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