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Photograph of Mrs. Adelaide Minogue Checking Humidity Recorder in Stacks, 1942 (National Archives Identifier: 3493247)

The National Archives, with the generous support of the Foundation for the National Archives, is now inviting proposals for the 2013 Regional Residency Fellowship Program.

The Residency Fellowship Program gives researchers the opportunity to conduct original research using records held at National Archives locations in Boston, MA; Denver, CO; Fort Worth, TX; Riverside, CA; San Francisco, CA; and St. Louis, MO. Researchers can explore  overlooked records and experience what many researchers have discovered: that it is not necessary to go to Washington, DC, to do research at the National Archives.

For 2013, one fellow will be assigned to each of the participating National Archives facilities, for a total of six fellowships. Each fellow will receive a $3,000 stipend, funded by the Foundation for the National Archives, to assist with travel and research expenses.

The Fellowship recipients are expected to complete a research project that results in a publishable product. Each recipient will also prepare a short report (within one year of receiving the Fellowship) for publication by the National Archives that describes the research experience: the discovery, method, and use of the records.

We encourage our Fellowship recipients to use social media to talk about their experience. At the end of their research visit, Fellows will also conduct a staff briefing  to share their discoveries.

Academic and independent historians, public and local historians, and writers are encouraged to apply. Current National Archives employees and contractors or their immediate family members are not eligible.

Submit proposals by e-mail or mail. Proposal must be received by March 15, 2013Awards will be announced May 1, 2013.

What to send:

  • A description and justification for the project, not to exceed six pages. This proposal should include:
    • a description of the records to be used for research (there should be enough records in your location for a research visit of at least one week);
    • a listing of the records that will be used at the location;
    • the proposed final product; and
    • the significance of the project to historical scholarship.
  • Please also include:
    • Vita (no more than three pages) including current contact information; and
    • two letters of recommendation.

Proposals should be sent by mail or email to the NARA facility the researcher intends to use for the fellowship.

2013 Fellowship locations

Boston, MA

National Archives at Boston
2013 Fellowship Program
380 Trapelo Road
Waltham, MA  02452-6399
Tel: 781-663-0121
Fax: 781-663-0154


Denver, CO

National Archives at Denver
2013 Fellowship Program
17101 Huron Street
Broomfield, CO  80023
Tel: 303-604-4740
Fax: 303-604-4750


Fort Worth, TX

National Archives at Fort Worth
2013 Fellowship Program
1400 John Burgess Drive
Fort Worth, TX  76140
Tel: 817-551-2051
Fax: 817-551-2034


Riverside, CA

National Archives at Riverside
2013 Fellowship Program
23123 Cajalco Road
Perris, CA 92570-7298
Tel: 951-956-2040
Fax: 951-956-2049


San Francisco, CA

National Archives at San Francisco
2013 Fellowship Program
Lee J. Ryan Federal Building
1000 Commodore Drive
San Bruno, CA 94066-2350
Tel: 650-238-3501
Fax: 650-238-3510



St. Louis, MO

National Archives at St. Louis
2013 Fellowship Program
Attn: Ashley Mattingly (RL-SL)
P.O. Box 38757
St. Louis, MO  63138

For FedEx and UPS deliveries ONLY:

National Personnel Records Center
1 Archives Drive
Room 340, Ashley Mattingly
St. Louis, MO  63138-1002
Tel:  314-801-0620
Fax:  314-801-9187

Jennifer Johnson, an exhibit curator at NARA, would love your help finding records in the National Archives with signatures.  She’s working on an exhibit and would love your suggestions.

At the National Archives, we have a range of signatures from the infamous (Lizzie Borden), to signatures of individuals before they were famous (Julia Child’s OSS paperwork), as well signatures that had the power to change someone’s life or to change history, such as a Presidential pardon.

Lizzie Borden signature

We would like your help to tag records with “signature” in our online catalog.  Don’t be restricted to any categories of records.  Tag records that you think are interesting or surprising.

To get started tagging, you’ll need to:

If you know of interesting signatures in records that are not yet available in our online catalog, let us know in the comments below with as much information as possible about the record.

Today’s post comes from Stephanie Greenhut, Education Technology Specialist, in the Education and Public Programs division.

We’re going to ring in the new year here at the National Archives with a special celebration to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Visitors to the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, can view the original document from Sunday, December 30, to Tuesday, January 1. The commemoration will include extended viewing hours, inspirational music, a dramatic reading, and family activities and entertainment for all ages.

