Epic History

Exploring American history, one epic record from the National Archives at a time

Run by the Foundation for the National Archives
This dollar bill from Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “short snorter” (a military tradition of signing local currency) is missing something - our national motto.
Why? Well, it wasn’t until General Eisenhower became President Eisenhower that our country even had a national motto. On July 30, 1956, President Eisenhower signed a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress authorizing “In God we trust” as the national motto. Modern American currency now includes this motto on the back of each bill.
This dollar bill is currently on display in the National Archives Museum’s “Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures" in the O’Brien Gallery.

This dollar bill from Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “short snorter” (a military tradition of signing local currency) is missing something - our national motto.

Why? Well, it wasn’t until General Eisenhower became President Eisenhower that our country even had a national motto. On July 30, 1956, President Eisenhower signed a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress authorizing “In God we trust” as the national motto. Modern American currency now includes this motto on the back of each bill.

This dollar bill is currently on display in the National Archives Museum’s “Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures" in the O’Brien Gallery.

On July 29, 1862, Virginia native Belle Boyd was arrested by Union soldiers for being a Confederate spy.
Boyd, who had been put under observation after she shot and killed a Union soldier for cursing at her mother, was able to gather information from her careless guards and pass it on to the Confederacy. In one instance, she even ran across a battlefield, through the crossfire, and told an officer to tell General “Stonewall” Jackson, “the Yankee force is very small. Tell him to charge right down and he will catch them all!” Jackson took her advice and soon captured the town, allowing him to begin to take the Shenandoah Valley from the Union Army.

After Boyd was arrested, she was held for about a month and, after an inquiry, she was released on August 29. Before the end of the war, Boyd moved to England, where she married a Union naval officer and became an actress. She returned to America after his death, and eventually started touring the country giving dramatic lectures of her life as a Civil War spy. She died in Wisconsin in 1900.
Image: “Belle Boyd, a spy for the Confederates during the Civil War, poses for a portrait after the war.”

On July 29, 1862, Virginia native Belle Boyd was arrested by Union soldiers for being a Confederate spy.

Boyd, who had been put under observation after she shot and killed a Union soldier for cursing at her mother, was able to gather information from her careless guards and pass it on to the Confederacy. In one instance, she even ran across a battlefield, through the crossfire, and told an officer to tell General “Stonewall” Jackson, “the Yankee force is very small. Tell him to charge right down and he will catch them all!” Jackson took her advice and soon captured the town, allowing him to begin to take the Shenandoah Valley from the Union Army.

After Boyd was arrested, she was held for about a month and, after an inquiry, she was released on August 29. Before the end of the war, Boyd moved to England, where she married a Union naval officer and became an actress. She returned to America after his death, and eventually started touring the country giving dramatic lectures of her life as a Civil War spy. She died in Wisconsin in 1900.

Image: “Belle Boyd, a spy for the Confederates during the Civil War, poses for a portrait after the war.

Join us July 29 at 7pm for a special screening and panel discussion of “Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment” in the McGowan Theater of the National Archives Museum.
A landmark in American documentary films, Robert Drew’s cinéma vérité work Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment (1963; 52 minutes) chronicles how President John F. Kennedy, along with his brother Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, clashed with Alabama Governor George Wallace over racial integration at the University of Alabama in 1963.

Following the screening, Michele Norris Johnson will moderate a discussion featuring Jill Drew, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Peggy Wallace Kennedy, Dr. Sharon Malone, and Dan Rather, with a performance by Garrick Jordan.
Can’t make it? Watch the program live!
 This program is presented by the National Archives in partnership with the 2014 March on Washington Film Festival.

Join us July 29 at 7pm for a special screening and panel discussion of Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment in the McGowan Theater of the National Archives Museum.

A landmark in American documentary films, Robert Drew’s cinéma vérité work Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment (1963; 52 minutes) chronicles how President John F. Kennedy, along with his brother Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, clashed with Alabama Governor George Wallace over racial integration at the University of Alabama in 1963.

Following the screening, Michele Norris Johnson will moderate a discussion featuring Jill Drew, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Peggy Wallace Kennedy, Dr. Sharon Malone, and Dan Rather, with a performance by Garrick Jordan.

Can’t make it? Watch the program live!

This program is presented by the National Archives in partnership with the 2014 March on Washington Film Festival.

Happy (belated) birthday, Amelia Earhart! Though known as an aviatrix, Earhart dove into every chance to explore a new frontier. Here, she suits up for a dive into the ocean deep off Block Island just a day after her 32nd birthday. Three years later, Earhart would achieve the distinction of being the first woman to fly solo nonstop across the Atlantic. Just a few years after this accomplishment, however, she disappeared while flying over the Pacific Ocean.  Image: “Amelia Earhart Deep Sea Diving off Block Island, 07/25/1929”

Happy (belated) birthday, Amelia Earhart! Though known as an aviatrix, Earhart dove into every chance to explore a new frontier. Here, she suits up for a dive into the ocean deep off Block Island just a day after her 32nd birthday.

Three years later, Earhart would achieve the distinction of being the first woman to fly solo nonstop across the Atlantic. Just a few years after this accomplishment, however, she disappeared while flying over the Pacific Ocean.

Image: “Amelia Earhart Deep Sea Diving off Block Island, 07/25/1929

On July 24, 1963, President John F. Kennedy met with some participants in the Boys Nation Convention, and shook hands with the representative from Arkansas: sixteen-year-old Bill Clinton. Thirty years later, Clinton would find himself on the other side of that handshake, as President.
Photo by Arnie Sachs via the William J. Clinton Presidential Library

On July 24, 1963, President John F. Kennedy met with some participants in the Boys Nation Convention, and shook hands with the representative from Arkansas: sixteen-year-old Bill Clinton. Thirty years later, Clinton would find himself on the other side of that handshake, as President.

