NARA NOTES 09/09/2019 UPDATE 09/12/19
NOTE: When I visited the Archives on Monday, September 9, I was under the incorrect impression that cell phone photography was allowed in the research room. Photos of documents (as explained below) are permitted, but other photography in the room is not. I was not interrupted or corrected from taking many of the photographs originally shown in this blog. Out of a spirit of enthusiasm I originally published those, but have deleted them in order to be in compliance with NARA rules. I have modified the text below accordingly, and have provided additional edits for clarity.
FIRST DAY AT THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES – “WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY HAS MADE!”
The National Archives and Records Administration (“NARA”) is comprised of government records in a number of locations around the U.S., including presidential archives (see archives.gov). In the DC area the two archives locations are on Pennsylvania Avenue (downtown), and in College Park Maryland. The records downtown are before WWI and the College Park location has everything since.
The rules are strict. To park, you have to show your ID. Personal articles are x-rayed. Certain types of clothing are prohibited. To enter the research rooms you need a researcher card.
One is only allowed to bring a laptop computer, phone, pencils (not pens) (in a plastic see through bag) into the research areas. If you have anything else, you have to store them in lockers located on the basement floor.
Before entering the elevator to the research rooms, you have to show your researcher card to the guard. Personal items are inspected. Upon entering the research room, you must sign in, show your card and have your items inspected there as well. Only scratch paper and pencils are allowed. No notebooks. Upon leaving the research area, your notes are stamped and locked in a green canvas bag and your items are inspected. After getting off the elevator, the guard unlocks the bag and inspects your items still again. You can then take your things and notes to other unsecured areas, or leave the building.
The “Cutler Twining Memo”
I made it my first task to view the actual “Cutler Twining Memo” document. (If you are unfamiliar with the MJ-12 topic, please see “Majestic 12” in Wikipedia or Google “Cutler Twining memorandum”).
The research room I was working in has two sections: Military and Government. On the military side I worked with an archivist to locate the records. The record locations are indexed in ring binders throughout the room. The Cutler Twining Memo (“CTM”) is in records group 341, entry number 267.
The archivist then filled out the Reference Service Slip. This form is the actual hardcopy order that enables the archivists to locate the record. The “RSS” is logged into the system and approved by another employee.
I then submitted the RSS at the “Pull Desk” entering in the date, time and initials into their log.
About 30 minutes transpire before receiving the records. When the records are available, an employee enters your information into a log. I then gave my name to the attendant (and had to present my researcher card again).
The records box was on a trolley which I moved to a work desk. The desks are nice…they have electrical outlets, lighting and enough room to examine the material.
The box contained 12 folders.
The Cutler Twining Memo is in file folder 4-1846.
This Cutler Twining document’s treatment is different in that it is the only item in the whole box in a plastic cover. There is also a memorandum from the National Archives concerning the document’s (alleged lack of) authenticity (which I will get to later in this blog). Here it is in the cover.
And here it is, uncovered.
This is the advisory memorandum included with the document.
You may notice the declassification number at the top of these photos. The folders that I went through contained material declassified by the US Air Force. When photographing, I placed the documents on top of the declassification sheet so that the number was showing at the top. So when the documents show up in the public domain (as they are now), there’s proof that the documents were properly declassified.
In order to photograph, copy or scan original documents you have to go through the Copy Desk attendant who writes down the declassification number from the label on the records box. The documents are logged out, then logged in at the time of returning to the Copy Desk. The researcher is issued a “Document and Equipment Review Confirmation” tag, which is to be displayed over the desk light. This affirms that the documents being photographed have been logged with the Copy Desk.
After taking all my notes, I returned the records box to the Pull Desk.
Comments on the Cutler Twining Memo
The memo is on onion skin paper. Text is in blue, presumably carbon copy (?) or “blue ribbon” (?). The type appeared fresh (after all this time). The paper looked pretty fresh still, with a slight discoloration at the top edge.
Comments On The Records Box Contents
As I mentioned above, there were 12 folders in the records box. They contained Air Intelligence reports among other subjects. All in all, there were 16 items in the folders. Of those 16, eight were “Access Restricted” cards. Those items’ classification status were retained. Here is an example.
Some of the documents in other file folders had records access cover sheets that viewers signed off on:
Controls are strict. You can tell from my descriptions that everything is logged…. at each step.
I hope you have enjoyed viewing this blog. My objective as a researcher is to provide substantive, referenced information. If I am ever expressing an opinion or speculation, I will say so accordingly. We are just getting started…stay tuned for more research!