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News Article

Celebrating National Poetry Month

April 2, 2015

In celebration of National Poetry Month, the National Archives Foundation invites you to find the poetry in our shared history. The Foundation will be posting poems and highlighting poets throughout the month on FacebookInstagramTumblr, and Twitter.

Inspired by Austin Kleon’s newspaper blackout poetry, one way to find poems in the Archives is to “redact” all but a few words in digital versions of Archives records.

Here is one made from a Truman-era White House menu:

Menu Poem 3

This one was made using General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s D-Day Statement to Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force:

Eisenhower DDay

Want to make your own? Here’s how:

  • 1. Find a record using the National Archives’ online catalog. For easy browsing, once you’ve entered your search word (hint: try “speech” or “memorandum”), refine your results by selecting “Textual Records” on the left-hand column and then “Images” in the bar at the top of your search results. This will only show records with text that have been digitized.

RP search

  • 2. Once you’ve found a record, download either the PDF of the full document by clicking on that icon, or a single page with the blue download button.

RP download

  • 3. Print your chosen page, or open it in your favorite image-editing software.
  • 4. Start making poetry!

Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month is a worldwide literary celebration held every April. The National Archives teamed up with the Academy for American Archives Month recently and collaborated with citizen poets for “We the Poets” – a series of 12 poems inspired by records in the National Archives.

Students create poetryEducators: Try a Poetry Slam with Documents to help students build their literacy skill sets by practicing their skimming/reading-for-gist technique and learning content knowledge.