For those who can’t make it to Washington or want to learn more, the National Archives presents The Meaning and Making of Emancipation. This eBook places the Emancipation Proclamation in its social and political context by presenting related documents from the National Archives’ holdings. These illustrate the efforts of the many Americans, enslaved and free, white and black, by whom slavery was abolished in the United States.

The Meaning and Making of Emancipation is available for free for multiple devices on our new eBooks page at

  • For iPad, download the interactive Multi-Touch book with iBooks on your iPad, or on your computer with iTunes.
  • For iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, download it with iBooks, or on your computer with iTunes.
  • For Android phone, Android tablet, iPhone, iPad, Nook, SONY Reader, other mobile device or eReader, or PC or Mac, download the ePub file from Open it with an eReader app on your phone or tablet, your eReader device, or an online ePub reader for your Mac or PC.
  • Read it online on Scribd or on your iPhone, iPad, Android phone, or Android tablet using the Scribd app.

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, during the Civil War. It formally proclaimed the freedom of all slaves held in areas still in revolt. After hosting a traditional New Year’s Day reception at the White House, and shaking hands with several hundred people, he signed the document with a shaky hand. President Lincoln said, “I never, in my life, felt more certain that I was doing right than I do in signing this paper.” Learn more and read excerpts from the eBook on the National Archives’ Pieces of History blog.

The Meaning and Making of Emancipation is the second commemorative eBook created by the National Archives. Exploring the United States Constitution celebrated the 225th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution. Each chapter connects one or more of the billions of records in the holdings of the National Archives to the principles found in the U.S. Constitution. This eBook is also available at

How do you like to get your news and information from the National Archives? Do you have access to what you need? How can we serve you better?

Tell us what you think! Take this 10-minute survey:

The survey will be available until midnight, December 6. Thank you!

* Update! The survey will now be available until midnight on December 13th. We look forward to your feedback!

Image of woman on phone

PFC Isabella Hardacre, Chicago, Illinois, a WAC telephone operator in U. S. headquarters at the Potsdam Conference in Germany disposes of hundreds of inquiries a day on the information phones of the headquarters switchboard., 07/15/1945


The National Archives is glad to announce that you may now connect with us on Google+!  Come on over and follow us for exciting posts about news, exhibits, research, genealogy tips, resources, citizen archivist updates and so much more.

Google+ is an online social community that aims to make sharing on the web more like sharing in real life.  With over a million users already, Google+ allows users to participate in events, video chat in a hangout, and subscribe to circles with information that is most interesting to them.  The National Archives is ready to start sharing with you, and we’d love to offer you circles to join that will streamline the content we are posting.  To see information in your news feed about a specific circle, all you need to do is click on the cover photo, and +1 the circle you’d like to join.

Are you interested in public programs and events in DC or from around the country?  Would you just like information about research, like record releases, genealogy events, or citizen archivist initiatives?  Or are you really looking for information for teachers to use in their lesson plans and classrooms?  Let us know on Google+! 

We’re excited about Google+ all over the National Archives, and that includes the Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero.  In fact, he’s so excited, he will be hosting our very first hangout!  Do you have a question for the Archivist that you’re dying for him to answer?  Here’s your chance to be heard!  Send your questions to the Archivist through Google+, Facebook, Twitter, or the blogs, and include the #AskAOTUS hashtag.  We’ll compile the questions and pass them on to the Archivist, who will answer as many as he can during the hangout.  If you can’t think of a question before the hangout, join us anyway, and continue to tweet us your questions with the #AskAOTUS hashtag throughout the session.  Ask him anything from what his favorite records are to what a day in his office is like.  Or maybe you are interested in what book he’s reading or his favorite museum in DC (besides the National Archives, of course!).   We’ll keep you posted on the date and time of the hangout, so circle the National Archives on Google+ for our latest updates!


Rolling into Court

by on October 19, 2012

As Halloween approaches, our thoughts turn to candy — and court cases.  A sweet combination of both can be found in Record Group 21, the U.S. District Court, the Northern District of Illinois, Chicago.  Civil case number 47C1770 was filed in 1947, when the Life Savers Corporation sued the Curtiss Candy Company for trademark infringement.

In 1947, Life Savers parent company filed suit claiming Curtiss violated Trade-Mark Reg. 355,158, which is a Life Savers candy wrapper design.  In the “Complaint,” Life Savers Corporation said its “exclusive right in its trade-mark and distinctive package design and color scheme each exceeds the sum of Three Thousand Dollars ($3,000), exclusive of interest and costs, and the acts of defendant herein complained of have damaged plaintiff in excess of said amount and if not restrained, will greatly impair, if not destroy said value.”

