Miscellaneous Adventures: Awarding Excellence

Suggestion submitted by W. G. Homer, Chief of the Cabinet Shop, to the Efficiency Awards Committee, For this next installment of Miscellaneous Adventures, you voted to open Record Unit 50 – Office of the Secretary, Records, 1949-1964, Box 26, Folder Awards - Miscellaneous, 1928-1958. As the title suggests, this is a folder of correspondence with regards to awards given out from 1928 to 1958 that did not fall into any other award category in this collection.

The very first letter in this folder caught my eye instantly. It was a suggestion submitted on September 20, 1951, to the Efficiency Awards Committee for a possible award to be given to Mr. W. C. Hamer, Chief of the Cabinet Shop. Six months earlier, Mr. Hamer had received a request for 5,000 marking blocks with tin label holders from the Division of Mollusks. This type of marking block had been requested and produced in the past, but this time Mr. Hamer suggested eliminating the tin label holder and cutting a groove in the block to hold the label instead. The approved design resulted in a cost savings of almost $350, mainly because of the significantly reduced amount of labor required to create the new marking blocks. If the submission was approved, Mr. Hamer would be eligible to receive a small monetary award.

Copy of H. R. 488, presented in the Senate of the United States on July 24, 1958. Record Unit 50: Of Also contained in this folder is correspondence relating to awards that were not given out. For instance, there is a letter from Secretary Leonard Carmichael to Mr. H. M. Trent, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Engineering Award, providing a response to Mr. Trent's request for a candidate from the Smithsonian for the award. In Secretary Carmichael's letter he states that the Smithsonian does not have a suitable candidate to submit for the 1955 Engineering Award, but that there is an individual who might make a good candidate in the next three or four years. The notes attached to the response state that the prospective candidate had not yet published a paper in the engineering field, and therefore he would not have a good chance of winning the award so Secretary Carmichael decided to delay his submission until the candidate was ready.

The last set of material pertains to the establishment by Congress of the Medal for Distinguished Civilian Achievement.  The folder contains a draft of the bill "incorporating recommendations agreed to by the Committee on Civilian National Honors." The medal was to be given to people who had outstanding accomplishments in the fields of public affairs, social betterment, health and medicine, arts, law, and agriculture, among others.  The bill also contained a section to establish a board of five members who would recommend up to five people to the President of the United States who met the designated criteria for the reward. After going through revisions, the bill was voted upon favorably by the House of Representatives and passed on to the Senate in July 1958.

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