Photographs Relating to the Marshall Plan and Post-WWII Economic Recovery in France

In 1973 the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) transferred to the National Archives approximately 31,000 negatives and corresponding prints created by the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA) and its successor, the Mutual Security Agency (MSA), to document economic recovery in Western Europe after World War II under the Marshall Plan. After processing, this accession became series 286-MP “Marshall Plan Programs, Exhibits, and Personnel, 1948-1967” (National Archives Identifier 541771). During processing it was discovered that the French portion of the file was missing, which staff presumed would be an extensive and important part of the series. After consulting with the USAID, the exact location of the file was not determined and remained a mystery for over 10 years.


Change of Holdings Report for Marshall Plan Accession

This started a 40 year search to locate and eventually recover the alienated French file. In 1984, the lost file was discovered by researcher Linda Christenson in the hands of a commercial photography company in Paris.   Christenson was researching for a traveling photo exhibit in France on behalf of the United States Information Agency (USIA).  The company had started maintaining and managing the collection at an offsite U.S. Embassy facility in 1971 after the photographic section at the U.S. Embassy closed and over the next 32 years moved the collection several times.  Part of the agreement between the ECA and the French company included providing free reproductions to the ECA, the US Embassy in Paris, and later the USIA.  From 1984 until 2013, the National Archives was unsuccessful in retrieving the files, but through the hard work of NARA’s Archival Recovery Team, Ed McCarter (formerly of the Still Picture Branch), Jeff Landou (Office of General Counsel), and Frank Cordes (National Archives Foundation) who acted as the French interpreter, and the support of the Marshall Foundation in Lexington, Virginia and the U.S. State Department and U.S. Embassy in Paris, the owner of the commercial company agreed to transfer the collection to the National Archives.  In June 2013, the NARA team traveled to Paris to survey and box up the collection for transport back to the United States. During pack up it was discovered that not only did the collection contain the French Marshall Plan photographs marked FRA, but a set of Marshall Plan photographs marked PAR for Paris, which also contains some images created and/or acquired by the United States Information Service (USIS) in Paris.


June 13, 2013. Recovery effort in Paris. View of the storage facility showing the drawers in which the Marshall Plan negatives were stored.


June 13, 2013. Recovery effort in Paris. View of the right side of the storage facility showing the larger file cabinets and drawers in which the Marshall Plan negatives were stored.

The boxes arrived at Archives II in College Park, MD in July 2013 and almost immediately three projects were started to digitize the negatives and corresponding indexes and caption lists, but only after the negatives were properly arranged and re-housed by Still Picture staff member Chanel Sutton. In the fall of 2013 the first batches of negatives were sent to the National Archives Photographic Lab for scanning using the appropriate tonal corrections. The scanning (22,913 negatives) and subsequent quality control work took 15-months to complete. The photographic lab had a rotating team of photographic technicians working on the project. The initial pilot workflow for the project was devised by Sheri Hill with Cecilia Epstein coordinating the workflow and PT Corrigan performing quality control on all batches. Most of the scanning and photographic adjustments were done by Amy Young, Cecilia Epstein, Jerry Thompson, Mimi Shade, Roscoe George, and Sheri Hill with assistance from student employee Chantise Hawkins and volunteer Jordan Murek. Also pitching in when workloads permitted were Carolyn Anderson, Carlita Earl, Lywanne Young, and Rebecca Sullivan.


Staff member Mimi Shade scans Marshall Plan negatives.

Scanning of the caption lists (2,000 pages of image-level captions), referred to by the French company as the “bibles”, also began in the fall of 2013. The work was performed by NARA’s Volunteer Office with volunteer Harry Kidd organizing the project. Scanning was performed by Harry and Denise Lynch.  At the same time, former Still Picture staff member, Pat Woolaver, created a spreadsheet derived from information in the subject index that precedes the image level captions.  This spreadsheet provides alphabetical access to the images at a group level rather than at the item level.  All of this data is currently being used to create file unit level descriptions for online access to the scanned images.

After completion of the scanning and index work, the Still Picture Branch finished processing of the original negatives along with the original caption lists, indexes and newly created digital images. This work not only included incorporating the negatives into the existing series and updating the series description, but performing the initial prep work needed on the index metadata and scans for transfer to the Digital Public Access Branch (VEO) for upload into the catalog. This work was mostly performed by former Still Picture staff member Julie Stoner. Final prep work and upload into the catalog is currently being performed by Gary H. Stern in VEO.


“The three main personalities at the opening ceremony [New Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers in Europe  (SHAPE) Headquarters in France] were (left to right) General Eisenhower, President Vincent Auriol, and Jules Moch, Minister of Defense”, July 23, 1951. Local Identifier: 286-MP-FRA-3127


, “Draped with French and American Flags, a 155mm. self-propelled gun, representing the millionth ton of aid to France, is unloaded from the “American Shipper” at Cherbourg.” May 9, 1952. Local Identifier: 286-MP-FRA-4537


“This is Europe” Broadcasts. In a series of thirteen half-hour broadcasts , the radio section of the ECA/OSR, in co-operation with Tele-Radio-Cine in Paris, presented some of the recovery story of the Marshall Plan countries.  “Anders Borie, film star and singer, added three of Sweden’s current hit songs to the program devoted to this country” ca. 1949. Local Identifier: 286-MP-PAR-248

Posted in Digitization, Photographs, Preservation | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mapping Appomattox

Yesterday, in honor of the 150th anniversary of the event, Mark Meader told us how the Civil War came to an end at Appomattox Court House. Today, we have a series of maps that show the movements of troops in the area.

