Calling Educators & Citizen Archivists! A Primary Source Transcription Mission!

“Food substitutions for meatless and wheatless meals, 12/18/1917. “
From the Records of the U.S. Food Administration. National Archives Identifier 20737679.

This summer teachers in our Primarily Teaching institutes across the country found and digitized primary sources related to Chinese immigration, President Hoover, World War I, NASA, and Native American fishing rights.

These educators hand-picked documents that they knew would make useful teaching tools.

But now we’re inviting students, teachers, and learners of all ages to make these primary sources even more accessible by transcribing them. To help:

  1. Create a username and password in the National Archives Catalog.
  2. Log in.
  3. Head to our Transcription Missions page and click on “Teacher-Found Primary Sources.”
  4. Click on a document.
  5. Select the “View/Add Contributions” button located below all images in the catalog.
  6. Select the “Transcribe” tab for the page of the record you would like to transcribe.
  7. Select the “Edit” button and remember to save frequently.

These primary sources are available in the National Archives Catalog as well as on DocsTeach, our online tool for teaching with documents. They form the basis of teacher-created online learning activities and are ready to be used by any DocsTeach member in new activities.

We’ll incorporate all transcriptions into the new and improved version of DocsTeach that launches next year with a transcription feature!

via A Primary Source Transcription Mission! | Education Updates

DocsTeach named in Top Ten Most Interesting Government Apps!

Congratulations to our colleagues who continue to make and the accompanying app a success! This is a great accomplishment and well-deserved recognition! 


The National Archives and Records Administration constructed this app to enable you to learn more about our nation’s history and interact with primary source documents. You can choose different topics and challenge yourself, or your classroom, with an activity. This is a great tool for teachers eager to find a new way to engage their students. It is compatible with iPad.

If you haven’t already, check out and the app now!


Happy ‪#‎AskAnArchivist‬ Day!

We have five staff members from across the National Archives answering your archives questions. Tweet us your questions–our experts will be standing by at 11 am ET  on Twitter at @usnatarchives!


Audrey Amidon and Criss Kovac
Audrey and Criss work in the Motion Picture Preservation Lab, where they and their colleagues perform conservation and preservation work on motion picture records held across the National Archives. They write about their work and their favorite film finds on The Unwritten Record. Audrey studied film archives at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England and previously worked at the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum. Criss studied film preservation at the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation and has been supervisor of the Motion Picture Lab since 2005.


Stephanie Greenhut

Stephanie Greenhut runs, the online tool for teaching with documents from the National Archives, and shares teaching resources via National Archives Education on Facebook and the Education Updates blog. She focuses on education technology, incorporating primary sources into websites, apps, eBooks, and other online learning resources. She is a former classroom teacher.


Natalie Rocchio
Natalie specializes in digital outreach for the Center for Legislative Archives. She creates content, manages, and maintains the Center’s twitter and tumblr accounts, as well as the Center’s portion of She has a Master’s degree in History with concentrations in American History and Public History from American University.

@archivespres (Preservation Programs)

Nancy Stanfill
Nancy is a Preservation Technician at the St. Louis Preservation Program. She co-chairs the Preservation Programs Social Media accounts, which includes highlights from the Persons of Exceptional Prominence (PEP) records and updates on breakthroughs in filming and scanning severely burned records. She has a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science with a Certificate in Conservation from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a member of the first class to begin the program in 1993.


Joseph P. Keefe

Joe is an Archives Specialist and Reference Team Lead and Social Media co-coordinator with the National Archives at Boston. He began his National Archives career in the Federal Records Center where he worked in both research and the Transfer of records into the facility. He moved to his current position as an Archives Specialist in 2006. Joe has a bachelor’s degree in History from Framingham State University in Framingham, Massachusetts and a MA in American History from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

He has lectured on numerous subjects in New England including genealogical research, Census, Naturalization and Passenger Lists and 18th 19th and 20th Century Military records, 54th Massachusetts Infantry and National Archives records related to World War II.

Photograph of Hungry Internees at the German Prison Camp in Belsen, Germany, 4/28/1945

Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, National Archives Identifier: 594425

Holocaust Remembrance Week is April 27–May 4, 2014

On April 28, 1945, the Army Signal Corps photographed these internees at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany 13 days after their liberation by the British. Despite desperate efforts to save them, 14,000 of the 45,000 prisoners interned at Bergen-Belsen had died by the end of June from the effects of their imprisonment.

via DocsTeach


Happy 227th #ConstitutionDay!

September 17 is designated as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787. Learn more about the U.S. Constitution through programs, and resources from the National Archives:

Have you ever been to the usnatarchives to see the Constitution in person?  

Bonus question - have you ever slept over in the same room as the Constitution?



Telegram from Senator Joseph R. McCarthy to President Harry S. Truman, with Truman’s Reply, 02/11/1950

In this telegram to President Harry S. Truman, Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin repeats his assertion that he has the names of fifty-seven Communists who are working in the State Department, and calls upon the President to provide Congress with a full accounting of Communist infiltration of the Department, including the role of alleged Communist spy Alger Hiss in protecting security risks. In an undated (and apparently unsent) reply, the President states that McCarthy is not fit to serve in the U.S. government, adding that the people of Wisconsin must be “extremely sorry that they are represented by a person who has as little sense of responsibility as you have.

via DocsTeach

Long distance calls

Photograph of Women Working at a Bell System Telephone Switchboard, 12/22/1943
From the series: Women Working In Industry, 1940 - 1945; Records of the Women’s Bureau

This photograph shows a telephone switchboard where overseas phone calls were handled during World War II. Many women patriotically joined the industrial workforce to work in shipyards or an aircraft factories, but many more worked in service or clerical jobs as secretaries, bank tellers, retail clerks, and telephone operators.

via DocsTeach

“I will do my best.  That is all I can do…”

This statement by President Lyndon B. Johnson was written aboard Air Force One. The flight back to the nation’s capital came just over two hours after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, and the administering of the oath of office to President Johnson. The President delivered the statement upon landing at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, DC. The statement appears on an index card with typed text and President Johnson’s handwritten annotations.

Statement Upon Arrival at Andrews Air Force Base, 11/22/1963

via DocsTeach


“For God sakes help the poor innocent people of Selma Alabama”

Mrs. E. Jackson wrote to the House Judiciary Committee the day after “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, Alabama. She was reacting to scenes of police brutality during a voting rights march that many Americans witnessed on television news programs. The interlined handwriting in pencil is likely that of House Judiciary Chairman Emanuel Celler, who was Mrs. Jackson’s representative in Congress and an active supporter of voting rights legislation in the House.

Letter from Mrs. E. Jackson in Favor of Voting Rights, 03/08/1965

via DocsTeach


A machine that really adds up

This drawing by William Seward Burroughs is from his first patent application for a calculating machine—an important step toward the modern computer. A sometime clerk, box maker, and mechanic, Burroughs resolved to invent a machine that could add automatically and print the result. He was issued the patent on August 21, 1888.

Drawing for a Calculating Machine, 08/21/1888

via DocsTeach

Burning Draft Cards, 1/14/1968

National Archives Identifier: 7419593, Records of U.S. Attorneys

This photograph is of a young unnamed man burning a draft card at an anti-Vietnam draft rally at a New York town hall meeting.

(This document was digitized by teachers in our Primarily Teaching 2013 Summer Workshop at our Boston location.)

via DocsTeach

Slave Manifest from the Brig Alo, 10/04/1844

From the series: Coastwise Slave Manifests, 1820 - 1860. Records of the U.S. Customs Service

This item is a slave manifest from the brig Alo, listing forty-eight slaves who were transported to Mobile, Alabama.  

On January 1, 1808, Congress prohibited the foreign importation of slaves into the United States. However, slaves were still sold and transported within the borders of the United States. In order to document the movement of this human cargo from port to port the Customs Service created specific manifests such as this list.

via DocsTeach


“We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place.”

Opinion, 5/17/1954

Case File for 

Brown et al. v. Board of Education of Topeka et al., ca. 1950 - ca. 1955. Records of the Supreme Court of the United States. National Archives Identifier: 1656510

Sixty years ago on May 17, 1954, Chief Justice Earl Warren delivered this unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the landmark civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. The Court found that state-sanctioned segregation of public schools violated the 14th Amendment. The decision marked the end of the “separate but equal” precedent set by the Supreme Court nearly 60 years before in Plessy v. Ferguson. Although this decision is commonly known as “Brown v. Board” this decision was actually six cases grouped together. Selected pages are shown.

via DocsTeach


A widow’s plea
Nancy Woodward, a Confederate widow, wrote to President Davis and asked him to release her only son from the Army so he could return home and help her. Southern civilian life during the war was very difficult, especially for women. While coping with shortages of food and other resources, they maintained the home front and ran farms, plantations, and businesses.

Letter from Nancy Woodward to Jefferson Davis, 11/12/1862

via DocsTeach


How free is free speech?

Warrant for Punishment in the Case of U.S. v. Matthew Lyon, 10/09/1798

Seven years after the Bill of Rights was ratified, guaranteeing freedom of speech, Congress passed the Sedition Act of 1798, prohibiting criticism of the Government. That same year, Congressman Matthew Lyon was convicted for criticizing President John Adams in a newspaper article. This document charged the U.S. Marshal for the District of Vermont to jail Lyon for four months and fine him $1,060.96.  Lyon would win re-election to Congress from his jail cell while the Sedition act was allowed to expire two years later.

via DocsTeach