National Archives Free Public Programs in September 2005
Press Release · Friday, August 5, 2005

Washington, DC… In September, the National Archives presents public programs with topics related to its railroad records collection, World War II "Hellships", and a special Hispanic Genealogy Symposium. Reservations are recommended. Reserve by e-mail ( or telephone 202-501-5000.

Programs are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. The William G. McGowan Theater is located in the National Archives Building Constitution Avenue between 7th and 9th Streets, NW, Washington, DC. Room G-24 is located in the National Archives Building Research Center.

Please note: the public must use the National Archives Building Pennsylvania Avenue entrance between 7th and 9th Streets, NW, to access Room G-24. Some lectures will be repeated at the National Archives at College Park, MD, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD, facility.

Tuesday, September 13 - Railroad Records in the National Archives

Archivist David Pfeiffer will present an illustrated talk on significant collections of railroad records in the National Archives, including the records of the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of Transportation. Among the records covered will be ICC railroad valuation records, ICC docket files, railroad accident investigation reports, and railroad annual reports. 11 a.m. Room G-24. (This lecture will be repeated at the National Archives at College Park, in Lecture Room B, on Thursday, September 15, at 11 a.m.).

Tuesday, September 20 - "Hellships" and the Ultra Secret

Archivist Lee Gladwin will discuss the "Hellships," Japanese merchant ships that carried a human cargo of American and Allied POWs from the Philippines to Japan during World War II. They were frequently sunk by Allied submarines and aircraft. Getting accurate accounts of the casualties from the Japanese was always slow, and in a few cases, nearly impossible. The U.S. Army Provost Marshal General's Office could not challenge the Japanese figures directly without revealing that we had broken the Japanese coding system. A way of verifying the counts without betraying the Ultra secret was found using early punch cards. 11 a.m. Room G-24. (This lecture will be repeated at the National Archives at College Park, in Lecture Room B on Thursday, September 22, at 11 a.m.).

Saturday, September 24 - Hispanic Genealogy Symposium

In a one-day Hispanic Genealogy Symposium, archivists and genealogists will discuss primary sources as well as secondary sources available on the Internet to trace family history. Featured speaker Professor George Ryskamp of Brigham Young University will join National Archives staff archivists Kenneth Heger, Reginald Washington, and Claire Kluskens. A fee of $25 is payable by cash or check at the door. Enter through the Special Event entrance on Constitution Avenue. 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Presidential Conference Center. Reservations required. To register, call 202-208-0781, ext. 254.

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To verify the date and times of the programs, the public should call the Public Programs Line at: (202) 501-5000, for information, or view the Calendar of Events on our web site.

To contact the National Archives, please call 1-866-272-6272 or 1-86-NARA-NARA; (TDD) 301-837-0482.

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For Press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at 202-501-5526.


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