doesn’t depict a battle, it is possible this was taken at wartime to depict how a ship could transport a variety of equipment, and in this case, aircraft.

 

Guess the Record Group?

 

This photograph mainly depicts a ship at sea, so the most likely Record Groups clusters would be “Modern Navy” or “Old Navy.” Within those clusters, the most likely Record Groups appear to be RG 19: Records of the Bureau of Ships or RG 80: General Records of the Department of the Navy. Because the photo appears to be while the ship was in service, it may be useful to check RG 80 first, because those would be the general record of the Navy. Typically, RG 19 depicts ships when they are first built or under construction.

 

Answer:

 

Record Group 80! The image identifier number is 80-G-364576, and the photo depicts the USS Tulagi (CVE-72). You can find the photograph on our online catalog.

 

 

Photograph of General Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

At first glance…

 

We recognize General Dwight D. Eisenhower in his uniform, speaking with another high-ranking Major.

 

Detail of Photograph of General Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

If you look closely in the top right corner, you can see German writing. Paired with the uniforms of those depicted, it is possible this photograph is from World War II.

 

Detail of Photograph of General Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

The biggest clue we can see is the emblem in the bottom right corner that reads: “Signal Corps. U.S. Army.” Moreover, General Eisenhower was a general in the US Army, which reinforces the idea that this image originated from the Army.

 

Why would the US Government have or produce these photos?

Since this photograph depicts General Eisenhower, a high-ranking official, it was likely used to document the war effort during World War II. The German writing indicates they were abroad, which also proves how it was probably used to document the war.

 

Guess the Record Group?

 

Given our biggest clue that the image is related to the Signal Corps, the most likely Record Group found under the “Modern Army” or “Old Army” heading of the Record Group cluster list is RG 111: Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer.

 

Answer:

 

Record Group 111! The local identifier number for this photo is 111-SC-434297 and was taken by a Signal Corps photographer during World War II. You can find the photograph on our online catalog.

 

 

Bilateral with Foreign Minister Mariano Fernandez of Chile

 

At first glance…

 

We recognize Hillary Clinton, and possibly also recognize Mariano Fernandez. If you do recognize him, you would know Fernandez served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile in the early 2000s. Then, it would be easy to place this photograph during Clinton’s time as the Secretary of State.

 

Detail of Bilateral with Foreign Minister Mariano Fernandez of ChileDetail of Bilateral with Foreign Minister Mariano Fernandez of Chile

Even if we did not recognize Secretary Clinton or Minister Fernandez, we can see the design of the room is very ornate. In addition, we can note the Chilean flag as well as the United States flag, indicating which countries are represented in this photograph.

 

Why would the US Government have or produce these photos?

This photograph would serve as documentation of the official meeting of each countries’ representatives. Since Secretary Clinton is depicted, this photograph would serve as documentation of her term as Secretary of State during President Barack Obama’s administration.

 

Guess the Record Group?

 

Luckily, the Record Group clusters list has an entire section dedicated to State and Foreign Affairs. Because this photograph depicts Secretary Clinton’s general meeting with a Foreign Minister, it is likely this image is within RG 59: General Records of the Department of State. In addition, while Barack Obama’s Presidential Library may house records related to his administration, since this photograph solely depicts Secretary Clinton’s meeting, it would be found in general State Department records.

 

Answer:

 

Record Group 59! This photo is found within a born digital series under the local identifier 59-PAD-128-DSC_2011. You can find the photograph on our online catalog.

 

 

Foresters at Work

 

At first glance…

 

In this photograph we see a man walking alongside a pile of cut trees in a forest.

 

Detail of Foresters at Work

 

If you look closely, you can see he is wearing a uniform and writing on a pad of paper. He also is prepared for his work with a pouch at his side.

 

Why would the US Government have or produce these photos?

 

This photograph is difficult to say definitively that it was taken by a US Government agency because the subject matter can also be related to private, commercial efforts. However, due to the large areas of Government-owned land, this photograph could have been used to document the efforts to care for government land.

 

Guess the Record Group?

 

Because this photograph depicts a forest, it is likely related to the Agriculture section of the Record Group clusters list. While there are agencies related to specific functions, RG 95: Records of the Forest Service, relates the most to forest activities.

 

Answer:

 

Record Group 95! This photograph depicts a forester at work in Alabama and is found under the local identifier number 95-GP-2-465015. You can find this photograph on our online catalog.

 

 

 

The photographs included in this post have no known copyright restrictions. If you have any questions about the images in this post or the holdings of the Still Picture Branch, please contact us at stillpix@nara.gov.

 

PUBLICATION OF PHOTOGRAPHS FURNISHED BY THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES STILL PICTURE BRANCH-RRSS

 

Generally, copies of photographic records held by the National Archives may be published without special permission or additional fees. The National Archives does not grant exclusive or non-exclusive publication privileges. Copies of Federal records, as part of the public domain, are equally available to all. A small percentage of photographs in our holdings are or may be subject to copyright restrictions. The National Archives does not confirm the copyright status of photographs but will provide any information known about said status. It is the user’s responsibility to obtain all necessary clearances. Any use of these items is made at the researcher’s or purchaser’s own risk.

