Winter Prologue Highlights Milestone Documents, New Features, and A Redesign
Press Release · Monday, January 6, 2003

Washington, DC

Some of the most important documents in American history—from its founding during the Revolution to its maturation as a world power in the 20th century—are highlighted in the Winter 2002 issue of Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Sporting a newly redesigned, more contemporary look, Prologue also includes in its Winter issue the story of the first, and only, time U.S. troops were stationed on Russian soil. Another article describes the origins of U.S.-China policy in the first half of the 19th century. Both articles draw significantly on NARA holdings.

The Winter Prologue also contains several new regular features that focus on NARA holdings, activities, and programs. In each issue "Pieces of History" will provide the story behind a particular document in NARA's holdings that played a pivotal role in American history. Another new feature will focus on the activities of the Foundation for the National Archives, a not-for-profit organization that supports many of the agency's programs.

The cover story, “Our Documents' Captures America's Milestones,” describes the National Archives' role in the White House's civics initiative, “Our Documents,” which focuses on the 100 most important milestone documents in U.S. history, most of which are in NARA's holdings. Also included is a list and description of the 100 documents. For more information, see on the World Wide Web.

Another article, “Travels of the Charters of Freedom” by NARA archivist Milton Gustafson, explains how the most famous of the nation's documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, came to the Archives in 1952 and how they had been preserved since their creation in the late 1700s. Today, these two documents, along with the Bill of Rights, are receiving conservation treatment in preparation for their return to public exhibition in September 2003 in the renovated Rotunda of the National Archives Building.

In “A Day in the Life of NARA,” Prologue provides photographs that show the many varied activities that occur at the agency nationwide on a typical day. And Archivist of the United States John W. Carlin goes behind the scenes of that day in his regular column.

Genealogy Notes, a regular feature, takes a behind-the-scenes look at how the 1930 U.S. census was taken in “Blisters on My Heels, Corns on My Toes.” In “Jefferson Looks Westward,” readers learn of the secret letter President Thomas Jefferson wrote to Congress in January 1803 seeking funds for what eventually became the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

In “Guarding the Railroad, Taming the Cossacks,” author Gibson Bell Smith, a NARA archivist, recounts the stationing of U.S. troops on Russian soil from 1918 to 1920, along the Trans-Siberian Railway, sent there to guard the $1 billion in supplies and equipment provided by the United States.

“Letters from the Middle Kingdom: The Origins of America's China Policy,” describes the thinking of American officials on China policy during the presidency of Andrew Jackson when U.S. policy was still in its infant stages and the United States was still a minor player among the world's trading nations. The article is written by David Gedalecia, professor of history at the College of Wooster in Ohio.

Selected articles from the Winter issue can be viewed at the NARA web site at

For 34 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.”

This page was last reviewed on February 21, 2019.
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