Historical Cats

We may have just missed #MuseumCats day, but you might still enjoy some stories of historic felines in our holdings. We recently received feedback on our archives.gov website survey asking for historical photos of cats in the National Archives. I was reminded of the fact that when Robert Connor, the First Archivist, was assessing the records situation in Washington, he came across the records in one “depository crowded with archives of the Government the most prominent object to one entering the room was the skull of a dead cat protruding from under a pile of valuable records.” (From an editorial entitled, “Our National Archives”, The Nation, February 1931.)

While we obviously don’t want actual cats roaming our stacks, we consulted our online catalog and found this selection of photogenic archival felines:

Daughter of Charles B. Lewis, miner, holding her kitten

Daughter of Charles B. Lewis, miner, holding her kitten, 7/10/1946. National Archives Identifier 540563

A patron of "Sammy's Bowery Follies," a downtown bar, sleeping at his table while the resident cat laps at his beer

A patron of “Sammy’s Bowery Follies,” a downtown bar, sleeping at his table while the resident cat laps at his beer, 12/1947. National Archives Identifier 541905

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s Press Secretary Pamela Turnure

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s Press Secretary, Pamela Turnure, with Caroline Kennedy’s cat, 1/24/1961. National Archives Identifier 12010054

Amy Carter with her cat, Misty Malarky Ying Yang

Amy Carter with her cat, Misty Malarky Ying Yang, 2/3/1978. National Archives Identifier 177850

Photograph of Socks the Cat Perched on the Backseat of a Van, 9/16/1993

Photograph of Socks the Cat Perched on the Backseat of a Van, 9/16/1993. National Archives Identifier 6036906

Military Photographer of the Year Winner 1998 Title: Cat Lady Category, 1/1/1998. National Archives Identifier 6504073

Military Photographer of the Year Winner 1998 Title: Cat Lady Category, 1/1/1998. National Archives Identifier 6504073

Last but not least, you won’t find this picture in our holdings, but do you recognize the young man in this historical cat photo?

AOTUS cat

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5 Responses to Historical Cats

  1. Duke Blackwood says:

    Not a cat person, but these are fantastic!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Forgive me if I am way off here, but is the historic young man with the historic cat in the last photo our esteemed Archivist himself? 🙂

    Like

  3. Miriam says:

    I am a cat person and these are wonderful! Perhaps NARA has cat videos that could go viral? Contenders:
    1. Cat/Breaking Bad connection: “Coverage of tests conducted at Aero Med Lab showing the reactions of cats when annoyed by lab technician while under the influence of P-methylphenethylamine” https://catalog.archives.gov/id/67182
    2. CIA and cats: “an animated short film that depicts cats and mice in a football match against each other”: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/654176

    Other: Cat/JFK connections:
    1. Cat watching JFK’s inauguration on TV: http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/sC23vvmCpEei38AjQCUyfg
    2. Rumored cat connection to PT 109: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/2131121

    Like

  4. David S. Ferriero says:

    For those of you still wondering, the young man in the last historic cat photo is indeed me, your Archivist of the United States. And here I am again, many cats later! https://twitter.com/USNatArchives/status/638776943907893248

    Liked by 2 people

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