Happy Birthday, Medicare!

July 24, 2014

July 30th marks the 49th anniversary of the establishment of the Social Security Act Amendments. In 1965, on this date, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law what is better known as the Medicare law. This established both Medicare, the health insurance program for Americans over 65, and Medicaid, the health insurance program for low income Americans. You can read this Public Law in the United States Statutes at Large on GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys).

President Lyndon Johnson signs the Medicare Bill. President Harry S. Truman is seated next to him. Others looking on include Lady Bird Johnson, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, and Bess Truman. July 30, 1965. Photo courtesy of Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, U.S. National Archives

President Lyndon Johnson signs the Medicare Bill. President Harry S. Truman is seated next to him. Others looking on include Lady Bird Johnson, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, and Bess Truman. July 30, 1965. Photo courtesy of Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, U.S. National Archives

Former President Harry S. Truman participated in the signing ceremony with President Johnson at the Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri. President Truman’s participation served to recognize his effort during his administration to establish a national health insurance program. President Truman and former first lady, Bess Truman, received Medicare registration cards numbers one and two.

on the occasion of the signing of the Social Security Amendments of 1965 in Independence, Missouri. Photo courtesy of Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, U.S. National Archives

This is the Medicare card believed to have been given to Harry Truman by President Lyndon on the occasion of the signing of the Social Security Amendments of 1965 in Independence, Missouri. Photo courtesy of Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, U.S. National Archives

The 1950 Census showed that the aged population in the U.S. had grown from 3 million in 1900 to 12 million in 1950. The jump was even greater between 1950 and 1963, growing from 12 million to 17.5 million, a large number of whom had no health insurance. It’s no surprise that in the program’s first three years, nearly 20 million beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare.

Fast forward to today, and Medicare provides health insurance to about 50 million Americans. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), administers the program.

Finding Medicare information and services has never been easier than with www.medicare.gov.

Using the site, users can access a wide array of services. Some examples include:

  • Signing up for Medicare;
  • Modifying Medicare plans;
  • Finding health and drug plans;
  • Learning about different levels of coverage and how to sign up for each, various costs, and supplements and other insurance;
  • Determining if specific tests or services are covered;
  • Filing a complaint, claim, or appeal;
  • Checking the status of any application, claim, or pending action;
  • Finding doctors, providers, hospitals, and suppliers;
  • Accessing forms, resources, and personal assistance;
  • Changing one’s address; and
  • Reporting lost or stolen Medicare cards.

In addition to that, the site offers access to podcasts, videos, and blogs that are not only interesting, but very informative. You can also connect with Medicare via Twitter and YouTube.

The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) also provides access to a wide variety of Medicare resources. The U.S. Government Bookstore sells the CMS-1500, the standard health insurance claim form developed by the National Uniform Claim Committee and used by all non-institutional medical providers or suppliers to bill Medicare carriers. It is also used to bill some Medicaid State Agencies.

GPO also provides access to an array of Medicare resources through its Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP), including a collection of free eBooks. Through the CGP, users can access the descriptive catalog record for each publication, as well as a direct link to any publication that available online. Some of the free eBooks available on Medicare topics are:

The CGP and FDsys provide access to a wide variety of other Government documents related to Medicare. Here is just a small sampling:

You can also access countless Federal Government documents related to Medicare at Federal depository libraries nationwide. Find the Federal depository nearest you by visiting the Federal Depository Library Directory.

Happy Birthday, Medicare, and here’s to many more years of helping the American public!

How can I find these Medicare publications?

In addition to clicking on the links in the article above to find the publications, you may find these publications from the following:

And to find popular current Federal publications, you may:

  • Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks as well as print publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov
  • Order by Phone: You may also Order print editions by calling GPO’s  Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

About the author: Our guest blogger is Kelly Seifert, Lead Planning Specialist for GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Library Program.

 


Civil War Defenses of Washington & the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Stevens

July 10, 2014

Gettysburg, Manassas, and Antietam are famous Civil War battles remembered for President Lincoln’s address, the turning point of the war, and the bloodiest battle of the war. They are also battles that took place in states surrounding Washington, DC – within 100 miles of the nation’s capital. This week marks the 150th anniversary of the only and relatively unknown battle that took place in Washington, DC, the Battle of Fort Stevens.

024-005-01232-0[1]A Historic Resources Study: The Civil War Defenses of Washington by the Department of Interior’s National Park Service follows the history of efforts to defend Washington, DC from the city’s conception in the 1790s to the Civil War and the Battle of Fort Stevens. This publication is very descriptive painting a clear picture of what Washington, DC was like during the Civil War. The Union constructed a fortification system to protect Washington, DC that by the end of the war consisted of 68 enclosed forts and batteries, emplacements for 1,120 guns, and 20 miles of rifle-trenches. Because the city was the capital and the location of war departments and bureaus it had the largest collection of supplies, equipment, and materials. In the Foggy Bottom area where the Kennedy Center, George Washington University, and the Department of State currently sit, there was a depot of 30,000 horses and mules and the Washington Monument grounds housed an Army cattle-slaughtering yard.

Battle-of-Fort-Stevens[1]

Company F, 3d Regiment Massachusetts Heavy Artillery assembled at Fort Stevens. Photo by William Morris Smith, courtesy Library of Congress.

