Featured Records

  • World War II Holiday Humor: Office of War Information “Santa” Memo
World War II Holiday Humor: Office of War Information “Santa” Memo

Someone in the Office of War Information (OWI) News Bureau was having a jolly old time writing this memorandum on Christmas Eve 1942. It concerns rumors flying around (by way of a reindeer-led sled) about a “man in whiskers who…will come down many chimneys bringing gifts to hundreds of American homes.” This tongue-in-cheek report from the OWI News Bureau was composed by staff to poke fun at their own bureaucracy. However, even the report’s light-hearted analysis of the “facts” about Santa Claus reveals serious concerns faced by the United States during World War II.

In commemoration, the “Santa” Memo was is display in the “Featured Documents” exhibit in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives in Washington, DC from November 30, 2017 – January 10, 2018

Past Featured Records
  • Yeti Sightings and Rules, circa 1959
    Yeti Sightings and Rules, circa 1959

    Just in time for Halloween, the National Archives Museum shares a 1959 State Department memo about the Yeti, the long-feared Abominable Snowman (and relative of Bigfoot). Study this document carefully before planning a climbing expedition to find this creature!

    Believed by some to live in the... Read more

  • Justice Thurgood Marshall: First African American Supreme Court Justice
    Justice Thurgood Marshall: First African American Supreme Court Justice

    On June 13, 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated distinguished civil rights lawyer Thurgood Marshall to be the first African American justice to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. Marshall had already made his mark in American law, having won 29 of the... Read more

  • Mobilizing for War: The Selective Service Act in World War I
    Mobilizing for War: The Selective Service Act in World War I

    On May 18, 1917, Congress passed the Selective Service Act, which authorized the Federal Government to temporarily expand the military through conscription. The act eventually required all men between the ages of 21 to 45 to register for military service. Under the act, approximately 24 million... Read more

  • Declaration of War: The U.S. Enters World War I
    Declaration of War: The U.S. Enters World War I

    On April 6, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed this joint resolution, ending America’s neutral stance on the ongoing global conflict – later deemed a “World War” – and formally declaring war against Imperial German Government.

    Nearly three years earlier, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria had been assassinated by... Read more

  • Credentials of Jeannette Rankin, the First Congresswoman
    Credentials of Jeannette Rankin, the First Congresswoman

    In 1916 – four years before before the 19th Amendment granted women across the country the right to vote – Jeannette Rankin was elected to Congress as a Representative from Montana.

    Rankin was sworn into office on April 2, 1917, having presented this credential as evidence that she... Read more

  • George Washington’s First Inaugural Address, 1789
    George Washington’s First Inaugural Address, 1789

    On April 30, 1789, George Washington placed his hand upon a Bible and took the oath as the first President of the United States. The oath was administered on a second-floor balcony of Federal Hall, above a crowd assembled in the streets to witness this historic event. President... Read more

  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Day of Infamy” Speech
    President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Day of Infamy” Speech

    At 7:55 a.m. on December 7, 1941, Japanese bombers and torpedo planes attacked the U.S. Pacific fleet anchored at Pearl Harbor, catapulting the United States into World War II. In less than 2 hours, the fleet was devastated, and more than 3,500 Americans were either killed... Read more

  • National Museum of African American History and Culture Act
    National Museum of African American History and Culture Act

    Following decades of work to promote and feature the contributions of African Americans, the Act to establish the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) was authorized by Congress in 2003. The museum, which will house 36,000 artifacts, officially opens on the National... Read more

  • Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010
    Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010

    During World War II, the U.S. Armed Forces established a policy that discharged homosexuals regardless of their behavior. In 1981, the Defense Department prohibited gay and lesbian military members from serving in its ranks with a policy that stated, “Homosexuality is incompatible with military service.” In... Read more

  • The Tuskegee Airmen
    The Tuskegee Airmen

    On January 16, 1941, the War Department announced the creation of the Army Air Corps 99th Pursuit Squadron – the nation’s first African American flying unit.

    The 99th Pursuit Squadron trained at the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama, where there was an airfield and a civilian... Read more