October is American Archives Month, a time when we celebrate the work that archivists all over the country do to ensure that the records of their institutions are created, collected, and protected in a manner that allows their clientele to find what they need. Here at the National Archives that means ensuring that citizens can hold our government accountable, can learn from our history, and can explore family histories, to name just a few ways the records are used.
What do I love about the National Archives? The discoveries made every day in the records of our country, such as:
- Last week a veteran arrived in College Park by motorcycle from Nevada. He has been searching for 43 years for information about his platoon leader killed in Viet Nam. The staff found the information he needed “in 30 seconds!”
- An archivist in St. Louis learned of a family bible in our pension claim records for his Revolutionary War ancestor
- Letters with checks for the pennies collected by school children, teachers, and Elks Lodges around the country in a campaign to save the Navy’s oldest ship, the U.S.S. Constitution during the late 1920s.
- The fact that my grandfather, Paolo Ferriero, was 15 years old when he arrived in Boston from Naples in 1903. And that he was met by his father, Antonio, who had arrived three years before.
- One of the supplementary questions NOT asked during the 1940 Census: “Do you have a waffle iron and a Bible?”
What I love most about the National Archives is the staff in 44 facilities across the country who are so passionate about their work—those who work with veterans, the general public, genealogists, scholars and students, the Federal Agencies, the White House, and Congress. And, just as passionate, are those who support those who are doing that frontline work. For me, every month is Archives Month!