Military Gear & Army Surplus Gear Blog

A Room for Treasures: Cool Things at the National Archives

This is a room for treasures. It is a specially
alarmed vault and it also has its own temperature and humidity control which is monitored 24/7.
I’m responsible for the specially protected areas where we keep the intrinsically valuable
documents. The Polar Collection is the donated records of polar, north and south, explorers.
They’re just very personal, they’re very different from the government records. We’re
looking at an acrylic oil painting done by Dayton Brown. He was in the US Navy in the
1940s. He was stationed up in the Arctic Circle in the Arctic Ocean. And his claim to fame
is that he developed the color gray that could be used on the submarines that cannot be seen
under the Arctic Ocean. He donated his collection of oil paintings. The paintings have never
been exhibited that we know of, they’ve never been published. This is the only one
that features people and it’s just titled, “Mother, Daughter and Child.” This is
indigenous people that were up in the Arctic when Dayton Brown was up there. You would
never expect to find anything on the abominable snowman in official government documents.
And not only do you find it here but they’re being totally serious about it! This is a
State Department despatch from November 30, 1959, and it gives regulations governing mountain
climbing expeditions in Nepal related to the yeti, otherwise known as the abominable snowman.
What did it look like, what did you see? Kusang, tell me! I see, I see what man must not see!
I see true yeti! “In case the yeti is traced it can be photographed or caught alive, but
it must not be killed or shot at except in an emergency arising out of self defense.”
Robert Peary of course was the Arctic explorer. The Robert Peary papers came to us in the
early 60s. This letter is my favorite written to his mom on December 28, 1884. And the return
address is the steamer Colon and he’s in the Caribbean Sea. Here it was in 1884 and he’s dreaming of
going to the North Pole and he didn’t go until 1909. “All photographs taken of the
animal, the creature itself if captured alive or dead, must be surrendered to the government
of Nepal at the earliest time.” In keeping with the theme of Cool Things we’re looking
at the January 24, 1922, patent for Christian K. Nelson for the original Eskimo Pie. Only
it wasn’t originally called the Eskimo Pie, it was called the I-Scream. The letter “I”
dash S-c-r-e-a-m. I-Scream. And it was later renamed the Eskimo Pie. “…without the
permission of the government of Nepal.” This is in the Paul Siple collection. He was
18 years old when there was a competition amongst the Boy Scouts of America and he wrote
the best essay and was selected to go to the Antarctic with Byrd! And he continued the
rest of his life doing some type of Antarctic or exploring of some sort. These are carvings
of penguins that Paul Siple carved out of the chewy bones that were taken up there for
the huskies, the sled dogs to chew on. They list expeditions. And one of them is a US
expedition that is going to go search for the yeti in the spring and autumn of 1958.
There’s nothing here unfortunately about finding the yeti. When you open a box you’re
just surprised by what you find.

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