Searching for Capt. Kirsner: Archives Can Help Find Information

By Fales, John | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 11, 1999 | Go to article overview

Searching for Capt. Kirsner: Archives Can Help Find Information


Fales, John, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


DEAR SGT. SHAFT:

As a young CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) lad stationed at Jefferson Barracks, Mo., in the 1930s, I was befriended by a wonderful regular Army captain (who probably advanced to major before World War II) by the name of Harry Kirsner, of the Quartermaster Corps. As a guess, I would imagine he is dead by now; if not, certainly in his 90s.

Although Capt. Kirsner was by nature a rather quiet man, he was well liked by all of us; and he was something of a minor genius to most. Among his many other talents, he was also an inventor, producing a unique woven material, which, when made into Army uniform, blankets, tents, etc., made a soldier's backpack much lighter.

I would like very much to write a biography of Capt. Kirsner if I can find enough material about him, and provided it is worth reading. Anything I produce will, of course, be given to the CCC Museum at Jefferson Barracks, of which I am an alumnus. Sgt. Shaft, this query may be outside and beyond your usual fine advice and service, and, if so, you need not reply to my request. Otherwise you would have the best regards of Earl R. Smith, 85, of which 31 years were in the Coast Guard.

Earl R. Smith, USCG (Ret.)

Alexandria

Dear Earl:

The sarge suggests you visit the National Archives facility in College Park to search for information. This local facility is part of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), a national resource consisting of the College Park site, 10 presidential libraries, 18 regional records facilities around the country, as well as the Office of the Federal Records Center and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Its libraries and facilities make available to the public papers and other historical materials of past presidents, the actions of federal officials, and the national experience from the nation's beginnings in 1774, as well as unique records documenting the effect of federal government policies on local communities.

Among the holdings are the Charters of Freedom, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In the Washington area alone, these records total more than 4 billion pieces of paper and 7 million still pictures; more than 110,000 reels of motion pictures and some 200,000 sound and video recordings; more than 2 million maps and charts; more than 2 million architectural and engineering plans; and nearly 9 million aerial photographs. With facilities in 17 states and with an informative Web site (www.nara.gov), the National Archives is the most accessible archives in the world.

Researchers who plan to visit National Archives facilities should write or call before going.

In the Washington area, call 301/713-6800, or send an e-mail to inquire@arch2.nara.gov.

If a researcher expects to use records that may be classified, advance notice is necessary so that the classification status of the records can be determined. If the records have not been declassified, the researcher can be notified and possibly saved a trip. …

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