Posts Tagged ‘military history’

On August 1, 1779, Francis Scott Key was born on his family’s plantation in Maryland.  He studied law at St. John’s College, and it was in his capacity as lawyer that he witnessed the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812.  Key had been aboard a British ship negotiating the release of American prisoners when the British initiated their attack on Fort McHenry on September 13, 1814.  He was retained on board and witnessed the bombardment from the HMS Tonnant where he remained watchful throughout the night for signs that the American flag was still flying over Fort McHenry.  At dawn he reported to the prisoners below deck that the flag was still there.

Painting of Francis Scott Key, oil on canvas by DeWitt Clinton Peters, 1902. Image courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society via Maryland Digital Cultural Heritage.

Six days later, Key published a poem called “Defence of Fort McHenry” in the Patriot, which he had composed on his return to journey to Baltimore. The poem with written to correspond with the tune of “To Anacreon in Heaven”.  Once set to music and renamed “The Star-Spangled Banner”, Key’s patriotic song gained popularity throughout the United States.  Key continued to practice law and write occasional poetry until the end of his life in 1843.  It wasn’t until 1931, however, that “The Star-Spangled Banner” was adopted as the American national anthem through a Congressional resolution signed by President Herbert Hoover.

Printed broadside of the Defence [sic] of Fort M’Henry [sic], 1814. First printed version of “The Star-Spangled Banner”, the song by Francis Scott Key. Image courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society via Maryland Digital Cultural Heritage.

You can learn more about the War of 1812 through Opening History, which includes such collections as the Paul Hamilton Papers from the University of South Carolina, the War of 1812 collection from the Maryland Historical Society, and the War of 1812 collection from the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society.


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President Dwight D. Eisenhower dedicated the Marine Corps War Memorial (also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial) in Arlington, Virginia on November 10, 1954, the 179th anniversary of the Marine Corps’ foundation. Inscriptions along the base of the statue read:”In honor and memory of the men of the United States Marine Corps who have given their lives to their country since 10 November 1775″ and “Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue.”  The statue itself depicts the Marines and Sailor who raised the second flag over Iwo Jima, and it was modeled after Joe Rosenthal’s iconic photograph Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima.

Photograph of the Iwo Jima Memorial taken by Theodor Horydczak. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Opening History has many images and documents related to the Marine Corps in World Wars I and II, along with a host of other military history resources from collections across the country.

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On September 16, 1919, the American Legion was incorporated when Congress granted the organization a national charter. The group was originally planned by twenty officers serving in France during World War I as a mutual-aid organization to benefit veterans returning from the war. Today, nearly a century later, the Legion has some 3 million members and 14,000 posts worldwide with headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Officers and committee chairman of Witbeck Post #11 of the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary at the foot of the Doughboy Statue in Vernal, Utah. Image courtesy of the Uintah County Library.

Opening History is an excellent resource for exploring local history collections, and it brings together documents and images pertaining to local posts of the American Legion from across the United States. The Uintah County Library, King County Snapshots, and the Illinois Digital Archive are just a few examples of the many collections with Legion materials.

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Happy Lefthanders Day. Perhaps this isn’t quite in the spirit of the holiday, but a historical curiosity related to left-handedness…there was once an exhibition — with more than 1,000 mid-19th-c. dollars in prizes — of lefthanded penmanship by vets who lost right arms in the Civil War. For more info, see the Library of Congress’ American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera collection.

Opening History features other curious historical resources on left-handedness, including the photo below (see more info) from the Jack L. Demmons / Bonner School Photographs collection of the Archives & Special Collections, Mansfield Library, at the University of Montana-Missoula.

Three students and two superintendents look on as a fourth student, Dick Johnson, writes left-handed at a desk with jar of ink by him.

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On January 9, 1793, the first balloon was flied in the United States. Over 70 years later, in 1865, balloons were first brought into the U.S. Army by the Signal Corps. This photograph, courtesy of Lake County Discovery Museum’s collection shows a military observation balloon which belongs to the Ohio National Guard and is used by the Field Artillery at El Paso, Texas, in 1917.

Military Observation Baloon (1917)

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We are happy to announce that IMLS DCC has joined Flickr! Our first set of photographs — from Flora (IL) Public Library’s Charles Overstreet Collection — has been uploaded to the photosharing portal as part of the Flickr Feasibility Study (pdf), an IMLS DCC initiative that began this summer with the goal of increasing the availability and exposure of the rare, historical photos in our collections. We will continue with regular uploads of photographs from a variety of collections, so keep checking our photostream; we welcome tags and comments.

The photograph below, included in our initial Flickr upload set, courtesy of the Charles Overstreet Collection, shows soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 252nd Field Artillery Battalion stationed in Marseille, France, in 1945, exploring the city.

Marseille, France

Marseille, France

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Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), the 26th U.S. President, was born in New York City on October 27, 1858.

The photograph below, courtesy of Lake County Discovery Museum digital collection, part of a larger Digital Past collection, pictures Theodore Roosevelt seated on a platform with other officials during his visit to US Army’s mobilization, training, and administrative center of Fort Sheridan, in Illinois, during the World War I.

Theodore Roosevelt during his visit to Fort Sheridan (1914?)

Theodore Roosevelt Visit to Fort Sheridan (1914?)

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