Proper credit lines are encouraged in the interest of good documentation. They also help inform the public about government photographic resources that are available.

*Because so many of our requests for information cite credits and captions that appear in published works, the inclusion of a photo number in hard copy and electronic publications is of great assistance to both us and the public.

 

Examples of preferred credit lines are as follows:

  • National Archives photo no. 210-G-C241
  • Credit National Archives (photo no. 83-G-41368)
  • Courtesy National Archives, photo no. 83-G-41430
  • National Archives (210-G-A14)

 

If using a large number of our images, the National Archives will appreciate receiving copies of publications that contain our photographs. Such copies can be sent to the Still Picture Branch or the Library, National Archives and Records Administration.

 

You can also find this blog post on the Unwritten Record.

Subject Matter Expert (SME) - Civil Rights Blog #2:
Matters Concerning Elder Rights within Federal Records

Ray Bottorff Jr

 

Elder rights, in the United States, is not recognized as a constitutionally protected class. However, the rights of older people have been of increased importance and political concern during the 20th century and continuing into the 21st century. This is due to improvements in medicine extending the average life expectancy, urbanization, and industrialization changing the social structure in the United States resulting in Americans living longer and increasingly outside the traditional extended family structure. These changes meant that as the 20th century began, a larger number of older adults were living alone and in poverty in the United States.

This growing issue of poverty among older people was a major factor in the creation of the Social Security Act of 1935 to help provide economic security. Even with the worst issues of poverty being addressed, the issue of increasing healthcare costs helped lead in 1958 to the creation of the lobbying organization, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). The AARP was founded by Ethel Percy Andrus and Leonard Davis, promoting insurance to retirees and advocating itself as a lobbying group for Americans over the age of 50. The AARP started lobbying for medical care for older adults, placing their increasingly stronger lobbying power behind the cause. By the 1960s, an increasing population of older Americans and the growing expense of medical care resulted in the creation of Medicare under Title XVIII of the Social Security Act in 1965 to help provide medical security to people aged 65 and older.

Photograph of President Lyndon B. Johnson Signing the Medicare Bill” July 30, 1965, from the series Johnson White House Photographs, 11/22/1963 - 1/20/1969, National Archives Identification Number (NAID) 596403. Others in the picture include President Harry S. Truman, First Lady Bess Truman, First Lady Lady Bird Johnson, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, and Senator Edward V. Long.

 

 

While Social Security and Medicare were not advancements in civil rights for older adults per se, they nevertheless made it clear that older people had a political voice. Now that the basic needs of income and medical care were addressed, there were other rights and needs that needed attention.

 

The Older Americans Act was also passed in 1965. This act provided the first Federal-level programs, aid, and grants designed to help older adults. To help facilitate the Act’s mission, the law allowed the creation of the Administration on Aging (AoA) within the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW). The AoA became the Federal Government’s advocate for matters concerning older Americans.

 

 

The first page of the Act of July 14, 1965, (Older Americans Act of 1965), Public Law 89-73, 79 STAT 218 from the series Enrolled Acts and Resolutions of Congress, 1789 - 2013. National Archives Identification Number (NAID) 299905.

 

 

Over the years, the Older Americans Act was amended multiple times to address the needs of the community. The 2006 amendment dealt directly with the civil rights of older Americans, concerning the matters of long-term care and the growing problem of elder abuse in part by defining elder abuse and long-term care. The law also provided funding for Aging and Disability Resource Centers run by the states to help coordinate “comprehensive information on the full range of available public and private long-term care programs” amongst other aid.

 

The amendment also established the idea of “elder justice” which was “to prevent, detect, treat, intervene in, and respond to elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation and to protect older individuals with diminished capacity while maximizing their autonomy.” The 2006 amendment was designed to deal with the ever-growing population of older Americans and the increasing violations of their civil and human rights.

 

Age discrimination in the United States also became an increasing problem, elusive to document and difficult to prove when it did happen. President Lyndon Johnson and Congress attempted to tackle the matter with the 1967 law, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The ADEA was meant to end age discrimination in employment for anyone over the age of 40. Specifically, the law looked to address age discrimination in hiring, wages, benefits, promotions, terminations, layoffs, and in retirement pensions.

But the Act had its limitations, including being limited to companies that employed more than 20 people and whose business crossed state borders. The law also, however, allowed companies to terminate employment for older employees under terms like “good cause” and “reasonable factors'' that outwardly appeared unrelated to age. This Act would be subject to amendments over the years, most notably in 1986, when the ADEA was amended to ban mandatory retirement in most work sectors.

 

Page 64 of the file [Department of] Labor - Older Americans Act from the series Barbara Chow's Files, 2000 - 2001. National Archives Identification Number (NAID) 34427392. The documents in the file deal with the Department of Labor’s assessment and opinions over a proposed amendment to the Older Americans Act.

