Boys in the National Mall’s Reflecting Pool, 1926

27 April 2015

Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Due to the failure of congress to appropriate money for public pools in Washington a group of boys are seen waving at the photographer while playing in the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial with a toy sailboat on July 7, 1926.

Coffee and Doughnuts on a Train, 1944

24 April 2015
Photo Credit: AP Photo

Photo Credit: AP Photo

This group of soldiers who debarked from a transport drink from mugs of coffee and munch doughnuts on a troop train en route to their station in England, March 15, 1944. From left: Sgt. J.A. Michalski, Detroit, Michigan; Sgt. Roger E. Sebring, Scranton, PA.; Sgt. O.C. Parson, Cleveland, Ohio; Sgt. Jack Ehmke, Angola, New York; Sgt. P. Kreitszberg, New York; Sgt. Leonard Catton, Union City, New Jersey; and Sgt. Walter R. Van Liuit, Cleveland, Ohio.

Migrants Stalled on the Desert, 1937

23 April 2015

Migrants from Chickasaw, Oklahoma stalled on the desert in southern California in March 1937.

In Their Words: George Santayana

22 April 2015

nature

Sir Nicholas Winton’s Letter to FDR

21 April 2015

Nicholas Winton with a Kindertransport evacuee in 1939, when he led a group that saved 669 children, mostly Jewish, from Nazi death camps. Photo Credit: Daily Mail

In the months before the outbreak of war, Adolf Hitler’s anti-Jewish sentiments spurred brutal attacks against Jewish people – especially the Kristallnacht – the “Night of Broken Glass – on November 9-10, 1938. This event led British authorities, under pressure from the public and refugee organizations, to allow children under the age of 17 to come into Great Britain. These children were mainly from Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Austria. The Refugee Children’s Movement (RCM) – then known as the Movement for the Care of Children from Germany – organized the transportation of 10,000 children to Great Britain. Known as Kindertransport, the RCM was not working alone. Other refugee organizations and individuals helped save these children from almost certain death (many were the only ones in their family to survive the war). One such individual was Nicholas Winton.

In 1938, when Europe was on the cusp of war, Winton was a 29-year-old stockbroker from West Hampstead, England. Around Christmas, Winton made plans to go on a ski vacation to Switzerland. He deviated from his plans when a friend asked him to travel to Prague instead to help with Jewish refugee work through the British Committee for Refugees from Czechoslovakia. He agreed. Once in Czechoslovakia, Winton realized that Jewish children were in dire need of safety. Winton organized the efforts to send them to Great Britain where his mother, and others, helped find homes f0r the children. He reached out to organizations, private businesses, and the general public for assistance. On May 16th, 1939, Winton even wrote to President Roosevelt asking if there was anything the United States could do for these young refugees.

Winton's letter to FDR, 1939

Winton’s letter to FDR. Letter Credit: National Archives

“Esteemed Sir,

Perhaps people in America do not realize how little is being and has been done for refugee children in Czechoslovakia. They have to depend entirely on private guarantors to get into England, which means that somebody has to take full responsibility for maintenance, upkeep, and education, until they are 18 years of age. No other country is taking an interest in them except for Sweden, which took 35 children last February. We at this office have case-papers and photos of over 5000 children, quite apart from a further 10,000 whom we estimate have to register. Actually, so far, we have brought only about 120 into England.

In Bohemia and Slovakia today, there are thousands of children, some homeless and starving, mostly without nationality, but they certainly all have one thing in common: there is no future, if they are forced to remain where they are. Their parents are forbidden work and the children are forbidden schooling, and apart from the physical discomforts, which all this signifies, the moral degradation is immeasurable. Yet since Munich, hardly anything has been done for the children in Czechoslovakia. Many of the children are quite destitute having had to move more than once since they originally fled from Germany.

Is it possible for anything to be done to help us with this problem in America? It is hard to state our case forcibly in a letter, but we trust to your imagination to realize how desperately urgent the situation is.

Believe me, Esteemed Sir, with many thanks,

Your obedient Servant,

Nicholas Winton.”

What happened to Winton’s request? According to the National Archives:

Winton's 105th Birthday on May 19, 2014. Photo Credit: Sir Nicholas Winton Website

Sir Nicholas Winton celebrating his 105th Birthday on May 19, 2014. Photo Credit: Sir Nicholas Winton Website

The White House referred it to the Department of State for action shortly after receipt.  It was ultimately filed in the Department’s primary file on the issue of refugees displaced by persecution and war in Europe. The Department took two steps: First, it forwarded a copy of the letter to George L. Warren, Executive Secretary of the President’s Advisory Committee on Political Refugees.  The Department suggested that organizations represented by the Committee might be interested. Second, it sent the U.S. embassy in London a copy of the letter with the instruction to acknowledge receipt of the letter and “to advise him that the United States Government is unable, in the absence of specific legislation, to permit immigration in excess of that provided for by existing immigration laws,” but that the letter had been forwarded to the President’s Advisory Committee on Political Refugees since it was possible that private organizations might be of help.

Winton’s efforts saved 669 children. To put this into today’s context, around 6,000 people currently owe their lives to his heroic actions. This number will only go up as the descendants of the children he saved increase. Winton’s 1939 rescue show how these ‘little’ ripples in the water can grow into waves.

View the list of children Winton saved here.

To read more of Winton’s story, check out the brief post at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Or, read the book his daughter wrote about her father’s life.

Sources
Kindertransport, 1938–1940,” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Kristallnacht: A Nationwide Pogrom, November 9–10, 1938,” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Nicholas Winton and the Rescue of Children from Czechoslovakia, 1938–1939,” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Langbart, David, “Nicholas Winton and Refugee Children: A Follow-up to “60 Minutes, National Archives, April 30, 2014.

Tree Felling Contest, 1941

20 April 2015
Tree falling contest at the Tillamook County Fair

Photo Credit: OSU Archives

Tree felling contest at the Tillamook County Fair, Oregon in 1941.

Pfc. Conlon Waiting on Medical Aid, 1950

18 April 2015

Pfc. Thomas Conlon, 21st Infantry Regiment, lies on a stretcher at a medical aid station on September 19, 1950. He was wounded while crossing the Naktong River in Korea.

Clark Gable & Mary Astor in Red Dust, 1932

17 April 2015
Studio publicity photo of Clark Gable and Mary Astor for film Red Dust, 1932.

Photo Credit: Source

Studio publicity photo of Clark Gable and Mary Astor for film Red Dust, 1932.

In Their Words: Plato

15 April 2015

Plato

The Reagans and Michael Jackson, 1984

14 April 2015
Photo Credit: National Archives

Photo Credit: National Archives

President and First Lady Reagan and Michael Jackson at the White House Ceremony to Launch the Campaign Against Drunk Driving on May 14, 1984.

Cynthia West with Chauncey, 1952

13 April 2015
3-year-old cover girl Cynthia West with Chauncey.

Photo Credit: Ed Clark/LIFE

On LIFE’s December 22, 1952 issue, three-year-old Cynthia West was pictured standing next to Chauncey, a three-foot-tall miniature horse. Chauncey was imported from England by Willis Parker – an animal trainer. Chauncey was among the four miniature horse that Parker imported. They each weighed around 90 pounds. Parker’s Lilliput Ranch in California also supplied animals for films and thought these mini horses would appeal to movie and television producers. Besides the big-wigs, these horses were a hit among neighborhood children such as Cynthia.

According to Life:

Miniature horses have historically served a purpose beyond cuteness: their small stature made them a good fit for coal mines in 19th century England and America after child labor was outlawed. The horses came to be prized as show animals and pets during the 20th century. While some work as service animals for people with disabilities, they have a few disadvantages. Unlike, say, dogs, the mini horses are livestock animals that fare better in outdoor stables.

Cynthia riding Cedric

Photo Credit: Ed Clark/LIFE

Cynthia showing some love for Cedric.

Photo Credit: Ed Clark/LIFE

Cynthia with two miniature horses at the Lilliput Ranch in California.

Photo Credit: Ed Clark/LIFE

Launching a Radiosonde, 1943

12 April 2015

US sailors launching a radiosonde at a military airport in 1943. The radiosonde consists of a battery-powered instrument package (white box) carried aloft with a helium-filled weather balloon. As it ascends it measures temperature, humidity, and air pressure and radios the information to a ground receiver. At an altitude of around 70,000 ft the balloon pops, and the radiosonde floats back to earth suspended by the the red parachute visible on the support line. By WWII, the US Weather Bureau launched weather balloons daily from 80 sites around the United States.

Taking a Rest during Evacuation, 1950

10 April 2015

Pfc. Orvin L. Morris of the 27th Infantry Regiment takes a much deserved rest during his evacuation to Pusan, Korea on a hospital train, July 29, 1950. He was wounded by enemy mortar fire on front lines.

Billie Holiday & Mister

7 April 2015
Portrait of Billie Holiday and Mister, Downbeat, New York, N.Y., ca. Feb. 1947

Portrait of Billie Holiday and Mister, Downbeat, New York, N.Y., ca. Feb. 1947. Photo Credit: William Gottlieb/Library of Congress

Today marks Billie Holiday’s 100th birthday. Her life was full hardships from poverty and an attempted sexual assault as a child to abusive relationships, depression, drugs, and alcohol as an adult. However, Holiday was also a force of nature within the music world. Considered to be one of the best jazz vocalists of all time, Holiday’s work inspired numerous musicians. She died on July 17, 1959 at the age of 44. In 2000, Holiday was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In addition to being a legendary jazz singer, she was also a dog lover. According to some sources, the singer owned a beagle, a mutt, a poodle, a terrier, a Great Dane and a couple of Chihuahuas. Lena Horne, a fellow jazz singer, once stated that dogs were Holiday’s “only trusted friends.” She was often photographed with Mister, her beloved boxer. He even attended many of Holiday’s performances throughout the clubs of Harlem as well as her appearance at New York’s Carnegie Hall. There is even a children’s book about Holiday and Mister!

Portrait of Billie Holiday and Mister, Downbeat, New York, N.Y., ca. Feb. 1947

Portrait of Billie Holiday and Mister, Downbeat, New York, N.Y., ca. Feb. 1947. Photo Credit: William Gottlieb/Library of Congress

Portrait of Billie Holiday and Mister, Downbeat, New York, N.Y., ca. June 1946

Portrait of Billie Holiday and Mister, Downbeat, New York, N.Y., ca. June 1946. Photo Credit: William Gottlieb/Library of Congress

Portrait of Billie Holiday and Mister, Downbeat, New York, N.Y., ca. June 1946

Portrait of Billie Holiday and Mister, Downbeat, New York, N.Y., ca. June 1946. Photo Credit: William Gottlieb/Library of Congress

Young Girl Picking & Sacking Potatoes, 1940

6 April 2015
A young girl looks up from her work. She picks and sacks potatoes on a large-scale ranch in Edison, Kern County, California in April 11, 1940.

Photo Credit: National Archives

A young girl looks up from her work. She picks and sacks potatoes on a large-scale ranch in Edison, Kern County, California in April 11, 1940.

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