Life Saver patent

Life Savers Corporation Patent Application, October 1937

Life Savers wanted to protect its brand, which celebrates its centennial this year; Pep O Mint was first introduced in Ohio in 1912.  Wint O Green followed in 1918, and the five-flavor roll, the primary product in the case, came out in 1935.

The Curtiss Candy Company, too, had been around for a long time when the suit was filed.  Curtiss was founded in Chicago in 1916.  Known most famously for Baby Ruth and Butterfinger candy bars, Curtiss began making rolled hard candies, varying its product line.

The “Memorandum Opinion” states the main issue with the case.  The style and colors of the packaging were so similar that Life Savers claimed there would be “actual confusion of goods between the products of the plaintiff and defendant.”  Curtiss, however, said its own label was “distinctive and totally different,” and “great pains and much care have been taken to avoid any possible confusion.”

Curtiss Candy 1947

Curtiss Assorted Fruit Drops wrapper, 1947


The court realized that the profit margin on a “simple disk-like piece of hard candy of different colors and flavors” was large, so it was not surprised that a “simple sugar concoction” would have many others entering the market.  However, it understood that Life Savers, as one of the leaders in that business, wanted to “maintain its position.”

There was an analysis of the wrappers, including the positioning of two blue squares with “Curtiss Assorted Fruit Drops” and three “Life Savers Five Flavors” printed across the entire roll “as to be visible and prominent in whatever position that package may lie….”  However, the court was inundated with witness testimony acknowledging “there has been some actual confusion of goods.”

Life Savers package 1947

Life Savers wrapper, 1947

Depositions of witnesses were taken in different cities to show that consumers were so used to simply reaching for the multi-colored packaging of Life Savers that Curtiss would be able to take advantage of this with its own colored label.  One witness, Lillian Poshkus of St. Louis, when asked about her candy purchase, answered, “I just go right up to the counter and I see the different colored package and I pick that up, put it on the counter and pay for it.”  Several others answered similarly.

But the court considered more than just the colors.  For instance, the diameters and dimensions of all the packages were identical.  Moreover, buying mints is typically an impulse purchase, so consumers are not inclined to take such “care and caution in the selection of goods” as they would take to buy clothes or shoes, the judge said.

“It is probable that a great majority of purchasers do not care particularly what they get so long as they get a package of mints, and it is just as probable that the confusion can be attributed to the size and shapes of the various packages as to the exact wording and coloring of the labels,” the opinion stated.

Indeed, that was one of Curtiss’s claims, saying the “Defendant has not adopted the registered trademark of Plaintiff nor any ‘colorable imitation’ of any registered mark.”  Further the position of the defendant said the “striped effect produced by the picture or representation of the contents of a package is a functional device equally available…and widely used by manufacturers of candy of this type.”

Even in 1948, when the defendant filed its brief, an issue came up that continues to affect the contemporary marketplace.  Curtiss used examples from testimony where some witnesses refer to generic small candy drops as Life Savers.  “Typical of marks of this kind are the marks Frigidaire for the household mechanical refrigerator, Vaseline for petroleum jelly, Kodak for small cameras, Aspirin for the familiar headache remedy, etc.  The term Life Savers itself may have suffered this deterioration because of a developing usage of this word by consumers to mean any small round candies, regardless of the brand.”

Curtiss concluded that Life Savers was attempting “to prevent anybody from putting out assorted fruit drops in a multi-colored label.  If successful, Plaintiff will thus insure that all people who want assorted fruit drops will of necessity be compelled to purchase those of the Plaintiff,” and endowing it “with a monopoly of assorted fruit drops.”

U.S. District Court Judge Elwyn Shaw dismissed the complaint, concluding, “I believe that the defendant has taken every reasonable means to prevent confusion of goods, and unless Life Savers Corporation is to be given a patent on all colored and candy mints it must be held that the trade-mark is not infringed.”

The case was then appealed by the plaintiff, and went to the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, Chicago, shortly after the civil case was completed in 1949.  It supported the lower court decision, again siding in favor of the Curtiss Candy Company.  Nevertheless, Life Savers’ value was not destroyed as the complaint alleged.  Although its ownership has changed hands over the years and they are now made by Wrigley, a division of Mars, Incorporated, the round disk candies with the holes have remained afloat.

