Federal History News
NPS Forum on Administrative History
After the Administrative History: What Next?
At NCPH conference in Nashville, TN, during April 15-18, 2015.
Facilitators: Ann McCleary, University of West Georgia; Bethany Serafine, National Park Service; John Sprinkle, National Park Service — Over the past several decades, more and more public agencies are recognizing the importance of preserving and recording their history. This is the case for the National Park Service, which has been actively promoting the creation of administrative histories for its parks over the past fifty or so years. The idea is that these histories can help the park understand where it has been, including what challenges it has faced and how it has resolved them, and to help guide the staff in the future. Administrative histories of various units and programs of the National Park Service also help to compile a more complete understanding as to how the agency evolved. This working group is designed for NPS and other staff who deal with administrative histories, historians who write administrative histories, and those interested in the history of the National Park Service. Our goal is to explore a variety of questions focused around the key issue: “After the Administrative History: What Next? We envision several issues though we welcome questions and ideas from the participants.”
• How have NPS parks and other entities used the Administrative Histories?
• What makes a good administrative history? What makes it useful?
• How can the insights and ideas in these histories be made more available and accessible to the public through programs, publications, etc.?
• Are there significant differences between NPS administrative histories and those completed for and used by other organizations? If so, what lessons can we draw from those distinctions?]
• What sources are critical to writing an administrative history? What will we do as digital records become more common-place? And how essential are the annual reports that the parks no longer complete?
• How can the NPS draw out some of the issues that develop from these individual administrative histories and incorporate the findings into a more complete understanding of National Park Service history? What are some of the trends and ideas that have emerged to help characterize NPS history through the various decades or periods?
While we have raised the issues above, we want to hear what other topics participants would like to discuss. We envision this working group as an opportunity to accomplish several goals. First, as the NPS works on revising its guidelines for writing administrative histories, the session organizers will prepare a summary of the ideas that come from this group to share with the NPS History Office in Washington. Second, the NPS Academy for Cultural Resource Management is interested in this topic, so we will share our overview with these NPS staff. Third, we would like to write a “Report from the Field” article on this topic for The Public Historian journal. And last, we would entertain submitting a piece on this topic to the History@Work blog. To participate in the working group, contact John Sprinkle at email@example.com
Center for Cryptologic History
The Center for Cryptologic History invites proposals for papers to be delivered at the Center’s biennial Symposium on Cryptologic History which will take place October 22–23, 2015. The Symposium will be held at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory’s Kossiakoff Center in Laurel, Maryland. Following the Symposium, on Saturday, October 24, participants will be given an opportunity to tour the National Cryptologic Museum and participate in a workshop on sources for research in cryptologic history. The theme for the 2015 Symposium will be “A Century of Cryptology.” As we mark the centenary years of World War I (1914–1918), when so many significant advancements occurred in the field of cryptology, we will also examine the impact cryptologists made throughout the twentieth century, especially during such periods as World War II, the Cold War, the Korean War, the War in Vietnam, and the post-Cold War era. The Symposium will also include panels that look at the foundations of cryptology before the “Great War.” Please submit your proposal by Monday, February 2, 2015, to Program Chair Betsy Rohaly Smoot at firstname.lastname@example.org or to her care at The Center for Cryptologic History, Suite 6886, 9800 Savage Road, Fort George G. Meade, MD 20755.
Congress Creates the Bill of Rights: Completing the Constitution
The eBook focuses on James Madison’s leadership role in creating the Bill of Rights, effectively completing the U.S. Constitution. Starting with the crises facing the nation in the 1780s, the narrative traces the call for constitutional amendments from the state ratification conventions. Through close examination of the featured document, Senate Revisions to the House Proposed Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the reader goes inside the First Congress, as Madison and the leaders of rival political factions worked in the House and Senate to formulate amendments to change the recently ratified Constitution. It was created as part of the Congress Created the Bill of Rights http://www.archives.gov/legislative/resources/bill-of-rights.html project. The eBook is available for download on our website and on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch with iBooks.
Timeline of Federal History
Dates and events critical to the work of historians tracing the development of the federal government: http://shfg.org/shfg/programs/resources/timeline-of-federal-history/
Richard W. Leopold Prize
The OAH is accepting submissions for the Richard W. Leopold Prize. Submission Deadline: October 1, 2015. The Richard W. Leopold Prize is given biennially by the Organization of American Historians to the author or editor of the best book on foreign policy, military affairs, historical activities of the federal government, documentary histories, or biography written by a U.S. government historian or federal contract historian. These subjects cover the concerns and the historical fields of activity of the late Professor Leopold, who was president of the OAH 1976–1977. The prize was designed to improve contacts and interrelationships within the historical profession where an increasing number of history-trained scholars hold distinguished positions in governmental agencies. The prize recognizes the significant historical work being done by historians outside academe. — Each entry must be published during the two-year period January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2015. The award will be presented at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the OAH in Providence, Rhode Island, April 7–10. Verification of current or past employment with the U.S. government must be included with each entry. For submission details: http://www.oah.org/programs/awards/richard-w-leopold-prize/
USDA Celebrates Civil Rights Act Anniversary
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act with a forum featuring several Freedom Riders. The Riders’ efforts confronted directly the Jim Crow laws of the South, raised national and international awareness of the racial restrictions and injustice, and led the way for the call for a full Civil Rights Act. The USDA has posted a video of the event that features brief interviews with former Riders Rev. Reginald Green and Joan Mulholland. See the August 22, 2014, USDA video “Review” at http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navid=thisweek. The USDA’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights has also worked with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History by displaying their traveling Freedom Riders exhibit at USDA’s Whitten Building located in Washington, DC, through September 17, 2014. The very comprehensive exhibit explores the Freedom Rides through detailed narratives, photographs and newspaper clippings. An online version of the exhibit, created as a companion to PBS’s AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, is available at http://www.ascr.usda.gov/fr_exhibition.htm.
George W. Bush Presidential Library Now Open
The George W. Bush Presidential Library opened to the public on May 1 on a 24-acre site at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. It is the 13th presidential library in the National Archives system. The facility houses a library and a museum, presidential archives, a public policy institute, the Bush foundation and a 15-acre park, all honoring Bush’s two terms in office. The library features a theater, a life-size Oval Office, a 14,000-square-foot permanent exhibit, classrooms, research rooms, storage rooms for archives as well as archival processing and exhibit preparation rooms. The library’s collections include more than 200 million emails (about 1 billion pages), 80 terabytes of digital information, nearly 70 million pages of documents, nearly 4 million photographs, and 43,000 artifacts, much of which will not be available and processed for years. The facility also includes be the privately funded George W. Bush Institute, which will be “committed to serious, independent research aimed at generating practical solutions to important public policy problems.”
The Founders Online
The Founders Online is a new website at the National Archives at http://founders.archives.gov/ It was created through a partnership between the University of Virginia Press and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the grantmaking arm of the National Archives. For the first time, it combines the papers of six Founding Fathers: George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams (and family), Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison in a fully searchable database. Over 119,000 documents, fully annotated, are included. In addition, as NHPRC Communications Director Keith Donohue reports, the site allows collation of searches in various ways across the collections, with results that will enable new insights into the Founders’ relationships and contributions. Donohue provides examples of the benefits: “Assemble the Founders’ views on slavery into a single set of search results in which many of the original documents do not use the word at all” and Trace the Founders’ letters and diaries and debates leading up to the Constitutional Convention, their thoughts during the meetings in Philadelphia, the ratification of the Constitution by the states, and how the Washington administration, first Congress, and first Supreme Court implemented the grand experiment.” Visit http://founders.archives.gov/
In Memoriam, William Maury, Census Bureau
William M. Maury died April 12, 2013, in Bethesda, Maryland. He was 73. Maury served as chief historian at the Census Bureau since 2002.Dr. Maury earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Maryland in 1963, a master’s degree from the George Washington University in 1968, and a doctorate from GWU in 1975. He served as chief historian of the U.S. Capitol Historical Society while working toward his doctorate.Earlier, he had worked as a data analyst for the Federal Aviation Administration and taught history at Catholic University and George Washington University. Maury was a longtime member and supporter of the Society for History in the Federal Government.
Duke University Oral History Project
At Duke University, history professor Edward Balleisen is leading a project to create an online gateway to regulatory oral histories—oral histories with regulators, the regulated, or political actors who were instrumental in creating or changing regulatory agencies or frameworks. As part of the project, we are working to catalog and tag the most relevant oral histories to make them more accessible as well as to help sort through what interviews have been conducted and the work that remains to be done. We have identified several caches, such as those at the SEC Historical Society, the Columbia Center for Oral History (e.g. its FCC project), and the FDA, but we hope to draw on the knowledge of this list’s members to target individual interviews or other rich collections of oral histories regarding regulatory agencies, whether in the U.S. or elsewhere, at any level of government. We understand that some federal agencies have oral history projects whose interviews are not open to the public. Our interest is in creating an extant database of digitally accessible oral histories for use by researchers. But please do also let us know if you’re aware of relevant oral histories that remain in analog without a digital transcript but which are available to the public if they travel to the archive. Please e-mail any tips, leads, or general thoughts on the project to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Smithsonian Institution Archives
Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives: In 2012, the IHD launched a new website on Joseph Henry (1797–1878), the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, from 1846 to 1878. The website covers his career as a scientist and as a science administrator. See “Joseph Henry: A Life in Science” at http://siarchives.si.edu/history/exhibits/joseph-henry. – - – In July 2012 “‘When Time and Duty Permit’: Smithsonian Collecting in World War II” opened in the ground floor of the National Museum of Natural History. The exhibit focuses on the Smithsonian’s role in the Pacific during World War II, providing geographic and scientific information on the Pacific, identifying disease-carrying pests, and encouraging soldiers stationed at remote locations to collect new specimens for the National Museum. The exhibit was curated by Smithsonian Historian Pamela M. Henson and will be on display until May of 2013. For additional information, see http://www.si.edu/Exhibitions/Details/When-Time-and-Duty-Permit-Collecting-During-World-War-II.
IN MEMORIAM, Anna Nelson
Anna Nelson died on September 27 in Washington, DC. She had retired after teaching diplomatic history at American University for 22 years. In her long association with government, she was a member of the National Study Commission on Records and Documents, 1976–77; the State Department’s Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation, 1992–94; and the Kennedy Assassination Records Review Board, 1994–98. As a scholar, her awards included American Historical Association’s Troyer Steele Anderson Prize, and a public-policy fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She was a member of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the Society for History in the Federal Government. She was active in the public history movement in the late 1970s and in the organization of the Society for History in the Federal Government, urging cooperation between historians and archivists, establishment of a House of Representative History Office, and the need to establish professional standards in federal history offices. She urged that the AHA’s National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History (NCC) represent and promote historical programs. There will be a memorial service at the Cosmos Club on Thursday, November 8, from 5 to 7 p.m. Those wishing to attend should contact Arnita Jones at email@example.com Those wishing to speak should note that as well.
Publications from the Bureau of Reclamation
The Bureau of Reclamation’s history program is able to offer copies of the following Reclamation publications to interested historians:
• Billington, David P., with Donald C. Jackson and Martin V. Melosi. The History of Large Federal Dams: Planning, Design, and Construction. Denver, Colorado: Bureau of Reclamation, 2005.
• Linenberger, Toni Rae. Dams, Dynamos, and Development: The Bureau of Reclamation’s Power Program and Electrification of the West. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2002.
• Rowley, William D. The Bureau of Reclamation: Origins and Growth to 1945. Volume 1. Denver, Colorado: Bureau of Reclamation, 2006. Available from the Government Printing Office. Volume 2 will be published in December 2012/January 2013 and will also then be available.
• United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation. The Bureau of Reclamation: History Essays from the Centennial Symposium, edited by Brit Allan Storey, 2 volumes. Denver: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2008.
Order copies by phoning Andrew Gahan at (303) 445-3314 or e-mailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New National Personnel Records Center. A new building in St. Louis now houses the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) and the National Archives at St. Louis. NPRC is the repository for the personnel records of former members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard as well as civilian employees of the federal government—holding files (about 9 billion pages) for an estimated total of 100 million individuals who served their country in the military or as a civilian. In the last two years, the National Archives has taken legal custody of more than 213,000 cubic feet of civilian personnel records (representing the service of millions of employees), created by more than 112 different federal agencies between 1850 and 1951. The center is the busiest National Archives facility, handling 5,000–6,000 requests a day for information from personnel files—about 1.5 million a year.
Electronic Records Archives (ERA) Ordered to Halt Development: The Electronic Records Archives (ERA) was ordered to stop further development by October 1, 2011. It will not be able to fulfill the grand plans officials had for it in 2001 when they envisioned it as an advanced preservation system that would store electronic records from all formats and make them accessible to researchers. The system, funded by Congress, was a response to the constantly increasing quantity and complexity of electronic records generated by government agencies and ultimately to be deposited in the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For more information on the ERA, see http://www.archives.gov/era/ A more extensive report is under our Archives and Electronic Records section.
U.S. Army Center of Military History Civil War Site: The U.S. Army Center of Military History recently launched a new Web page dedicated to commemorating U.S. Army operations in the Civil War as part of America’s Sesquicentennial commemoration of the War. The page is composed of a brief overview of the commemorative event, a timeline that lists significant actions, any published works that CMH has produced or archival material that it maintains, artwork and photographs, as well as a section with links to other organizations. As we mentioned during the Commemoration panel at the last SHFG Conference, CMH will be pleased to include additional links to other government organizations engaged in Civil War commemoration. If you are interested in linking your organization to CMH’s page, please contact Dr. Thomas Boghardt at email@example.com. Visitors may access the site by going to http://www.history.army.mil/files/commemorations/civil_war/index.html
Library of Congress: The Library’s Interpretive Programs Office has opened a new online exhibit titled “The Last Full Measure: Civil War Photographs from the Liljenquist Family Collection.” This collection features rare and candid images most of which have never been exhibited before. See http://myloc.gov/exhibitions/civilwarphotographs/pages/default.aspx