 

 

Federal records related to the rights of older Americans are dispersed over many record groups, much of which is not yet digitized for the National Archives Catalog. Such records involve the legislative process, the opinions and political support from various presidencies, decisions made in Federal Courts about these laws, and governance and legal enforcement of the new laws by various government agencies.

Among the record groups which will contain records concerning the rights of older adults are the General Records of the United States Government (Record Group 11), Records of the Social Security Administration (SSA) (Record Group 47), Records of the U.S. Senate (Record Group 46), Records of the U.S. House of Representatives (Record Group 233), General Records of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) (Record Group 235), Records of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) (Record Group 403), and General Records of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (Record Group 468).

In the Federal Courts, matters involving the rights of older Americans have also been heard over the decades, and records can be found on the subject in the Records of the Supreme Court (Record Group 267) , Records of the U.S. Court of Appeals (Record Group 276), and Records of the District Courts of the United States (Record Group 21).

 

These record groups can be found at the National Archives in Washington, DC, the National Archives at College Park, MD, and at National Archives locations around the country.


Even though elder rights are still not recognized as a constitutionally protected class, the struggle for their rights to life and health protection, as well as their civil rights against age discrimination, forced retirement, elder abuse, and exploitation remain ongoing today. This struggle is one deserving of acknowledgment and study, for it is very likely that most of us will someday become a part of this unprotected class.

The National Archives Cartographic Branch holds aerial photographs of the United States covering the years 1935 - 2011. Domestic photography can be found in several different series of records. This post will cover aerial photographs in Record Group 57: Records of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

 

Special List 25 is the starting point for accessing any domestic aerial photography. This Special List provides information on which record groups and series hold photographs for specific domestic locations. It is available digitally on-site or by request by emailing the Cartographic Branch at carto@nara.gov. Additionally, a paper copy is available in the Cartographic research room, located at Archives 2, in College Park, Maryland. The list is arranged by state and thereunder by county.

 

Once you navigate to the county that includes your specific area of interest, you can see all of the series where relevant photographs can be found. You can then sort by record group and date.

 

 

Aerial photographs for the USGS can be found in the series Record Group 57: Aerial Photography, 1935 - 1966. You can access these records by first using the associated indexes: Aerial Photography Indexes, ca. 1935 - 1966. Digitized copies of the indexes are available for viewing and copying on a shared drive in the Cartographic research room. The project symbol listed in Special List 25 can be cross referenced with a spreadsheet on this drive, which provides the digitized folder where these particular indexes are held.

 

For example, the photographs for Bayfield, Rusk, and Sawyer Counties in Wisconsin are all under the project symbol of “AL.”

 

 

This symbol can be found in the Special List entry for these counties. From there, you can cross reference the project symbol to the spreadsheet available on the shared drive. Looking at the project “AL” in this spreadsheet will lead you to the digital index identifiers for these counties.

 

 

Once you find your project symbol in this spreadsheet, you can see which digitized indexes cover your area of interest. The scans are arranged into folders by cassette number. The first digits in the “Scan” field will tell you which cassette to navigate to. In this case it’s 01 (010021).

 

 

From the cassette folder, you can navigate directly to the scans that match the number from the “Scan” field in the spreadsheet.

 

 

The indexes are mosaics of available photography. You can search for your specific area of interest on the mosaic. Once you find your spot of interest, a frame number will be shown in the image, which corresponds to a frame number on a film can.

 

 

RG 57, Aerial Photography Indexes (NAID 305470), AL

 

 

Once you have your citation (ex: AL-1-10), you can find the film can where this photograph is held using our RG 57 Can Locator. This database is available digitally on-site or by request by emailing the Cartographic Branch at carto@nara.gov.

 

 

In this case, you can search for the symbol “AL” and the roll “1.” All of the photographs for this project will be on this can and the individual frame numbers can be found on the film. The photographs for AL-1 are on the film can ON175298, Barcode T357922606. Cans with an ON identifier are original negatives which are stored at the Lenexa Federal Records Center. These cans can be ordered in the Cartographic research room and arrive within three business days. If you already have a researcher card, you can order ON cans ahead of your visit to our site.

 

Once you order the cans and they arrive at our facility, you can view and copy them in the Cartographic research room. We have light tables which allow you to view the film and take photographs on a personal camera. We also have aerial film scanners available. If you have a USB capable laptop, you can bring it to our research room and scan the photographs to your computer.

 

RG 57, Aerial Photography (NAID 305471), AL-1-10 (available online at USGS EarthExplorer, entity ID AR1AL0000010010).

 

 

Additionally, a number of photographs from this series can be found already scanned on the USGS EarthExplorer website.

 

Follow these steps to search for specific aerial images:

 

1. Search Criteria: Set your Search Criteria using the options given

 

You can enter a date range to narrow down your search.

 

 

2. Data Sets: Select "Aerial Imagery," then "Aerial Photo Single Frames"

 

 

3. Additional Criteria: Enter the project identifier into the "Project" field

 

 

4. Click "Results"

 

 

You will then see a list of the photographs for this project with thumbnails of the photographs. Once you click on the thumbnail you will see a larger entry which includes the photograph and metadata. You can also order images from the USGS via the link provided with each search result.