This post was written by Ellen Mulligan. Ellen is an Archivist in the Cartographic and Architectural Branch.

Maps of the Appomattox area of operations of the Army of the Potomac between March 29 and April 9, 1865 are filed among the Civil Works Map File of the Office of the Chief of Engineers, in Record Group 77. Included is a large scale manuscript map in two pieces, with the notation “Turned into Engineer Bureau by Brev. Col. W.H. Paine,” and a reduced size photoprocessed copy annotated in color to show headquarters and routes of march of the 2nd, 5th, 6th and 9th Corps in pursuit of the Rebel Army.

Click on the images below to open in a new window and zoom:

s-RG 77 CWMF G170-1

RG 77 CWMF G170-1

s-RG 77 CWMF G170-1-1

RG 77 CWMF G170-1-1

s-RG 77 CWMF G170-1-2

RG 77 CWMF G170-1-1

Maps of Area of Operations, Army of the Potomac March 29 to April 9, 1865. Civil Works Map File G-170-1. Record Group 77. NAID 7491454

A second copy of the map showing routes of march is also available among the Collection of Colonel W. H. Paine Civil War Maps. While the National Archives is the repository of the official records of the federal government of the United States, donated materials have occasionally been accepted as “appropriate for preservation by the government as evidence of its organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures and transactions.”

Among these donated materials are the papers of William Henry Paine, a topographical engineer who served as assistant to the Chief of Topographical Engineers, Army of the Potomac, from January 1863 to June 1865. Maj. Gen. G. K. Warren wrote of Paine’s service: “To his previous great knowledge of the country he added by constant laborious and oftentimes daring reconnaissances, and applied it in unfailing efforts to correct our imperfect maps and in guiding our columns on the marches night and day along the secret paths he had discovered.” (quoted in A Guide to Civil War Maps in the National Archives, 2nd Edition 1986, p.68).

Here, the map is accompanied by three copies of a map showing the retreat of the Confederate Army from Richmond and Petersburg and its capture by U.S. forces under Lt. Gen. U.S. Grant, engraved for publication in “Grant and his Campaigns.” These copies show edits made for printing, including a change from Rebel Army to Confederate Army.

s-Paine C-6-3Paine C-6-3

Paine C-6-4

Paine C-6-4

Paine C-6-5a

Paine C-6-5a

Paine C-6-5b

Paine C-6-5b

Maps from the Collection of Colonel W. H. Paine Civil War Maps, NAID 7368933

Posted in Maps | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Civil War Ends at Appomattox Court House

This post was written by Mark Meader. Mark is an Archives Specialist with the Motion Picture, Sound and Video branch. He participated in historical reenactments for over forty years, including over twenty years as a Union private in Civil War reenactments.

People often think of history as just names, dates, places where “something” happened a long time ago. They rarely think of the emotions that accompanied such events, emotions that made it so memorable that the participants could never forget what occurred at this place or that. So it was with a small Virginia hamlet that started out as Clover Hill Tavern, a stagecoach stop in 1819, and grew to become Appomattox Court House, the county seat of Appomattox County. It consisted of five houses, several businesses off the main street, and a court house. It is also the only town in the United States where one wholly American army surrendered to another.


Appomattox Court House, Virginia. 111-BA-1895.

Union General Ulysses Grant had a migraine. He had suffered from it off and on ever since his pursuit had begun of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s starving, threadbare Army of Northern Virginia, which had evacuated the defenses around Petersburg, Virginia on April 2, 1865. The 100,000 men of the Union Army of the Potomac had pursued the Confederates west where they hoped to obtain food and supplies and then join Confederate forces in North Carolina to keep the war going. Grant knew he had to prevent this to end the costly four-year Civil War. He had sent Lee messages offering terms of surrender, but Lee had only replied as to what these terms would be. Grant’s reply was to give little hope of prolonging the struggle, but to surrender Lee’s army to prevent the loss of another life. Then on the morning of April 9th a messenger from Lee presented a letter that asked for an interview in accordance with Grant’s offer. “I was still suffering with the sick headache; but the instant I saw the contents of the note I was cured,” he wrote in his memoirs.


General Ulysses Grant. 111-B-4503 (NAID 528631)

General Robert E. Lee knew that from the moment his army evacuated the defenses around Petersburg on April 2nd his soldiers could not survive without plentiful food to recover from the months of starvation in the trenches. He had watched his gallant army win battle after battle, or survive defeats intact since May 1862 against odds that would have destroyed another force, but now he knew the end was near. There were only some 28,000 soldiers remaining in the Army of Northern Virginia, and they were heading west towards Appomattox where supply trains waited for them. If they reached them and were fed, he would point the army south towards Confederate General Joseph Johnston’s Army of the Tennessee in North Carolina. But Union Army cavalry under General Philip Sheridan got there first, captured and burnt the trains, and blocked the way. When word of this reached Lee’s headquarters he knew the end was near. He and Grant had exchanged letters on the subject of surrender, and Lee suggested a meeting between the lines. When news of the arrival of three Union Infantry Corps to further block the way reached Lee on the morning of April 9th, he realized the retreat of his beleaguered army had finally been halted. He stated the inevitable, with such emotions few men have ever known. “There is nothing left for me to do but to go and see General Grant, and I would rather die a thousand deaths” he said to his aide.


