25 January 2012

Going Archival on You

by Robert Lopresti

I have probably mentioned here, oh, a few thousand times that I am a government information librarian. Today I thought I would point you toward a government website that has a lot of ideas for writers - in fact, they even brag about just that.

If you have visited our nation's capital you may have gone to the National Archives to see the original copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. But the National Archives and Records Administration has a lot more than that, and they have a pretty cool website to tell you about it.

This came to mind because of a page they put up called Inspired by the Archives! Ten top tips for writers!  Here is an example of a poster they thought might inspire you.

Or try this mug shot.

Care to guess what this shady character was being booked for? Would you believe "crimes against butter?" Yes, he was a margarine smuggler. (Cellmate: I'm here because I killed my neighbor with an ax. What did YOU do?)

Care to guess what is the most requested photo in the National Archives? Here it is.

I don't know (or want to know) what kind of story this image might invoke, but here is an early ancestor of the familiar food pyramid. PLease notice the seventh food group, and the helpful advice at the bottom of the page.

What about famous authors in the collection? How about a picture of Jack Kerouac taken during brief naval career (before they threw him out as "delusional.")   His own comment later on his behavior then: "I shoulda been shot."

You may wonder: do any authors really get inspiration from this stuff? Well, how about George Clooney researching his next flick, which he is going to author, direct, and star in?

On beyond the Declaration of Independence. Enjoy.


Velma said...

Wow, I was expecting Nicholas Cage and you went all Marlon Brando on us.

Robert Lopresti said...

my link to the Clooney story didnt work, Here it is.http://bit.ly/uUn5tE

Fran Rizer said...

Rob, does it show my age to remember when there were more than four food groups? I'll bet dieters loved that bottom line instructing them to eat anything they wanted!

David Dean said...

I was pleased to see that a New Jersey monopoly was behind the railroad "conspiracy" warned of on the poster. Good for us even back then. Besides, what's wrong with monopoly--it's a great game!

Enjoyed it, Rob.

R.T. Lawton said...

I always enjoy reading these posts when you dig out some of the buried information you find.