 

USGS EarthExplorer, Entity ID AR1AL0000120011

 

 

If you prefer to view the original film at the National Archives, you can do so in the Cartographic research room.

 

Photographs from Record Group 57 are a great resource for domestic aerial photography. They are just one part of the large collection of aerial photography available in the Cartographic Branch. We will be providing additional blog posts on accessing aerial photography from other record groups in the future.

 

If you have any questions regarding aerial photographs from RG 57, you can email the Cartographic Branch at carto@nara.gov or the Aerial Photography Subject Matter Expert at corbin.apkin@nara.gov.

    It gets such a bad rap, red tape. But it's been around for a long time.

    The National Archives' own Howard Wehmann weighed in on the subject,

    in a letter to the local paper.

 

                           Howard Wehmann's Red Tape History Lesson - Wash. Post, June 11, 1980.jpg

                                  The Washington Post, June 11, 1980

 

 

     That kind of puts red tape in perspective, doesn't it?

 

    Here is a popular little item in an old library supply catalog:

 

                   Gaylord Catalog - page 90 - Red Tape.jpg

                                                                     Gaylord, Inc. catalog, 1928

 

 

   It's dead useful for all sorts of jobs.

    When a stack of papers is just too fat for an Acco fastener, a bit of red tape can save the day!

 

                                 Red Tape and Acco Fastener Hybrid - from RG 64, P 39.jpg

 

    And the guvmint bought plenty of the stuff.

 

                                              Government Buys Red Tape, too - Wash. Post, March 6, 1944.jpg

                                                        The Washington Post, March 6, 1944

 

 

    How and when "red tape" came to connote bureaucratic hoop jumping is anyone's guess.

    But it sure took hold in the popular imagination.

 

   And the National Archives itself was accused of being a perpetrator.

 

                         Red Tape in Disposal of Govt. Papers - RG 64, P 67, file 1938 April - Sept..jpg

                             NAID 7582964, file "April - September 1938"

 

 

   Well, guilty as charged. But the National Archives couldn't (and still can't) be too careful

    when it comes to disposal of records.

   So the rest of the government just has to deal.

 

    But it's true that there is plenty of unnecessary "red tape" twining around our lives.

 

                            Red Tape in Allstate Ad - Life, Aug. 26, 1957.jpg

                                     Life, August 26, 1957

 

 

         Where did it go? Oh, it's around. I clipped this one from a 1921 report just the other day.

 

                                   Red Tape Clipped from report - RG 83, PI-104 30, file Plan of Organization and Operation, 1921.jpg

                                    NAID 567368, file "Plan of Organization and Operation"

 

 

    Well, look at that, will you?

 

                           Red Tape Lipstick - from Ebay.jpg

                                 Seventeen, October 1955

 

 

    Cutting that tape can certainly be satisfying.

   On a visit to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia recently, this caught my eye.

 

   Red Tape Cutting for Williamsburg Tunnel, 1949.jpg

 

 

    Oh, brother.

                                    Red Tape Prevents Indian Govt. Action on Rats Eating Records - Collection MUNDN, file Misc. Letters and Writings, box 3.jpg

                                             Collection MUNDN, file "Misc. Letters and Writings"

 

                          

    Now the National Archives uses white twill tape for binding records.

    It just doesn't have the same ring, though..

 

                                     Twill Tape.jpg.

 

       Looking for a different kind of Valentine's Day gift?

 

                                                    National Archives Store - Red Tape Products

75449573 hh.jpg75449885 hh.jpg75450201 hh.jpg75485469 hh.jpg

 

The 21,655 photographs in this series depict all aspects of Sandia National Laboratories' unclassified work on nuclear weapons testing between 1972 through 1992 at the Nevada Test Site (NTS). Photographs reflect Sandia National Laboratories' mission to ensure that the United States nuclear arsenal is safe, secure, reliable, and able to support the United States' deterrence policy.

 

View all of these photos in the National Archives Catalog: Photographs Related to Nuclear Weapons Testing at the Nevada Test Site, 1/1972 - 12/2012

 

The majority of photographs depict various equipment, personnel, and operations related to underground nuclear tests. In addition, other photographs in this series depict High Explosive tests at Nevada Test Site; Coal Gasification Experiment at Hanna, Wyoming; the Solar Power Project; Waste Disposal at Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Oil Shale Project at Rock Springs, Wyoming; as well as other non-nuclear tests and experiments.

 

Interested in more updates like this? Subscribe to our Catalog newsletter!

The National Archives at College Park (Archives II) will undergo temporary closures in the Researcher Registration Room 1000 and part of the ground floor security entrance to the research complex between December 8, 2017 and January 22, 2018.

 

Research Registration Room 1000

Room 1000 will be temporarily closed during a re-cabling improvement project. Due to the nature of the work, the project may be extended beyond January 22. The temporary location for researcher orientation and researcher cards will be conducted at a desk in the main ground floor lobby.

 

If you have an existing researcher card that has an expiration date between December 9, 2017 and the end of January 2018, it is recommended that you renew your card before December 9th.

