Sharp Dressed Men of the 1880s – and a Few Women, Too

I recently wrote about District of Columbia police mug shots of criminals (primarily from 1883-1890) held by the National Archives in “Mug Books: An Unusual Avenue of Genealogical Inquiry” on “The Unwritten Record” blog of the National Archives. As one commenter noted there – “they are all dressed well…” – hence the title for this post.

Most of the mug shots were created by the DC police, but there are others collected from the police departments of New York City and Philadelphia. One of the most striking things about this series is that over 100 of the 717 cards in this series are for persons were arrested on March 4-6 of 1885 or 1889. This was not a coincidence. The presidential inaugurations of Presidents Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison occurred on March 4, 1885, and March 4, 1889, respectively. One can imagine professional pickpockets and other con men going to Washington, DC, to ply their trade in the well-off crowd visiting the capital for the big event. This was most likely true of famous professional criminal Charles Hallert, alias “Red Hyle” or “Cincinnati Red,” and his friend Charley Williams, alias Shane Campbell, who were both arrested on March 6, 1885. Red Hyle, “one of the most celebrated hotel thieves in this country” is profiled by NYC Chief of Detectives Thomas Byrnes in Professional Criminals of America (New York: Cassell & Company, Ltd.), at pages 109-110.

The significant “inaugural connection” of this series is not immediately obvious at a casual glance. It is an example of an archival truth – it can take deep immersion in a body of records to truly understand them. In this case, while laboriously tagging each photo in the National Archives Catalog, it eventually struck me that I was seeing “March 4” over and over again. I knew March 4 was inauguration day in the 19th century. Then I checked which years the “March 4” cards were from. With but one exception, they were from 1885 and 1889. Inauguration Day.

I hope that researchers will thoroughly study this series. There are undoubtedly many other interesting things that can be learned from it.

Identification Card No. 190, Harry Stevens (National Archives Identifier 75449274)

Remembering Ernie Pyle

Among the many heroes of World War II were the journalists who risked their lives to cover the war and allow the “folks back home” to understand what was happening from an overall view as well as from the up close and personal view of the boys on the front line. Ernie Pyle was a war correspondent who was embedded (as we now say) with Marines. He lost his life during the Battle of Okinawa on 18 April 1945. In the blog post “Spotlight: Remembering Ernie Pyle”  the staff of the National Archives highlight some of the photographic and video recordings that include this wonderful writer.

The Story of the Video of the Famous Flag Raising

Everyone knows the famous photo, shown here. But have you seen the video, or know the story behind it?

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When the National Archives investigated the true identity of the flag raisers in Bill Genaust’s footage of the first and second Flag Raisings on Iwo Jima and the iconic photograph by Joe Rosenthal, staffers discovered that the agency never received the original film shot on February 23, 1945. Supervisory Motion Picture Preservation Specialist Chriss Kovac provides information about Bill Genaust and how the film was shot, developed, assembled, and used during the World War II and throughout history in this YouTube Video, “The Winding Journey of Bill Genaust’s Flag Raising Footage”

World War I Records Online

April 6, 2017, marked the 100th anniversary of America’s entrance into the Great War. After remaining neutral for three years, the United States reluctantly entered what was supposed to be “The War to End All Wars.” By declaring war, President Woodrow Wilson committed the nation to join the other Allied countries in their efforts to defeat the German-led Central Powers.

As the largest repository of American World War I records, the National Archives invites you to browse the wealth of records and information documenting the U.S. experience in this conflict, including photographs, documents, audiovisual recordings, educational resources, articles, blog posts, lectures, and events from its new World War I Centennial portal. This portal links to selected digitized records.

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A Look at Inauguration Day Through the Years: Inaugural Photographs and Facts

The U.S. Constitution only stipulates the date and time of the inauguration, as well as the words of the Presidential Oath of Office. Given this lack of detail, traditions surrounding the U.S. Presidential Inauguration have grown and evolved since Washington’s 1789 inauguration. In a look back at past inaugural ceremonies, the NARA Still Picture Staff presents photographs and facts covering Inauguration Day celebrations and traditions throughout the years in A Look at Inauguration Day Through the Years: Inaugural Photographs and Facts.