Press Release
Press Release · Friday, June 15, 2001

Press Release
June 15, 2001
Prologue Features National Archives Building Renovation

The National Archives and Records Administration throws the spotlight on its own future and past in the Summer issue of Prologue magazine, the agency's quarterly magazine.

The issue outlines plans for the redesigned Rotunda of the National Archives Building in Washington, where the nation's founding documents are displayed, and recounts the events leading up to the opening of the first Presidential library 60 years ago and the close involvement of Franklin D. Roosevelt with it.

A special article, called "Creating the National Archives Experience," details the plans for a renovated and redesigned Rotunda. The Rotunda will close after July 4, 2001, for renovations and will reopen in 2003. The Charters of Freedom-the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights-will be taken off display, undergo conservation treatment, and placed in new, modern encasements in preparation for the Rotunda's reopening. Also, the Rotunda and surrounding areas will be redesigned to enhance the educational experience for visitors.

In the article, Marvin Pinkert, director of museum programs for the Archives, describes the multimedia approach that will be taken to tell the story of the United States through its documents and records: "NARA plans to create a world-class destination for visitors interested in American history and government. We will accomplish this by complementing documents with media presentations and transforming two-dimensional pages into compelling multisensory experiences."

"Roosevelt and His Library" recounts how closely President Roosevelt was involved in planning his library, to which he had hoped to retire in 1941-before he decided to run for an unprecedented third term.

"FDR took a tremendous interest in every detail of the planning for his new library. . . . Insistent that ample space be made available not only for the papers but for the vast collection of naval art, ship models, and gifts that he had accumulated, FDR ordered surveys of his holdings," according to the article, written by Cynthia Koch, library director, and Lynn Bassanese, its director of public programs. "FDR had already determined the external appearance of the building, and he took an active role in planning the interior as well-the stack space, exhibit rooms, the research room, and his own study." The library opened July 1, 1941.

For more than 30 years, Prologue has shared with readers the rich resources and programs of the National Archives, its regional archives, and the Presidential libraries. From the First Continental Congress to the conflict in Vietnam, Prologue tells the story behind the story, revealing many intriguing and little-known details from our nation's past. In every issue, there are thought-provoking and entertaining articles-based on research in the National Archives' magnificent holdings-written by noted historians, archivists, and experts recognized in their fields. The Washington Post said, "Prologue . . . can be regarded quite literally as an invitation for further study. It is also consistently absorbing reading."

The Summer Prologue has several other articles of interest:

The article "Two Japans: Japanese Expressions of Sympathy and Regret in the Wake of the Panay Incident," Trevor K. Plante, an archivist with the Old Military and Civil Records unit of the Archives, recalls the great outpouring of sympathy from the Japanese public in late 1937, four years before Pearl Harbor, after Japanese forces sunk a U.S. Navy gunboat that was patrolling in the Yangtze River. At the time, Japanese forces had launched their invasion of China. After the Panay was attacked, there was an outpouring of sympathy from Japanese citizens and schoolchildren-in sharp contrast to the Japanese government's reluctant admission of guilt.

"The Voyage of the 'Coolie' Ship Kate Hooper" tells of a journey in 1857-58 of a ship that brought Chinese workers to Cuba. On this particular journey, recounted by Robert J. Plowman, the Kate Hooper would see the death of its captain and some of its crew, several mutinies by the 652 Chinese laborers (coolies) on board, and much of the crew in a Havana jail at the end of the journey. Plowman is assistant regional administrator with the agency's Mid-Atlantic Region in Philadelphia.

In "The Search for the Site of the Sand Creek Massacre," Christine Whiteacre, a historian with the National Park Service, tells of the years-long search for the site in Colorado where in 1864 about 700 cavalry soldiers attacked a Cheyenne and Arapaho village, killing at least 150, mostly women, children, and elderly. The site is to become a National Historic Site.

In Genealogy Notes, Mark C. Mollan, an archives technician with Old Military and Civil Records, tells of the not-always-distinguished history of the first 55 years of the Army Medal of Honor, when many were awarded and there were few standards for making the awards. In 1918, Congress established the Medal of Honor as it is known today, with strict guidelines for awards.

You can view selected past articles from Prologue at its web site at

Prologue can be purchased in the Museum Shop at the National Archives Building in Washington and the Publications Shop at the Archives in College Park, MD. A 1-year subscription to Prologue costs $16. To begin your subscription, call 301-837-1800 or 1-800-234-8861, or print out the order form found on the web site at

For additional PRESS information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (301) 837-1700 or by e-mail. Visit the National Archives Home Page on the World Wide Web at


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