The National Archive

This past Friday I took a tour of the National Archives. It’s like librarian heaven. The dirty secret of archives is that most of what they collect gets thrown away. But looking at the rows and rows of compact shelving, holding precious documents of American history, that fact is easy to ignore:


I wonder how important something needs to be to get included. And who has the power to decide (some meaty questions about power and privilege run through here). Fifty bucks says it’s not as organized and careful as one might wish. Nevertheless, the archive was librarian bliss. Where else are paper clips classified under the wall of “artifacts of paper torture”? I was informed that rubber bands are the worst because they disintegrate onto the paper:


Other highlights included the hand done architectural drawings for the reptile house at the National Zoo:


And Joseph Herron, the man who didn’t wear a shirt for his Smithsonian ID photo:

I know what you’re all thinking. You want to know whether he went pantless, too. And if he carried out his janitorial duties that way. A few of you are wondering why someone bothered to tint his cheeks for a work ID. For more answers, and more weird and wonderful pictures, do your own explorations on the Smithonians Flickr stream.


One thought on “The National Archive

  1. I like the zoo drawing. It’s really “full size detail”, even the serpents. 🙂 Though none of these is important to me, I’m glad they didn’t throw them away.

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