Last week, a bit of controversy erupted surrounding Wikipedia, after claims surfaced of contributors with paid consultancies editing with a conflict of interest after having been paid to use their Wikipedia savvy to promote their clients. While it is not my intention to get into the particulars of that case here—feel free to read more on your own—or to begin a discussion about the reliability of Wikipedia, one important result of the controversy is that there has been a fair amount of discussion on Wikipedia and in the media about external organizations partnering with Wikipedia (as we are) and the concept of Wikipedians in Residence (of which I am one).

David Ferriero speaks at Wikimania, the annual conference of Wikipedians. (Photo by PierreSelim / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA)

I think this is a good opportunity to discuss how the National Archives approaches the sticky issue of conflict of interest when it comes to our own partnership with Wikipedia. First, as a bit of background, we have been building a relationship with Wikipedia for more than a year now. We believe that the community of volunteers on Wikipedia share many of our values and that the project is an exciting vehicle for making NARA content more accessible. Work with Wikipedia is in line with the National Archives’ initiative to increase its web and social media presence to reach users where they currently are. In October  2011 alone, the total page views of all Wikipedia articles with images of National Archives documents was over 70 million (roughly 6 times the annual traffic to We do also value the work of Wikipedia’s editors, who are helping to improve the information in articles, transcribe our documents, and otherwise contribute to our work, but I am emphasizing the value of Wikipedia’s visibility in order to be as frank as possible. Much like marketers and public relations firms, NARA (like other cultural institutions) cares about working with Wikipedia primarily because of the amount of traffic its pages get. As David Ferriero recently put it, “The Archives is involved with Wikipedia because that’s where the people are.”

It is important for us to act in ways that will bring more exposure to our work, and that makes Wikipedia an important tool for us. Obviously, this approach can be problematic when it comes to advertisers trying to influence the content of articles, and, it is true, even universities and museums have been known to try to make more favorable articles for themselves. Wikipedians are rightly wary of spammers and reputation peddlers, who would subvert not only the content of the encyclopedia, but also undermine public trust in Wikipedia—which is the most ubiquitous information source in the world.

The difference is this: we rely on Wikipedia to help us in our archival work, not to promote NARA itself. NARA’s work on Wikipedia is not a project of our public affairs department, but of the Open Government division. In the information age, that archival work includes innovating new methods for democratizing access to public records. If that means contributing a historically significant image from our collections of Joan Baez at the March on Washington to her Wikipedia article, that serves both our mission of preserving and making accessible our nation’s records as well as Wikipedia’s mission of freely sharing the sum of all knowledge. That also means that staff (primarily myself) may edit Wikipedia articles in the course of their work for NARA. Hopefully the difference between contributing to the Joan Baez article and editing an article on one of the presidential libraries is plain; the latter is a conflict of interest, while the former is actually a topic where we are involved as subject matter experts. That is not to say that it wouldn’t be possible for a cultural institution to use Wikipedia for self-promotion; however, we consciously choose to foster a Wikipedia–NARA relationship that is mutually beneficial, rather than self-interested.

Cultural institutions and Wikipedia may be natural allies when it comes to increasing access to information, but the principles of ethical Wikipedia participation are not necessarily obvious. Several months ago, we developed internal guidelines for staff participating on Wikipedia, which lay out high-level principles, like this one: “NARA seeks to always engage with Wikipedia as a full, participating member of the online community rather than owning any corner of it.” There are also more practical instructions: “National Archives staff members participate in Wikipedia on an equal footing with all other editors using individual, rather than departmental, accounts.” Each individual editor is instructed to disclose their affiliation with NARA on their Wikipedia account pages before editing, as well. And they are warned to avoid making substantive changes to Wikipedia articles about the organization. If we have complaints about how we are portrayed, we will contact the Wikipedia community through article discussion pages or another forum and trust in the editorial process to resolve the issue. NARA’s official policy document on Rules of Behavior for Using Web 2.0 and Social Media Web Sites also applies to staff interactions on Wikipedia.

I am acutely aware that the success of our Wikipedia project, and of the broader effort to integrate Wikipedia with cultural institutions, hinges on maintaining the goodwill of the community of Wikipedia editors. I think it is a good idea for all institutions working with Wikipedia to develop guidelines for staff, and publish them. It’s important for staff to have guidance when they begin a new venture like Wikipedia, but it’s also important to assure Wikipedia that we intend to participate in their project in good faith and on their terms. Accordingly, I have posted the full text of our guidelines on Wikipedia, and I welcome feedback on them here or on Wikipedia. This is not an official policy as of yet, though we are in the process of developing a Wikipedia policy to go along with our other social media policies and these guidelines are the current draft.

