Creation, Preservation of Louisiana Purchase Documents Focus of Spring Prologue Article
Press Release · Thursday, April 10, 2003

Washington, DC

The American purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France 200 years ago this month and the documents created to complete the deal are the subjects of the cover story in the Spring issue of Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives and Records Administration.

In "Jefferson Buys Louisiana Territory and the Nation Moves Westward," National Archives staff Wayne T. De Cesar, an archivist, and Susan Page, a senior paper conservator, follow the paper trail that was created during the year of negotiations between America and France to complete the purchase of the Louisiana Territory.

In the article, De Cesar and Page also give a behind-the-scenes look at the conservation treatment conducted on more than 30 of the Louisiana Purchase documents in the National Archives Document Conservation Laboratory in preparation for the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase. A number of them are on exhibit at various locations around the country throughout the year, and a listing accompanies the article.

In another article, Raymond Geselbracht of the Truman Library uses original documents and oral histories to give lively accounts of how President Harry S. Truman used the card game of poker as a way of relaxing and enjoying his friends--before, during, and after his tenure in the White House. Winston Churchill joined in one of Truman's poker games during his visit to the United States in 1946; Churchill lost.

Archives Renovation team member Richard Blondo describes the restoration process and the reinstallation of the Barry Faulkner murals. Installed in the Rotunda of the National Archives Building in 1936, the murals suffered progressive damage and deterioration over the years. Measuring 13' x 36', they are among the largest single-piece oil on canvas murals in the United States. The Rotunda will be reopened in September, with the Charters of Freedom back in place in new state-of-the-art encasements.

In his regular column, John W. Carlin, Archivist of the United States, reports on construction projects under way at National Archives facilities around the country. The Spring issue also includes an update on the activities of the Foundation for the National Archives.

In a new feature, "Authors on the Record," Mary C. Ryan, managing editor of Prologue, talks to Lawrence and Cornelia Levine, authors of a recent book on how America reacted to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "fireside chats."

Other articles include:

  • "Incited by the Love of Liberty," by Bruce Ragsdale, chief of the Federal Judicial History Office at the Federal Judicial Center, explains how a group of African slaves won their freedom in the early 1840s in the famous Amistad case.
  • "Lining Up to Serve," by Paul A. Cimbala, professor of history at Fordham University, recalls how wounded and sick Union officers sought to stay in uniform by joining the Veteran Reserve Corps during the Civil War and Reconstruction.
  • "Spotlight on NARA," by archivist David R. Kepley describes a new tool for researchers, Access to Archival Databases.
  • "Genealogy Notes," by archives specialist Mark C. Mollan, traces the evolution of the federal government's policy of headstones for fallen soldiers and sailors.
  • "Pieces of History," focuses on the Treaty of Alliance with France in 1778, a pact that helped the United States in its fight against Great Britain.

    Selected articles from the Spring issue can be viewed at the National Archives 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."

    Prologue can be purchased in the Publications Sales Office (Room 406) at the National Archives Building in Washington and the Publications Sales Office at the National Archives in College Park, MD.

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