Epic History

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

Run by the Foundation for the National Archives
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)

todaysdocument:

"IN EVENT OF MOON DISASTER"

Memorandum from Speechwriter William Safire to President Nixon , 07/18/1969

Unbeknownst to the American people, one President Nixon’s speechwriters, William Safire, was asked to write a statement that the President would make to the American people in the event of a disaster and the Apollo 11 astronauts were stranded on the Moon. Though never delivered, it remains an eloquent tribute to the bravery and pioneering spirit of the astronauts. When the astronauts of Apollo 11 returned safely to earth, their mission was hailed around the world as an achievement of epic proportions, and this statement was quietly tucked away into the record.

via “American Originals” Treasures from the National Archives

Two months after Germany’s surrender, the victorious Allied leaders met in an unbombed suburb of Berlin from July 17-August 2, 1945, in what would become known as the Potsdam ConferenceOn the agenda was the partitioning of the postwar world and resolving the problems of the war in the Far East.

Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and U.S. President Harry S. Truman began the conference for their respective countries. On the fifth night of the conference, the participants took a break from their negotiations to attend a lavish dinner. During the evening, President Truman passed around his menu for the attendees to sign. On the cover, you can see Stalin, Truman, and Churchill’s signatures, with those of many other attendees by their names on the seating chart inside.

This dinner program is currently on display in the National Archives Museum’s “Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures" exhibit in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery through January 5. 2015.

“Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures” is made possible in part by the Foundation for the National Archives with the generous support of Lead Sponsor AT&T. Major additional support provided by the Lawrence F. O’Brien Family and members of the Board of the Foundation for the National Archives.

On July 17, 1902, Willis Carrier submitted drawings for what became recognized as the world’s first modern air conditioning system. After several more years tinkering, Carrier was granted this patent for his invention, which he called an “Apparatus for Treating Air.”  Did you know the National Archives was one of the first buildings in Washington, DC, with air conditioning? It was (and still is!) needed to properly safeguard the records. However, because the technology was still new, there were concerns about the potential health hazards to the employees working in an air-conditioned environment. Fortunately, the Surgeon General issued a statement saying, “no directly harmful effect on health need be anticipated.” Image: “808897 - Apparatus for Treating Air - Willis H. Carrier, 09/1904 - 01/02/1906,” page 28

On July 17, 1902, Willis Carrier submitted drawings for what became recognized as the world’s first modern air conditioning system. After several more years tinkering, Carrier was granted this patent for his invention, which he called an “Apparatus for Treating Air.”

Did you know the National Archives was one of the first buildings in Washington, DC, with air conditioning? It was (and still is!) needed to properly safeguard the records. However, because the technology was still new, there were concerns about the potential health hazards to the employees working in an air-conditioned environment. Fortunately, the Surgeon General issued a statement saying, “no directly harmful effect on health need be anticipated.”

Image: “808897 - Apparatus for Treating Air - Willis H. Carrier, 09/1904 - 01/02/1906,” page 28