Researchers are invited to the next researcher meeting on Friday, September 28, 2012 to meet with Research Services Executive Bill Mayer.  The meeting will be held at the National Archives at College Park  (Archives II) at 1:00 PM in lecture rooms B and C.  See you there!

Record Collecting

by on September 13, 2012

Today’s post comes from Pascal Massinon, 2012 National Archives Legislative Archives Fellow.  Stay tuned to NARAtions as Pascal provides updates on his research and experience at the National Archives.

Dry fingers, dusty hands, and dirty knees. Common ailments for record collectors scouring through “new arrivals” bins and passed over shelves for rare used LPs. Historians don’t always favor vinyl, but many of us are compulsive record collectors of one kind or another. Hoarders all, we’re on the lookout for elusive documents, long-lost insights, and words that haven’t been read since they were first put to paper.

The obsessiveness required to hunt down both rare LPs and historical documents hit home when I joined archivist Kate Mollan into the stacks at the National Archives. Needles in haystacks come to mind, since the vast quantity of records produced by Congress makes clear cataloguing nearly impossible. According to last year’s Annual Report, the Records of the U.S. Senate take up almost 80,000 cubic feet of space, and in 2011 alone, the Senate sent another 2,523 cubic feet of new records. Whereas collections at the Library of Congress, presidential libraries, or University special collections can be described down to the folder or document level, the contents of the National Archives’ holdings, especially for materials from 20 to 30 years ago, are near mysteries.

National Archives stacks

A view of the stacks at the National Archives

To give you a sense of the heroic work performed by archivists to find materials for researchers, the finding aids that Kate found suggested that there were over 200 boxes of materials related to the Senate Commerce Committee from the 97th to 104th Congresses. Looking for anything on the hearings held by the Communications Subcommittee related to Digital Audio Tape in the late 1980s and early 1990s? Well, you might just have to open every one of those boxes to see what’s in their folders. All told, we might have opened nearly 300 boxes to find two folders worth of DAT documents.

One of the more striking lessons to learn in archival research is just how futile it is to strive for comprehensiveness in the amassing of your personal archive. I’m not sure historians always want to talk about it, but there’s always luck and happenstance involved when trying to track down materials, and for every bit of good fortune, bad luck can’t be far behind. Boxes can be mislabeled, documents can be filed incorrectly, a letter might finish after the first page, or a tantalizing document that’s part of a longer series might only appear on its own.

But the ideal of completeness lingers, the search for archival nuggets remains obsessive, and so the photocopies and photographs take up more and more space in filing cabinets and hard drives, waiting to be processed into coherent ideas and narratives. As much as we might yearn for readily accessible complete discographies, there’s no comprehensive iTunes Store or Spotify for historical documents yet (though they are coming, with the increasing digitization of government publications, historical newspapers, and the like), so the search happens in finding aids, the archival stacks, and the dusty boxes. Forgive my romanticism, but I’d hardly want it to be any other way…

Today’s post comes from Stephanie Greenhut, Education Technology Specialist, in the Education and Public Programs division.

It’s almost Constitution Day! This September 17th marks 225 years since the signing of the United States Constitution in Philadelphia in 1787. At the National Archives we’re commemorating the occasion throughout September with special programs, online media, and learning materials.

If you’re interested in brushing up on your knowledge of the Constitution, try our brand new United States Constitution course on iTunes U.

In it you’ll discover our multi-touch book for iPad – Exploring the United States Constitution – as well as blog posts, articles, videos, documents, and activities in the DocsTeach App for iPad. The course can be accessed for free with the iTunes App for iPad or from

You will learn about the Constitutional Convention, drafting and ratifying the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the three branches of our Federal government, and how the National Archives is preserving our Constitution.

You will see the legislative, executive, and judicial branches in action in Exploring the United States Constitution. In this book we’ve compiled a selection of writings published over the last three decades by our education staff. Each chapter features one or more of the billions of records in the holdings of the National Archives and connects it to the role of one of the branches of government as laid out in the Constitution.

For instance, the resolution proposing the 26th amendment that extended the vote to 18-year-olds demonstrates Congress’ job of initiating amendments, according to Article I of the Constitution. Congressman Abraham Lincoln’s “spot resolutions” challenged President Polk and called into question his actions undertaken as “Commander in Chief,” the role of the President according to Article II. And Supreme Court cases, exemplified in a letter about a book ban, resulted in the doctrine that “free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre,” and showcase the role of the judicial branch based on Article III. These are just three of 22 chapters all about the functions of our government according to the Constitution.

For information about special events and public programs at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, to access teaching and learning resources, and to connect with the National Archives through social media, visit our Constitution Day page.

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