 

Security Entrance to Research Complex

The ground floor security entrance to the research complex will have a temporary and only partial closure. Researchers will have full access to the research rooms but please anticipate longer wait times to enter and exit the research complex. The work will be done at the same time as Room 1000.

 

We will post updates and have status information on the main phone line (301-837-2000) for Archives II. We appreciate your patience.

 

Please submit questions to Michael Knight, Branch Chief, Research Services, Research Room Operations at 301-837-0475 or Michael.Knight@nara.gov.

PLEASE NOTE: The following blog post describes upcoming changes to the records pull times and consultation hours for Archives 1 (Washington DC) and Archives 2 (College Park, MD) only. All changes went into effect on MONDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2017.

 

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) at Archives 1 (Washington, DC) and Archives 2 (College Park, MD) added an additional pull time!  The new pull times will be 9:30 AM, 10:30 AM, 11:30 AM, 1:00 PM, 2:00 PM, and 3:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Also, additional records may not be signed out after 5:15 PM.  However, records signed out at 5:15 PM or earlier may continue to be viewed.

 

Currently research consultation is available from 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. The consultation room hours will be 8:45 AM - 4:00 PM, Monday - Friday.

 

The Innovation Hub at Archives 1 and the partners' digitization room (6050) at Archives 2 closes at 5:00 PM.  Electronic Records consultation is by appointment only between 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM.  Researcher Registration and phone coverage (1-86-NARA-NARA) at A1 and A2 is open until 5:00 PM.

 

After 4:00 PM, researchers will have on-site access to the services listed below at Archives 1 and Archives 2:

 

Capture.JPG

 

To summarize, beginning Monday, October 2, 2017:

 

Research Rooms Hours: 8:45 AM - 5:45 PM

 

Records Pull Times: 9:30 AM, 10:30 AM, 11:30 AM, 1:00 PM, 2:00 PM, and 3:00 PM

 

Consultation Hours: 8:45 AM - 4:00 PM

You’ve visited the Textual Research room and submitted a pull request only to get back a yellow paper saying your request is available on Microfilm.

yellow.jpg

Don’t Panic! That means you don’t have to wait for another pull time. Instead you can head straight for the Microfilm research room (ground floor at Archives 1, fourth floor at Archives 2), which is self-serve!  That yellow slip probably came with an alpha-numeric publication number (e.g. M23 or A3340).  Bring the pull slip and yellow paper to the Microfilm Research Room, as that will help the research room staff find your records.

 

How to find your reels:

To find microfilm, you can either go through the main Archives Catalog or the Microfilm Catalog to see which National Archives sites hold that publication, as well as if that publication series has a descriptive pamphlet for you to use (and download).  Descriptive pamphlets allow you to narrow down which reels you’ll need. There are also finding aids in the research room to help you find what you are looking for.

 

***HINT!  Several older Microfilm Publications (usually of pre-1850s records) have been compiled into published collections, which will usually be noted in the descriptive pamphlet. Some of these, such as the Naval documents related to the quasi-war between the United States and France, 1797-1801, have also been digitized by various organizations.  The site HathiTrust may well be worth a quick check!

 

Once you know your publication and reel numbers, you’ll need to find their location. In College Park at Archives 2, we use a large binder, known as the Locator. It is arranged alphabetically by publication type, and lists publication number, series title, location (Cabinet/Drawer), if it was declassified, and if there is a descriptive pamphlet. Once you’ve found your publication in the cabinet, you can take out four reels at a time.

 

Meanwhile, in downtown DC at Archives I, you can pull one reel at a time. There, you'll use the Location Register in the Microfilm Room on the ground floor to find the location of the microfilm that you're looking for. The book is arranged by publication number as well as according to the Record Group number.

 

How to make reproductions:

In an effort to ensure that all researchers have access to the types of readers they need, we ask researchers to sign up for a reader time slot based on their particular microfilm reader needs (see our previous History Hub post for more information).

 

In downtown DC at A1, there are 15 functional Microfilm readers (9 for scanning, 4 for printing, and 4 for viewing).

 

Here in College Park at A2, our Microfilm Research Room has 14 Microfilm readers (2 for scanning to USB, 5 for printing, and an additional 7 for viewing/taking notes/photographs). Those two scanning machines are available on a sign-in, first-come first-serve basis, with each sign-in period lasting 45 minutes.  The scanners allow you to edit the microfilm image prior to saving. 

 

But if you are unable to use one of them, don’t worry!  Here are a couple tricks you can use to get the best image on non-scanning machines. You’ll need a smart phone or digital camera.

  1. You can use one of many free (or inexpensive) scanning apps which you download on your phone.  These allow you to use your phone’s camera as a handheld scanner and save the image as a PDF. Many allow minor editing to be done in the app before you export the file.
  2. Even easier is to switch your camera or smart phone to a grey-scale or black and white filter.  Particularly on older microfilm readers, this produces a crisper image as well as eliminates much of the bulb bust-effect created by the light within the reader.  This is especially useful for handwritten documents that have been microfilmed. (Compare the below images)

bulb bust.jpgA photo taken of a Minolta reader, with no filter

bw.jpgA photo taken of a Minolta reader, with a Black/White filter

                       

 

After that, you can use whatever photo-editing software you prefer to adjust the contrast, clarity, and brightness of your images to your liking. We also offer camera and smart phone stands for your convenience, and there are outlets at each station for your charging cables.

