Join me, Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero, for a Tumblr #AnswerTime!

On Friday, July 1, at 11 am ET / 8 am PT, I’ll be answering your questions here on @aotus:

Ask me a question!

About David S. Ferriero

David S. Ferriero was confirmed as 10th Archivist of the United States in November 2009. The National Archives and Records Administration is responsible for preserving and providing access to the records of the U.S. Government. NARA has 43 facilities across the country, including 13 Presidential Libraries, containing approximately 13 billion pages of textual records; 43 million photographs; miles and miles of film and video, and an ever increasing number of electronic records. Previously, Mr. Ferriero served as the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the New York Public Libraries and held top library positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Duke University. And he loves to make pancakes for the Archives Sleepover.

Archivist Solon J. Buck: Wartime Leader

Seventy-Five years ago, on the eve of the United States’ entry into World War II,  Solon J. Buck was appointed as the second Archivist of the United States by President Franklin Roosevelt on September 18, 1941.

Solon J. Buck’s ID card as Archivist of the United States, September 18, 1941. (National Archives Identifier 12091049)  Series: Identification Cards for Employees, 1941 - 1942Record Group 64: Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, 1789 - ca. 2007

In 1935, Solon J. Buck was appointed Assistant Director to serve under the first Archivist of the United States, Robert D.W. Connor. Following an education at the University of Wisconsin and Harvard University, the Wisconsin native started his career as a history professor. He taught at Indiana University, the University of Illinois, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Pittsburgh.

His extensive background in history, including a time as the superintendent of the Minnesota State Historical Society, prepared Buck well for a position at the new National Archives, and he joined the agency in 1935.

By 1941, Archivist Robert D.W. Connor was ready to retire, and the search for his replacement began. Considering Buck’s impressive work in helping Connor to establish the National Archives, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Buck as the second Archivist of the United States on September 18, 1941.

Less than three months later, the United States entered World War II, and the role of the National Archives became more important than ever.

Just a few shorts months into his tenure as Archivist of the United States, Buck needed to find the best way for the National Archives to support the war effort.

In 1942, Second Archivist of the United States Dr. Solon J. Buck receives a recording of the attack on Pearl Harbor. (National Archives Identifier 3493240)

Buck, along with the Society of American Archivists, determined that the first way the National Archives could help the United States as it entered the war was to “control the tremendous output of records which was sure to be generated.”

As the National Archives stores all permanently valuable records created by the Federal government, U.S. entry into World War II meant that Buck needed to find a way to catalog and store more records than the Archives had ever seen.

In the four-year span before U.S. entry into World War II, the National Archives averaged 54,000 cubic feet of accessions (new records) a year. In 1942, the first full year of U.S. involvement in the war, that number tripled.

To handle the massive influx of records, Buck instituted a regimented accession procedure: deputy examiners reviewed documents and determined which were to be acquisitioned. The Repair and Preservation division then received the documents upon their arrival to the National Archives and began preservation procedures. Last, the properly cleaned and repaired documents were transported to the stacks, where “archivists with the appropriate custodial division assumed control” of them.

Throughout the war, this process helped the National Archives to store and preserve an unprecedented amount of records.

Keep reading about Solon Buck wartime role at Prologue: Piece of History: Archivist Solon J. Buck: Wartime Leader

Nancy Ma’s night monkeys  

These cute and curious monkeys, oddly named Nancy Ma’s night monkeys, belong to the species Aotus nancymaae (Primates - Aotidae), found only in Brazil and Peru (and perhaps Colombia), south of the Amazon river, west from the Jutaí river.

These are small monkeys (637 mm average length), with non prehensile tails. They have reddish orange hair along the sides of the neck and the inner lining of the limbs and tail base. One of their distinctive physical features is that they have large brown eyes.

Species of the genus Aotus (about 11) are commonly referred to as Owl monkeys due to the fact that they are the only nocturnal anthropoids.

Other common names: Peruvian Red-necked Owl Monkey, Ma’s Night Monkey, Macaco Da Noite, Mono Nocturno, Musmuqui, Mono lechuza.

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: ©ik_kil

Locality: Pacaya-Samiria Natural Reserve, Loreto, Peru

Made with Flickr

Historical Cats

We may have just missed #MuseumCats day, but you might still enjoy some stories of historic felines in our holdings. We recently received feedback on our website survey asking for historical photos of cats in the National Archives. I was reminded of the fact that when Robert Connor, the First Archivist, was assessing the records situation in Washington, he came across the records of the one “depository crowded with archives of the Government the most prominent object to one entering the room was the skull of a dead cat protruding from under a pile of valuable records.” (From an editorial entitled, “Our National Archives”, The Nation, February 1931.)

While we obviously don’t want actual cats roaming our stacks, we consulted our online catalog and found this selection of photogenic archival felines.

Read the full post on the AOTUS blog.


Some might say the best part of sleeping over at the National Archives is snoozing the night away beneath the Constitution, but we know the best part is having the Archivist of the United States make you pancakes for breakfast!

Three times a year, kids and their parents can stay overnight at the National Archives. And the next morning, David S. Ferriero is there, taking a break from his job as head of the agency to flip pancakes for our guests.

We asked him to share his favorite recipe that he uses when he makes pancakes at home–and now you can make pancakes just like the Archivist!

The Archivist’s Pancakes

Yield: 30 pancakes—depending on size


2 cups all purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 cups milk
4 tbsp melted butter
2 large eggs


1.  Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt

2. Separately mix together milk, butter and eggs

3.  Add dry ingredients to wet and mix—don’t overmix

4.  Spoon or pour batter (amount dependent upon how big you want them) onto griddle or frying pan

5. Sprinkle on chocolate chips or berries and cook for a couple of minutes until underside is brown

6. Flip and cook another couple of minutes

Via the George W. Bush Presidential Center:

As part of the Dedication Ceremonies, President and Mrs. Bush presented the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), which will operate the Library and Museum. The Bush Center and NARA signed a joint use agreement at a ceremony in Freedom Hall today.

Robert H. Bahmer - National Archives, 2/3/1941

Series: Identification Cards for Employees, 1941 - 1942Record Group 64: Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, 1789 - ca. 2007

Dated 75 years ago on February 3, 1941, this is the Identification Card for National Archives staff member Robert Bahmer, who would ultimately go on to become Fourth Archivist of the United States. 

DYK? The current Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero, is also on Tumblr at @aotus!

Browse more vintage @usnatarchives ID cards in the National Archives Catalog


In celebration of the New York Academy of Medicine’s #ColorOurCollections campaign this week, many museums, libraries, and archives hopped on the adult coloring bandwagon and created coloring books to share on Twitter. We’ve been participating by posting various images throughout the week for people to color, from Rosie the Riveter to the Faulkner murals.

Now we have a coloring book as well! We’ve chosen some of our favorite patents from our holdings for you to color: The National Archives Coloring Book of Patents 2016

Or, browse our online catalog for more fascinating patents to color! Share your coloring creations with us on using the hashtag #ColorOurCollections.

Read the full post on the AOTUS blog.


On Friday, the Washington Capitals mascot, Slapshot, stopped by the National Archives. He posed in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom with David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and checked out the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights.

Go Caps!

National Archives photo by Jeffrey Reed


AWWWW…do you guys remember this? They are babies here <3

And the cherry on top: Jealous Miles ;)

National Archives Hosts WikiConference USA

The National Archives is proud to be the co-organizer and host site of WikiConference USA, which is being held in the National Archives Building in Washington D.C. Oct. 9–11. WikiConference USA is the annual national conference of Wikimedia enthusiasts and volunteers in the United States, and is open to anyone—regardless of their level of Wikipedia editing experience or skepticism.

WikiConference USA will include speeches, workshops, panels, and presentations on Wikimedia’s outreach to cultural institutions, community building, technology development, and role in education. Aside from hosting, NARA will be putting its stamp on the conference in several ways. David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States (@aotus​ on Tumblr), will give the opening address, discussing the ways Wikipedia has changed how we do our work at the National Archives, and in government and cultural institutions generally. In addition, NARA staff are presenting in two regular sessions:

Conference participants will also be invited to tour exhibits in the National Archives Museum and stop by the newly opened Innovation Hub, where they can volunteer to help us digitize records.

Wikipedia represents a key resource for the National Archives to make access to our records happen to a wide audience in a way that is relevant to them. We collaborate with Wikipedia because it is in line with our mission. Hosting WikiConference USA reaffirms the National Archives’ commitment to promoting broad public access to government records on Wikipedia. Previously, NARA has uploaded records to Wikimedia Commons, hosted in-person Wikipedia events, and developed Wikipedia best practices for our peer institutions. We were also a (non-host) conference partner for Wikimania, the global Wikimedia conference, when it was in Washington, D.C. in 2012. You can read more about our Wikipedia strategy in NARA’s most recent Open Government Plan. Since our missions and future plans are so intertwined, we  look forward to hearing over the course of the conference about the Wikipedia community’s successes, challenges, and opportunities, so the National Archives can participate and learn ourselves.

[David Ferriero speaks to Wikimedians at Wikimania 2012]

We are happy to work together with our conference partners—the Wiki Education Foundation, Wikimedia District of Columbia, and Wikimedia New York City—on this project in support of our shared values: citizen engagement, collaboration, innovation, and the sharing of free knowledge.

To learn more about attending, please visit the conference’s FAQ, program, and registration pages.

The events in the McGowan theater, including the opening address and the keynote presentations, will be livestreamed for remote participants. Tune into the livestream of each day’s event through the National Archives’ YouTube channel:

Douroucouli, Singe de nuit, singe hibou - Night monkey Owl monkey !

Живая Земля

Ночные обезьяны - единственные активные по ночам обезьяны Нового Света. Они распространены в Центральной и Южной Америке, живут в семейных группах и питаются преимущественно плодами.



Making Room for Those in Danger

At the end of the Vietnam War, hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese and Cambodians fled political chaos and physical danger in their homelands. Between 1975 and 1979, some 300,000 of these refugees were admitted to the United States through Presidential action. The law at the time restricted refugee admissions, and many members of Congress wanted to establish a more regular system of immigration and resettlement.

The Refugee Act of 1980 raised the annual ceiling for refugees to 50,000, created a process for reviewing and adjusting the refugee ceiling to meet emergencies, and required annual consultation between Congress and the President. The law changed the definition of “refugee” to a person with a “well-founded fear of persecution,” a standard established by United Nations conventions and protocols. It also funded a new Office of U.S. Coordinator for Refugee Affairs and an Office of Refugee Resettlement and built on already existing public-private partnerships that helped refugees settle and adjust to life in their new country.

Read the full post on the AOTUS blog.

View all pages of the Refugee Act of 1980 on the National Archives’ Flickr account

In the South China Sea, crewmen of the amphibious cargo ship USS Durham (LKA-114) take Vietnamese refugees aboard a small craft. The refugees will be transferred later by mechanized landing craft (LCM) to the freighter Transcolorado., 4/3/1975. General Records of the Department of the Navy, National Archives Identifier 558518

Refugee Act of 1980:  A bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to revise the procedures for the admission of refugees, to amend the Migration and Refugee Assistance Act of 1962 to establish a more uniform basis for the provision of assistance to refugees, and for other purposes, page one (Public Law 96-212—The Refugee Act of 1980), approved March 17, 1980
National Archives, General Records of the U.S. Government


Our staff got into the spirit of #MuseumSelfie today!

Staff from the Lyndon B. John Presidential Library posed with their animatronic LBJ.

A bust of Roosevelt managed a #museumselfie with a little help from staff at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.
Alice Kamps, curator, posed in front of a special backdrop of the Rotunda in the Boeing Learning Lab. John Keller posed with Charlie Brown from the new exhibit at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library. Kim Coryat of the Clinton Presidential Library snapped this #museumselfie early this morning.  Tammy Williams squeezed in next to Truman at the Harry Truman Presidential Library. Education specialist Amber Kraft (left) posed with a copy of the Constitution and three education interns. The Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero, snuck behind the scenes of our upcoming exhibit “Spirited Republic” to snap a #museum selfie. Guillermina Tovar posed with the President and First Lady at the LBJ Library. Corinne Porter, curator, posed with a facsimile of her favorite document in front of a special backdrop.

History met ancient history today when #TouristRex from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History stopped by this afternoon to see the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. He even brought his own quill pen, just in case!

We didn’t let him add his signature, but he did get this great photo op with the Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero.