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Great programs for kids at the National Archives!

This young visitor learned to write with a quill pen, just like the Founding Fathers.

This young visitor learned to write with a quill pen, just like the Founding Fathers.

Take your family to the Constitution-in-Action Family Learning Lab this spring or summer!

Families are invited to take on the role of researchers and archivists for a day. During a two–hour simulation, they will help the President and Bob, his Communications Director, prepare for a special press conference. Families will work together to locate and analyze facsimile documents and find the connection each document has to the Constitution.

This is a great way to explore American history, learn more about the National Archives, and gain a greater understanding of the role the Constitution plays in our daily lives.

Dates and Times:

Tuesday, April 15 at 10:00-12:00 and 2:00-4:00
Thursday, July 10 at 10:00-12:00 and 2:00-4:00
Wednesday, July 23 at 10:00-12:00 and 2:00-4:00
Tuesday, July 29 at 10:00-12:00 and 2:00-4:00

To register please go to http://www.archivesfoundation.org/event/constitution-action-learning-lab-family-program/


On display: The Senate Journal of the First Congress

The first Senate Journal is on display from April 1 to April 16, 2014, in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives Building. Today’s post comes from Martha Grove, archivist in the Center for Legislative Archives in the National Archives.

“Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same . . .” U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 5

This year marks the 225th anniversary of the First Congress. On March 4, 1789, the Congress of the United States met for the first time. It was arguably the most important Congress in U.S. history. To this new legislature fell the responsibility of passing laws needed to implement a brand new system of government, defining the rules and procedures of the House and Senate, and establishing the precedents that set constitutional government in motion.

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The journal on display in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives Building.

The First Congress opened on March 4, 1789, in New York City. However, when the Representatives and Senators gathered that day, not enough members of either body were present to constitute a quorum. Elected members were delayed by bad roads and harsh weather. Some states had not yet held elections, while others had not yet determined the winning candidates when the First Congress convened. The House finally reached a quorum on April 1, and the Senate followed on April 6.

One of the first duties of the new legislative body was to meet jointly and count the electoral ballots for President and Vice President of the United States. This page of the first Senate Journal shows the results of that election: George Washington of Virginia was unanimously elected President, and John Adams of Massachusetts, who finished second in the balloting, was elected Vice President.

Senate Journal of the First Congress, First Session, showing entry for April 6, 1789. National Archives, Records of the U.S. Senate

Senate Journal of the First Congress, First Session, showing entry for April 6, 1789. National Archives, Records of the U.S. Senate

The first Senate Journal is on display from April 1 to April 16, 2014, in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives Building.

 


Celebrating a commitment to civil rights at the Johnson Presidential Library

Throughout the month of April, the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library will be exhibiting four cornerstone documents of civil rights. The “Cornerstones of Civil Rights” exhibit will run from April 1 through 30.

The exhibit will feature two documents signed by President Abraham Lincoln: an authorized, printed edition of the Emancipation Proclamation; and a copy of the Senate resolution proposing the 13th Amendment, which ended slavery.  

It will also include two documents signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson: the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965These are the four “cornerstone” documents on which modern civil rights legislation is enacted.

Civil Rights Act of 1964, National Archives Identifier 299891

Civil Rights Act of 1964, National Archives Identifier 299891

The exhibit links Lincoln and Johnson as two great civil rights champions in the nation’s history. Their conviction, commitment, and force of will to secure equal rights for all fundamentally changed American society.

In the exhibit are two hats owned and worn by the two Presidents—a Resistol beaver cowboy hat that accentuated Johnson’s Texas roots, and one of Lincoln’s famous stovepipe hats.

President Abraham Lincoln’s stovepipe hat will be on display at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library through the month of April. Photo credit: Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home, Manchester, Vermont.

President Abraham Lincoln’s stovepipe hat will be on display at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library through the month of April. Photo credit: Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home, Manchester, Vermont.

The exhibit coincides with the Civil Rights Summit, this year’s premiere event of a multi-year anniversary celebration of President Johnson’s prodigious legislative legacy running from April 8 to 10.

The Summit will feature reflections on the seminal nature of the civil rights legislation passed by President Johnson while examining civil rights issues in America and around the world today. President Barack Obama will be joined by three former Presidents who will also deliver remarks at the Civil Rights Summit: Jimmy Carter will speak on April 8; Bill Clinton will speak on April 9; and George W. Bush will speak on the evening of April 10.

Through the next few years, the Johnson Library, the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, and the Lyndon B. Johnson Foundation will partner to commemorate the anniversaries of seminal laws signed by President Johnson that continue to resonate today.

 


They “Leaned In” and took action in federal courts

Happy Women’s History Month! Today’s blog post comes from Kristina Jarosik, education specialist at the National Archives at Chicago.

Recently, two powerful women in the Silicon Valley, (Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook and author of Lean In: Women Work and the Will to Lead and Marissa Meyer, CEO of Yahoo) provided the media and the public the opportunity to re-examine the role of women in the workplace. These exchanges, the dawn of Women’s History Month, and the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act encouraged us to step back “historically” and to look in our stacks for stories of women fighting for equality in the workplace through the federal courts.

We discovered several cases. Alice Peurala’s is one.

As a single parent working night shifts at U.S. Steel’s South Works in southeast Chicago in the 1950s, Alice Peurala wanted a day job. She heard that product testers in the Metallurgical Division had this appealing schedule. But these positions were not posted, as others were, for bidding.

In 1967 (after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act), a male colleague that Alice had trained was moved up to be a product tester after only four years. Just before he started, she called the hiring director and inquired about being considered for one of these jobs. His response, “No, we don’t want any women on these jobs.”

Alice filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charging sexual discrimination. Conciliatory efforts failed and the EEOC issued Alice a right-to-sue letter on January 17, 1968. As part of the EEOC’s duties in 1968, charges of discrimination first had to be brought before the EEOC for investigation and possible resolution before bringing the matter to the Federal courts. Alice had thirty days to bring her complaint of discrimination to an appropriate federal court and have the court appoint an attorney if she didn’t have the funds available.

Alice Peurala v. United States Steel Corporation, Case 68C305; Civil Case Files, compiled 1938-1995; U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division at Chicago; Record Group 21; National Archives at Chicago.

“Right-to-sue” letter, Alice Peurala v. United States Steel Corporation, Case 68C305; Civil Case Files, compiled 1938-1995; U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division at Chicago; Record Group 21; National Archives at Chicago.

Alice requested an attorney to file a complaint against U.S. Steel on her behalf. The court misinterpreted and delayed her request while the deadline for filing loomed. Finally the court responded with an attorney, Patrick Murphy. Alice contacted him immediately and left a message. He called her back at the plant, obtained the basic details, and rushed to the court to file the complaint without a day to spare.

In March 1969, Judge Hubert Will presided over two days of the bench trial. Even though several witnesses testified to intentional discrimination, Murphy told her the judge’s ruling could go either way. Judge Will encouraged the parties to come to an agreement outside of the court. After the meeting with the U.S. Steel counsel, Murphy came back to Alice with an offer for settling the case. The next time the position of product tester was open she would get it.

Alice hesitated to agree because she didn’t think U.S. Steel would keep its word. And they almost didn’t.

A temporary assignment doing research in old logbooks in a conference room allowed Alice to meet a female colleague who worked in the South Works office. Over the course of the week they got to know each other, eventually discussing Alice’s court case.

After Alice went back to her old job as a metallurgical observer, they kept in touch. Soon, her office friend called with news. “Listen, the steel analysts are doing the product tester work. They’re supervisors or bosses. They’ve got them doing the product tester’s job.”

Alice called her lawyer, and Murphy went before Judge Will with the news. On May 5, 1969, Alice reported for her first day as a product tester in the lab.

Alice’s fight and others like it paved the way for an agreement (“The Consent Decree”) in 1974 signed by nine major steel companies, the United Steelworkers of America, the EEOC, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Labor that made strides in eliminating racial and gender discrimination in the steel industry.

Alice went on to become the only woman to lead a basic steel unit in the nation. She was elected president of Local 65 of the United Steelworkers of America in 1979.

Discover Alice Peurala’s story and others who sought justice and equality through the Federal courts at the National Archives in Chicago.

Resources:

“Alice Peurala v. United States Steel Corporation,” United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division (Chicago), Civil Case 68C305
Roosevelt University’s Labor History Project, Oral History Interview with Alice Peurala, September 30, 1977, Chicago, Illinois, conducted by Elizabeth Balanoff


Come to the Archives Fair on April 3!

Archives Fair

Join us on Thursday, April 3,  from 9:30 to 4 pm at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC for an all-day Archives Fair! Enter through the Special Events Entrance on 7th St. and Constitution Ave. The DC Caucus of MARAC and the National Archives Assembly are co-hosting this all-day Archives Fair. Archives-related groups and will be using the area outside the McGowan Theater as an exhibit hall.

You can watch our panel discussion online.

8:30-9:30 a.m. Coffee Hour & Exhibit Hall

9:30-10 a.m. Welcome and  Introduction by the Archivist of the United States

10:00-11:30  a.m. Panel Discussion: Crowdsourcing for Enhanced Archival Access

  • Elissa Frankle, moderator (US Holocaust Memorial Museum)
  • Helena Zinkham (Library of Congress)
  • Ching-Hsien Wang (Smithsonian)
  • Meredith Stewart (National Archives)

11:30-1 p.m. Lunch & Exhibit Hall

1-2:30 p.m. Panel Discussion: Monuments Men Archives

  • Barbara Aikens (Smithsonian)
  • Dr. Greg Bradsher (National Archives)
  • Maygene Daniels (National Gallery of Art Archives)

2:30-2:45  p.m.  Break and Exhibit Hall

2:45-3:15 p.m. National Archival Authorities Cooperative (NAAC)

  • John Martinez (National Archives)
  • Jerry Simmons (National Archives)

3:15-3:45 p.m. Donations Partnership Database

  • Dawn Sherman-Falls (National Archives)
  • Meg Ryan Guthorn (National Archives)

3:45-4 p.m.   Closing Remarks and Exhibit Hall