The McLean House, where the Civil War ended. 111-B-6333 (NAID 530400)

Wilmer McLean can truly be said to have a war begin and end on his property. A wholesale grocer and a retired major in the Virginia Militia, he was too old to return to active duty in 1861, but on June 21 the Union Army attacked the Confederate forces near McLean’s Yorkshire Plantation in Manassas, Prince William County,Virginia. Fighting spilled over his property and a cannonball fired by Union artillery dropped into his fireplace. When the battle was over, McLean decided to move because his commercial activities of supplying sugar to the Confederacy were centered mainly in Southern Virginia, and the presence of the Union Army in Northern Virginia made his work next to impossible. He was also determined to remove his family from such a dangerous area where a combat experience could easily reoccur, endangering them and his property.

In the spring of 1863, McLean and his family moved 120 miles south to Appomattox County, Virginia near a small crossroads community called Appomattox Court House. But on April 9th, 1865, the war came again to knock on his front door when a messenger from General Robert E. Lee requested the use of McLean’s home to meet with General Ulysses S. Grant. McLean reluctantly agreed. There the two Generals and their aides met, and Lee surrendered his army to Grant in the parlor of McLean’s house, effectively ending the American Civil War. The generous terms allowed the Confederate officers to keep their side arms, and the soldiers to keep their horses, which they would need for the spring plowing. When Lee left to announce the surrender to his troops, officers of the Union Army entered McLean’s house and began to take souvenirs, tables, chairs, and various other furnishings that they could get, handing the protesting McLean money as they made off with his property. Later, a disgusted McLean is supposed to have said ‘The war began in my front yard and ended in my front parlor.”

McLean’s house is now part of Appomattox Court House National Historical Monument operated by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Footage of the historical reenactment staged for the 125th anniversary of the events at Appomattox Court House (see Reel 2 here). 79-HFC-23

And what of the weary men of both armies, what were their thoughts and emotions on that Palm Sunday of April 1865? As they sat and watched the Confederates wheel in line by regiments to face the oncoming last onslaught of the Army of the Potomac, one Union officer was surprised to see that there seemed to be more battle flags than soldiers in the Rebel ranks, so few men were left in the Army of Northern Virginia. He thought that the entire army had turned to poppies and roses in the April breeze. Then an officer in grey rode out with a white flag to confer with Union officers and the men in Blue saw the Grey and Butternut ranks begin to stack arms and rest. Many times these armies had paused to take a look at each other across the fields, before the battle. Now the Stars and Bars were about to be furled for the last time, and both sides realized that they would live to see Easter and experience its mysteries. One Union soldier sat and looked at the Confederates across from them, and thought that it seemed too bad that after all their bravery and fighting skill, it had come to nothing but surrender. Another Yankee from the 77th New Hampshire skirted around the picket lines and entered one of the rebel camps. There, he later recalled with a glow, that he was treated like one of them, no different than if he had been wearing grey. After four years of war, there was a stillness at Appomattox.


This post was updated to include the final paragraph, which was omitted when the piece originally published. Thanks to Laurel Macondray and Richard Green, who located the photos and films used in this post. Check out the next post for maps of Appomattox from the Cartographic Branch!
Posted in Motion Pictures, Photographs | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Declassified Motion Pictures and Sound Recordings – 2nd Quarter

In an effort to provide information on recently declassified motion pictures and sound recordings the Motion Picture, Sound and Video Branch will publish a quarterly list of newly declassified records.

This quarter’s list consists of one film, MB-1 Documentary showing testing of the Genie missile.

Local Identifier: 342-USAF-29521/National Archives Identifier: 68126


From January 1, 2015 through March 31, 2015 the following records were declassified.

Motion Pictures:

Local Identifier           Title

342-USAF-29521       MB-1 Documentary


Sound Recordings:

Local Identifier           Title

No sound recordings were declassified during this quarter.


Descriptive information for declassified records can be accessed by searching for the item number, ex. “341-IR-38-56”, in NARA’s Catalog. You may also search on the Declassification Project Number (NND), if you know one. For example, searching on the declassification number “NND 64803” returns entries that are part of Declassification Project 64803. A list of declassified textual records can be found on the National Declassification Center’s web page.

Check out the post “From Top Secret Vault to Open Stacks: Declassification of Moving Images” to learn more about the declassification process. Lists of other recently declassified moving images and sound recordings can be located by clicking on the Declassification Quarterly Reports category on the left side of the blog.

Posted in Declassification Quarterly Reports, Military, Motion Pictures | Leave a comment

A Spirited Republic in Motion: Prohibition is Repealed!

This post was written by Heidi Holmstrom. Heidi works in the Motion Picture Preservation Lab, which is responsible for performing conservation and preservation work on motion picture records held across the National Archives.

This month the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC opened a brand new exhibit, Spirited Republic: Alcohol in American HistoryThe exhibit contains many records from NARA’s holdings, including films digitized right here in our Motion Picture Preservation Lab!

Spirited Republic highlights how the United States government’s policies towards alcohol have changed over time, including the period from 1920 to 1933 when the sale of alcohol was prohibited by law. The end of Prohibition is covered extensively in the Universal Newsreel collection. Here we present to you a motion picture timeline of the United States as it transitioned from “dry” back to “wet”.


