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Hidden Treasures: Opening the 'Public Vaults'

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Hidden Treasures: Opening the 'Public Vaults'

Hidden Treasures: Opening the 'Public Vaults'

Hidden Treasures: Opening the 'Public Vaults'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4527136/4527260" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Photo attached to Albert Einstein's 1936 declaration of intention to become a U.S. citizen. National Archives hide caption

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National Archives

Photo attached to Albert Einstein's 1936 declaration of intention to become a U.S. citizen.

National Archives

Fidel Castro's signature on a 1940 letter asking President Franklin Roosevelt for $10. The future Cuban leader was 12 years old at the time. National Archives hide caption

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National Archives

Fidel Castro's signature on a 1940 letter asking President Franklin Roosevelt for $10. The future Cuban leader was 12 years old at the time.

National Archives

The National Archives houses more than 10 billion paper records, 30 million photographs and nearly 3 million maps and charts — everything from childhood photos of presidents to the deed for the Statue of Liberty.

For security purposes, records stored at the National Archives can only be examined in research rooms. Only staff members are allowed inside the vaults. But a new exhibition, called the Public Vaults, lets regular citizens peek at some of the government's hidden treasures. Harriet Baskas tours the exhibit.

The historic gems include memos from a 1952 Air Force study of UFO sightings; immigration papers for Albert Einstein and Alfred Hitchcock; and the famous tape recorder used by Rose Mary Woods, President Nixon's secretary.

This story is part of the Hidden Treasures Radio Project, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Cultural Development Authority of King County, Wash.

The famous White House tape recorder that President Nixon's secretary, Rose Mary Woods, was using when 18 minutes of Watergate-related tape was erased in 1973. Woods died earlier this year. National Archives hide caption

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National Archives

The famous White House tape recorder that President Nixon's secretary, Rose Mary Woods, was using when 18 minutes of Watergate-related tape was erased in 1973. Woods died earlier this year.

National Archives