December 20, 2005
Prologue Magazine Offers the Real Story That Inspired "The Sound of Music"
Washington, DC…For several generations, The Sound of Music has delighted stage and movie audiences, and some of its songs have become standards in the American repertoire. But the story told in this classic musical about the von Trapp family differs significantly from what really happened.
"Examining the historical record is helpful in separating fact from fiction, particularly in a case like the von Trapp family and The Sound of Music," writes Joan Gearin in the Winter 2005 issue of Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives and Records Administration.
Gearin, a staff archivist in the agency's Northeast Region-Boston, writes that original documents in the holdings of the National Archives, particularly immigration records, help clarify the difference between the von Trapps' real experiences and the fictionalized accounts.
Elsewhere in the Winter Prologue, Michèle Butts of Austin Peay State University drew from Civil War records at NARA for the story of the "Galvanized Yankees." These men were captured Confederate soldiers who were offered a deal: Join the Union army on the western frontier instead of staying in prison.
Civil War records were also useful to Donald R. Shaffer of the University of Northern Colorado and Elizabeth Regosin of St. Lawrence University. In "Voices of Emancipation," they drew from Civil War pension files of former slaves who had joined the Union army to discover first-hand stories of these freed slaves.
In "Anton Karachun: The Story of a Turncoat," Robert Willett recounts the story of a Russian-born immigrant who joined the U.S. Army and was sent to Siberia with U.S. troops during the Russian revolution-but then had a change of heart.
Winter Prologue also offers a preview a new exhibit at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC., "The Way We Worked." It features photographs, drawn from the millions in NARA's holdings, of Americans at work over more than a century of change. The exhibit runs through May 29, 2006.
In "Genealogy Notes," NARA staff archivist John Deeben looks into archived nomination papers in Senate records to provide some insights into the Senate's "advise and consent" role.
Selected articles from the Winter Prologue can be viewed at www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/.
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 at www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/order/. Mail orders to Prologue, P.O. Box 100684, Atlanta, GA, 30384.
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