Capturing the Beauty of America’s National Parks: National Park Service Master Plan Covers

August 25th marks the birthday of the National Park Service, which was established on that date in 1916. Over the course of the last 100 plus years, the National Park Service has grown, and now includes over 400 parks, representing America's vast array of natural wonders and significant historic sites. The Cartographic Branch holds a … Continue reading Capturing the Beauty of America’s National Parks: National Park Service Master Plan Covers

Shining a Light on Montauk Point Lighthouse in Honor of Lighthouse Day

National Lighthouse Day is celebrated annually in the United States on August 7th.  This holiday marks the day in 1789 when Congress approved an act to establish and support lighthouses, buoys, beacons, and public piers. Since that time, the United States has constructed more than a thousand lighthouses, light stations, range lights, and pier head lights. … Continue reading Shining a Light on Montauk Point Lighthouse in Honor of Lighthouse Day

Hiding in Plain Sight: The FDR Interstate Highway Map

Sometimes, the most extraordinary maps can be “hiding” in plain sight, passed by, overlooked because they are a bit plain on the surface.  However, once you know the real story behind the map, it can take on a whole different meaning and look completely new and exciting.  One such map that fits this description can … Continue reading Hiding in Plain Sight: The FDR Interstate Highway Map

Slide 1 of the winning memorial deisgn

Looking Back at the Korean War Veterans Memorial Competition

As Memorial Day 2018 approaches, we thought it would be appropriate to draw attention to a unique series in our Still-Picture Branch, RG 117-KDS, which covers a competition that took place in the 1980’s to design the Korean War Veterans Memorial. In 1986, the American Battle Monuments Commission was authorized to build a war memorial … Continue reading Looking Back at the Korean War Veterans Memorial Competition

Building Fort Sumter

Fort Sumter will forever go down in history as the location of the opening shots of the Civil War on April 12, 1861. The Cartographic Branch holds architectural plans and drawings associated with the construction of forts throughout our nation's history. This includes numerous plans relating to Fort Sumter's lengthy construction. Today we are featuring … Continue reading Building Fort Sumter

Cartographic’s Favorites of 2017

Co-written with Amy Edwards The Cartographic Branch holds a wide variety of materials. While working with these documents for reference requests, projects, or research room requests, our staff comes across some very cool and significant documents. Today, we are featuring a few of our favorite records that we've come across this year. We hope that … Continue reading Cartographic’s Favorites of 2017

Plan for the South Rim Village area of Grand Canyon National Park, including an employee housing area and services such as a hospital and post office. Visitor facilities are also shown, including a campground and other lodging choices.

Planning America’s Best Idea: Master Plans for National Parks

On August 25, 1916, Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Organics Act, creating the National Park Service (NPS), a new federal bureau responsible for protecting the existing 35 national parks and monuments. In 1933, the National Park Service greatly expanded when all parks, monuments, and historical areas overseen by the government were transferred to the … Continue reading Planning America’s Best Idea: Master Plans for National Parks

Utility Patent Drawings

One fascinating way to look at our history is by studying the tools we have invented and used throughout the years. There is no better way to do this than by looking at the patent drawings we hold in the Cartographic Branch at the National Archives. The majority of the patent drawings we have are … Continue reading Utility Patent Drawings

Fractured Ideals: Japanese American Internment through a Government Lens

America stands unique in the world: the only country not founded on race but on a way, an ideal. Not in spite of but because of our polyglot background, we have had all the strength in the world. That is the American way. –President Ronald Reagan December 1945, in honor of Kazuo Masuda and August 10, … Continue reading Fractured Ideals: Japanese American Internment through a Government Lens

Visualizing Pearl Harbor 75 Years Later

Tomorrow marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. In remembrance of the event, we are presenting related maps, photographs, ship plans, and films held by NARA's Special Media Division. Photographs documenting the aftermath of the attack may be found in the General Photographic File of the Navy (RG 80-G, RG 80-GK), Color Photographs … Continue reading Visualizing Pearl Harbor 75 Years Later