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Archive Watch: ‘A Date Which Will Live in Infamy’

Today is the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In honor of the day, here’s a roundup of some blog posts and other media that highlight archival resources devoted to December 7, 1941.

—”Pearl Harbor: In Their Own Words”: Among the many World War II records the National Archives holds is a collection of the deck logs kept by U.S. Navy ships stationed in Pearl Harbor. In this short video, Archives technicians talk about and read from some of the logs. The entries begin very early in the morning, with ships encountering nothing more alarming than the delivery of “large amounts of ice cream,” one technician says. By 07:58, the log of the U.S.S. Dale, a Navy destroyer, records “waves of torpedo planes, level bombers, and dive bombers marked with Japanese insignia attacked Pearl Harbor. Sounded general alarm. … 0810: Opened fire on planes with machine guns, followed by main battery.”

—At the Text Message, a National Archives blog that follows “the work and discoveries of processing and reference archivists on the job,” Robert Finch, a student technician, writes about finding a family connection to Pearl Harbor as he worked on the Navy Deck Logs collection.

—The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum’s Web site has a special section on FDR and the December 7 attack, including an audio recording of the president’s famous day-after radio address to the nation. (See here for a good account of the changes and revisions the speech went through before the president delivered it on December 8, 1941.) And today the library unveiled FDR: Day by Day, which recreates the president’s daily schedule from 1933-1945.

—The Naval History and Heritage Command, the U.S. Navy’s official history program, has many Pearl Harbor photographs and a good overview on its Web site, along with a section dedicated to “Attacks on Air Fields and Aerial Combat.

—The Smithsonian has many objects related to Pearl Harbor in its collections, including a Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero airplane, a naval fighter model the Japanese used in the attack; an envelope postmarked in Honolulu at 8 a.m. on December 7, just as the bombing began; and a “Remember Pearl Harbor: Purl Harder” poster that encouraged people to knit more for the war effort.

—Time magazine has posted a gallery of Pearl Harbor shots taken by Bob Landry, a Life photographer who made it to the scene not long after the attacks and recorded the devastation.

—The archives of Indiana University’s Administrative War Council give a glimpse into how one university responded to the onset of war. The council first met a month after Pearl Harbor and “began an intensive series of meetings, gathering daily from 7-14 January 1942, addressing immediate changes to be made at Indiana University in order to accommodate the war effort,” the introduction to the archive notes. “These changes were compiled into a report and presented to the entire faculty on 15 January 1942. The largest change implemented was the introduction of a third semester during the summer. This additional semester facilitated an accelerated program that would allow students to quickly acquire the education and specialized training necessary to wage the war.” Other changes included offering military-service credit to students recruited in midsemester, revamping the curriculum “for wartime needs,” and upping the physical-education requirement for all students. All female students were required to take nursing and first-aid training.

(Cartoon by Charles Alston for the Office for Emergency Management, Office of War Information, Domestic Operations Branch, News Bureau, 1943. Image via the National Archives’ Flickr Commons collection.)

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