Photo by Arnie Sachs via the William J. Clinton Presidential Library

Holy 75 years, Batman! 
The Caped Crusader was first introduced by DC Comics (then National Comics) in 1939 in “Detective Comics #27.” A year later, he was headlining his own line of comics, as seen here with issue #1, which included not only his trusty sidekick Robin, but also introduced the Joker and Catwoman. It is also the only story in which Batman uses a gun.
Why is this issue part of the National Archives? It was used as evidence in a New York district court civil case, Fox Publications Inc. v. Detective Comics Inc., Independent News Co. Inc. and Interborough News Co. and is now located at the National Archives at New York.

Holy 75 years, Batman! 

The Caped Crusader was first introduced by DC Comics (then National Comics) in 1939 in “Detective Comics #27.” A year later, he was headlining his own line of comics, as seen here with issue #1, which included not only his trusty sidekick Robin, but also introduced the Joker and Catwoman. It is also the only story in which Batman uses a gun.

Why is this issue part of the National Archives? It was used as evidence in a New York district court civil case, Fox Publications Inc. v. Detective Comics Inc., Independent News Co. Inc. and Interborough News Co. and is now located at the National Archives at New York.

On July 22, 1934, the crime spree of notorious bank robber John Dillinger came to an end when he was shot by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as he was leaving a theater in Chicago.

Dillinger was one of the first to be labelled “Public Enemy Number 1,” having robbed at least 12 different banks in about one year at a time when the entire country was suffering from the Great Depression. With his brash crimes and colorful personality, he managed to captured the American consciousness - and J. Edgar Hoover’s attention.

Despite his extensive, violent criminal record, Dillinger’s crucial mistake was stealing a car and driving it across state lines, making the crime a federal matter and allowing the FBI to take over the investigation. Thanks to the help of an informant, the FBI tracked Dillinger to a theater in Chicago where they planned to detain him as he left. When Dillinger walked out to find the waiting agents, he drew a gun and was shot and killed.

Images: “Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Wanted Poster of John Dillinger, 06/25/1934" (front and back)

Happy 115th birthday, Ernest Hemingway!
Did you know jfklibrary has an extensive Hemingway collection? After her husband’s death, Mary Hemingway contacted Jacqueline Kennedy and offered his collection to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Mary wanted the various drafts – many written in Hemingway’s “big sprawling hand” – available so people could see the writing process from initial idea “to the point where it is finally published the way the author thinks is the best.” And she wanted to give the collection “to some place where [Hemingway] would be to himself and have a little personal distinction.” 
While the two men never met, President Kennedy more than once expressed his admiration for Hemingway and his work. In a statement released by the White House when Hemingway died, President Kennedy noted: “Few Americans have had a greater impact on the emotions and attitudes of the American people than Ernest Hemingway…. He almost single-handedly transformed the literature and the ways of thought of men and women in every country in the world.” 
Image: “Ernest Hemingway sitting at a table feeding his cat Cristobal a corn cob at his home, Finca Vigia, San Francisco de Paula, Cuba.”

Happy 115th birthday, Ernest Hemingway!

Did you know jfklibrary has an extensive Hemingway collection? After her husband’s death, Mary Hemingway contacted Jacqueline Kennedy and offered his collection to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Mary wanted the various drafts – many written in Hemingway’s “big sprawling hand” – available so people could see the writing process from initial idea “to the point where it is finally published the way the author thinks is the best.” And she wanted to give the collection “to some place where [Hemingway] would be to himself and have a little personal distinction.” 

While the two men never met, President Kennedy more than once expressed his admiration for Hemingway and his work. In a statement released by the White House when Hemingway died, President Kennedy noted: “Few Americans have had a greater impact on the emotions and attitudes of the American people than Ernest Hemingway…. He almost single-handedly transformed the literature and the ways of thought of men and women in every country in the world.” 

Image: “Ernest Hemingway sitting at a table feeding his cat Cristobal a corn cob at his home, Finca Vigia, San Francisco de Paula, Cuba.

Happy birthday, John Glenn! Born on July 18, 1921, he was a U.S. Marine who served in both World War II and the Korean War. In 1959, he was chosen as one of the original group of seven astronauts for NASA’s Project Mercury, and then on February 20, 1962, he became the first American to orbit Earth, as well as the fifth human in space.
After many years in the military and at NASA, Glenn served as a US Senator from Ohio for 24 years. In 1998, at the age of 77, Glenn returned to space to study the effects of space flight on the elderly.
Image: “Photograph of Astronaut John H. Glenn, Jr. in His Mark IV Pressure Suit, 01/23/1962”

Happy birthday, John Glenn! Born on July 18, 1921, he was a U.S. Marine who served in both World War II and the Korean War. In 1959, he was chosen as one of the original group of seven astronauts for NASA’s Project Mercury, and then on February 20, 1962, he became the first American to orbit Earth, as well as the fifth human in space.

After many years in the military and at NASA, Glenn served as a US Senator from Ohio for 24 years. In 1998, at the age of 77, Glenn returned to space to study the effects of space flight on the elderly.

Image: “Photograph of Astronaut John H. Glenn, Jr. in His Mark IV Pressure Suit, 01/23/1962

It’s National Ice Cream Month! President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month in 1984, and July 15 that year as National Ice Cream Day with Presidential Proclamation 5219.

Images: “Youngster unknowingly shares an ice cream stick with a dog as she watches judging during the kiddies parade in Johnson Park in New Ulm, Minnesota…” 07/1974 (right and left)