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Archives Experience Newsletter - February 13, 2024

  • Records of Love

One may think that the National Archives only holds records strictly related to the workings of government and that one can’t find romance there. This being said, our archivists care for and protect our records lovingly, and throughout the Archives, they preserve examples with lots of heart.


During World War I, Herbert Hoover, as head of the Food and Drug Administration, encouraged people to be frugal for the war effort. This effort became known as “Hooverizing.” The Valentine below, from 1918, guaranteed the receiver would not be shortchanged in the love they received.




A Valentine
Source: Herbert Hoover Presidential Library

From the records of the Department of Justice, Bureau of Prisons, we find issues of the Island Journal, a publication produced from 1924-1980 by prisoners at the McNeil Island Penitentiary. The cover of the February 1953 issue clearly had a Valentine’s Day theme.




The Island Lantern Valentine’s Day
Source: Records of the Bureau of Prisons 1870-2009

It is a testament to how far our archivists will go to preserve pieces of history. In this case, it’s an actual piece of cake. Dwight David Eisenhower and Mamie Geneva Doud announced their engagement on Valentine’s Day, 1916. They were married on July 1 of that year. A small piece of the wedding cake was preserved in the box shaped like the Great Seal of the United States. Although not still edible, the almost 110-year-old cake is well preserved thanks to a treatment conducted in 1971.

Although not heart-shaped, the surprising artifact below is full of delicious romance.




Wedding Cake
Source: Eisenhower Presidential Library



Miss Beazley & Kitty
Source: Records of the White House Photo Office (George W. Bush Administration)

We do not know from the records if Kitty the cat appreciated the “kiss” Miss Beazley gave her. We also don’t know if Barney is looking on with admiration or jealousy. There is no doubt, however, that this 2008 Valentine’s Day White House photograph of George W. Bush’s pets proves that no matter which side of the aisle you are on, cat or dog, love can transcend differences.
Happy Valentine’s Day from the National Archives Foundation!


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