Citizens ride on carts loaded with alcohol prepared for shipment at the end of Prohibition. 
(Still from Universal News Vol. 5, Rel. 197)

The 21st Amendment to the Constitution, ending Prohibition, was proposed by Congress on February 20, 1933. Prior to full repeal of the 18th Amendment, President Roosevelt signed the Cullen-Harrison Act, which amended the Volstead Act to allow the manufacture and sale of beer with a 3.2% alcohol content. Previously, the Volstead Act had prohibited the sale of any beverage with an alcohol content above 0.5%. The signing of the Cullen-Harrison Act on March 22, 1933, led to much rejoicing . . . even among Congressmen.

Throughout 1933, individual states convened ratifying conventions to take up the proposed 21st Amendment. By the time of this November 9, 1933, newsreel release, 30 states had already ratified the amendment and its adoption was all but assured. It was on target for ratification by December 5th, with legal alcohol to begin flowing on December 15th. But as you can see from this newsreel, many people were already getting a head start . . .

On December 6, 1933, Universal released this celebratory newsreel story as repeal became law. Alcohol shipments shifted into high gear and revelers openly toasted its return. (Sadly, we do not have the narration for this film, but jump ahead to 49 seconds in the video to hear a rousing drinking song.)

The repeal of Prohibition was a great blow to the Temperance movement that inspired it, but though their voice was muted, these organizations did not disappear. A 1937 newsreel contained a story about the national convention of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, whose members stated their firm belief that Prohibition would return to the United States.

BONUS NEWSREEL! How do you make the perfect gin fizz? In 1935 Louisiana Senator Huey Long was featured in a newsreel about this New Orleans specialty. Even though he professes to be “strictly on the water-wagon,” Senator Long samples a New York bartender’s take on a gin fizz not one, but three times to confirm it’s the real deal. Before taking the first sip, he reminds the bartender that the only reason he’s doing this is “to help you out . . . I wouldn’t touch a drop of it if I wasn’t trying to help you find out if you’ve mixed it right!”

Spirited Republic: Alcohol in American History may be viewed in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery of the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC. The exhibit runs through January 10, 2016.

Posted in Motion Pictures | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Restoring Nine from Little Rock

This post was written by Criss Kovac. Criss is the supervisor of the National Archives Motion Picture Preservation Lab. 

The Restoration

Nine From Little Rock was commissioned by George Stevens, Jr., head of the United States Information Agency (USIA), and directed by Charles Guggenheim. The film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short on April 5th, 1965. To mark the 50th anniversary of winning the Oscar, The National Archives has completed a full digital restoration of the film.

Nine from Little Rock follows the students who integrated Central High School in 1957, focusing on their dreams and aspirations for the future. The desire of the USIA for the film, as outlined in a transmittal memo dated September 1, 1964, was to demonstrate “America’s commitment to freedom of the individual and justice under law,” and to document “the role of the Federal government in upholding the law protecting minorities, following the Supreme Court decree declaring racial segregation in public school education to be unconstitutional.”  The USIA’s specific target audiences for Nine From Little Rock were international youth programs and universities that followed race concerns in the US. The film was screened in nearly 100 cities outside of North America.

The film was photochemically preserved in 2007 to mark the 50th anniversary of the events in Little Rock and was screened in the McGowan Theater along with a program where John Lewis, George Stevens Jr., Carlotta Walls and Ernest Green (two of the Little Rock Nine) spoke at the event. [You can view the program on our YouTube Channel: Part 1, Part 2]

Selecting an appropriate film element for transfer was a challenge. The National Archives holds the 35mm negative for the first reel, but the second reel was never deposited with NARA. Both the 35mm original negative of reel one and a 16mm duplicate of the complete film were scanned for the project. The 35mm negative scan looked exceptional, while the scan from the 16mm lacked dynamic range. There was little to no detail in the dark region of the image and the light areas were completely washed out.  The mid-tones lacked depth and were very thin. But since there was no acceptable way to match the scan from the original 35mm negative to the 16mm negative without the shift being obvious between the two parts of the film, we used the 16mm duplicate for the restoration.

We scanned a 16mm fine grain master (print) using our Sondor Altra 2K. The raw files were ingested into the Digital Vision restoration suite where various automated restoration tools were applied (image noise/ grain reduction, flicker reduction, and basic dust and scratch removal). Exposure/ gamma corrections were applied scene by scene and manual dust/ dirt removal were applied frame by frame as needed.

Click through the slideshow to see stills from before and after the digital restoration of Nine from Little Rock.

In addition, the original 35mm tracks were scanned and restored. Using Pro Tools, the clicks, pops, ticks, and hiss were removed, background noise was reduced, and audio levels were adjusted to even out the levels, tone, and range. New 35mm optical tracks were made from the restored files to accompany the originals for preservation purposes.

The newly restored version of Nine from Little Rock is now available online. A screening of the film will be held in the McGowan Theater at the National Archives building in Washington, D.C. later this spring.


Where are they now?

Guggenheim’s film updates viewers on the accomplishments of the Little Rock Nine as of 1964. Here is what these pioneering students have done in the fifty years since the film was made:

Melba Patillo became a journalist and television reporter in San Francisco after earning her BA from San Francisco State, MA from Columbia, and PhD from the University of San Francisco.

Carlotta Walls graduated from the University of Northern Colorado and went on to become a real estate broker and is the president of the Little Rock Nine Foundation.

Elizabeth Eckford graduated from Central State University and returned to Little Rock where she was a probation officer and substitute teacher in Little Rock’s schools.

Gloria Ray graduated Illinois Institute of Technology and worked for Boeing, NASA, IBM, and co-founded Computers in Industry.

