National Archives News

Virtual Programs Newsletter

Issue #16, October 27, 2020

A Message from the Archivist of the United States

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David S. Ferriero

With in-person trick or treating on hold across the nation this fall, you can still find a variety of virtual spooky content in the National Archives' holdings to make Halloween fun. Find out the Top 10 Things that Terrify Archivists, check out some utility patents for jack-o-lantern designs, or learn what to do if approached by a yeti. Family historians may find the Social Security Administration's Death Files helpful to their genealogy projects. Or, if you want to find out if your uncle was in the CIA, take a look at our Question of the Week on History Hub.

Fall is also election season, and you can help your students learn more about the political process and voting through lessons available at DocsTeach or the Center for Legislative Archives' Congressional Research Portal.

Thank you for your continued support of the National Archives. Please stay safe.

Archives from Home: Halloween

It’s Halloween week! Let’s look at some of the creepiest holdings we have including the top 10 things in our holdings that terrify archivists, spooky patent drawings, and State Department regulations on what to do if you spot a “yeti” while hiking in Nepal.

Center for Legislative Archives

Berryman cartoonBrowse our records from home with our customized Congressional Research Portal. Download our iPad app Congress Creates the Bill of Rights to discover the proposals, debates, and revisions that shaped the Bill of Rights. Explore our eBooks and lesson plans created from a collection of political cartoons, which comment on Washington politics, congressional issues, Presidential elections, and both World Wars. Looking for more resources to use at home or in your classroom? Browse more than 40 lesson plans about representative democracy, how Congress works, and the role of Congress throughout American history.



Social Media Highlight

What gives archivists the heebie-jeebies? From improvised staples to mole skins, we share the top 10 things in our holdings that terrify archivists in this Halloween video!

Research Family History

Trees in cemeteryWatch this Know Your Records presentation, titled "Dead Men (and Women) Sometimes Do Tell Tales," to learn about Death Files from the Social Security Administration’s Numerical Identification System and their use in genealogical research. The presentation draws parallels to other records in the National Archives Access to Archival Databases and other NUMIDENT files.


From the Catalog

coffin patentJust in time for Halloween, a look through the Utility Patent Drawings from the U.S. Patent and Trademark office reveals some spooky patents! Take a look at these toy lantern and jack-o-lantern designs, sure to inspire your holiday decor!

Image: Patent Drawing for J. G. Krichbaum's Device for Indicating Life in Buried Persons. NAID 6277693


Citizen Archivist Missions

Case Files of Attorneys, Agents, Pensioners, and Others 1886–1933

Case File of Rosalie V. HermanHelp us transcribe case files relating to attorneys who were disbarred for misconduct, and files relating to notaries public, justices of the peace, postmasters, and others authorized to administer oaths who committed either inadvertent or intentional misconduct in executing pension vouchers.

New to our Citizen Archivist program? Learn how to register and get started.

Image: Case File of Rosalie V. Herman, RG 15: Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, NAID 138809152


Question of the Week

Question of the Week - Was my uncle a CIA operative?“Was my uncle a CIA operative? He supposedly worked for the CIA right after the Second World War in Germany. Someone told me that there are public CIA archives I can check. But I don't know where to look for them. Can anyone help? Thanks!”

Could spies be lurking in your family's history?

See the answer to our Question of the Week on History Hub, our crowdsourced platform for history and genealogical research where anyone can ask questions.


Featured Exhibit

State Department memo on yetiThe Himalayan yeti, the long-feared Abominable Snowman (and relative of Bigfoot), achieved international infamy in the 1950s when Western climbers ascending Mount Everest reported sighting yeti footprints. In 1959, a State Department memo from the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal, outlined Nepalese regulations for yeti-hunting parties.

Whether you believe in the yeti or not, study this document carefully before planning a climbing expedition to find this creature!

Read more in the National Archives blog Pieces of History.


Education Spotlight

election buttonsElection Day is November 3! Check out our Elections & Voting page on DocsTeach, the online tool for teaching with documents. Find resources for teaching about elections and voting—from the campaign trail, to the Electoral College, to the expansion of voting rights.


Public Programs

From November 7, 2018, here is author Eric Jay Dolin speaking on his book Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America's Most Notorious Pirates.

Research Services

jack-o-lantern patentThe Text Message and the Unwritten Record blogs have several posts featuring Halloween-related or spooky records.

Check out some creepy Utility Patent Drawings in these posts from 2017 and 2018, take a look at these 13 images of circus clowns and mask-wearers from our Still Picture Branch holdings, and read about the 1942 harvest festival celebration at the Tule Lake Relocation Center.




MoPix Video Selection

Victory at Yorktown is a National Park Service (NPS) film that focuses on the official surrender ceremony at Yorktown, VA, on October 19, 1781. Shot in 1974 and released in 1975, it is part of a series of NPS films described in NARA's Online Catalog. Read more about it in the Unwritten Record blog here and here.

Visit the Online Store

Christmas ornamentThe holidays will be here before you know it. And what's more festive than holiday ornaments?

From the famous words of the U.S. Constitution to ornaments that honor members of our armed services, your home never looked so patriotic!

Shop our full holiday collection at the National Archives Store online to find gifts for all!