 

How to load a machine:

 

Staff in the Microfilm research room will be happy to show you how to load, unload, and use any machine. However, should you like a refresher course, please see the following YouTube tutorials:

 

Loading and operating a Minolta microfilm reader

 

Loading a PowerScan microfilm reader

 

Operating a PowerScan microfilm reader

 

 

General Tips:

  • Gently pulling the loading tray forward (whether on the Minoltas or scanners) allows the glass to lift so you can thread the film through without damaging it.

                     

  glass minolta.jpg

Minolta feed tray pulled forward, and glass lifted

 

 

 

glass scanpr.jpgScanner feed tray pulled forward, and glass lifted

 

 

  • Please make sure you match your microfilm reel size to the same take up size (16 mm to 16 mm, 35mm to 35mm).
  • If you are working on a Minolta reader, there are two lens sizes available: #2 (9-16x zoom) and #3 (13-27x zoom).  The top knob (blue) controls your zoom, and the bottom knob (grey) controls your focus. If you need a different size lens, please let staff know.

lenses.jpg

Minolta Lenses

 

  • If using a ScanPro microfilm reader, there are three things you should double check:
      1. You have turned the scanner ON (indicated by a green light on front of machine) – or the program will not open.

                 2. You have plugged your USB into the dongle on the desk (shown below) – NOT into the computer itself. dongle.jpg

ScanPro USB dongle

 

 

                  3. You have told the scanner to save to your USB (or it will default-save to the computer and be very difficult for staff to retrieve)

 

When done with your microfilm:

When you are finished with your reel, pull the tray forward again.  This will allow you to ‘speed’ rewind.  Then remove the rewound reel and return it to its box.  We ask that researchers refrain from refiling their own microfilm reels, but instead place them on the cart provided.  Staff will refile microfilm reels to ensure they are returned to their correct locations.

The home front directed factory production, agricultural output, and local community energies to the war effort in World War I. President Woodrow Wilson stated that ‘it is not only an army we must shape and train, but also a nation.’ National sentiment leaned mostly to isolation, but by 1917, the U.S. became increasingly involved overseas, culminating in its war declaration in April 1917. Local, regional energies and dozens of civilian and government committees were formed to contribute to the war effort. Communities saw it as a point of patriotic pride by ingratiating themselves with home front activities.

 

Alongside the Council on National Defense, women's groups were pivotal in orchestrating home front activities. The Women’s Land Army of America placed thousands of volunteers on farms and ranches to compensate for the loss of labor. Thousands volunteered for the Red Cross and the Women's Committee, whose primary goal was registering member’s skills and directing food donations. The Woman's Committee worked in conjunction with the US Food Administration and its director, future US President Herbert Hoover. Woman's Committee chapters operated locally, orchestrating food drives and agricultural practices in their community. Local food production was essential and securing enough for the armed services meant coming up with creative solutions at home that would not put additional pressure on the economy.

 

womens committee cnd.jpg

(Meeting of the Woman's Committee with Council on National Defense, April 1918, https://catalog.archives.gov/id/26432765 )

 

One focus of the Woman's Committee was to educate children and participating in school activities. These primarily included teaching children how to start a local garden, run food drives, and taught them how to can food. Each of these taught children and their families how they could save and preserve their food supply. This allowed people to conserve and stretch their groceries further, which in turn a meant less food consumption. The Anti-Waste Campaign by the Food Administration collaborated with numerous local organizations to streamline the available food supply that was donated for the war effort and cut down on unnecessary food waste.

anti waste.jpg

(Firemen and members of the Community Canning Centre canning corn with the Food Administration, September 1917, https://catalog.archives.gov/id/31481413 )

 

Former NAWSA President Dr. Anna Howard Shaw was appointed Chairman of the  Woman's Committee and her connections with women's suffrage groups proved critical in coordinating home front logistics and having a ready supply of volunteers. Dr. Shaw’s efforts awarded her the Distinguished Service Medal, the first woman to receive the award. These interactions were not without some disagreements and compromises though. During the war, women's suffrage activism was largely suspended in order to support the war effort; suffrage organizations who participated in home front work received widespread acclaim during the war that later played a critical role in passage of the 19th Amendment.

dr anna howard shaw.jpg

(Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, former President of NAWSA and Chairman of the Woman's Committee of the Council of National Defense, circa 1918, https://catalog.archives.gov/id/55164399 )

 

Womens organizations in World War I played a crucial role on the home front and integrated the war effort into every community and home. Their grassroots organization and volunteer efforts were all a pivotal component of the United States' home front effort to secure victory for Allied forces in the Great War.

