Spring Prologue--Traces Origin of Science Agencies, Previews National Archives Exhibit
Press Release · Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Press Release
April 24, 2007

Spring Prologue Traces Origin of Science Agencies, Previews National Archives Exhibit

Washington, DC…At President Thomas Jefferson’s direction, the men climbed the hills of Long Island, New York, not to watch the ships come into New York harbor in the early years of the 19th century, but to apply mathematics to the positions of the stars and the directions and angles of signals from one hill to another.

These men were engaged in the first Survey of the Coast, which gave rise to the government’s first scientific agency, now called the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the forerunner of a large portion of today’s government.

“The Survey of the Coast as such is gone, but its legacy is the full array of scientific agencies in the government . . . reorganized in a variety of offices and services within NOAA,” writes John Cloud in the Spring 2007 issue of Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives and Records Administration in an article, “The 200th Anniversary of the Survey of the Coast.”

The Spring Prologue also features a preview of a major new exhibit at the National Archives Building in Washington, “School House to White House: The Education of the Presidents.” The exhibit, which runs through January 1, 2008, features more than 150 objects from the 12 Presidential libraries, including report cards, student writings, teacher evaluations, and various artifacts.

In “Diplomacy and Duels on the High Seas,” Stuart Butler recounts how a prominent Virginia lawyer was called on to set up a duel at sea between American and British warships in 1815. The duel never occurred (the War of 1812 ended), but Butler’s account reveals much about British and American diplomatic relations and naval operations at that time.

Prologue’s Spotlight feature, “Sharing the Excitement in History,” focuses on the National Archives’ new Boeing Learning Center, the hub for the agency’s education efforts throughout the country—including the regional facilities and the Presidential libraries.

Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein reviews the progress NARA is making in its effort to promote civic education through its museum, education, communications, and outreach programs in “Civic Education: Lighting the Path to the Future.”

And “Genealogy Notes” looks at records of the U.S. House of Representatives and shows that these records, too, can be good sources of genealogical information. John P. Deeben gives us a look at instances when citizens went to Congress as a last resort for a solution to their problems in “A Final Appeal to Capitol Hill.”

For nearly four decades, 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.”

A one-year subscription to Prologue costs $20, and you can order in a number of ways:

  • Call 202-357-5482 or 1-800-234-8861
  • Print out the order form and mail it to Prologue, P.O. Box 100684, Atlanta, GA, 30384.
  • Order online at
  • Fax credit card orders to Prologue at 301-837-0319.

Single copies of Prologue are available at the Archives Shop or at the Cashier's Office in the National Archives Building in Washington or at the Publications Sales Office at the National Archives at College Park. Back issues are also available at the College Park location. Single copies are also available in the shops at some Presidential libraries.

For more information about the National Archives and its programs and exhibits, go to

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For press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at 202-357-5300.


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