The Battle of Fort Stevens is the grand finale of the publication. After establishing the condition and role of the Washington, DC during the war, the book goes into step-by-step detail of the battle. Here is my perceived synopsis of the Battle of Fort Stevens: General Robert E. Lee of the Confederate army gave orders to Lieutenant General Jubal Early to threaten Washington, DC, which had remained largely untouched during the war. Early led his troops through Virginia and Maryland, taking part in different skirmishes along the way. On July 9 at the Battle of Monocacy near present-day Frederick, Maryland, Early defeated the Union army, thereby opening up the route to Washington, DC. The Battle of Monocacy temporarily stalled Early, giving General Ulysses Grant more time to send reinforcement troops to defend the capital – ultimately derailing Early’s efforts. The Battle of Fort Stevens started on July 11 and ended with Early withdrawing his troops by July 13. The Confederate troops moved towards the Capitol along Georgetown Pike and Rockville Pike culminating in the Battle of Fort Stevens, which took place with the Capitol dome in sight – six miles away – on what was mostly open farm area around present-day Georgia Avenue near Rock Creek Park. The reinforcements sent by Grant and reports suggesting more Union troops were coming caused Early to retreat and end his pursuit of the city.

battle-of-fort-stevens-925[1]

Battle of Fort Stevens Map courtesy Civil War Preservation Trust

GPO’s early history is intertwined with the Civil War. One of GPO’s most significant print jobs was the preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation produced in September 1862. Aside from production work done by the agency as part of the war effort, some GPO employees were part of the Interior Department Regiment organized to protect the city. With the threat of General Early closing in on Washington, employees were called on to defend the city but not needed when the reinforcement troops sent by General Grant arrived.

During the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, think beyond the famous battles of the war and remember the skirmishes and other important battles like the Battle of Fort Stevens that may be unknown but are just as important.

HOW DO I OBTAIN THIS PUBLICATION?

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy these and other publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:

Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for these in a nearby Federal depository library.

About the author: Our guest blogger is Emma Wojtowicz, Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Office of Public Affairs.


Childhood Immunization: Protecting Our Children from Disease

April 29, 2014

National-Infant-Immunization-Week-2014The week of April 26-May 3 is National Infant Immunization Week and it is also the 20th anniversary of this observance. Vaccinations are becoming a more controversial topic among parents, doctors and schools. The New England Journal of Medicine suggests that the recent anti-vaccination movement is leading to an outbreak of whooping cough and the measles in some states.

A couple looks at Infant Care pamphlet at GPO Bookstore: GPO Archives.

A couple looks at Infant Care pamphlet at GPO Bookstore: GPO Archives.

Before you could Google information on vaccinations and family healthcare topics and have every answer at your fingertips, government publications were the go-to source for consumer information. This former trend is evident in the fact that a pamphlet entitled Infant Care is still to this day considered GPO’s all-time best seller. Infant Care was first published in 1914 by the Children’s Bureau and provided mothers with information in a low-cost form on how to care for their babies. (Read more about the history of the Children’s Bureau in The Children’s Bureau Legacy: Ensuring the Right to Childhood (ePub eBook) available on the U.S. Government Bookstore.) Over the course of seven decades it remained a bestseller with multiple editions published and translations in eight languages as well as Braille.

Excerpt on Vaccination from Infant Care pamphlet

100 years ago, this was the advice on vaccination of infants. Excerpt from 1914 Infant Care pamphlet.

The original Infant Care pamphlets can be seen on this archive. However, Vaccines for Children (VCF), a federally funded program handled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides no-cost vaccine services to help ensure that all children, from infancy to adolescent, have a better chance of getting their recommended vaccinations.

Image source courtesy of CDC http://www.cdc.gov/features/vfcprogram

Image source courtesy of CDC http://www.cdc.gov/features/vfcprogram

Like Infant Care, the government still has helpful publications to help parents and the public make health-related decisions. Parent’s Guide to Childhood Immunizations and Immunization Tool Kit are just two of the many government publications available on the immunization and vaccination topic.

017-022-01617-6Parent’s Guide to Childhood Immunizations is kind of like a “vaccinations for dummies.” It is a great resource that explains each disease, the vaccinations schedule, what to do before, during and after the immunization doctor visit, how vaccines work, other FAQs and additional print and electronic resources. The most helpful part of this booklet is the breakdown of each disease with information on what causes the disease, how it is spread, the signs and symptoms and complications. To brighten up what can be a scary subject, the booklet includes colorful child artwork.

immunization-tool-kitImmunization Tool Kit focuses on adult, military and childhood immunizations. This resource is made up of laminated 4X6 color coded cards held together by a ring for fast flipping making it durable and likely intended for military or health care providers, people who need a quick reference on the job. The cards are organized by immunizations for adults and the military and children with detailed information about each vaccine including a dosage, indications or who should get the vaccine, contraindications or reasons why someone should not be vaccinated and special considerations. Some of the cards have amusing caricatures of what the diseases look like. For medical personnel, there is a section on the storage and handling instructions of each vaccine. While the amount of information may seem overwhelming, the toolkit will be able to answer all or any question about vaccines.

HOW DO I OBTAIN THESE PUBLICATIONS ON VACCINATION?

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy these publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:

Order by Phone: You may also Order print editions by calling our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Shop our Retail Store:Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Visit a Federal Depository Library:Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications or CGP.

About the author: Our guest blogger is Emma Wojtowicz, Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Office of Public Affairs. 

Additional content, images and editing provided by Trudy Hawkins, a writer and marketing specialist in GPO’s Publication & Information Sales Division supporting the U.S. Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov).


Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One… a Top Ten List of Funny Federal Titles

April 1, 2014

A few weeks ago, Jennifer Davis’ supervisor delivered a challenge to her via email: write a story about humorous government document titles for April Fool’s Day. (Read various stories about the origins of April Fool’s Day here, here and here.) April Fool’s humor has had a long history with American Government, dating back to Founding Father Benjamin Franklin (read caption below).

Benjamin Franklin wearing an ostentatious fake moustache for April Fool's Day

According to news humor site “Weekly World News”, the American founding father of April Fool’s Day was Benjamin Franklin. Since Franklin, April 1st has been synonymous in America for a day of practical jokes and general mischief. Tales of his exploits were published in the Philadelphia Gazette on the 1st of April every year. For example, says the site, he was known to give entire public speeches on April 1 wearing an ostentatious fake moustache. ;-) Can you believe it? (Image courtesy of Weekly World News.)- M. Bartram

Says Jennifer: “I love reading government documents for their data and their fascinating stories, but I usually wouldn’t consider them to be laugh-out-loud funny. Or as a colleague said, “They’re not Abbott and Costello funny”. But everyone’s got to laugh some time, right? And when I searched GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP), and picked my colleagues’ brains, I found that Uncle Sam sometimes gets his chuckles, too. I found more titles than these ten—but I want to save some for another occasion. There have been a few other lists of humorous government documents, not all of them Federal titles, circulating around the Internet, and so I’ve tried to keep this list as unique as possible.”

(If you like the topic of this column, you should visit the Washington State University’s exhibit, The Lighter Side of…. The Government Printing Office, which runs through June 28, 2014.)

[Michele Bartram Editor’s Note: Over the years, Government Book Talk has also highlighted some funny Federal publication titles within previous blog posts including: Society through a Comic Lens, The Nuttall Tick CatalogueDr. Seuss, U.S. Army, Sprocket Man!War Games, and Ponzimonium. You’ll chuckle over the odd, quirky, ironic or inadvertently funny titles of the books mentioned!]

All of these titles in this blog post have records in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications, and you might be able to find a copy in your local Federal depository library, or find one at your regional library. Click here for a list of Federal Depository Libraries (the Federal Depository Library Directory or FDLD). Since many of these Government documents —books, posters, pamphlets and PDFs— are older than five years, you might have to search a bit to find a copy. When available, we have provided links for the electronic version of these titles.

Below is the list of Top 10 funniest titles that Jennifer provided, along with additional details about each.

TOP 10 FUNNIEST TITLES

Gobbledygook_has-gotta-go_green-cover1) Gobbledygook has Gotta Go. This Bureau of Land Management title about the problems with Government writing is a classic, and a precursor to the “Plain Language” initiative today to simplify the wording in communications. It has been cited in several collected lists of funny titles, and it’s the only time I cheated and included it in my list anyway.  Gobbledygook is just such a great word to say, and the alliteration makes the title even funnier. You can read a scanned copy of this book here.

2) Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic. All of our GPO office mates agree: this comic has got to be the most fun Federal government document to date.  The CDC was smart and exploited the current interest in zombies, and made an emergency preparedness checklist into a comic on preparing for the “zombie pandemic”. In this comic, the scientists of the CDC are the superheroes, isolating the virus “Z5N1” and developing a vaccine in record time, while the locals develop a checklist of emergency supplies so they can stay inside their home. Just the title alone is enough to make you smile—and it gets its point across. You can read the entire publication online here.

cdc-preparedness-101-zombie-pandemic

3) This is a Dumb Bunny. I love the idea of the Federal government calling someone a “dumb bunny”. Even if the document it is quite literally the image of a rabbit, which spoils some of the fun, I am still tickled by the idea of a snarky Uncle Sam. The poster’s actually about smoking cessation.

"This is a dumb bunny!" anti-smoking 1970s poster from the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare

4) Safety is as Stupid Does!!  I know what the goal was with this title. The poster (seen on the University of Iowa Digital Library) makes it clear to the intended audience of military personnel that not thinking hurts safety on the job. However, I think the title missed the mark. It’s funny in its own right.

Safety-is-as-stupid-does_DOD-poster

5) Do Mandrakes Really Scream?  A colleague of mine is a huge Harry Potter fan. She said cataloging this title was the pinnacle of her career. It’s the online exhibition catalog of an National Library of Medicine (NLM) History of Medicine exhibit relating NLM’s historical holdings and the magic and medicine of Harry Potter.

If you read the Harry Potter series, you’ll know what the title is referring to. If you haven’t read the series, check out this free exhibit first; you might find yourself diving into the book series afterwards.

National Library of Medicine NLM "Do Mandrakes Really Scream? Magic and Medicine in Harry Potter" website

6) USDA Saves French Donkey.  The title of this mid-1980s US Department of Agriculture publication just speaks for itself.

[Editor’s note: Probably the publication refers to this 1985 story reported in the Los Angeles Times about a rare 7-month-old curly haired French Poitou donkey named Sonette at the San Diego Zoo: Rare Donkey Passes Test, Can Stay Here”]

French Poitou donkey has dreadlocks that need a haircut

The rare French Baudet du Poitou donkey breed is born with curly hair that naturally grows into long dreadlocks as an adult. This one hasn’t had a haircut in 17 years! (Source: The Telegraph – UK)

7) Self-Motion Perception and Motion Sickness: Final Report for the Project  NASA’s report on a motion sickness project makes me want to just… stop… moving! Read about it on NASA’s website.

NASA-astronauts-with-motion-sicknessAbove: NASA astronauts in zero gravity try to fend off the effects of motion sickness.  To learn more about motion sickness, watch this 3-minute TED Talk animated video about “The Mystery of Motion Sickness.”

America the Beautiful: A Collection of the Nation's Trashiest Humor with comic strips about solid waste or trash8) America the Beautiful: Collection of the Nation’s Trashiest Humor. Not only is the title funny, but the book’s content promises humor as well. This is publication number 2048 of The U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, originally published in 1970. The book consists of thirty comics, from the funny pages like B.C., and some from the editorial pages of publications from the New Yorker to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, all focusing on the problem of waste disposal. You can read the publication in its entirety online at the EPA’s website.

9) French Meadows: Hell Hole Recreation Areas. Although the area is really quite lovely, there’s a problem with image marketing in this U.S. Forest Service tourism brochure.

French-Meadows-Hell-Hole-Reservoir

Poster for The Vampire Bat movie starring Fay Wray10) Controlling Vampire Bats.  This serious US Agency for International Development publication about controlling the spread of rabies through these creatures nevertheless evokes shades of Tippi Hedren… Don’t you get a mental picture of people running down the street away from the bats, waving their arms over their heads and screaming, à la The Birds? Or Fay Wray being controlled by an evil vampire in bat form in the movie “The Vampire Bat” (movie poster image at the right)? Maybe I’ve read too many zombie comics.

How can I find these funny-titled Federal publications?

In addition to clicking on the links in the article above to find the publications, you may find these publications from the following:

  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library.
  • Visit a Public Library: Ask your local public librarian about Federal Government books available to check out as well as Federal eBooks that may be available for library patrons to digitally download through the library’s Overdrive subscription.

And to find popular current Federal publications, you may:

  • Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks as well as print publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov
  • Order by Phone: You may also Order print editions by calling GPO’s  Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

About the author: Adapted and expanded by Michele Bartram, Government Book Talk Editor and Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, from an original post by Jennifer K. Davis, formerly from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP).

Have a fun and funny April Fool’s Day!


Happy 25th Birthday, World Wide Web!

March 12, 2014

World Wide Web 25TH Anniversary logo. Happy 25 birthday, WWW, March 12 1989 to 2014Twenty-five years ago on March 12, 1989, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, wrote a paper proposing the system now known as the World Wide Web. (Left: 25 Years logo courtesy Marketing Magazine UK.) It was originally conceived and developed as an improved means for instantaneous information-sharing between scientists around the world.

From DOD’s ARPANet to an Internet

The Internet itself had actually started as a creation of the U.S. Government’s Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) together with U.S. universities. It was in response to the Cold War need for a backup communications method in case the traditional phone networks were knocked out. The resulting mainframe-to-mainframe computer network in 1969 was called ARPANet, the foundation for today’s Internet. (Read the History Channel’s history of the invention of the Internet here.) Soon, other organizations, mostly universities and military, created their own private networks. When the University College in London and the Royal Radar Establishment in Norway) connected to ARPANET in 1973, the term Internet was born.

In 1974, the first Internet Service Provider (ISP) was launched with the introduction of a commercial version of ARPANET, known as Telenet, thus expanding the availability of the Internet. After the introduction of a new protocol called TCP/IP by computer scientists Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn (called “The Fathers of the Internet”) in 1974, diverse computer networks could easily interconnect with each other, transforming the “Internet” into a truly global network by the end of the 1970s.

However, by 1990, frustrated CERN scientists were using the text-only Internet with its bulletin boards and limited mainframe messaging, but it was not user-friendly for either the end users or the publishers of content.

From a text-only Internet to a graphical World Wide Web

After Berners-Lee’s proposal received the go-ahead from his boss at CERN, he went on to write software in his spare time, creating the first World Wide Web server (“httpd”) and the first web client “WorldWideWeb.”

This “World Wide Web browser” was a WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) hypertext browser/editor that would install on their client (end user) computers, providing them with the first graphical interface for accessing Internet content (think of clicking on hyperlinks, viewing  photos and other graphical images, seeing text in different fonts, colors and sizes).

The World Wide Web was launched publicly on August 6, 1991, forever after providing the world a way to “browse the World Wide Web.”

Sir Tim Berners-Lee First World Wide Web Server 1990

Image: This NeXT workstation (a NeXTcube) was used by Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 1990-1 as the first Web server on the World Wide Web. Source: Wikipedia

In a guest blog post today on Google’s official blog, Sir Tim Berners-Lee explains the results of his World Wide Web idea:

In 1993, after much urging, CERN declared that WWW technology would be available to all, without paying royalties, forever.

This decision enabled tens of thousands to start working together to build the web. Now, about 40 percent of us are connected and creating online. The web has generated trillions of dollars of economic value, transformed education and healthcare and activated many new movements for democracy around the world. And we’re just getting started.

So, thank you, Sir Tim! The rest, as they say, is history.

Below is a timeline of Internet history from 1990 to 2007:

Internet timeline including World Wide Web and social media. Courtesy: Harbott.com

Internet timeline including World Wide Web and social media. Courtesy: Harbott.com

GPO’s History on the World Wide Web

GPO is joining in the celebration by commemorating our own moments in World Wide Web history:

1993:    The Government Printing Office Electronic Information Access Enhancement Act of 1993 was enacted (Public Law 103-40).

1994:    GPO Access launched (available by subscription; free to Federal depository libraries)

1995:    GPO Access became free to all users.

1995:    GPO began selling Government publications online with its “Sales Product Catalog” (now the site known as the U.S. Government Bookstore)

1996:    GPO’s Federal Depository Library Program Web site, “FDLP Administration,” launched (later named the FDLP Desktop and now FDLP.gov)

2000:    GPO’s kids’ site, Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government, launched.

Image: Home page of Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids as of March 12, 2014.

Image: Home page of Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government for Kids as of March 12, 2014.

2006:    The Catalog of U.S. Government Publications, launched.

2009:    GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) launched.

2010:    GPO entered the world of social media, first with the launch of its YouTube Channel.

2013:      GPO relaunches its newly redesigned U.S. Government Bookstore ecommerce site at http://bookstore.gpo.gov/.

BEFORE (U.S. Government Online Bookstore 2000):

US_ Government_Online Bookstore_Wayback-Machine_20000708

Image: Snapshot of the home page of the U.S. Government Online Bookstore http://bookstore.gpo.gov/ as of July 8, 2000. Source: Internet Archive Wayback Machine http://archive.org/web/

AFTER (U.S. Government Online Bookstore today in 2014):

Image: Today's U.S. Government Online Bookstore home page as of March 12, 2014.

Image: Today’s U.S. Government Online Bookstore home page http://bookstore.gpo.gov/ as of March 12, 2014.

To see how your favorite websites looked in years past, visit the Internet Archive Wayback Machine at http://archive.org/web/ which archives snapshots of web pages since the World Wide Web launched.