Noticed anything new about the Microfilm Research Room lately? This spring, we took care of some housekeeping, checked (and re-checked) our open access holdings, and gave the room a total overhaul!  So head on up to the fourth floor of our College Park facility (A2) and check it out!

 

Following up on multiple researcher comments and requests, we’ve moved around the Microfilm readers to allow researchers to have more desk space while using them, and shifted the finding aid shelves to make them more convenient to use (again – more desk space!).  We’ve also got new, adjustable chairs to go along with the new, higher desks .

1.jpg

The Finding Aid shelves, now on the opposite wall

 

 

We’ve also fully re-numbered and re-labeled the Microfilm cabinets. This ties in with the newly updated Microfilm locator.  The physical locations of microfilm series within the room have, for the most part, not changed, but to be on the safe side you should still double-check the locator. We ask that researchers refrain from refiling their own microfilm reels, but instead place them on the black cart provided.  Staff will refile microfilm reels to ensure they are returned to their correct locations.

 

2.png

One of two carts for returning microfilm reels

 

 

Another new change to Microfilm has to do with the fact that we are entering the summer busy season here at NARA. The increase in researchers is particularly noticeable in the Microfilm Research Room, as we only have 14 Microfilm readers (2 for scanning to USB, 5 for printing, and an additional 7 for viewing/taking notes/photographs).

 

In an effort to ensure that all researchers may have access to the types of readers they need to use, we ask that upon entering the Microfilm Research Room, researchers sign up for a reader time slot based on their particular microfilm reader needs (i.e. if you plan to only use a digital camera, please sign up for a viewer-only machine, not a scanning or printing machine).

 

3.jpg

The Sign-Up Sheets for Printing and Viewing Microfilm Readers

These time slots are for 45 minutes, and you may only sign up for one slot at a time.  As it gets close to the end of a time slot, you may check to see if the next slot is empty and if it is, sign up for the next slot. However, if someone has signed up after you, you will need to move to another reader (if available) or wait until the next open slot.  You may not sign up for multiple slots at one time.

This is the same policy we have with our two USB-scanning microfilm readers year-round.

 

4.jpg

The Sign -Up Sheets for the Scanning Microfilm Readers

Again, this is to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to view their documents and reproduce them as necessary, particularly for those researchers who may only be visiting us for a short while.

 

 

 

Coming soon:  A #ResearcherProTip post on microfilm tips and how-to’s, so you can maximize your effectiveness when using a technology that dates back to the nineteenth century ;-)

    If you’re a regular visitor to the History Hub, you’ll notice frequent suggestions to contact a particular reference office at the National Archives. As you can imagine, since the vast majority of the National Archives’ holdings are not available online, reference archivists are your gateway to the holdings of the National Archives, and reference requests are the keys. By the end of this post, the reference request process should be thoroughly demystified so that you can request with confidence!

 

    (If you’re interested in locating military personnel records, that’s a different process that this blog won’t cover. The National Archives has forms and guidance for requesting veterans’ records available online on NARA’s “Veterans' Service Records” page.)

 

    The most important thing any researcher can do is to start the request process by doing their due diligence- search the National Archives Catalog or check to see if books or articles on your topic cite National Archives sources. Is there a NARA blog post or Prologue article that talks about your subject? We’ve also provided some additional links at the bottom of this page that may be useful in starting your research. NARA resources will include contact information for the specific reference office responsible for the records in question. And of course, the History Hub is a great place to ask for help if you’re lost or overwhelmed!

 

    As you’re doing research, an essential question to consider is “How does my topic relate to the records of the U.S. government?  What federal entity would have been involved or interested?” For example: the National Archives generally does not hold vital records because they are usually created and held by local authorities. However, the National Archives may have records of the combat death of a soldier, or marriage records included in an immigration application. The difference is that these documents were created or collected as part of a function of the US federal government. This can be a helpful guide to narrow down specific agencies or record groups to search for your topic.

 

    Once you’ve done your research, checked the catalog, and determined what kinds of records you’re interested in, it’s time to write your request. Your reference request should be clear, concise, and specific about what information you are seeking. (See below for examples of specific information that may be required to locate records. Include the agencies involved in your request.)  Provide as much information as you know; federal organizations all maintain their records differently, so multiple types of information may be necessary to find records.  Keep in mind that archivists only have a limited amount of time to search for records and respond to requests, so tailor your request to give them the information they need.

064-16-007-A.jpg

 

Here are some basic guidelines for what to include:

 

 

Information to include if you’re researching an individual or doing genealogical research:

-Name of the individual

-Birth/death dates

-Relevant locations

-If military- branch of service, unit, service dates

-Federal agency or government organization that would have records relating to this person

Information to include if you’re researching a topic or an event:

 

-Locations and timeframes

-Organizations or federal agencies involved

-Names of relevant individuals (including the information listed above)

 

Information to include if you’re researching in a court case:

-The location of the federal or District of Columbia court where the case was filed

-Any case-related identifiers (plaintiff, defendant, case number, etc.)

