Civil War Defenses of Washington Fort Plans Now Available Online

The Cartographic Branch holds thousands of drawings, plans, and maps relating to forts, fortifications, and other military structures. These can be found in a variety of record groups and series, including RG 77 Fortification Map File (NAID 305749), RG 77 Miscellaneous Forts File (NAID 305806), RG 92 Post and Reservation Maps (NAID 305818), RG 92 … Continue reading Civil War Defenses of Washington Fort Plans Now Available Online

Spotlight: Dorothea Lange

If you are not familiar with the name Dorothea Lange, at the very least you may recognize Lange's iconic photograph "Migrant Mother." Throughout the 1920s, Dorothea Lange worked as a studio portrait photographer in San Francisco. However, by the height of the Great Depression, she turned her focus towards documenting people and her surroundings. As … Continue reading Spotlight: Dorothea Lange

Covert Cartoons: Animated Anti-Communism in Mexico and Beyond

Still image from "Viaje Interplanetario." (306.6296) In the 1950s, the United States and its allies were deep in the throes of the Cold War. To face and fight the spread of communism, the United States Information Agency (USIA) unleashed anti-communist film campaigns across the globe. Although laden with serious political messages, some films took the … Continue reading Covert Cartoons: Animated Anti-Communism in Mexico and Beyond

Film Preservation 101: Why does this film smell like vinegar?

Film Preservation 101 is an occasional series in which we answer our most frequently asked questions.  You may have heard that old films can be dangerous, and potentially even explosive (we covered this topic in Film Preservation 101: Is Nitrate Film Really Dangerous?) and you’re worried about your grandfather’s home movies that you keep in … Continue reading Film Preservation 101: Why does this film smell like vinegar?

Spotlight: Happy Birthday, West Virginia

West Virginia officially became a state on June 20, 1863 and will celebrate its 157th birthday this year. The state was created when several northern Virginia counties were admitted to the Union during the Civil War after several years of petitioning the United States Government. Economic and social differences between southern and northern Virginia lead … Continue reading Spotlight: Happy Birthday, West Virginia

Chronicling Cartographic’s Oldest Record: The Polus Antarcticus Map

Always a staff favorite, the Polus Antarcticus atlas page, found within the Cartographic Branch's holdings, shows an early map of the South Pole region and includes interesting (although rather inaccurate) illustrations that decorate the edges of the map. The Cartographic Branch actually holds two copies of this historically significant map. Both can be found within … Continue reading Chronicling Cartographic’s Oldest Record: The Polus Antarcticus Map

Unnoticed: African Americans in Union Army Camps during the Civil War

Many of us are familiar with the famed photographer, Mathew Brady, who captured a million photographs during the American Civil War.  From the battlefield to portraits, his photographs captured some of the most grueling and unforgettable times of the war.  They were the inspiration of Ken Burns' famed documentary series The Civil War (1990).  Many … Continue reading Unnoticed: African Americans in Union Army Camps during the Civil War

Double Take: Making Visual Connections in the National Archives Catalog

This post was written by Daniel Dancis. Daniel is a Textual Records Archivist who blogs at The Text Message. Do you remember the card game “memory,” also known as “concentration”? It involves setting up a deck of cards face side down and each player turning over two cards per turn. If the two cards turned … Continue reading Double Take: Making Visual Connections in the National Archives Catalog

A Trip to the Hawaiian Islands

The Hawaiian Islands (FC-FC-484) is a silent, black and white film from 1924, part of the Ford Motor Company Collection.  At the time this film was made, Hawaii was a territory to the United States and would remain that way until it achieved statehood on August 21, 1959.  The film consists of unique footage of … Continue reading A Trip to the Hawaiian Islands

What Might Have Been: Original Concept Art for the Lincoln Memorial

In the time since the cornerstone was laid in 1915, the Lincoln Memorial has become a national symbol and is easily one of the most recognizable structures in the United States.  Situated between Arlington National Cemetery and the Reflecting Pool, the Lincoln Memorial provides a breathtaking view of the World War II Memorial, the Washington … Continue reading What Might Have Been: Original Concept Art for the Lincoln Memorial