Preservation of Frank Capra’s movie, “The Negro Soldier”. A look at the preservation process from beginning to end.
PEP (Persons of Exceptional Prominence) Spot Light: Lieutenant (JG) Harriet Pickens (1909-1969) & Ensign Frances Wills (1916-1998)
In honor of African American Women’s History Month, we are highlighting the first two African American women who were commissioned as officers in the US Navy. Lieutenant Pickens and Ensign Wills were commissioned in the United States Navy on December 21, 1944.
Lieutenant Harriet Pickens, a public health administrator with a master’s degree in Political Science from Columbia University, was the daughter of William Pickens, one of the founders of the NAACP. Prior to her military service, Harriet was the Executive Secretary of the Harlem Tuberculosis and Health Committee of the New York Tuberculosis and Health Association. In addition to this position, she was a supervisor of recreation programs in the New Deal’s WPA (Works Project Administration).
Ensign Frances Wills was a native of Philadelphia and graduate of Hunter College. While Frances pursued her MA in Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh, she worked with famed African American poet, Langston Hughes. She worked in an adoption agency, placing children in adoptive homes. Her experiences as a pioneering naval officer led Frances to eventually write the book Navy Blue and Other Colors under her married name, Frances Wills Thorpe.
Obviously, these were two accomplished and well educated women, highly qualified to serve their country as military officers in time of war. It was only their race that stood in their way and the remarkable pair would help to tear that barrier down. They were sworn in as apprentice seamen in the US Navy in November 1944.
After receiving their commissions a month later, both Harriet and Frances serviced at the Hunter Naval Training Station in Bronx, NY, the main training facility for enlisted WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) recruits. Harriet Pickens led physical training sessions up until her death in 1969 at the age of 60. Frances Wills taught naval history and administered classification tests. She died in 1998.
Lieutenant Pickens’ and Ensign Wills’ military files are two of the records in our PEPs (Persons of Exceptional Prominence) collection at the National Archives at St. Louis. Due to the high volume of attention and research on their military career, Lieutenant Pickens and Ensign Wills’ record was placed in the PEP collection and digitally copied. The Preservation Programs at St. Louis treats and stabilizes PEP records by placing the documents in polyester film sleeves, removing fasteners and staples and undertaking any required repair actions that will extend the life of the documents. An entire record is then scanned and placed on DVDs so researchers can access exact replicas, thus preventing damage to the original documents.
We are proud to highlight the lives and achievements of these two courageous women who in the face of segregation and hatred overcame and changed the face of the United States Navy forever.
Stepping Stones to the Moon
#Preservation #NARA #MediaMatters
In 1956, a National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) building was constructed in St Louis to hold military personnel records. The upper floor of this building caught fire on July 12th 1973. After a …
A popular tool in our St. Louis Paper Lab for cleaning mold from records is our foamed natural rubber sponge erasers. Every work station has a pile of them! These soft erasers do wonders in cleaning mold from the paper’s surface. The erasers come in “brick” sizes and are easily trimmed down into smaller pieces which are held more easily in your hand. But an important word of caution! Although softer than hard erasers these can still be abrasive, and can cause damage if used on paper surfaces that are soft and friable due to more extensive damage.
Kitty Nicholson, retired Supervisory Conservator at the National Archives, shares with the world in the exclusive video on the National Archives YouTube Channel a mystery about our Declaration of Independence. Watch the following video … and if you can help solve the mystery … you may become a legend! Happy Independence Day!!!
Film Preservation 101: This 80 Year Old Film Printer Still Contributes to Preservation
The Wide, Wonderful World of Mold
Mold is commonly found in archival collections that have been housed in damp, humid places. It’s a problem regularly encountered, but not all suspected mold actually is mold. Dirt, stains, and rust sometimes raise alarms, even when mold is not present.
So how can you tell it’s mold, especially when mold can be any possible color? Well, mold is an organism, so look for flowering growth and the tell-tale signs of a food source, such as water damaged areas of a document. The surface of mold growth is soft and fuzzy. Active mold will be wet, while dormant mold will be dry.
Mold staining will occur in mature colonies as the organism expels waste. The color of the staining can vary and depends on different factors such as nutrient source.
But remember, if it is mold, assume it’s toxic and use gloves and respirators, and be sure to clean surfaces moldy documents were in contact with cleaners such as Envirocide.
Today is the 70th Anniversary of D-Day:
the Allied invasion of Normandy, France , that led to the restoration of the French Republic, and contributed to an Allied victory in the war.
Staff in the Conservation Lab recently worked on this D-Day map. The map was distorted and torn and could not be safely accessed by a researcher. A conservator humidified, flattened and mended the map.
[RG 407, WWII Operations Reports, American theater through 76th Infantry Division, 1940-1948]
#conservation #NARA #preservation #D-Day
St. Louis Preservation Lab found James Vurgaropulos’ Blood Chit in his Official Military Personnel File.