-The year of the case or a general time frame

 

 

Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, NAID 29011058         

 

 

    If you think the records are located in a specific record group or entry, be sure to include that in your request, as well as the National Archival Identifier (NAID) from any catalog entries that you think are relevant. Why you need the information (e.g., for a VA claim) can be useful information for the archivist as well. It’s also extremely helpful to include resources and institutions you’ve already consulted.

 

   Once your request is submitted, expect it to take at least a few weeks to a month for archivists to research your request and send you a response. You may get a reply that the archivist was unable to find records that are responsive to your request, or that your topic would require extensive research, which needs to be done in person (either by you or someone researching on your behalf).  But, hopefully, the response will be that records were found that relate to your request! If that is the case, your response will include a price quote for reproduction fees (for more information, check out NARA’s reproduction fee schedule) and instructions for ordering copies of the records.

 

    These are the basics of the reference request process- for a more in-depth guide to doing research using the records of the National Archives, check out this Getting Started Overview. The National Archives also has several more specialized guides to doing research and requesting records on Archives.gov.

 

Helpful National Archives Links

-National Archives FAQs

-NARA’s research topic guide

-NARA’s guide to military records

-NARA’s guide to genealogy research

-NARA’s guide to federal court records

-NARA’s guide to presidential records

-NARA’s guide to microfilm records

-NARA’s guide to FOIA requests

 

Happy researching!

I cringe every time I hear a story about a researcher spending money to travel to a National Archives facility only to find out the records they seek aren’t at that location, are unavailable for research, or that the reference staff are unable to assist the research in the short travel window they have available. This is a very frustrating scenario but it is easily avoidable by following two easy steps: searching the National Archives Catalog and then contacting us. Below I detail these steps you should take before arriving at one of our facilities to conduct research.

 

Search the National Archives Catalog

Go to the National Archives Catalog and search what you’re looking for. If you’re having trouble finding relevant results, try narrowing your search with the refine options on the left side of the screen or by conducting an advanced search. If you have any questions about how to use the Catalog, please contact the National Archives Catalog staff.

 

Once you’ve found records that interest you and you decide you have to come to a National Archives facility to view them, first confirm their availability by checking their Access Restriction(s) under “Details.” If “Unrestricted,” you should be able to view the records without issue. If “Restricted - Possibly,” “Restricted - Partly,” or “Restricted - Fully” then you may be unable to view them.

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If you are interested in coming to view those records, bookmark the URL or note the National Archives Identifier (NAID) of the records. This will come in handy in the next step when you contact us.

 

Contact Us

Regardless of the Access Restriction(s) please contact the reference unit listed in the Catalog description under “Archives Copies.” It is very important that you contact us three or more weeks before any planned visit to give the reference staff enough time to do appropriate investigation and preparation. Some records are even stored offsite and require transfer to the research facility. If you don’t give them this time, they may be unable to help you when you arrive.

 

Reference staff will be able to inform you of the availability of the records and possibly prepare them for your visit if available for research. Give them either the URL you bookmarked or the NAID you recorded. Please note, not all facilities will prepare records in advance of your visit.

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Even if you don’t find anything of interest, contact us. If you know which facility you need to contact, contact them directly (list of locations with contact information here). If you are unsure of which facility might hold records relevant to your interest, use the general contact us form. It’s possible the records you seek haven’t been described yet, or weren’t described in a way that corresponded to the keywords you entered in your search. A reference archivist will be able to help you further. Also, be sure to check our FAQs for answers to some of our most commonly asked questions.

Are you researching a topic related to environmental studies? If so, you can find many useful resources among these collections at the National Archives. Listed here are some of the many record groups that provide information about environmental issues.

 

 

Many state, local, and private archives also contain records that document important information about the environment. The National Archives’ National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) has provided grants to several such institutions, and the collections those organizations have digitized are now freely available online. Two examples include:

 

  • The Aldo Leopold Foundation and the University Archives of the University of Wisconsin, Madison have digitized the papers of 20th century ecologist and philosopher Aldo Leopold. As they note on their website, “Aldo Leopold is considered by many to have been the most influential conservation thinker of the 20th Century. Leopold’s legacy spans the disciplines of forestry, wildlife management, conservation biology, sustainable agriculture, restoration ecology, private land management, environmental history, literature, education, esthetics, and ethics. He is most widely known as the author of A Sand County Almanac, one of the most beloved and respected books about the environment ever published. The Leopold Collection houses the raw materials that document not only Leopold’s rise to prominence but the history of conservation and the emergence of the field of ecology from the early 1900s until his death in 1948.” You can view the collection and find out more about Aldo Leopold here: Aldo Leopold Archives – UW Digital Collections

 

  • The University of Florida has digitized material several “archival collections related to the exploration, development, and conservation of the Everglades between 1879-1929. These collections include materials from two Florida governors who wanted to develop the swampy region, a governor's wife who advocated conservation of certain regions, and several individuals associated with development. Together, the approximately 100,000 pages in the collections document the vibrant turn-of-the-century debate about what to do with these lands that appeared useless and dangerous.” To browse the collection, visit: UFDC Home - America's Swamp: the Historical Everglades 

 

For more information about other NHPRC digitization grant projects, see: