Remembering the War of 1812

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By Lily Westergaard

Hoya Staff Writer

September 21, 2012


Panelists discussed the War of 1812’s effect on Georgetown at an event Tuesday evening.

In honor of the bicentennial of the War of 1812, the Georgetown University Library Associates and the Lecture Fund invited archivist David Ferriero to speak on the history of the National Archives in Lohrfink Auditorium Tuesday.

Ferriero, who was appointed by President Barack Obama as the 10th archivist of the United States in 2009, leads the National Archives and Records Administration, which protects and maintains the original U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights.

University librarian Artemis Kirk introduced Ferriero and spoke briefly about Georgetown’s archives, which were established in 1816.

“[The archives] allow us to illuminate Georgetown’s past for current and future generations,” Kirk said.

Ferriero then provided the audience with a brief history of the National Archives, which were established in 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Archives include over 12 billion pages, 40 million photographs and 100 million emails.

“We are the nation’s record keepers,” Ferriero said.

He later spoke about the importance of archived images in commemorating and researching the War of 1812 and exhibited documents ranging from a seaman’s protection certificate — a document that sailors carried before the war to guard against impressment — to President James Madison’s war message to Congress, the House Declaration of War and the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the war.

Trevor Plante, chief of reference for the National Archives, also spoke about the burning of Washington and the influential Battle of New Orleans.

“There were 2,000 casualties on the British side and roughly 70 on the U.S. side. That really shows you how lopsided the battle was,” Plante said.

The event was the first of several that the Library Associates will organize this fall. The audience included dozens of community members and a handful of students.

“I thought it was really interesting,” Karri Nelson (COL ’16) said. “Being a freshman, it’s great to come and listen to the national archivists of the United States.”

The staff and students of Lauinger Library were pleased with the event as well.

“This was one of our cooler events — having someone so high profile here,” said Elyssa Skeirik (SFS ’15), who works as a library events assistant.

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