We the People

of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America

Constitution of the United States
Series: The Constitution of the United States, 9/17/1787 - 9/17/1787. Record Group 11: General Records of the United States Government, 1778 - 2006

Happy Constitution Day!

(via GIPHY)

Join us for a Tumblr #AnswerTime on the Electoral College!

On Thursday, January 5, at 11 am ET / 8 am PT Oliver Potts and Amy Bunk from the Office of the Federal Register will be answering your questions about the Electoral College here on @usnatarchives​:

  • Who selects the Electors?
  • How is it possible for the electoral vote to produce a different result than the nationwide popular vote?
  • What is the difference between the winner-takes-all rule and proportional voting, and which states follow which rule?
  • Can electoral votes be contested when Congress counts the votes in January?

The Electoral College:

The Electoral College is a process, not a place. The Founding Fathers established it in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens. This process consists of the selection of the electors, the meeting of the electors where they vote for President and Vice President, and the counting of the electoral votes by Congress.

The Federal Register:

The Office of the Federal Register (OFR) is a part of the National Archives. The OFR coordinates the functions of the Electoral College on behalf of the Archivist of the United States, the States, the Congress, and the American People. The OFR operates as an intermediary between the governors and secretaries of state of the States and the Congress. It also acts as a trusted agent of the Congress in the sense that it is responsible for reviewing the legal sufficiency of the certificates before the House and Senate accept them as evidence of official State action.

About Oliver & Amy:

Oliver Potts became the Director of the Office of the Federal Register (OFR) in 2015. His 15-year career in federal government included serving as Deputy Executive Secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services. Potts holds a BA in Government and Politics from George Mason University and a JD from the University of Connecticut School of Law.

Amy Bunk is the Director of Legal Affairs and Policy for the Office of the Federal Register, where she provides legal support to staff who review documents submitted for publication in the Federal Register and Code of Federal Regulations. She received her JD cum laude from Syracuse University College of Law.

Ask Oliver and Amy about the Electoral College!

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.

Join “Amending America” Curators Christine Blackerby and Jennifer Johnson of the National Archives for a Tumblr #AnswerTime!

On Tuesday, May 17 at 2:00pm ET / 11:00am PT Jennifer & Christine will be answering your questions about their newest exhibition, “Amending America” here on @usnatarchivesexhibits.

Only 27 times—out of more than 11,000 proposals—have Americans reached consensus to amend the Constitution.  “Amending America” marks the 225th Anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights and highlights the remarkably American story of how we have amended, or attempted to amend, the Constitution in order to form “a more perfect union.”

About Jennifer & Christine:

Jennifer N. Johnson is co-curator of “Amending America.” She joined the National Archives Museum in 2006 and has been sharing Archives records with the public through exhibitions ever since.

Christine Blackerby is co-curator of “Amending America.” She is an education and public outreach specialist in the Center for Legislative Archives in Washington, DC. She uses historical records to promote a better understanding of American history and government.

Ask Jennifer & Christine about Amending America!


The Federal Government on Tumblr

Increasingly, Federal agencies (like us here at the Bureau of Land Management) are using Tumblr to share photos, science, events, initiatives, and other great content with the Tumblr community.  Here’s a list of some awesome Federal government blogs you should be following on Tumblr.  It’s probably not exhaustive, but these are the ones we know about that post more than occasionally.  

Reblog and help share the word:

America’s Great Outdoors: The Department of the Interior (our parent agency) shares an amazing photo a day of your public lands.

Archivist of the United States: The Tumblr of our “collector in chief” at the National Archives, David S Ferriero.

Bureau of Reclamation: Reclamation, and Interior Dept agency, is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States.

Congress in the Archives: Since the First Congress in 1789, the records of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have documented the history of the legislative branch.  The National Archives helps you explore this history.

Conservation at Work: The Natural Resources Conservation Service, part of the Department of Agriculture, posts photos of conservation on farms and other private lands across the nation. 

Fish and Wildlife Service: The Pacific Region of the FWS encompasses extraordinary ecological diversity.  Photos, science, and more.

Internal Revenue Service: Because who doesn’t want tax information on Tumblr?  Useful tips, videos, etc., straight from the IRS.

