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The other day, I made a discovery that prompted a question I really had not thought about probably ever. What happened to Smokey the Bear? He was every where when i was growing up. “Only YOU can prevent forest fires” was ingrained in my brain at a young age.

The focus of my internship right now, is processing and appraising the records of the United States Forest Service Region 6. It has been pretty unremarkable work so far, just refoldering, reboxing, making finding aids, etc. The usual stuff. Experience is what counts, right? Until the other day I discovered an entire folder pertaining to Smokey the Bear and his campaign in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Most of the documents were correspondence with the D.C. office asking how many Smokey ash trays (seems a little ironic), posters, or other materials the local office wished to order for that year. Then, I stumbled on something really cool.


Item can be found in The Records of the Ochoco National Forest, Record Group 95, The Records of the U.S. Forest Service, The National Archives Seattle Branch.

This, as you can probably see, is a 33 1/3 recording of Smokey the Bear radio spots featuring some rather famous voices. The down side is, we don’t have a record player at work, but perhaps someday we will be able to transfer it into digital media. I did a little research and found that Smokey is still alive and well. He has his own website which includes information on wildfire prevention strategies and other resources. I guess Smokey didn’t leave, like many other icons from my childhood he just moved from television to the internet. It would be interesting to know if kids still know who he is.

Let’s keep in mind all the people who are facing wildfires currently and continue to promote Smokey’s valuable message.

What stories do you have about interesting/entertaining items found in archives, special collections, family memorabilia?