Federal Publications for the Digital Age

The U.S. Government Online Bookstore carries a number of Federal publications that highlight the triumphs and the challenges of the digital age.

A History of Army Communications and Electronics at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, 1917-2007 (Hardcover) or Ebook  ISBN: 9780160813597 or 9780160869105One interesting read is, “A History of Army Communications and Electronics at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, 1917-2007 (Hardcover) and eBook.” This book details ninety years of communications-electronics achievements carried out by the scientists, engineers, logisticians and support staff at Fort Monmouth, NJ. It’s a fascinating read, as it details communications ranging from homing pigeons to frequency hopping tactical radios!

YouTube War: Fighting in a World of Cameras in Every Cell Phone and Photoshop on Every Computer by US Army War College & Strategic Studies InstituteAlso check out “YouTube War: Fighting in a World of Cameras in Every Cell Phone and Photoshop on Every Computer,” from the U.S. Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute. This publication discusses the digital environment in which we live that enables terrorists to film and instantly share their attacks within minutes of staging them. It also describes possible courses of action for the Army and the U.S. military as they seek to respond to an enemy in this type of environment.

Computers Take Flight: A History of NASA's Pioneering Digital Fly-by-wire Project ISBN: 9780160914423You might also be interested in, “Computers Take Flight: A History Of NASA’s Pioneering Digital Fly-by-wire Project.” This book details the flight research project which validated the principal concepts of all-electric flight control systems now used on nearly all modern high-performance aircraft and on military and civilian transports.

These, and a wide array of other interesting publications on related topics, can be found by browsing the U.S. Government Bookstore under the “Computers and Electronics” category. In addition, the World Wide Web has made obtaining eBooks possible, so our wide selection of free and/or inexpensive eBooks for consumers, industry, academia, military, law enforcement, legal community and more would be worth viewing as well.

How can I get these technology-related Federal publications?

  • Shop Online Anytime: You can buy this eBook or any other eBook, as well as print publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:
  • Order by Phone: You may also Order print editions by calling our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. (Librarians: You can find the records for most titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications or CGP.)

About the authors: Guest blogger Kelly Seifert, Lead Planning Specialist for GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division, writes about the World Wide Web’s 25th birthday and the array of Government publications available on the topics of computers and electronics.

Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram. Bartram is Promotions and Ecommerce Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore and promoting Federal government content to the public. A computer scientist and digital expert, Bartram remembers those early pre-WWW days using mainframe-based Internet and email and then using a web browser to “surf” the World Wide Web for the first time.


The History of eBooks from 1930’s “Readies” to Today’s GPO eBook Services

March 10, 2014

To some it might seem strange that the Government Printing Office, the printer of Federal publications for over 150 years, is blogging about eBooks for “Read an eBook” Week and the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web . However, GPO has been working with digital publications for years and is fully immersed in eBooks.

History of the Ebook and E-Reader Devices

While many know that the paperback book came to us in the 1930s, few know that the concept for electronic books arose at the same time. According to Wikipedia, the idea of the e-reader came to writer and impresario Bob Brown after watching his first “talkie” (movies with sound). In 1930, he wrote an entire book on this invention and titled it “The Readies” [/reed-eeze/] playing off the name of the “talkie.” (Read about Brown in this New York Times article.)

simultaneous_reading_machine

Image: Fantasy exhibit of an electronic simultaneous reading machine. Source: The Architecture of Possibility

Wrote Brown: “The written word hasn’t kept up with the age… The movies have outmaneuvered it. We have the talkies, but as yet no Readies.” He explained why it was needed, saying: “To continue reading at today’s speed, I must have a machine.” He described his ideal future e-reader as: “A simple reading machine which I can carry or move around, attach to any old electric light plug and read hundred-thousand-word novels in 10 minutes if I want to, and I want to.” Furthermore, this machine would “allow readers to adjust the type size and avoid paper cuts.

Free-eBooks-from-Project-GutenbergIt would take over 40 years for Brown’s prescient vision to become reality. Starting back in 1971, Michael S. Hart launched Project Gutenberg and digitized the U.S. Declaration of Independence, becoming the first eBook in the world. (To put the date into context, 1971 was the year that the first email message was ever sent– between two mainframe computers!) In 1985, the Voyager Company, a pioneer in CD-ROMs, was founded and published “expanded books” on CD-ROM including Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, and in 1993, Digital Book, Inc. offered the first 50 digital books on floppy disk.

Fast forward to 1998, and four important events happened: 1) the first dedicated eBook readers were launched: Rocket Ebook and Softbook; 2) the first ISBN issued to an eBook was obtained; 3) US Libraries began providing free eBooks to the public through their web sites and associated services; and 4) Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

In 2000, the same year Blu-Ray discs were launched, Stephen King offered his novella Riding the Bullet as a digital-only computer-readable file, and two years later, Random House and HarperCollins started to sell digital versions of their publications. In 2004 Sony released its Sony Librie e-reader and then its Sony Reader in 2006.

2007 changed the world of reading forever with Amazon’s launch of the Kindle eBook reader in the U.S. and the launch of the iPhone by Apple. In 2009, Barnes & Noble introduced the Nook, and Sony linked with libraries via the Overdrive digital network to enable library patrons to borrow eBooks from their local library.

ereaders-ebook-devices

Image: Wide variety of eReaders and eBook reading devices. Courtesy: eBookAnoid

2010 was a banner year for eBooks as: 1) Apple released the iPad along with iBooks and its iBookstore on iTunes, selling half a million eBooks in less than a month; 2) Google’s eBookstore launched; and 3) Amazon reported that for the first time, its eBook sales outnumbered its hardcover book sales.

By January 2011, eBook sales at Amazon had outpaced its paperback sales, and by the end of the first quarter of 2012, eBook sales in the United States surpassed all hardcover book sales for the first time, topping over $3 Billion in revenue nationwide. And as of the end of 2013, the Association of American Publishers announced that eBooks now accounted for about 20% of all U.S. book sales.

