Recalling the Devastating Patent Office Fire of 1836

December 15th marks the anniversary of the first of several major fires to impact the United States Patent Office.  In 1836, the Patent Office was being housed in the Blodget Hotel in Washington, D.C.  Employees of the patent office stored firewood in the basement near where they also disposed of hot ashes and, during the … Continue reading Recalling the Devastating Patent Office Fire of 1836

Mapping the Battle of Fredericksburg

In honor of the anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg, which was fought December 13, 1862, the Cartographic Branch is highlighting some of its many maps related to Fredericksburg during the Civil War. In the fall of 1862, both armies began concentrating around Fredericksburg, a town halfway between Washington, DC and Richmond, VA.  Union General … Continue reading Mapping the Battle of Fredericksburg

Film Preservation 101: Is Nitrate Film Really Dangerous?

Is Nitrate Film Really Dangerous? Nitrate film is a material we don’t often encounter at the National Archives for obvious reasons. After the devastating 1978 nitrate vault fire, the agency quickly copied any remaining nitrate to acetate or polyester safety film and disposed of the original reels. When we do come across a reel in … Continue reading Film Preservation 101: Is Nitrate Film Really Dangerous?

Disaster Strikes the National Archives: The 1978 Nitrate Vault Fire

This post was written by Andrew Smith and first posted to the National Archives Internal Collaboration Network. Andrew was a records analyst at NARA before departing for another agency. Explosions at the Federal Center Around noon on December 7, 1978, staff of the National Archives and Records Service (NARS) were eating lunch inside the offices … Continue reading Disaster Strikes the National Archives: The 1978 Nitrate Vault Fire

Remembering President George Herbert Walker Bush

Former President George Herbert Walker Bush passed away on November 30, 2018 at the age of 94. At the time of his passing, President Bush had lived longer than any previous president. George H.W. Bush served as the 41st President of the United States from 1989 to 1993 and also held the position of Vice … Continue reading Remembering President George Herbert Walker Bush

Oddments From the U.S. Series of RG 77: Civil Works Map Files

From time to time, we find things among the archives holdings that are so unexpected that we just have to share them! The following images come from a series of maps that are currently in the process of being digitized to be added to the catalog.  The maps below all contain examples of doodles and … Continue reading Oddments From the U.S. Series of RG 77: Civil Works Map Files

“The Camera Tells the Truth”: Camera Rolls from the Battle of Tarawa

Five days before Thanksgiving 1943, American forces bombarded a tiny, Japanese-held island in the Tarawa Atoll. Eighteen thousand Marines would land on the shores of Betio, and over 1,000 would lose their lives there. On November 23rd, the United States claimed victory. Recording the Battle Three men of the 2nd Marine Division landed on Betio … Continue reading “The Camera Tells the Truth”: Camera Rolls from the Battle of Tarawa

Captured on Film: Armistice Day 1918

This Veterans Day, November 11th, is the 100th anniversary of the armistice of World War I. The armistice was not an official surrender by Germany, which would come several months later with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, but was essentially the beginning of the end of the war. The Great War, as it is … Continue reading Captured on Film: Armistice Day 1918

Newly Digitized Series : Initial Burial Plats for World War I American Soldiers

November 11 marks the 100th anniversary of the conclusion of World War I. Fighting came to a close in Europe on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 when Germany signed an armistice with the Allied forces. At the war's conclusion, over 70,000 American soldiers lay scatted in graves … Continue reading Newly Digitized Series : Initial Burial Plats for World War I American Soldiers