Boston, 1775: A City Under Siege!

Of all the record groups in the Cartographic Department's holdings, one of the most interesting and varied is RG 77.   This record group, with its myriad of smaller series, holds many Revolutionary War, Civil War and Civil War-era maps, (both printed and manuscript), drawings and schematics of forts, posts, and reservations, and original designs for … Continue reading Boston, 1775: A City Under Siege!

Spotlight: Dogs in Airbrush

Airbrushing was an early method of retouching and coloring photographs which can be traced back as far as the late 1800s. It is a unique process which creates a beautiful matte effect, causing images to look as though they are caught somewhere between photograph and painting. While the technology is still employed today, in the … Continue reading Spotlight: Dogs in Airbrush

The Haunted Archives

To celebrate Halloween, we took a look in our cartographic records at the National Archives to see if we could find any spooky records. We came across the following Utility Patent Drawings which certainly help to set the mood for the Halloween season. A number of jack-o'-lantern designs came up in the patent drawings. You … Continue reading The Haunted Archives

Maps of the Great War: Army Cartography in World War I

One of the most illuminating groups of records found in the Cartographic Branch at the National Archives is Record Group 120: Records of the American Expeditionary Forces (World War I), 1848 - 1942 (seen in our catalog here). These records cover many different aspects of the war. Included are maps from various United States army … Continue reading Maps of the Great War: Army Cartography in World War I

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

Operation Watchtower: The Guadalcanal Campaign

Co-Authored by Kelsey Noel and Corbin Apkin.   This August marks the 75th anniversary of Operation Watchtower, otherwise known as the Guadalcanal Campaign. Operation Watchtower was a series of engagements between the Allied forces (comprised heavily of U.S. Marines) and the Japanese military. The campaign began on August 7th, 1942 with the first amphibious landings … Continue reading Operation Watchtower: The Guadalcanal Campaign

Spotlight: Flag Day

The flag of the United States of America was adopted 240 years ago on June 14, 1777. Throughout our nation's history our flag has taken on many forms, growing with the country it so proudly represents. It has also taken on many affectionate monikers - the American Flag; the Stars and Stripes; Old Glory; the … Continue reading Spotlight: Flag Day

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

Polar, Planes, and Puppies: The Photos of E.J. Demas

Though the first Byrd Antarctic Expedition took place more than twenty years after the likes of Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton, little had changed when it came to the available methods of transportation. Explorer Richard E. Byrd had large tractors to move supplies, but still relied heavily on dog sleds, skis, and schooners ships, which … Continue reading Polar, Planes, and Puppies: The Photos of E.J. Demas

Recently Opened Series: German World War II Maps

One of the most interesting ways of seeing World War II military operations from the point of view of the Axis powers is by looking in the National Archives' materials held in Record Group 242: National Archives Collection of Foreign Records Seized. This record group includes documents, films, photographs and maps that were seized from the Axis … Continue reading Recently Opened Series: German World War II Maps