Types and Formats of Digital Publications

Today, one sees many kinds of digital publications. “Electronic” or digital books can come as printable PDFs, enhanced PDFs with hyperlinks and embedded files, or “true eBook” formats: EPUB or MOBI files. EPUB is the most common and non-proprietary format, used by most Government agencies, commercial publishers, and libraries, and can be used on a variety of devices and software from different vendors. MOBI or AZW is used by Amazon for its Kindle readers and software.

EPUB and MOBI are “true eBook” formats because they offer resizable and reflowable text, automatically adjusting to the font and screen size and orientation (portrait or landscape) set on the e-reading device or software being used. (For more information, read our blog post “Government eBooks Made Easy– and Sometimes Free.”)

Readers either download digital publications onto their dedicated eReader like a Kindle or Nook, or they download it to their desktop or laptop computer, smart phone or tablet computer to read. If it is not a dedicated eReader device, the user must first have software on his device to allow him to read the format of eBooks he has downloaded.  To learn more about eBook formats and find FREE software to read EPUB eBooks on your computer or mobile device, read our detailed eBook Readers & Formats page on the U.S. Government Bookstore.

Image: Infographic of different eBook readers and apps options Source: Digital Book World

Image: Aptara’s infographic of different eBook readers and apps options Source: Digital Book World

Magazines are also available digitally, but their typically image-heavy content makes them more suited for reading on color tablets and desktop computers than smartphones or black-and-white eReaders with smaller screen sizes or no color. Zinio.com, touted as “The World’s Largest Newsstand”, is one of the sites where readers can search for and subscribe to digital magazines or buy individual issues.

GPO Digital Publication Services: “Helping Federal Agencies keep America informed”

In addition to helping Federal agencies design, print, promote and distribute physical publications, GPO has, for a number of years now, been helping our Federal agency partners design, convert, disseminate, and promote digital publications as well. From eBooks to audiobooks, PDFs to e-periodicals, MP3s to mobile sites, GPO is working with Federal agencies to not only assist them in producing the best digital publications in the right formats, but to also augment their own outreach efforts by helping spread the word to gain the largest audience possible for their publications.

Today we offer five areas of digital (and print) publication services to U.S. Federal Government agencies in the Executive, Legislative or Judicial branches:

  1. Image: Choosing the right format and content for your publication is made easier with GPO's publication consulting services.

    Image: Choosing the right format and content for your publication is made easier with GPO’s publication consulting services.

    Publication Consultation services: Do you need advice on what formats are best for your content? Need to know how to best structure and build your digital publication to ensure its broadest use and dissemination? We offer free consulting services to Federal agencies to help you get these projects on the right track.

  2. Design services: Does your agency need assistance in developing and producing digital or print publications, from photography, videography, copy, layouts and more? Our fee-based Creative Services can be hired to do this for you, with only an inter-agency memo required to get started.

    GPO-Creative-Digital-Media-Services

    GPO’s Creative & Digital Media Services helps Federal Agencies design the perfect publication in any format, print or digital.

  3. eBook Conversion services: Are you a Federal agency that already has a print book or magazine you want to turn into a digital publication? Or do have one digital format like a plain PDF that you need to convert to another format so more customers can use it? We offer fee-based conversion services to turn that publication into digital formats ready for commercial distribution.

    GPO offers ebook conversion services to Federal agencies

    Image: GPO can help Federal Agencies convert their existing publications into alternative formats. See our eBooks & Digital Services page for more information.

  4. Dissemination services: After all this work creating the perfect digital books and magazines, you need to make sure it reaches the widest intended audience possible. GPO’s Sales Program provides a network of the top print and eBook distribution services and sites in the world, including Google Play, Apple iTunes, Barnes & Noble, MyiLibrary, Overdrive, and Zinio (for e-magazines and journals), to name a few.Whether an agency has print books or posters, maps or  MP3s, eBooks or audio books, GPO can help agencies disseminate their publications through the top channels worldwide. Learn more in the eBook Channels for Federal Publications section below or visit our eBooks & Digital Services page. (Note that libraries can find links to published U.S. Government eBooks in GPO’s Federal Depository Library Program’s special eBooks at GPO page.)

    Image: GPO's Publication & Information Sales team helps Federal Agencies attain the broadest dissemination possible through our many worldwide eBook distribution partnerships.

    Image: GPO’s Publication & Information Sales team helps Federal Agencies attain the broadest dissemination possible through our many worldwide eBook distribution partnerships.

  5. Promotional services: Once your digital publication shows up on all these channels, how do you drive customers to find it?  For items in GPO’s Sales Program, we market our Federal agency partners’ digital publications through a variety of methods that could include: posts on this widely-read Government Book Talk blog; posts on other social media such as Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and more; targeted outreach and press releases; flyers, catalogs and other direct mail; live events and webinars; search marketing; alerts to Federal Depository Libraries about the title; and our free New Titles by Topic email subscription service, to name just a few of our many promotional tools.

    Image: GPO's Publication & Information Sales team helps get the word about our Federal Agency Partners' publications through integrated marketing and outreach.

    Image: GPO’s Publication & Information Sales team helps get the word about our Federal Agency Partners’ publications through integrated marketing and outreach to the public, book dealers, industry and consumer organizations and more.

GPO Sales Program Manages eBook Channels for Federal Government

Thus, GPO has established the most robust dissemination program available for Federal agencies to “get their eBooks out where users are looking for them,” by signing partnerships with the top eBook and eMagazine distribution services in the world and expanding our own online bookstore to offer eBooks.

In order to take advantage of the sophisticated technology and distribution partnerships GPO has put in place for the Federal Government, Federal agencies can choose one of two models for GPO to disseminate their digital publications:

a)     PAID CONTENT: Under this model, instead of having the Federal agency pay GPO for dissemination and promotion, the costs for GPO’s dissemination and promotional services (including elaborate metadata and search optimization) are recovered by selling the eBook to the public at a reasonable price.

b)     FREE CONTENT: However, if the Federal agency determines that the digital publication needs to be free to the public through all the commercial channels, the agency may pay GPO a modest fee for dissemination and promotional services, and the eBook will be offered for free to the public.

Image: Extract from GPO's U.S. Government Bookstore home page at http://bookstore.gpo.gov, which has print and digital publications available.

Image: Extract from GPO’s U.S. Government Bookstore home page at http://bookstore.gpo.gov, which has both physical products (print books, CD-ROMs and DVDs, posters, flashcards, etc.) and DRM-free digital publications (eBooks, audio books, PDFs, etc.) available.

eBook Channels for Federal Publications

All ebooks available on GPO's U.S. Government Bookstore are DRM-free

All ebooks available on GPO’s U.S. Government Bookstore are DRM-free, with no restrictive Digital Rights Management.

Because we have optimized the navigation and search on our site specifically to make it easy to find Federal eBooks by Agency, Topic and/or Format, many titles are seeing more downloads here than out on commercial sites like Google or iTunes or even on agencies’ own websites.

Also contributing to the surging popularity with the public of obtaining eBooks from the U.S. Government Bookstore is the fact that unlike eBooks purchased from some of the proprietary eBook distributors, digital publications on the U.S. Government Online Bookstore are DRM-free (no Digital Rights Management), meaning they are not restricted to a single device or manufacturer and can be downloaded multiple times.

  • Commercial eBook Channels: Apple iTunes iBookstore, Google Play eBookstore, Barnes & Noble Nook Book Store, Powell’s, eBookPie, Diesel eBookStore, (United States), and more.
  • U.S. Public Libraries: Overdrive’s Library Digital Distribution provides eBooks to public library patrons nationwide.
  • Academic eBook Channels: EBSCO, MYiLibrary, AcademicPub and others.
  • Digital Magazine Channels: Zinio.com worldwide distribution of digital magazines and journals.

Featured eBooks Available Now on the U.S. Government Bookstore

Shop GPO's extensive selection of all DRM-free Federal ebooks.

FREE EBOOKS: Some of the best FREE ebooks available now from the U.S. Government Bookstore include:

OTHER POPULAR TITLES:  Here are some of the newer and more popular DRM-free Federal eBooks available from the U.S. Government Bookstore:

  • Free Trade Agreements: 20 Ways to Grow Your Business (ePub eBook) The book provides detailed information on best prospects, insights on the economic and political situation, tips on business culture, free and low-cost assistance for entering each country market where the U.S. government has negotiated preferential access for U.S. companies.
  • The U.S. Army and the Lewis and Clark Expedition (ePub eBook) is an engaging account of the U.S. Army’s role in the Lewis and Clark Expedition, officially designated the “Corps of Volunteers for North Western Discovery.”
  • Sources of Weapon Systems Innovation in the Department of Defense: The Role of In-House Research and Development, 1945-2000 (ePub eBook) explores the historical evolution of this process during the Cold War to the end of the twentieth century, focusing specifically on the content, scope, organizational structure, and management of in-house research and development (R&D) in the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. It is not merely a comprehensive history of U.S. military R&D, but is rather a broad historical overview of changing institutional patterns of technological innovation within the Defense Department’s major weapons laboratories.
  • Deep Water: The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling, Report to the President, January 2011 (ePub eBook) is the official report of Presidential Commission assigned to investigate the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, analyze its causes and effects, and recommend the actions necessary to minimize such risks in the future. The Commission’s report offers the American public and policymakers alike the fullest account available of what happened in the Gulf and why, and proposes actions—changes in company behavior, reform of government oversight, and investments in research and technology—required as industry moves forward to meet the nation’s energy needs.
  • Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007 (ePub eBook) is a comprehensive history of the more than 120 African Americans who have served in the United States Congress through 2007. Written for a general audience, this eBook contains a profile of each African-American Member, including notables such as Hiram Revels, Joseph Rainey, Oscar De Priest, Adam Clayton Powell, Shirley Chisholm, Gus Hawkins, and Barbara Jordan.
  • HAP: Henry H. Arnold, Military Aviator (ePub eBook) Aviation and military history buffs will enjoy reading about Colonel Henry Harley Arnold or “HAP” Arnold, one of the first two active U.S. Army pilots. Also available in Print, this eBook is available currently through third party eBooksellers.

How can I get Federal Government eBooks and digital magazines?

  • Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks as well as print publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from GPO’s U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:
  • Shop Commercial eBook Channels:  Search these sites for the ISBN or exact title of the Federal eBook. Also, GPO’s Online Bookstore lists third party eBooksellers where the title can be found for eBooks in our eBook Sales program.
  • Visit the Federal Agency’s website: Often, PDFs of the publication are posted on Federal Agencies’ websites.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. Librarians: You can find the records for most titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP), or search for published U.S. Government eBooks in GPO’s Federal Depository Library Program’s special eBooks at GPO page.
  • Visit a Public Library: Ask your local public librarian about Federal eBooks that may be available for library patrons to check out through the library’s Overdrive subscription.

About the author: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


The Emancipation Proclamation and its Role in GPO and African American History

February 5, 2014

February is National African American History Month, also known as Black History Month in the United States. One significant event in African American history happened 151 years ago.  On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, announcing “that all persons held as slaves” in rebellious areas “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” While this Executive Order only freed slaves living in Confederate states during the Civil War, it nevertheless ultimately paved the way for the eventual abolition of slavery in America and became an important aspect of President Lincoln’s legacy.

lincoln-signs-emancipation-proclamation-on-New-Years-Day-jubilee-dayIn his proclamation of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 2013, President Barack Obama encouraged all Americans to acknowledge and celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation and “reaffirm the timeless principles it upheld.

Image: Illustration of President Abraham Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, in Washington. Source: AP 

As we honor African American heritage this month, I’m reminded of the Emancipation Proclamation and the “timeless principles” President Obama was speaking of.

A symbol of equality and justice

The significance of Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Proclamation during the Civil War was two-fold for African Americans. As mentioned earlier, not only did it lay the foundation for the eventual freedom of all slaves, it also allowed black men to enlist in the Union Army and Navy. This strategic Presidential “war measure” provided African Americans the opportunity to join in the fight for their freedom, in effect enabling the liberated to become liberators. By the end of the war, almost 200,000 black soldiers and sailors had fought for the Union and freedom.

As history teaches, the Civil War was initially about preserving the Union; however, the Emancipation Proclamation also made it about freeing the slaves– “an act of justice” that would grant African Americans, and generations to come, equal citizenship in the U.S.

For this reason, the Emancipation Proclamation remains a widely recognized symbol of freedom in American History that will forever be revered in Black History.

Fancy-Emancipation-ProclamationImage: Engraving by W. Roberts with the text of the Emancipation Proclamation. Source: Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID pga.04067.

GPO’s role in the Emancipation Proclamation

But the Emancipation Proclamation also played a significant role in GPO’s own history. Did you know… the then newly established Government Printing Office printed the preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation for President Lincoln as one of its first major tasks? The original printer’s proof version was displayed for six months at GPO’s 150th History Anniversary exhibit that opened in June of 2011. I (along with many other GPO employees and visitors) was given an extraordinary opportunity to personally view the original historic document, which contained the printer’s actual proofing marks with requested changes!

STAFF PHOTOGRAPHERImage: Former Public Printer William Boarman views original GPO printer’s proof copy of the preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation with Washington DC Mayor Vincent Gray at the GPO history exhibit. In 1862, GPO printed the preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation in general orders format, issued as an Executive Order from President Lincoln in his role as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. GPO printed 15,000 copies for the War Department, which were distributed to military commanders and their troops and diplomats in foreign countries. The copy displayed at GPO contained proofing marks; those corrections were made in the final version of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Source: GPO

The GPO history exhibit is currently open to the public with free admission, Monday through Friday from 8am to 4:30pm at GPO’s Washington, DC, headquarters at 732 North Capitol Street NW. Unfortunately, the landmark document, which was on loan for six months from the Library of Congress, is no longer available for viewing, but many more historic exhibits are on view for free.

Visitor at GPO History Exhibit carrying Keeping America Informed: The United States Government Printing Office 150 Years of Service to the Nation ISBN: 9780160887048Image: Visitor who has just purchased the GPO history book “Keeping America Informed” views the GPO 150th Anniversary History Exhibit. Source: GPO

To learn more about GPO’s role in the printing of this historic document and other important Federal publications, read GPO’s 150th anniversary history book, Keeping America Informed: The United States Government Printing Office 150 Years of Service to the Nation.

However, you can view and/or read the entire Emancipation Proclamation online at the National Archives website or visit the National Archives in Washington, DC, to see the original signed document.

Teaching the Next Generation about the Emancipation Proclamation

To help parents and educators teach children about the importance of the Emancipation Proclamation and its role in Black History, the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) published the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation: Commemorative Coloring Book: Forever Free.

National Archives 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation: Commemorative Children's Book: Forever Free ISBN: 9780160916342Image:  Buy the family friendly 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation: Commemorative Coloring Book: Forever Free.

This 150th anniversary commemorative publication about the Emancipation Proclamation is not a typical children’s coloring book. The wealth of information contained within this great little read makes it useful as a history book for the entire family, not just for kids. For example, I learned about the origins of “Watch Night”:

On December 31, 1862, many enslaved African Americans gathered in churches and prayed. Throughout the night, they waited for the moment when the Emancipation Proclamation would take effect. This special night became known as “Watch Night,” and continues to be celebrated today in many African American churches on New Year’s Eve.

The publication opens with a brief history about President Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. It also provides portraits and short biographies describing historical events involving African Americans, such as Harriet Tubman, a former slave and Union spy who also helped recruit black troops, and Frederick Douglass, an abolitionist who helped Abraham Lincoln recruit black troops during the Civil War. It even includes a reference to this famous image:

reading-emancipation-proclamation-torchlightImage: By torchlight, a Union soldier reads the ‘Emancipation Proclamation’ to a room of slaves and their children, 1860s. The image was published as part of the ‘Life of Lincoln: Additional View’ series by the C.W. Briggs Company. Photo credit: George Eastman House/Getty Images

Other short biographies of important figures in black history covered in this book include Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and President Barack Obama.

National Park Service Discovering the Underground Railroad: Junior Ranger Activity Book ISBN: 9780160900181The National Park Service also has produced another children’s publication focusing on black history and mentioning the Emancipation Proclamation: Discovering the Underground Railroad: Junior Ranger Activity Book. Young children ranging from ages 5 to 10 and older are taught about the history of the Underground Railroad and the struggles African Americans endured in their quest for freedom. Activities include a wordsearch of terms related to the Civil War; a maze routing the journey to freedom; and a timeline highlighting significant events in Black History, such as the Emancipation Proclamation and much more. Upon completion of the activities, children are encouraged to send in their completed booklet for an official Jr. Ranger Badge. [Read about this and other Underground Railroad publications in our blog post: “The Underground Railroad Leaves its Tracks in History.]

How can you get these publications?

About the author: Guest blogger Trudy Hawkins is a writer and marketing specialist in GPO’s Publication & Information Sales Division supporting the U.S. Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov).

Images and additional content provided by Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram. Bartram is Promotions and Ecommerce Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore and promoting Federal government content to the public.


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