When Chief of Conservation MaryLynn Ritzenthaler retires in July, the last hands to have touched the Declaration of Independence will leave the National Archives.
The Declaration of Independence was sealed in early 1950s when it was still in the custody of the Library of Congress. Along with now-retired conservator Catherine Nicholson, MaryLynn removed the documents from the encasements to examine and treat them in 2001.
The conservators did not wear gloves when handling the parchment. “That surprises a lot of people because wearing gloves for certain kinds of artwork and photographs is a very good thing to do because you avoid fingerprinting,” Ritzenthaler said. “But with the parchment, we wanted to make sure that we were handling it as carefully as we could, and, sometimes, when you’re wearing gloves, you don’t have the same manual dexterity. So care was our big concern—and our hands were always clean!”
When the Declaration returned to the Rotunda in 2003, the National Institute for Standards and Technology estimated that the encasements will stay sealed for close to 100 years--making it likely that MaryLynn will be the last person to have touched them for a long time.
Read the full story here: http://1.usa.gov/298s7eW
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Today in 1917, the United States entered the conflict that would be known as the first World War. Harry Truman was a 33-year-old farmer when he voluntarily enlisted in the Army.
He would be the only President to serve on the battlefield of World War I.
From 1905 to 1911, Truman served in the Missouri National Guard. In 1917, he helped organize the 2nd Regiment of Missouri Field Artillery, which was called into Federal service as the 129th Field Artillery and sent to France.
Truman was promoted to captain and given command of the regiment's Battery D. He and his unit saw action in the Vosges, Saint Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne campaigns.
Truman joined the reserves after the war, eventually rising to the rank of colonel. He sought to return to active duty at the outbreak of World War II, but Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall declined his offer to serve.
Image and text via the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum.
We are live streaming our Independence Day celebration on the steps of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC!
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On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops landed on French coastline, an assault that we now call D-Day.
Among them were paratroopers, who were dropped in behind the enemy lines. They knew if the amphibious assault failed, there would be no rescue.
Original caption: "See You in Berlin. Resolute faces of paratroopers just before they took off for the initial assault of D-Day. Paratrooper in foreground has just read Gen. Eisenhower's message of good luck and clasps his bazooka in determination. Note Eisenhower's D-Day order in hands of paratrooper in foreground."