Minnijean Brown earned her BA from Laurentian University and her MA from Carleton University in Ontario Canada. She served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Workforce Diversity at the Department of the Interior during the Clinton Administration and taught social work at various colleges and universities in Canada.

Thelma Mothershed earned her BA and MA from Southern Illinois State and went on to teach in the St. Louis school system for 10 years and work as a counselor in the school system for 18 years.

Ernest Green, the first African American to graduate from Little Rock Central High, graduated from Michigan State University and became a successful investment banker and served as the Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training during the Carter Administration.

Jefferson Thomas earned the rank of staff sergeant and directed field campaigns in South Vietnam with the 9th Infantry Division. After returning he graduated from Los Angeles State College, managed his family’s business, worked for Mobil and the Department of Defense.  Mr. Thomas passed away in 2010.

Terrence Roberts went on to earn his BA from California State University, his MS from UCLA, and his PhD from Southern Illinois State in psychology. He is the CEO of his management consultant firm and has his own private psychology practice.

Posted in Motion Pictures | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

World War I Combat Artists: George Harding

Guest blogger Jan Hodges became interested in World War I combat art as a result of her involvement as a volunteer in a holdings maintenance project for American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) documents at the National Archives at College Park. This article is part five of the series about World War I Art and Artists.


Capt. George Harding, E.R.C., one of the eight official artists appointed by the War Department. April 1918. Photographer: William S. Ellis, Phila, Pa. Local Identifier: 111 SC 153118.

The combat artists often rode together and sketched in the same areas, their paths crisscrossing the shell pocked land.  The subjects of their artwork changed as they moved with the American army from training areas to combat zones; from tranquil landscapes to destruction, wounded men, and the new technology of war.

Captain George Harding, like Harvey Dunn, wanted to be near the action and he spent as much time as close to the front lines as practicable.  He incorporated realism into his sketches, as contrasted with the heroism-infused drawings of Harvey Dunn.

111-SC-20112 Between shells at Chateau Thierry0001

Between shells at Chateau Thierry. By Capt. George Harding. (Used in Collier’s Feb. 6, 1919).  Official War Drawing by American Military Artist. Local Identifier 111 SC 20112

Harding was with the troops as they fought their way through Chateau Thierry and the second battle of the Marne. Chateau Thierry was important because it was only fifty miles from Paris.  To the French it would have been a disaster to lose it to the Germans.

Traffic to Mont St. Pere. The valley of the Marne at Mont St. Pere alive with artillery activity during American advance seen from part of town on hill. Capt. Geo. Harding. Drawings by Official American Military Artists.
Local Identifier 111 SC 31675

The second Battle of the Marne was initiated by the Germans, their last offensive strike of World War I. It was not a surprise to the Allies; they had intelligence of the planned attack. The French and the Americans made plans to defend the Marne River and deployed their troops strategically.  The French were unable to hold, but the American 38th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Division held on, beating back a ferocious German assualt.

111-SC-20114 American troops entering a village

American troops entering a village in pursuit of the enemy during the advance across the Marne, July 13, 1918, by Capt. George Harding (Used in Leslie’s, Jan. 25, 1919). Official Drawings by American Military Artist.
Local Identifier 111 SC 20114

“Mr. Chairman, “Marne” is a name indelibly inscribed on the pages of history.  It was at the Marne in September 1914, that the French under Joffre turned back the German hordes in their mad dash toward Paris; and it was at the Marne in July, 1918, on the selfsame ground that a single regiment of American Infantrymen, with some aid from the Artillery, once more stemmed the German tide and rolled it back in defeat; earning thereby for itself and its gallant colonel [Ulysses Grant McAlexander] the proud title “The Rock of the Marne.” Address to the 66th Congress by the honorable C. N. McArthur, representative from Oregon, on May 1, 1920.

111-SC-57018 American gun fire, early morning

American gun fire, early morning, opening of Verdun offensive. Captain George Harding. Drawings by Official American Military Artists. Local Identifier 111 SC 57018

Some of Harding’s drawings are titled “Verdun Offensive”.  The Battle of Verdun was fought in 1916, a German offensive that nearly broke the French lines. General Robert Nivelle’s command, often attributed to General Henri Petain, “Ils ne passeront pas” (they shall not pass), inspired the besieged and tired French soldiers to stand firm against the enemy. All of this long before the first American doughboy stepped onto French soil.

111-SC-57020 During Verdun drive

During Verdun drive a German plane got two Allied balloons in less than a minute. Captain George Harding. Drawings by Official American Military Artists. Local Identifier 111 SC 57020

So why Verdun?  Perhaps because it was close to the path American soldiers took from St. Mihiel to join the fighting in the Meuse-Argonne.  Perhaps because Verdun was a gateway from the East to the West. Or perhaps it was because the French victory at Verdun had made it a famous if not reverent memory to the valor of men.


The next combat artist to be featured in this series is Wallace Morgan.



National Archives. Still Pictures. Record Group 111-SC Army Signal Corps, WWI Combat Artists, by name.

National Archives. Textual Records. Record Group 120. American Expeditionary Forces (AEF), Combat Divisions, 3rd Division.

Eisenhower, John S. D. Yanks: The Epic Story of the American Army in World War I. Simon & Schuster. New York. 2001

Krass, Peter. Portrait of War: The U. S. Army’s Combat Artists and the Doughboys Experience in World War I. John Wiley and Sons.  New York. 2006.

Pershing, John J. My Experiences in the World War, Volumes I and II. Frederick A. Stokes Company, New York. 1931.

