Monday, February 2, 2015

Happy (belated) Birthday Captain Clark Gable, USAAF

Yesterday (February 1st) was Clark Gable's 114th bday (thanks wikipedia).  When I heard this, I remembered I had recently found some documents related to Gable's service during WW2 while performing research at the National Archives facility in College Park, MD.   He was in the US Army Air Force.

One of the records I located was a memo to Hap Arnold dealing with Gable's assignment to Flexible Gunnery School in the autumn of 1942, and the AAF's desire to restrict any publicity surrounding the notable officer.
From NARA RG18 (USAAF) entry 291 (Index Sheets - AAF Officers).
After completing a series of combat flights in Europe (and earned a DFC), he returned to the US and transferred to a unit designated as Headquarters First Motion Picture Unit, AAF Motion Picture Branch; stationed at Culver City, in Los Angeles County, California.  He was back in Hollywood.

In March 1943, Lt Gable was requesting equipment for motion picture work from the supply service.

From NARA RG18 (USAAF) entry 291 (Index Sheets - AAF Officers)
Despite his popularity, and willingness to serve overseas, Gable wasn't always appreciated.  This memo shows that a letter from "A Buck Private" in New York indicated he felt that Gable's promotion (to Captain) was unfair.  

From NARA RG18 (USAAF) entry 291 (Index Sheets - AAF Officers)
A memo from 29 October 1943 from Louis B. Mayer (of MGM!) to Hap Arnold shows Mayer's desire to have Gable working at his studio.

From NARA RG18 (USAAF) entry 291 (Index Sheets - AAF Officers)
Captain Gable worked in the Motion Picture unit with other Hollywood residents and fellow motion-picture industry employees, including 1st Lt. Howard M. Voss (a studio sound-engineer).  Gable recommended him for a promotion in December 1943.

From NARA RG18 (USAAF) entry 291 (Index Sheets - AAF Officers)

Captain Gable also used his celebrity to promote the war effort by engaging in public speaking.  In May 1944 he spoke at the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation for American Ideals, where he was quoted as using the adage, "....there are no atheists in foxholes."

From NARA RG18 (USAAF) entry 291 (Index Sheets - AAF Officers).
I offer no analysis of these records, but merely share them as I found them.  Hopefully these few documents will add a small amount of new data to the record of Gable's service in WW2.  

Monday, November 3, 2014

New 'pull times' at DC-area Nat'l Archives facilities

The National Archives' facilities in the Washington, DC metropolitan area will be starting a pilot program in December 2014 to amend the pull-times for records requests.  No definitive reason was given for this change, but it may have to do with work-flow and scheduling of federal employees.  Flexible work hours, allowing federal workers to work outside of times when the building is open to the public, teleworking and the use of students & interns instead of permanent staff have all impacted on-site customer service for some time.  It has also been difficult in the past for staff to clear the building after public hours.  But this is just speculation.  It is hoped that these changes will have an overall positive impact on customer service.

For walk-in patrons & clients at the facilities in Washington DC and College Park, Maryland, same day records requests can currently be submitted up to five times per day, Monday through Friday; at 10:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 1:30 PM, 2:30 PM and 3:30 PM.   The pilot program will amend the afternoon pull-times to 1:00 PM, 2:00 PM, and 3:00 PM.  This applies to all types of requests (military & pension, textual, motion & still pictures and cartographic).  The morning pull-times of 10 and 11 AM will not be changing.  It will still take approximately one-hour for records to be retrieved from stack locations and delivered to the research rooms.  Additionally, they are restricting researchers in the later afternoon by eliminating the retrieval of records for any purpose after 4:30 PM, which means that unless a researcher already has records checked out for research prior to 4:30 PM, the researcher will not be able to look at records after that time.

As always - The facilities close at 5:00 PM daily, Monday through Saturdays and are closed on Sundays.  Records requested during the week may be held for researchers and viewed or used on Saturdays prior to 4:30 PM, but not records requests are accepted on Saturdays.