American Experience

A Season of New Beginnings

The American story is powered by hope in the face of adversity. America has faced many daunting situations, and the country has met the challenge each time. It’s not always easy or pretty, but we have found ways to apply optimism, grit, and ingenuity to succeed.

The National Archives and its Presidential Libraries are offering a fresh look at its holdings and educational content with virtual resources. If genealogy is your jam, Ancestry.com has made more than 500 million National Archives records free and open to the public during the health crisis. So, dust off the family tree and get researching!

We’re also dropping some major civics news this week: The Foundation is part of a coalition of history and cultural institutions across the country – Made By Us. The group was launched with the goal of energizing history for younger generations. Curious? Be a part of shaping our history and add your voice to Made By Us.


Jokes On Us

Need some April Fools’ Day ideas from our nation’s most powerful leaders? We have some pranks guaranteed to go down in history. If you like what you see, stay tuned for more of our SLICE video series, as we serve you a slice of the Archives.


Hey, Batter Batter

Nothing says spring like a day at the ballpark. Though baseball is on hold this season, we can look to our past and explore how our nation’s favorite pastime has made history. Presidents throwing out first pitches or hosting World Series winners at the White House are familiar images from each baseball season.

The connection between Presidents and baseball stretches back as far as Abraham Lincoln. According to research conducted for the 1939 Major League Baseball Centennial Celebration, Lincoln was playing baseball in Springfield, Illinois, when he was informed that the Chicago Republican Convention had nominated him as the Presidential candidate. Lincoln is reported to have responded, “They will have to wait a few minutes until I get my next turn at bat.”

Source: National Archives & Records Administration


Giddy Up

How are you communicating with friends and family during quarantine? While virtual happy hours and zoom conference calls might feel new, Americans have been redefining how we communicate for centuries.

April 3, 2020 marks the 160th anniversary of the first ride of the Pony Express, a mail service delivering messages, newspapers, and mail using relays of horse-mounted riders that operated between Missouri and California. With its young riders and horses delivering mail faster than ever before, it became a symbol of American individualism and the adventures of the American West.

Source: National Archives & Records Administration

In World War I, communication was extremely important. Unfortunately, technology—like the telephone or the telegraph—was not as reliable as the commanders of Europe would have liked.

In an attempt to improve combat communications, the leaders of World War I turned to a much older form of communication: the carrier pigeon. These pigeons were used by both the Allied and Central Powers to pass on important messages from the front lines.

Source: National Archives & Records Administration


Caption Contest

The vast holdings of the National Archives are full of millions of photographs – many without context and captions. The good news? This leaves plenty of room for interpretation! With our caption contest, we invite you to invent your own caption for the weekly Archives photo and submit them below or by tagging us on Twitter @archivesfdn for a chance to win a special surprise from the National Archives Store!

Click here for official rules.

We’ll kick off the content this week with a boating picture! Here’s an example caption to get you started:

“Congratulations on your marriage Ernie and Ethel! Let’s pop champagne and go for a boat ride.”


Last Week and More

We want to bring the Archives to you. If you missed last week or our content in the past, have no fear! We’ve collected everything we’ve dug up from holdings. Click on an icon below to learn more!

  • We the People
  • History Pix
  • Archives Encore
  • History Quirks
  • Patent Pending
  • Cooking Club

Want to be the first to know these fun facts from the depths of the Archives holdings? Sign up for our newsletter and get your weekly dose of history right in your inbox!

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And if you have a favorite fun memory of the National Archives, or love history and just want to share, post on social media using #ArchivesAtHome and we’ll give you a shout-out!

The National Archives Foundation strives to inspire citizens to explore the past and cultivate a deeper understanding of their civic history and civic responsibility. Join the Foundation today and learn how you can help support our mission!