Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad

On May 10, 1869, the last spike of the Transcontinental Railroad was ceremoniously driven in at Promontory Summit, Utah, joining the Central Pacific Railroad and the Union Pacific Railroads to form one continuous railroad to connecting the east to the west. We are recognizing the 150th anniversary of this important event by featuring a few … Continue reading Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad

Go Take a Hike! The Appalachian Trail Turns 96 Years Old

March 2019 marked the 96th anniversary of the opening of the first section of the Appalachian Trail which ran from Bear Mountain, New York, to Harriman State Park in Arden, New York. The brainchild of forester Benton MacKaye, the Appalachian Trail, or the “A.T.” as it is widely known, started out as an idea for … Continue reading Go Take a Hike! The Appalachian Trail Turns 96 Years Old

Charleston Harbor at the Brink of War: Sketches from the RG 94, Civil War Atlas Manuscript Maps Series

The Cartographic Branch holds a large collection of Civil War maps. Two series that often get overlooked are comprised of maps associated with the publication of the Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. The first series consists of copies of the published maps, which are widely available. However, the real gem … Continue reading Charleston Harbor at the Brink of War: Sketches from the RG 94, Civil War Atlas Manuscript Maps Series

Holdings Highlight! RG 167: Submissions to the National Inventors Council

Every so often, I come across items in our holdings which are so delightfully bizarre that they have to be shared.  The drawings below come from RG 167: Submissions to the Inventor's Council.  This group was founded in 1940 as part of the Department of Commerce's Office of Technical Services.  The intention was that this … Continue reading Holdings Highlight! RG 167: Submissions to the National Inventors Council

Cartographic Records Relating to African American History

February is African American History Month. All of our Special Media branches hold a variety of records relating to African American history. Today, we are featuring some related records from the Cartographic Branch. The above plan shows the layout for the Freeman's Village that was established on the estate of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, … Continue reading Cartographic Records Relating to African American History

Spotlight: Last Minute Holiday Gifts!

Co-Authored by Beth Fortson and Corbin Apkin. You wake up in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve and realize that you have forgotten to get a gift for your sister's brand new "He's Totally The One" boyfriend. You get a text from your old college roommate two days before your New Years Party … Continue reading Spotlight: Last Minute Holiday Gifts!

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

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

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