Press/Journalists

Press Release
January 11, 2011

National Archives Launches User-friendly Search Engine with "Inside the Vaults" Video short

Short features 1943 letter to Roosevelt from boy offering to serve as "mascot of the Marines"

Washington, DC…The National Archives has launched its new “user friendly” Online Public Access (OPA) search engine with the latest “Inside the Vaults” video short, online [http://tiny.cc/OPA].

The National Archives' produced 1:55 “Online Public Access” video short shows how this new Google-like search engine revolutionizes archival research. The video features Chief Digital Access Strategist of the National Archives Pamela Wright and Digital Strategies and Services Technical Lead Carol Lagundo demonstrating how simple it is to use OPA to search for documents, images, and films within the voluminous online holdings of the National Archives.

From the 10 billion documents held by the National Archives, one is selected – a 1943 letter to President Roosevelt from a 12 year old boy, L.J. Weil, offering to serve as a “mascot of the Marines.” An archivist locates the original record in the stacks of the National Archives at College Park. Then, Carol Lagundo uses the new OPA search engine to show how easy it is to access this letter online by typing in only “marine mascot.”

Reached at his home in Louisiana 67 years after writing this letter, L.J. Weil was delighted to learn of this video. Asked how he felt having his 1943 letter selected as the demonstration model for the brand new search engine, he responded: “Wonderful! It’s great to be honored this way.”

Background on Marine mascot “wannabee” L.J. Weil

L.J. Weil clearly remembers the day Pearl Harbor was bombed. He pledged then to join the military, but as a young boy his options were limited. When he was older – age 12 – he wrote to President Roosevelt and offered to serve as a Marine mascot. He received a polite “brush off” from Marine officer who suggested he contact the Marines when he was ready enlist. While that response ended his interest in the Marines, it did not deter him from a military career. Weil attended a military academy for high school, and joined ROTC and then the Army in 1951. He served as a Special Forces Green Beret in both Korea and Vietnam. He taught Military Science at West Virginia State College, where he also was Military Department Head. He retired from the Army in 1971. See Weil’s 1943 letter online via OPA [http://tiny.cc/LJweil].

Background on “Inside the Vaults”

“Inside the Vaults” is part of the ongoing effort by the National Archives to make its collections, stories, and accomplishments more accessible to the public. “Inside the Vaults” gives voice to Archives staff and users, highlights new and exciting finds at the Archives, and reports on complicated and technical subjects in easily understandable presentations. Earlier topics include the conservation of the original Declaration of Independence, the new Grace Tully collection of documents at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library, and the transfer to the National Archives of the Nuremberg Laws. The film series is free to view and distribute on our YouTube channel [http://tiny.cc/Vaults].

Created by a former broadcast network news producer, the "Inside the Vaults" video shorts series presents “behind the scenes” exclusives and offer surprising glimpses of the National Archives treasures. These videos are in the public domain and not subject to any copyright restrictions. The National Archives encourages the free distribution of them.

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For Press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at (202) 357-5300.

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