My Public Lands: The awesomeness of the Bureau of Land Management, which manages more than 245 million acres of amazing lands, as told by students, interns, and newer employees.

Our Presidents: One space to bring the past 13 Presidents together. Discover behind-the-scenes history here.  Managed by the National Archives.

National Archives: News and current events from the United States National Archives and Records Administration whose holdings include the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, military records, Presidential records, and millions of other documents related to the Federal Government.

Peace Corps: Life is calling.  How far will you go?  Get up close with the amazing work done by peace corps volunteers.

U.S. Department of State: Videos, photos, testimony, and updates from the State Department.  Foreign policy updates on Tumblr—how cool is that?

Today’s Document: Highlighting interesting documents the National Archives’ holdings—both the well-known and the obscure—to observe historical events (usually the significant events but sometimes just the curious ones).  Government made easy.  On Tumblr.  Enough said.

US National Archives Exhibits: Images and stories from the National Archives related to “Searching for the Seventies: the DOCUMERICA Photography Project,” the newest exhibition on display at the Archives’ facility in Washington, DC.

White House: The Tumblr-in-Chief.

Frustrated in your search for the perfect #ReactionGIF?

Our new National Archives Channel on @giphy provides a slew of #ArchivesGIFs to choose, including a number reaction GIFs. But maybe you need some guidance?  

DCist took a look and breaks it all down in  A Handy Guide To Using The New GIFs From The National Archives: DCist

Need to convey excitement? 

Originally posted by justalittletumblweed


Originally posted by todaysdocument

Or just waxing poetic?

Originally posted by todaysdocument

See the rest of DCist’s recommendations at A Handy Guide To Using The New GIFs From The National Archives.

And don’t forget to check out all our GIFs on Giphy!

Help us reach our goal of transcribing #1000pages this week!

Your contributions improve search results and increases accessibility to our digitized, historical records.

Our Transcription Missions include paper of the Continental Congress, love letters, photographs related tot he National Forests, alcohol-related records, Al Capone documents, and more!

Tag Buffalo (and other wildlife) for #NationalWildlifeDay!

Celebrate National Wildlife Day by transcribing and tagging photos of Bison and other wildlife in the National Archives Catalog!  

These vintage Bison photos can be found the series: Photographs Relating to National Forests, Resource Management Practices, Personnel, and Cultural and Economic History, from the Records of the Forest Service.  Help to find, tag & transcribe these photos to make them more accessible and searchable for researchers and the public.

Becoming a Citizen Archivist is easy!

  1. Create a username and password in the National Archives Catalog.
  2. Login from any transcription page or on the login page.
  3. Find vintage Forest Service photos of Animals & Wildlife to tag and transcribe in the National Archives Catalog
  4. Select the “View/Add Contributions” button located below all images in the catalog.
  5. Select the “Transcribe” tab for the page of the record you would like to transcribe.
  6. Select the “Edit” button and remember to save your work frequently.

History Research Frozen in Place? Break Through that Ice Jam at History Hub!

Stuck on a research question?  Need advice on how to get started with genealogical research?

Now you can ask them on the History Hub.

History Hub is a pilot project, connecting experts at the National Archives, researchers, and the public with discussion boards, blogs, profiles, and other interactive tools to offer the public a one-stop shop for crowdsourcing information.

The History Hub is a limited six-month pilot project so that we can test the platform for its use and usefulness as a crowdsourcing platform. 

Give it a try and ask a question at

(“Tugboat Deland in Ice Buildup on the Cape Cod Canal, 2/20/1935″
National Archives Identifier: 6277051.)

The GIF Element at #DPLAFest2016!

Thrilled to be presenting at @digitalpubliclibraryofamerica‘s DPLAFest 2016 later this week!  Wondered about the GIFs you’ve seen on @todaysdocument, @smithsonianlibraries, and featured in @gifitup2015? Check out our session!  

The GIF Element: Making, Finding, & Using GIFs to Great Effect

In this workshop, we’ll be exploring the GIF in its natural habitat: the internet. But first, some background: What are GIFs? How did they develop? How do you say “GIF”? In this workshop, we’ll explore how to use GIFs, when they’re most successful, the challenges associated with using them, and how to make, find, and use them yourself. We’ll talk about the ins and outs of some content sources, including resources in the DPLA, and review a few apps and programs you can use to make and share them yourself. And then, with some audience input, we’ll be demonstrating how to make a GIF using open source images to tell a joke, punctuate a thought, or convey an emotion. A picture is worth a thousand words? Well, a GIF is worth a million.

Participants will leave with a deeper understanding of the best technology to use to create GIFs and the social circumstances in which they’re most effective. They’ll be empowered to experiment with GIFs on their own, whether that means using a tool like NYPL’s Stereogranimator or going all out with Photoshop. And they’ll receive a worksheet summarizing some key takeaways and resources to use in their adventures.

Our panelists include:

Hope to see you there! The GIF-A-TRON 9000 recommends you GO!

Originally posted by todaysdocument

Do You Have Suggestions for NARA’s Digitization Priorities?

As the National Archives sets out on its ambitious goal to digitize all of its holdings, planning just how we’re going to accomplish this is critical to our success.  One of the first steps in that plan is prioritizing what will be digitized. No prioritization would be complete without the feedback and suggestions of the people who discover and use our records every day.  

What would you like to see the National Archives digitize over the next few years?  Is there a particular theme, topic, or event on which you would like to see our digitization efforts focused? 

Now is your chance to tell us! From now until August 14th, engage in the discussion about digitization priorities in our online town hall on Crowd Hall. Post ideas, provide feedback, make suggestions and then vote on your favorites.  

Since our holdings cover a lot of topics, we’ve broken them down into broad categories:

  • Science/Tech/Health: Agriculture, Environment, Public Health, Science and Technology, Space and Aviation
  • Military & Veterans: Military/Wars, Veterans
  • Culture & Heritage: Civil/Political Rights, Genealogy, Ethnic Heritage, Immigration/Emigration
  • Government & Law: Diplomacy/Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, Court Records, Law Enforcement, Maritime Administration, Geography and Land Use

Curious what’s already been digitized? Check out the National Archives Catalog.
(Most of the items we feature here on Today’s Document come directly from the Catalog - just follow the source link on every post.)

What records would you like the National Archives to digitize next?

Announcing History Hub from the National Archives!

We’re excited to announce our new pilot project!

Do you have research questions you’ve always wanted answered? Do you want advice on how to get started with genealogical research?

Now you can ask them on the History Hub.

History Hub is a pilot project, connecting experts at the National Archives, researchers, and the public with discussion boards, blogs, profiles, and other interactive tools for communication and collaboration. The History Hub provides us a platform for eventually working with other cultural organizations—such as the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress—to offer the public a one-stop shop for crowdsourcing information.

The History Hub is a limited six-month pilot project so that we can test the platform for its use and usefulness as a crowdsourcing platform. For the pilot, we are working on a narrow set of topics that have been identified as good test cases for this platform, including genealogy and Native American research.

Do you have research questions you’ve always wanted answered? Do you want advice on how to get started with genealogical research? Give it a try and ask a question at

Rebooting the Social Media Strategy for the National Archives

In six years, you can get a lot done! If you are the International Space Station, you could have orbited the earth 35,040 times. If you are Apple, you could have released 10 new iPhones. If you are the @usnatarchives, you have gone from zero social media accounts to over 100 (including over a dozen Tumblr accounts)!

It’s been six years since NARA’s first social strategy was released. Things have changed in the digital universe, and so we’ve been working on a reboot of our social media strategy.

In 2010, we introduced our first social media strategy to continue our commitment to open government and to empower staff to use social media. Now our digital presence reaches hundreds of millions of people. More than 200 National Archives staff contribute to 130 social media accounts on 14 different platforms, generating over 250 million views in 2015.

Access and transparency are at the core of our work. With the explosion of digital devices and platforms, we can share our documents and our mission with anyone, anywhere, anytime.

To tackle these new needs and to keep us current for our audiences and stakeholders, we have come up with this new plan. We met with staff and asked them about their goals and needs for social media–and we asked staff what challenges they faced when using social media. We also researched social strategies of other influential institutions, we analyzed our social media and web data, and we read up on best practices. We led lightning sessions to get feedback and suggestions from other galleries, museums, archives, and libraries. Now, we need to hear from you!

Your feedback is needed to make this strategy the best it can be and we want to hear what you think. We see this as a living document, so we’ve published the strategy on GitHub, a collaborative development web platform.

Take a look at the National Archives Social Media Strategy and let us know what you think. Please be sure to add your comments by September 16 so we can include your feedback in our plan!

via Rebooting the Social Media Strategy for the National Archives | NARAtions

(Image excerpted from “Right on the Button” National Archives Identifier: 11900)

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:

The History Of The United States Looks So Cool In GIFs

Social studies teachers across the country are celebrating right now.

The U.S. National Archives ― aka the official record-keepers of America ― uploaded a lot of historical GIFs on Friday. Teaching just got hella more fun!

More coverage of our new National Archives Channel on @giphy​ from the @huffingtonpost​: The History Of The United States Looks So Cool In GIFs | Huffington Post

National Archives’ Citizen Archivist Celebrates Sunshine Week

You can do your part to help improve public access to information by transcribing records in the National Archives Catalog. Every transcription helps “unlock” the information and helps open government records. Each day of this week-long event we’ll release a mission based on an historical era. Our goal is to transcribe 2,000 pages this week. Transcriptions created by Citizen Archivists will enhance searches in our catalog and the transcriptions will be added to DocsTeach, the online tool for teaching with documents from the National Archives.

New to transcription? Learn how it works.

Looking for more missions?  See the other Transcription Challenges from earlier this week:

Searching for Something? Try the New National Archives Catalog!

Have you visited the National Archives Catalog lately? Now’s a great time to stop by! The Catalog is the online public portal to National Archives records and information about our records. We’re excited to announce some big changes that will make it easier to use, more interactive, and an even more valuable research tool. Over the next several weeks, we’ll be highlighting these features along with tips on how to get the most from your visit. To get started, here’s a preview of the improvements you can expect in this new release:

  • Enjoy the updated homepage featuring background images from catalog records
  • Add your comments on digitized records, descriptions, and authority records
  • Find what you need with a more intuitive advanced search
  • Efficiently browse hits with better “Next Page” link placement
  • Track your Citizen Archivist contributions with updated user account pages
  • Add data from scanned records to your developer toolbox with increased API functionality

Want Catalog news and tips delivered directly to your inbox? Sign up for our occasional newsletter here. It’s a quick, fun read, and we promise not to spam you.

If you have questions and comments about the new version, or about the Catalog in general, please leave a comment or email us at

(Updated homepage featuring Austro-Americana & Fratelli Cosulich poster, NARA ID 7455537)

via Searching for Something? Try the New Catalog! | NARAtions


GIFs from .Gov Records

todaysdocument followers will know there’s nothing we enjoy more than breathing new life into historic government records by sharing them in animated GIF form.

Last week we were privileged to be on a panel of other SocialGov GIF practitioners for DigitalGov’s “Essentials of Animated Gifs for Public Servicesincluding fellow .Gov Tumblarians peacecorpsicontherecord, usagov/ gobiernousa, and 18fblog.

See the complete webinar below for our tips on finding free, public domain GIF sources from the National Archives catalog, plus other great advice from our colleagues on engagement, storytelling, accessibility, and open source GIF-creation tools:

via Sharing the Essentials of Animated Gifs for Public Services


Behind the scenes at the National Archives’ first #AnswerTime

“Where are the aliens?”

“Did Nicholas Cage ever return the Declaration of Independence?”

“What’s the worst amendment ever proposed?”

These are just a few of the questions recently put to @usnatarchivesexhibits curators during our inaugural “Answer Time” Q&A session here on Tumblr.

On May 17, Tumblr users were invited to the National Archives Exhibits Tumblr to ask co-curators Christine Blackerby and Jennifer Johnson questions about the new “Amending America” exhibition.

Answer Time was a great opportunity to engage with audiences about the mission and work of the National Archives. During the event, Christine and Jennifer fielded a variety of questions, ranging from classic interests like exhibit design and the inner workings of the @usnatarchives to the more niche topics of ‘craziest failed amendments’ and favorite sandwiches.

Go behind the scenes and see how Archives staff covered some of the over 1,100 questions on aliens, comic books, and amendments:

NARA’s Inaugural Tumblr Answer Time with Amending America Curators | NARAtions