Spotlight: The Launch of Sputnik 1

Sixty years ago today, October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union sent into orbit the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1. The beach ball sized satellite, weighing 183.9 pounds, took 98 minutes to orbit the Earth on its elliptical path. Sputnik's launch captured the world's attention and caught the American public off-guard. They feared the Soviets' ability … Continue reading Spotlight: The Launch of Sputnik 1

Operation Hi-jump: Exploring Antarctica with the U.S. Navy

In August of 1946, a year after the end of World War II, the United States Navy mounted an expedition to Antarctica officially titled The United States Navy Antarctic Developments Program, 1946-1947. The mission, more commonly referred to as Operation Hi-jump, was organized by Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Jr., USN (Ret) and led by Rear Admiral Richard H. … Continue reading Operation Hi-jump: Exploring Antarctica with the U.S. Navy

60 Years On: The Little Rock Nine

September 2017 marks 60 years since the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, a key event of the American Civil Rights Movement. NARA Holdings Relating to the Desegregation of Central High School The Motion Picture, Sound and Video Branch at the National Archives has in its holdings several reels of unedited footage … Continue reading 60 Years On: The Little Rock Nine

Spotlight: Hollywood Goes to War

Just prior to Pearl Harbor, a military lecture series was created to educate new draftees and volunteers. The series covered important topics such as world military history and the principles of democracy. But the lecture series and outdated films that accompanied it failed to capture the audience's attention. Instead of boosting moral and educating service … Continue reading Spotlight: Hollywood Goes to War

Commemorating the Doolittle Raid

Today, April 18, marks the 75th Anniversary of the Doolittle Raid. The mission, named for its organizer and leader James "Jimmy" Doolittle, caused minor damage to its targets, but accomplished a great deal by boosting the morale of Americans still affected by the attack at Pearl Harbor and early Japanese victories. Flying 16 US Army … Continue reading Commemorating the Doolittle Raid

Film Preservation 101: Scratch Hazards and Fixes

For those working with archival films, encountering film scratches is just part of the job. At the National Archives we care for films that range from pristine camera negatives with not a scratch to be seen, all the way to beat-up projection prints that look like they were rubbed with sandpaper. Scratches can be black … Continue reading Film Preservation 101: Scratch Hazards and Fixes

Spotlight: “Our Wings of Victory,” the Manufacture of Military Aeroplanes During WWI

 "To fill the skies of France with fighting aircraft--that was America's tremendous task. What we did and what we have accomplished of that task is here fully revealed for the first time" reads an intertitle slate from the film Our Wings of Victory which highlights the production of American-made aircraft during World War I. World War I was … Continue reading Spotlight: “Our Wings of Victory,” the Manufacture of Military Aeroplanes During WWI

Youth Visits Our Nation’s Capital: A Glimpse of Spring 1939 in Washington, D.C.

Last July, while completing a training rotation in the Motion Picture Preservation Lab, I was tasked with inspecting the condition of film. Inspections are a basic operation the lab performs to ensure film holdings are properly handled and maintained. After spending most of my time with black and white film, I was excited when asked to inspect color footage. … Continue reading Youth Visits Our Nation’s Capital: A Glimpse of Spring 1939 in Washington, D.C.

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

Hidden Women Update: WWI Camouflage in Action

You may remember our July 2016 post about the Women’s Reserve Camouflage Corps, made up of women artists who developed camouflage for use by American troops in Europe during World War I. The website Atlas Obscura also featured the story and photos in October 2016. The Women’s Reserve Camouflage Corps photos held by the National … Continue reading Hidden Women Update: WWI Camouflage in Action