Press/Journalists

Press Release
February 14, 2011

National Archives Launches New "Inside the Vaults" Video Short

To mark Black History Month, archivist shares journey of discovery in Archives records

Washington, DC…To celebrate Black History Month -- and to mark the 145th anniversary of an extraordinary document -- the National Archives shares the latest "Inside the Vaults" video short, online at Inside the Vaults.

The National Archives' produced 4:27 min. "Petition to Congress from the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church of Atlanta" video short, examines a mystery dating to the Civil War. National Archives senior archivist Reginald Washington takes the viewer on his voyage of discovery, tracing the history of a claim submitted by an African-American congregation whose church was burned to the ground by Federal troops under the command of General William Tecumseh Sherman. Their seven-page petition - in the legislative holdings at the National Archives - is a heartfelt narrative of the church's history and includes 234 signatures of free blacks and former slaves who were members of the congregation. The claim was presented to Congress on February 14, 1866, but the name of the church that appears in the petition is found nowhere else in the records of federal claims. Senior archivist Washington used the holdings of the National Archives to answer two questions: did the congregation receive compensation? And does the church exist today under another name?

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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