Category Archives: U.S. History

Archivists challenged to look ahead for looking back

The sounds of the past enrich our understanding of the nation’s cultural history and our history in general.  Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress

We live in what Harlan Cleveland dubbed a “temperocentric” world, a world that expresses ideas in fewer than 140 characters, and then moves on……

This is digital age, when thoughts expressed in 140 characters start a war, when a signature replaces a thoughtful disquisition, when Facebook and emails can be manipulated and alternative facts thrive, the work of the archivist is ever-more challenging and still more essential.

And then my thoughts rambled:  I wondered future researchers will ever know how decisions were made……. At the core is a deep concern about the implications of those tweets for government transparency and accountability?

More concerning is the degree to which the ephemeral nature of information and communication will relieve them of responsibility – culpability – for the consequences or blur the causes of their actions.]

It is cold comfort to learn that the President’s tweets are safely archived, available for researchers who will bear the burden of explaining this era:  http://www.trumptwitterarchive.com.  Still tweets, even archived tweets are of scant value.

The serious work archiving President’s papers is in the hands of archivists. abby Zimet’s article published just yesterday in Common Dreams, offers a good – actually fun-to-read– overview of one major effort to cope with the Trump archives.  https://www.commondreams.org/further/2017/05/09/lots-copies-make-stuff-safe-saving-trumps-bigly-dumb-words

Clearly, it is a mighty challenge to capture the archival record of this era, much less to assure permanent access to past public documents. In recent months archivists have welcomed the assistance of informed volunteers – archivists, librarians, researchers, historians and others concerned with preservation of real facts have met the challenge.  Though it’s a finger in the dike of information flow our nation’s recorded history is at risk.

Without archives many stories of real people would be lost, and along with those stories, vital clues that allow us to reflect and interpret our lives today. ― Sara Sheridan

UPDATE:  https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/05/ex-feds-confident-comeys-devices-and-files-are-safe-even-if-fbi-wont-confirm/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Law Day 2017 inspires timely focus on the 14th Amendment

Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.  Martin Luther King, Jr. 

The world was a very different world in 1958 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower first proclaimed Law Day, a move endorsed three years later by a joint Congressional resolution.  In an earlier era, the push for Law Day, first proposed by the American Bar Association, was to counter the push for May Day, aka International Workers’ Day.

This year’s theme “The 14th Amendment: Transforming American Democracy” anticipates next year’s 150th anniversary of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.   It is the 14th Amendment that explicitly affirms the rights of equal protection and due process.

Summary: https://www.thoughtco.com/us-constitution-14th-amendment-summary-105382

Full text: https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/amendmentxiv

The Library of Congress provides in-depth analysis of the 14th Amendment and an excellent reading list here: https://www.loc.gov/law/help/commemorative-observations/law-day.php.  The American Bar Association offers suggestions for commemorating Law Day  2017. http://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_education/initiatives_awards/law-day/law_day_2017_additional_resources.html

Many communities and countless organizations related to the legal profession sponsor Law Day dinners, proclamations, even a Law Day art contest sponsored by the Young Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association: http://www.americanbar.org/groups/young_lawyers/initiatives/law_day_art_contest.http

The American Bar Association defines Law Day as “a national day set aside to celebrate the rule of law.  Law Day underscores how law and the legal process have contributed to the freedoms that all Americans share.”  Law Day 2017 prompts the media to voice the range of differing opinions and angst about the Rule of Law, specifically the 14th Amendment, in volatile circumstances.

Most important, Law Day 2017 inspires each of us whose rights are spelled out in the 14th Amendment to assess the Rule of Law as it affects the life of a regular citizen, how the law is meted out in the real world of an ordinary American, regardless of heritage or circumstance. https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights.  Likewise, the occasion calls on the grown-ups among us to share with young people the essence of the role of law in the creation of this democracy.

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.  Thomas Jefferson*

*LIBRARIAN NOTE: http://www.thisdayinquotes.com/2011/01/eternal-vigilance-is-price-of-liberty.html


 

Jefferson’s Birthday honors a legacy that endures and inspires

Jefferson worried that the people – and the argument goes back to Thucydides and Aristotle – are easily misled. He also stressed, passionately and repeatedly, that it was essential for the people to understand the risks and benefits of government, to educate themselves, and to involve themselves in the political process. Without that, he said, the wolves will take over. 

The words of Carl Sagan are both a mighty tribute and a warning – certainly words to consider this week as we celebrate the life lived and the principles espoused by the nation’s third president.  Though more honored in the breach than the observance,

April 13 marks the legal observance of the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, born on April 13, 1743.  The observance was declared by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937 (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=15611)  affirmed by President George W. Bush in 2007. (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=25554)  Both of these proclamations underscore in detail the life, vision and lasting legacy of Thomas Jefferson.

Biographies of Jefferson are many and massive.  They record the countless ways in which Jefferson played a decisive role in shaping the lasting contours of this nation.  In his many elected and appointed positions – as Governor, Ambassador, Secretary of State, Vice President and President he was a mighty force.  His contributions are many and lasting, as are his vision and his words.

Jefferson’s legacy is both institutional and inspirational.  Jeffersonian quotes are threads woven throughout the fabric of the nation’s laws, beliefs and spirit.  They reflect his deep faith in and commitment to liberty, an informed electorate, freedom of expression and of religion, and the power of informed people to govern their own destiny.

This week, as the nation struggles to cope with the challenges of the day, the words of Thomas Jefferson inspire hope and offer guidance.  Taking time to think about and to share the words of Jefferson honor the man and focus energy on basic principles of a vibrant and viable democracy.  Of the zillions of quotable quotes, these seem especially appropriate to the times:

  • The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive. 
  • Educate and inform the whole mass of the people…They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty. 
  • I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion. 
  • No government ought to be without censors; and where the press is free no one ever will. 
  • Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the form of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question. 
  • In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. 
  • If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.  
  • Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation of power first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence.
    The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground. 
  • All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression. Thomas Jefferson 
  • I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country. 
  • That government is the strongest of which every man feels himself a part.  

 

Presidential gaffe inspires a nation to know Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who has done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice……Donald J. Trump

To be sure Frederick Douglass is better known now to most Americans, in light of journalists, teachers and the general public’s reaction to the President’s display of ignorance of the history of the nation he purports to “rule.”   And yet we all have more to learn.

Fortunately, resources  about this great American abound. Just last week my email included a link to this lovely video narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass produced by the National Archives. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxZClqEnRwQ

This led me to a corollary video that treats of Douglass as the “conscience of the abolitionist movement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fj-gz3u-1jM

And to this, one of many YouTube adaptations of picture books that tells the story of Frederick Douglass: — https://youtu.be/oN-QqKsgyL4

As well as to this impassioned speech, delivered by Douglass on July 4, 1852. http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/douglass.htm

And to the Frederick Douglass Honor Society, a venture created by residents of his birthplace in Talbot County, Maryland – who knew! http://www.frederickdouglasshonorsociety.org/douglass-history.html

Needless to say, the royal gaffe has fostered a flood of responses in the press. It’s informative to read the words of contemporary writers whose response has been to celebrate Black History Month 2017 by expanding their readers’  appreciation of Frederick Douglass. The problem is that it’s a challenge to focus on the contributions of Douglass rather than on the unfortunate gaps in the leader’s understanding of American history. Here is just one of scores of tributes to this brilliant visionary. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/06/opinion/a-lesson-in-black-history.html

To really learn about the writings, the life and unique contributions of Frederick Douglass there is no better path than to dip into the resources of the Library of Congress which has made vast Douglass-related resources accessible online. Though the wealth of information – books, manuscripts, videos, guides and more — may seem overwhelming, all is meticulously organized – and you may certain that there is something in the collection to pique the interest of every learner, including candidates for public office, who harbor a passion to know the story of this democracy. https://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/douglass/

 

 

 

Words matter – and are now searchable in the Trump Archives

The opportunity before all of us is living up to the dream of the Library of Alexandria and then taking it a step further – universal access to all knowledge.  Interestingly, it is now technically doable Brewster Kahle

Founder of the Internet Archive Brewster Kahle is disinclined to back down from a challenge. He’s also a proponent of real facts, primary sources and the capacity of technology – in the hands of people of good will — to assure that real acts trump alternative facts and fake news. Basically, he believes that a democracy ruled by informed citizens is what the Forefathers envisioned….

Kahle’s Utopian vision is realized in the Internet Archive, now an accepted and essential pillar of today’s information infrastructure.

Sometimes a tool waits in the wing for just the right moment to be essential! Such is the case with the Internet Archives,  henceforth the home of the Donald Trump Archives.   Journalist David Lumb heralded the archive with a hearty “Fact-checkers, start your engines!”

Dating back to December 2009 the Trump Archives’ ultimate goal is to capture virtually every utterance, print, video, digital, or other of the Trump administration.   At the launch of the Trump Archive last month journalist Kalev Leetaru wrote this in Forbes:

For this first incarnation of the Trump Archive, the Archive chose to start with a manually curated collection of around 700 video clips, ranging from major events like presidential debates and major speeches to key policy statements and views espoused by the President-elect, drawing heavily from those video clips that journalists had already identified as particularly noteworthy or which received widespread attention. This means that the collection as it presently stands includes many of the most-talked about Trump statements, but is not an exhaustive record of Trump’s total television appearances.

Read Leetaru’s full article here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kalevleetaru/2017/01/06/the-internet-archives-new-donald-trump-and-white-house-archives-transparency-and-history-as-data/#26efe1907d98

It’s been nearly a month now since The Launch.   To get a sense of the goals, and to keep up-to-date on the scope, response and impact, follow the Trump Archive blog here:  http://blog.archive.org/2017/01/23/in-the-news-trump-archive-end-of-term-preservation-link-rot/

A well informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny. Thomas Jefferson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Love Our Presidents 2017!

 

We Love Our Presidents

Saturday, February 18, 2017

WALK & Celebration 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Celebrating our NE Presidential Streets: Washington to Kennedy Streets in Northeast Minneapolis

Walk begins at 10:00 followed by noon celebration

In his positive FB post community leader Paul Ostrow reminds young neighbors and their elders that “You don’t have to love all the Presidents to Love Our Presidents Walk. It is a great way to celebrate American history and our northeast community at the same time.”

Recognizing the value of being inclusive, and knowing that the legendary event honors the legacy of their community, Northeast Minneapolis youth will join in the traditional President’s Day walk. Neighbors of every age who live and learn on streets that bear the names that honor the memories of national leaders will walk to celebrate and learn about their neighborhood and past presidents of the U.S.

Northeast neighbors – including Northeasters past, present and future, their friends and families – will gather at 10:00 AM at Northeast Library, 2200 Central Avenue Northeast – All will walk up Central Avenue with a pause for a cocoa break at Eastside Food Coop – then on to Audubon Park and further on to Northeast Middle School for a chance to warm up and enjoy a chili lunch break that features drawings, presidential trivia, awards for the locally famous coloring contest, and a chance to mingle with friends and neighbors.

http://WeLoveOurPresidents.com/

Facebook.com/WeLoveOurPresidents

 

Lively mix of issues and media at ESFL this month!

The East Side Freedom Library (www.eastsidefreeodmlibrary.org) continues to explode with creative ideas, provocative programs, and an open door to all who wish to share the energy that fuels this amazing community resource. Here’s what’s up in the weeks to come:

  • Wednesday, October 5, 7:00 p.m. Free and open — Deregulating Desire: Flight attendant activism, family politics, and workplace . Author and former flight attendant and union activist Ryan Murphy will discuss his book by this title. Held at the ESFL 1105 Greenbrier Street in St. Paul.
  • Friday, October 7, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Screening and Discussion of What Happened Miss Simone? (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4284010/mediaviewer/rm346220288) The evening, is co-hosted with A Greener Read Used Bookstore. (http://www.agreenerread.com.  Festivities  begin at 5:00 p.m. at the bookstore (506 Kenny Road) with viewing and discussion of the documentary. This will be followed by discussion of Come Back Africa (https://comebackafrica.com) at 7:00 at the ESFL, 1105 Greenbrier Street.
  • Friday & Saturday, October 15-16, it’s a “political graphics workshop” featuring Design and Screenprint from the Living Proof Print Collective. (https://wehavelivingproof.com) Presenters are Aaron Johnson-Ortiz and Aaron Rosenblum. Attend one day or both – it’s free but take time to register at http://goo.gl/forms/NXeFeJVBV7tqewlf2
  • If you actually survive Election Day 2016 you‘ll need to pause and reflect on it all by taking in a series of post-election talks on “Turbulent Times in the Race for the Presidency: An Historical Overview.” The series will explore the issues that have “driven political energies in the past two years – and in the more distant past. Presentations are set for Tuesdays in November (the 15th, 22nd, and 29th) 12:30 p.m. at the Roseville Library, 2180 Hamline Avenue North. The series features presentations by Peter Rachleff, History Professor Emeritus at Macalester and founding Co-ED of the East Side Freedom Library.   The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute is co-sponsor of the series.

Questions? info@eastsidefreedomlibrary.org or 651 230 3294.