Posted in Digitization, Photographs | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Henry Ford’s Mirror of America

You might be surprised to learn that there was a moment in time when Ford Motor Company had one of the largest film studios outside of Hollywood. In April of 1914, when his company was barely a decade old, Henry Ford established the Ford Motion Picture Department. Along with motor vehicles, Ford began releasing films on a weekly basis, first a newsreel called The Ford Animated Weekly, and then The Ford Educational Weekly, which covered subjects of a less timely nature that could be exhibited longer. At its peak, the company newsletter, The Ford Times estimated that over 20 miles of film left their factory every week.


Workers in the Ford Motion Picture Department film a scene for an educational film. (Still from Mirror of America)

Films produced by Ford covered a wide range of educational subjects, from demonstrating an industrial process such as making dolls in a factory to travelogues that brought faraway or exotic locales to a theater near you. By 1920, the Ford Times reported that their films received between ten and twelve million viewers in 7,000 theaters in the United States, plus circulation in foreign markets such as France, Mexico, and Japan.

This priceless historical record was not always in the public trust. In November of 1963 in a ceremony in Washington, D.C., William Clay Ford presented to the National Archives 1.8 million feet of historical footage created by Ford Motor Company. For the occasion of the donation, the Archives premiered Mirror of America, a film that highlighted the collection and Henry Ford’s interest in moving pictures. The film serves as an introduction to the films and also advertises the collection as open for research. (As one might expect, there is also a fair amount of homage to Henry Ford the man.)

64.28: Mirror of America

Mirror of America includes a wide swath of the Ford Collection, including notable personalities of the day such as Thomas Edison, Buffalo Bill Cody, and the humorist Will Rogers. The resulting film demonstrates how the collection is a “mirror” of American life from the middle 1910s through the 1920s. (The assessment holds true as long as one considers that the “mirror” is pointed only in directions that were of interest to the Ford Motor Company at the time.) The Ford Collection covers aspects of American history that are not present in government-produced motion picture records, which is why it was a valuable acquisition.


Cameras captured William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody (L) in 1916, a year prior to his death. (Still from Mirror of America)

The involvement of Archives’ staff was extensive, even if it was not as direct as the credits would have us believe. A report in the January 1964 edition of the National Archives’ newsletter Archi-Views describes the project and the opening night ceremony, detailing the efforts of National Archives’ staff. Before footage could be selected, the film lab had to copy the flammable nitrate reels onto acetate safety stock  (the cost of the work was covered by a $200,000 grant from Ford). With the footage preserved, Deputy Archivist Dr. Robert Bahmer, Karl Trever, and Robert Jacoby winnowed the nearly two million feet down to a few hundred scenes that would be used in the film.

Once the footage was selected, the technical work of the film production, including writing and editing, was completed by Jerry McMechan and John Hollowaty from Ford Motor Company’s film department.

Mirror of America premiered November 18, 1963, when William Clay Ford officially presented the Ford Collection to the National Archives. According to the article in Archi-Views, the film was entered in film festivals in Monte Carlo and Nigeria. The program for the premiere noted that the addition of the Ford Collection to our existing collections was “an invaluable gift to future generations of Americans.” At over 50 years old, the documentary still stands as the best introduction to the Ford Collection, showcasing the depth, breadth, and quality of the footage.

Background information for this post came from the accession file for Mirror of America. For much, much more on the history of the Ford Motion Picture Department and the Ford Collection at the National Archives, see Phillip W. Stewart’s article “Henry Ford: Movie Mogul?” in the Winter 2014 issue of Prologue.

Posted in Motion Pictures | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Raising the Flag Over Iwo Jima

Seventy years ago, Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal captured what is perhaps the most iconic image of the Second World War. Taken just days into the more than month-long Battle of Iwo Jima, the Pulitzer Prize winning photograph documented the raising of the flag on Mount Suribachi. The photo was later used as the model for the US Marine Corps Memorial in Arlington, Virginia.

Although not as well-known as Rosenthal’s photograph, there is also a moving image record of the flag-raising. Marine Sergeant William Homer Genaust shot 16mm color footage of the event. Sadly, Sgt. Genaust never left Iwo Jima. Nine days after filming the raising of the flag, he was hit by enemy fire. His body was never recovered.


Genaust’s footage was used in this edition of United News, a newsreel series produced by the Office of War Information and distributed to theaters both domestically and overseas. The original footage was color, but was enlarged and copied to black and white for use in the newsreel. Two other stories are featured on this newsreel, including updates from the war front in Japan and Germany.

Posted in Motion Pictures | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

WWI Combat Artists – Harvey Dunn

Guest blogger Jan Hodges became interested in World War I combat art as a result of her involvement as a volunteer in a holdings maintenance project for documents of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) at the National Archives at College Park. This article is part four of the series about World War I Art and Artists.

Harvey Dunn sketched the war from his heart. He spent time in the trenches and went “over the top” with the men.  He knew personally and intimately what battle meant to the infantryman, the runner, the machine gunner.  Like the other official World War I artists, Dunn was not attached to any particular division of the American expeditionary Forces.

dunn, harvey thomas head shot

Capt. Harvey Dunn, One of the Official American Artists with the American Expeditionary Forces in France. Nov.1918.
Local Identifier: 111 SC 86624

Captain Dunn poured his experience into dramatic drawings, the sort of artwork the War Department was looking for; brave men in battle, winning the war for the allies. He sketched doughboys overcoming barbed wire to confront the enemy, captured the moment when a grenade thrown into a German dugout exploded, caught the irony of setting up a machine gun in a cemetery, and the sublime moment of German soldiers surrendering to Americans.

After the last volley of the war, the men of the 36th Division were ordered to write about their experiences of the war. The soldiers were not men who kept diaries. Many of them could barely read or write, but they duly recorded their experiences of fighting during the Meuse Argonne offensive while it was fresh in their minds. The raw memories of the soldiers accompany the artwork of Captain Dunn to create a vivid record of the war.

31668 The Machine Gunner

The Machine Gunner. Capt. Harvey Dunn. Drawings by Official American Artists. Local Identifier: 111 SC 31668

Harvey Dunn was proud of American soldiers and his machine gunner has the proportions of a classic hero with an iron jaw of American determination.

H.C. Obets, Private, Company A, 132nd Machine Gun Battalion

“It was on the morning of October the eighth that we were ordered to line up in platoons to go up and relieve part of the second division. We started out of the point of the woods down across a valley. There was a barrage to go through. We passed that and got into rifle pits on the other side of the valley in a few rows of pine trees. There were some infantry boys in there too.  The shells and Machine Gun bullets were strafing all around.  Then the lieutenant ordered us to the first line trenches which was about 30 yards to the front.  We all went over and crowded into the trenches which was almost full of doughboys.  Some wounded and of course a few dead.  We were then ordered to get out and scatter in squad columns to the rear. … We stayed in this position for about thirty minutes.  Men were getting killed and wounded all around us and our Red Cross man was helping to dress their wounds”.

31113 The Hand Grenade

The Hand Grenade”. A hand grenade is thrown through the doorway of a dugout into the midst of German soldiers.  This is one in many incidents in the cleaning out of the Germans in captured territory. Drawing by Capt. Harvey Dunn, E.R.C. S.C. Photo Laboratory, Vincennes, Seine, France.  Selected for publication in the New York Tribune, March 1919. Local Identifier 111 SC 31113

A.R. Fleischmann, Captain, 311th Infantry, 77th Division, commanding Co. D

“At zero hour (5:30AM) Sept 26th, I advanced my line according to instructions…In advancing, resistance was met in machine guns, pill boxes and snipers and retreating infantry.  About 45 seconds after the attack was started a terrific barrage was laid down in front of our original outpost positions covering the ground about 200 yards to the front.  Individual rifle pits were dug all along the edge of the woods.

Two dugouts were located and a pill box was located practically between but a little in advance of the dugouts.  In getting to our objective we cleaned out one of these with bombs.  [At] the other dugout, eight [Germans] appeared at the door and were captured.  We then threw several bombs in the entrances and have no way of knowing whether there were more in it or not.”

31667 Street Fighting

Street Fighting – in one of the villages along the Marne. By Capt. Harvey Dunn. Local Identifier 111 SC 31667.

Edward Trumble, Private, Company L, 141st Infantry

“I heard a peculiar shrill whistling noise a few yards ahead of us which was followed immediately by a terrific explosion. That was my first time to witness the effect of the Huns long range guns. Luckily for me I was in the lead of the detail so was not run over by the excited crowd which immediately started for the rear. It may be well for me to say here that this was our first tour on the front, consequently no one knew what was happening when those shells began falling. I and a few others who were not so badly excited continued our search for water until we found it.  By then the shells were falling pretty thick although no one was hurt. After dark we started out for the front lines. No one but those who were there can imagine the excitement and eagerness of everyone to go forward that night. Everyone was glad to get a chance at the Huns”.

31676 The Harvest Moon_2

“The Harvest Moon”. A grim harvest was reaped in the wheat fields along the Marne by the American troops. Dead Germans of the famous Prussian Guard who fell before the 38th Infantry are seen in the foreground.  Drawing by Capt. Harvey Dunn, E.R.C. SC. Photos Laboratory, Vincennes, Seine, France. Local Identifier 111 SC 31676.

Unknown Soldier, Company L, 141st Infantry

“After a few hours hiking I was soon on the battlefield.  The first sight I saw was a German skull.  A stick was stuck in the ground and his head was hung over the top of it. A Camel cigarette was in his mouth and his old steel helmet was lying by the side of the stick.”

31677 Walking Cases

“Walking Cases”. Wounded men stopped for a rest on their way back from the firing line. Drawing by Capt. Harvey Dunn, E.R.C. SC. Photos Laboratory, Vincennes, Seine, France. Local Identifier 111 SC 31677.

John M. Wade, Cook, Company L, 141st Infantry

“Well on the morning of the 8th of October, while going across the railroad track one of my friends was seriously injured by one of the artillery shell[s] and he ask[ed] for help so I was on the stretcher carrier detail so I assisted him as soon as possible and on my way back to the aid [station] I was in shell fire but kept on going with my friend for he seemed to be in misery and I did my best, and also kept carrying the wounded.

I saw lots of men with their arms and legs torn off.  Also I saw a man driving an ambulance and all at once he was shelled and his left leg was almost torn off and the shell went in over the gasoline tank and exploded and burnt the car up and also burned up one man in the rear of the ambulance”.

31699 Among the Wreckage

Among the wreckage.  Troops going forward at night. Drawing by Capt. Harvey Dunn, E.R.C. SC. Photos Laboratory, Vincennes, Seine, France. Local Identifier 111 SC 31699.

Unknown Soldier

“It was at this place (Somme Py) that I saw my first destruction of the war. If it had not been for a few walls that were left standing no person would ever have known that there was a town.  At that place, of the few walls that were left standing not one failed to have a shell hole thru it”.

William Loughy, Cook, Company B, 132nd Machine Gun Battalion

“Every village we went through was sacked, burned, and forever ruined. This is the garden spot of France and when one sees it he wonders why God in his goodness and greatness could let a cultured and civilized people live that could commit such wanton depredation and destruction on another country. Why?”

37809 Machine Gun Emplacement

Machine Gun Emplacement. Drawing by Capt. Harvey Dunn, E.R.C. SC. Photos Laboratory, Vincennes, Seine, France. Local Identifier 111 SC 37809

Edward Trumble, Private, Company L, 141st Infantry

“We were in the front lines four days this time, forty-eight hours of which I together with a few others spent our time in an outpost between our lines and those of the enemy. A very trying position as we were unable to get food or water and were forced to lie almost motionless both night and day as we were only a few yards from the enemy’s lines.  We could hear them talking very distinctly”.

William Loughy, Cook, Company B, 132nd Machine Gun Battalion

“…and what the French and English were four years trying to take, we done it in exactly 8 good American hours”

37811 In the Front Line at Early Morning

In the front line at early morning. Drawing by Capt. Harvey Dunn. Local Identifier 111 SC 37812

Walter Reines, Corporal, Company L, 141st Infantry

“There was some excitement in digging in and wearing our gas masks – one night we wore our gas masks about five hours. Some of the boys took it quite serious, but some [of] them found lots of sport in it”.

C. B. Morris, Sgt., Company HQ, 142nd Infantry

“… all night long we dug our emplacements and holes to lay in. All night and most all day big shells and little ones from [artillery] batteries on our right flank contented themselves with kicking dirt in on us every little bit but stayed outside of our little prairie dog home for which we were truly thankful”.

37857 Prisoners and Wounded

“Prisoners and Wounded”. Drawing by Capt. Harvey Dunn. Local Identifier 111 SC 37857.

C. B. Morris, Sgt., Company HQ, 142nd Infantry

“The Boche could understand “Hands up” tho many of them could not speak English…The Prussian guards were weaklings in the face of Sammies”. [Sammies was a short-lived nickname for the American infantrymen]

 William Loughy, Cook, Company B,   132nd Machine Gun Battalion

“I met a constant stream of German prisoners and wounded American soldiers all going to the rear. One M.P. whom I was walking with had three German officers as prisoners, one captain and two lieutenants.  We had not gone far until a “rolling kitchen” as the soldiers call an Austrian 88, came along and all we could find of those German officers was one boot full of leg and one head. “C’est le guerre”, as the MP said. “Well, I’m damn glad.  It will save me a walk”; then [the MP] went on back to the front.

I gathered up all the canteens I could find and filled them with coffee for our company and went with what men I could find up to the front line.  On our way up I saw a sight that made me realize the stern grimness of warfare, the awfulness of it. A shell hit one of our ambulances and killed the three drivers (it happened to be empty) tore it all to pieces and his entrails were strung across (the driver) and trucks were continually coming and going over their bodies.

Oh how I did want to get at the Bosch when I heard about the boys of ours and saw them laying out so cold (dead far from home and loved ones) but their deaths are not in vain. It is for one of the greatest causes in God’s history: justice, democracy, and freedom”.

37906 Doughboy Fighting

Doughboy fighting through barbed wire entanglements. Drawing by Capt. Harvey Dunn. Local Identifier 111 SC 37906.

 Neil S. Madeley,  Company C

“In the early morning the lieutenant came up and gave orders to get our gun fix[ed] for going over the top at 5:15.  At the proper time we began the advance 15 degrees west of north. Unfortunately we got ahead of the infantry and advanced to a point of a pine thicket, a place badly exposed to the enemy and a place where they had previously aimed their guns on account of the prominence. Before we could get the gun set the Bosch had discovered us. They lost no time in letting us know it. All at once their machine guns laid a barrage; their heavy artillery belched its volley, and their snipers took aim. In a short time, one sergeant lay dead, the result of a sniper’s shot. Just a little later our gallant lieutenant and our runner were killed by a shell. At the same time wounded comrades could be heard gasping for help.

During the clash our infantry rushed up and made a daring effort to cross the opening.  Once they were repulsed but after a few familiar commands, the daring Americans pushed on despite the fact that fate was imminent. “On, Over the top” was the cry and the Sammies occupied the ground where dead Germans lay beside the guns that had just felled our heroes”.

The personal war experiences were excerpted from the original records, consisting of 23 boxes, of the 36th Division, Record Group 120.  Some of the records are difficult to read and even with multiple sets of eyes, it’s impossible to assure that all the excerpts are absolutely accurate. Any mistakes in transcribing the text are solely mine.

The next combat artist to be featured in this series is George Harding.


National Archives. Still Pictures. Record Group 111-SC Army Signal Corps, WWI Combat Artists, by name.

National Archives, Textual Records, Record Group 120 Records of the American Expeditionary Forces (World War 1), Combat Divisions. 36th Division. Personal War Experiences

Captain Fleischman’s narrative: National Archives, Textual Records, Record Group 120, Records of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in World War I, Combat Divisions, 77th Division, Historical 278-33.6

Eisenhower, John S. D. Yanks: The Epic Story of the American Army in World War I. Simon & Schuster. New York. 2001

Krass, Peter. Portrait of War: The U. S. Army’s Combat Artists and the Doughboys Experience in World War I. John Wiley and Sons.  New York. 2006.

Posted in Photographs | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment