Press/Journalists

Press Release
September 28, 2005

Fall Issue of Prologue Magazine Recounts How Railroads Helped to Speed the Mail as the Nation Moved Westward

Washington, DC…In the early days of the nation, it took weeks, even months, for letters to make it across the plains and mountains. That changed with the advent of the railway postal cars, where mail was sorted as the trains sped through large cities and small towns—advancing the young country’s westward expansion.

“From its humble beginnings during the nation’s early years, the Railway Mail Postal Service became a leading force and player in connecting and facilitating the movement of mail and commerce,” writes National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) staff archivist Fred Romanski in the Fall issue of Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives and Records Administration. “For more than 140 years between 1832 and 1977, it set the standards for speed, dependability, and response to the mission of moving and distributing the nation’s mail.”

Also in Fall Prologue is a World War II mystery—how the Japanese lost their secret plan for a decisive all-out naval battle with the United States—the “Z Plan.” NARA archivist Greg Bradsher, an expert on captured enemy documents from World War II, reveals how the ‘Z Plan” made its way to U.S. commanders.

Fall Prologue also provides some behind-the-scene looks at how things work at the National Archives.

The issue not only offers an excerpt from the recently published Wild Rose: Civil War Spy, by Washington author Ann Blackman, it also offers Blackman’s account of how NARA staff helped her dig out from our billions of pages of records the story of the notorious female Civil War spy for the South, Rose Greenhow. Blackman’s book was almost entirely researched at NARA.

In another article, NARA staffer Miriam Kleiman recounts her work in tracking down the individuals behind some of the records that are featured in the Public Vaults exhibition in the National Archives Building. Starting with records such as children’s letters to Presidents and applications for U.S. citizenship, she recalls, in “Finding Ordinary Americans with Extraordinary Stories,” the joy and sadness that resulted from her search.

NARA’s regional archives around the country, where nearly one-quarter of all of NARA’s holdings are located, are explored in “There’s a NARA Near You!” And, in his regular column, Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein discusses the relevance of the U.S. Constitution and the thoughts of its leading architect, James Madison.

For 37 years, Prologue has shared with readers the rich resources and programs of the National Archives, its regional archives, and the Presidential libraries. Each issue features historical articles—drawn from National Archives' holdings and written by noted historians, archivists, and experts—as well as articles explaining and describing many of the National Archives’ activities and programs as the nation’s recordkeeping agency. The Washington Post said, “Prologue … can be regarded quite literally as an invitation for further study. It is also consistently absorbing reading.”

A 1-year subscription to Prologue costs $20. To begin a subscription, call 301-837-1850 or 1-800-234-8861, or print out the order form found on the web site. Mail orders to Prologue, P.O. Box 100684, Atlanta, GA, 30384.

You can also fax credit card orders to Prologue at 301-837-0319.

Single copies of Prologue are available at the Archives Shop or at the Cashier's Office in the National Archives Building in Washington or at the Publications Sales Office at the National Archives at College Park. Back issues are also available at the College Park location.

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For further information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs Office at 202-501-5526.

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