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See you at NCSS!

by on November 14, 2014

The National Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference starts next week in Boston.

You can catch up with us at several events to hear what’s new at the National Archives and Presidential Libraries.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston

NLJFK 93-C52-29: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston, 15 November 1993

Pre-Conference Clinic:

Thurs, 11/20, 9 am — “One Tumultuous Year! 1963: The Struggle for Civil Rights” at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum


Fri, 11/21, 11:30 am — Guided tour of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, including special exhibit “To the Brink: JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis”


Conference Sessions:

Sammy the Eagle

Meet Sammy the Eagle, National Archives ambassador who teaches K–2 students about national symbols, in our interactive videoconferencing session.

Fri, 11/21, 10:05 am — Teaching the C3 Framework: A Guide to Inquiry-Based Instruction in the Social Studies with Chris Zarr of the National Archives at New York City and Kris Jarosik of the National Archives at Chicago, who will take part in the panel discussion

Fri, 11/21, 1 pm — Explore the National Archives from Your Classroom with Interactive Videoconferencing (IVC) with Jenny Sweeney of the National Archives at Fort Worth and Mickey Ebert of the National Archives at Kansas City

Fri, 11/21, 4:15 pm — Prequel to Independence: The Shot Heard round the World with Annie Davis of the National Archives at Boston

Fri, 11/21, 4:15 pm — Voices from the Past: Introducing Historical Letters to Elementary Students with Sam Rubin and Esther Kohn of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

Sat, 11/22, 8 am — You’re the Curator: Creating a Historical Exhibit Using Multiple Literacies with Mira Cohen of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

Sat, 11/22, 10:10 am — Investigating the Arts as a Civic Language with Alyssa Liles-Amponsah of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

Sat, 11/22, 3:35 pm — Prioritizing the Federal Budget: A Kennedy Library Simulation for Students with Nina Tisch of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

For those of you in the DC area, please join us at our Educators’ Open House on Thursday, November 13 from 5:30–7:30 pm at the National Archives Museum in Washington, D.C.

Come spend the evening and find out more about what we offer for you and your classroom!

No pre-registration is required. Light refreshments will be served. Please bring your colleagues along!

Ed Open House flyer 2014

NARA Educators’ Open House flyer 2014–Download and Print

Today’s post comes from Esther Kohn, education specialist at the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.

The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation invites U.S. high school students to write an essay on an act of political courage by a U.S. elected official who served during or after 1956. The deadline for submissions to the Profile in Courage Essay Contest is January 5, 2015.Profiles in Courage Paperback Edition

In his 1956 book Profiles in Courage, John F. Kennedy recounted the stories of eight U.S. senators who faced dire consequences for standing up for the public good. Ostracized, rejected by voters, and even physically attacked, the elected officials in Kennedy’s Pulitzer prize-winning book put politics aside to do what they believed was right for the country.

A “Profile in Courage” essay is a carefully researched recounting of a story: the story of how an elected official risked his or her career to take a stand based on the dictates of the public good, rather than the dictates of polls, interest groups, or even constituents. The contest challenges high school students to discover new “profiles in courage,” and to research and write about acts of political courage that occurred after the 1956 publication of Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage.

The Profile in Courage Essay Contest requires young people today to grapple with big ideas:  How did Kennedy define political courage? Which public figures have demonstrated political courage? Which local, state, and national elected officials have risked their careers to take a stand for what is right?

Visit the John F. Kennedy Library website for contest information, eligibility and requirements, prize information, judging criteria, curriculum ideas, past winning essays, and more.

Have you ever wondered where to look for Native American research materials for yourself or your students?  Do you sometimes need an interesting activity to help you engage your students in the history of Indigenous America?

This year we’ve been developing material specifically for you!

Researching American Indians Page

American Indian Nations in the United States were originally independent of the Federal government and treated as foreign nations.  (Until 1823, first the English and then the American governments even required anyone passing over Native American territory to acquire a passport.)

This changed when, in 1831, Justice John Marshall1 declared American Indian communities to thereafter be treated as “domestic, dependent, Nations.”  This placed tribal jurisdiction directly under the U.S. Government but not subject to state, county, or territorial governments.  Because of this unique relationship to the Federal Government, thousands upon thousands of important records are held by the National Archives (whose job it is to preserve permanently valuable records of the Federal Government) relating to American Indians.  These documents, photographs, and other primary sources are scattered throughout the records of over 90 different federal agencies, but the majority are in the records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

For the past 18 months, many archivists, exhibit specialists and educators at the National Archives have been writing instructional material to help lead you to documents specifically related to these records.  Within the last month, we’ve created new pages to help you and your students find materials related to American Indians both in our main online catalog and in person at National Archives research facilities.

Photograph of Navajo Indian Code Talkers Henry Bake and George Kirk, 12/1943

Photograph of Navajo Indian Code Talkers Henry Bake and George Kirk, 12/1943

We share interesting articles about a wealth of American Indian subjects, such as:

We include resources and information for K-12 teachers and students as well as special pages of instruction for undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate students.

Indian Nations vs. Settlers on the American Frontier

The K-12 page describes and leads students and teachers to specialized pages on This DocsTeach activity, to use in class or as homework, can be found at

In addition to instructional material, a special list can help you navigate the extremely complicated process of locating Bureau of Indian Affairs records for tribes within a specific state.  And you can even locate records from various Bureau of Indian Affairs’ boarding and day schools.

General view of buildings, Rocky Boy Agency, Montana Chippewa, 1936

General view of buildings, Rocky Boy Agency, Montana Chippewa, 1936

We haven’t yet included a list leading to records for particular Indian tribes, but we hope to in the near future.



1 U.S. Supreme Court, Cherokee Nation v Georgia (1831).  

The following is excerpted from the 2015 National History Day (NHD) Theme Book article “From Camp David to the Carter Center: Leadership and Legacy in the Life of America’s 39th President,” by Kahlil Chism, education specialist at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum. The full article, primary sources, and suggested teaching activities can be downloaded from the NHD website.

In September 1978, President Jimmy Carter accomplished one of the most momentous feats of U.S. foreign policy ever attempted—brokering peace between two Middle Eastern countries that had been at war for nearly 30 years. While American presidents from Harry Truman through Richard Nixon had faced Mid-East region crises while in office, President Carter was the first to make an effort at establishing a preemptive peace between two of that region’s major powers.

Menahem Begin, Jimmy Carter and Anwar Sadat meet during the Camp David Summit

Menahem Begin, Jimmy Carter and Anwar Sadat meet during the Camp David Summit., 9/7/1978, From the Carter White House Photographs Collection, Jimmy Carter Library, National Archives Identifier 181106.

Carter put his political reputation on the line by inviting Mohammed Anwar al Sadat, president of the Arab Republic of Egypt, and Prime Minister of the State of Israel Menachem Begin to come to Camp David for a face-to-face summit. The result of that summit was the Camp David Accords, which were signed on September 17, 1978.

[In 1978], the Nobel Peace Prize was jointly awarded—a first in the 80-year history of the prize—to Sadat and Begin. And in 2002 Jimmy Carter also received the Nobel Peace Prize “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.”1 The Nobel Committee noted that “Carter’s mediation was a vital contribution to the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt, in itself a great enough achievement to qualify for the Nobel Peace Prize.”2

It stands to reason then that in 1981, as former President Carter was preparing to chart a course for his future, the success of the Camp David summit would serve as the direct inspiration for the organization that will become his legacy, The Carter Center.

By January 1981, two decades before he was honored by the Nobel Committee, 56-year-old Carter found himself among the pantheon of America’s youngest former presidents. He spent most of that year writing his memoir, Keeping Faith, planning his presidential library, and pursuing his hobbies of woodworking and watercolors.

But it wasn’t enough. “I had the same kind of thoughts about alleviating tensions in the troubled areas of the world,” he noted in his book, “promoting human rights, enhancing environmental quality, and pursuing other goals that were important to me. These were hazy ideas at best, but they gave us something to anticipate which could be exciting and challenging during the years ahead.”3

In January 1982, the former president had an epiphany. “One night I woke up and Jimmy was sitting straight up in bed,” Mrs. Carter recalled….‘What’s the matter?’ I asked. ‘I know what we can do at the library,’ he said. ‘We can develop a place to help people who want to resolve disputes….If there had been such a place, I wouldn’t have had to take Begin and Sadat to Camp David.’”4

Carter was the first former president to start a nonprofit organization upon leaving office. The Carter Center was founded in 1982, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide. A nongovernmental organization, the Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 70 countries by advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; teaching farmers to increase crop production; and resolving conflicts.5

Read Kahlil Chism’s full article in the 2015 NHD Theme Book. Find more NHD resources from the National Archives and the Presidential Libraries on our NHD Resources page.


1 “The Nobel Peace Prize 2002,” Nobel Prize. 2013. Accessed March 25, 2014 – http://

2 “The Nobel Peace Prize 2002.” – laureates/2002/press.html

3 Jimmy Carter, Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President. (New York: Bantam, 1982), 575

4 Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, Everything to Gain: Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life. (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas, 1995).

5 “Carter Center Accomplishments,” Carter Center. 2014. Accessed March 25, 2014: