Archive for June, 2013

The Heart of the Matter

Written on: June 20, 2013 | 0 Comments

Yesterday the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences released their report—The Heart of the Matter:  The Humanities and Social Sciences for a Vibrant, Competitive, and Secure Nation.   The report is the response to a bipartisan request from  members of Congress:  “What are the top actions that Congress, state governments, universities, foundations, educators, individual benefactors, and others should take now to maintain national excellence in humanities and social scientific scholarship and education, and to achieve long-term national goals for our intellectual and economic well-being; for a stronger, more vibrant civil society; and for the success of cultural diplomacy in the 21st century?”

Heart of the Matter cover

The three goals and thirteen recommendations articulate an agenda which resonates with me.

Goal 1:  Educate Americans in the knowledge, skills, and understanding they will need to thrive in a twenty-first-century democracy.  The National Archives has, from its beginnings, had an educational mission and today, as civic literacy is at its lowest ebb, that mandate is ever more important.  The creation of and access to online resources and teaching materials provide the tools for “citizens to participate meaningfully in the democratic process” articulated in one of the recommendations.

Goal 2:  Foster a society that is innovative, competitive, and strong.  Supporting innovative research and discovery through our National Historical Publications and Research Commission grants … [ Read all ]

Flat Stanley’s Magical Visit to Washington

Written on: June 17, 2013 | 0 Comments

Just before Memorial Day, Eva Wall, a third grader at the Fiske School in Wellesley, Massachusetts wrote to tell me that her class was working on a Flat Stanley project.  If you are not familiar with Jeff Brown’s 1964 children’s classic, illustrated by Tomi Ungerer, check it out.  Eva sent me a hand colored flat Stanley and my assignment—write an illustrated short story about Stanley’s visit to Washington.

student letter

 

Stanley and I wandered up and down the Mall looking for photo ops.  At the White House a friendly security guard reminded me that sticking things through the fence was not allowed—after Stanley had already posed on the other side!

White House

 

He really wanted to climb the Washington Monument but the restoration work forced him to settle for a view from a nearby tree limb.

Washington Monument

We stopped at the National Archives, of course, and dropped in on the Archivist of the United States.

AOTUS office

AOTUS and Obama

But the real excitement came on Memorial Day when Stanley got to ride on a float in the parade down Constitution Avenue.

Parade Float

And who should he meet along the route?  George Washington, himself!

George Washington

And last week Eva got to share Stanley’s adventures with her classmates. I heard that Stanley’s picture with George Washington is hanging on the bulletin board! Thanks, Eva!… [ Read all ]

Founders Online

Written on: June 13, 2013 | 0 Comments

This afternoon, the National Archives launched Founders Online—a tool for seamless searching across the Papers of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Alexander Hamilton.  Our National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) has been funding these projects in paper for some time.  Working with Rotunda at the University of Virginia Press and the editors of the six papers project, Founders Online was created with NHPRC funding to provide simultaneous searching across all six collections at once.

founders online website

Through Founders Online you can now trace the shaping of the nation, the extraordinary clash of ideas, the debates and discussions carried out through drafts and final versions of public documents as well as the evolving thoughts and principles shared in personal correspondence, diaries, and journals. This beta version of Founders Online contains over 119,000 documents, and new documents will be added to the site on a continual basis.

You can see first-hand the close working partnership between George Washington and Alexander Hamilton from their time in the Revolutionary War to Hamilton’s draft of Washington’s Farewell Address.  Or read John Adams’ description of Congress as a place where “There is so much Wit, Sense, Learning, Acuteness, Subtilty, Eloquence, etc. among fifty Gentlemen, each of whom has been habituated to lead and guide in his own Province, that an immensity of Time, is … [ Read all ]

Aiding in the Search for The White Bird

Written on: June 4, 2013 | 0 Comments

When Charles Lindbergh landed at LeBourget Field outside of Paris on the 21st of May 1927, among his first words- “Is there any news of Nungesser and Coli?” On the 8th of May, French aviators Charles Nungesser and Francois Coli took off from LeBourget in their plane, The White Bird, in an attempt to be first to fly nonstop from Paris to New York. French researcher, Bernard Decre, using the records of the National Archives, aims to tell the story of what happened to The White Bird.

Bernard Decre with plane model at French Embassy

Researcher Bernard Decre and National Archives staff member Mark Mollan at the French Embassy next to an exact model of the plane flown by the French aviators. Photo taken by Trevor Plante.

 

In May of 1919, French Hotelier Raymond Orteig offered a $25,000 Orteig Prize to the first aviator to fly across the Atlantic non-stop between New York and Paris- in either direction.  Many aviators made unsuccessful attempts to capture the prize, but it was Charles Lindbergh flying The Spirit of St. Louis who won.

The French Government maintains that The White Bird went down in the English Channel and Mr. Decre has been working with Mark Mollan, our expert on U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard records to prove that it made it across the Atlantic. Between May and August of 1927, using the logbooks of … [ Read all ]